4 Unsettling Shortcuts That Are Allowed in Extremely Important Jobs
You’d like to think that when it comes to highly important jobs and regulations, every single T is crossed and I is dotted with precision. Sure, everybody cuts a corner here and there, but in a perfect world, the sorts of things that decide if you live or die would be checked and double-checked as an absolute guarantee. The descriptor “good enough” is one that, ideally, isn’t in a position to affect your life without your explicit permission.
As always, though, reality isn’t nearly as neat and pleasant as we’d hope. Humans, generally, are a bit of a mess, stumbling our way through life and trying, unsuccessfully, to avoid disaster. To expect people to be perfect is a bet so bad it makes roulette look like a solid investment. The nature of humanity is to fashion together a technically livable situation and then do our best not to die for 80 years, give or take. So, concessions have to be made. They might not be pleasant to think about, but that’s reality.
Here are four concerning shortcuts that are better left away from the forefront of your mind.
‘Acceptable’ Plane Issues
When you get on a plane in order to cross America in a few measly hours, it requires a certain amount of blind faith. People get mocked for being afraid of flying, but if you were to ask someone currently on a flight to explain scientifically why they weren’t a smear on the landscape, they’d have a hard time doing so. Nothing points out the paper-thin confidence of humans in air travel like turbulence or a worrying intercom announcement, as you watch everyone on a plane realize just how far off the ground they are.
With all that in mind, you’d hope that whatever plane you decide to clamber onto, tucking your body into the ever-shrinking economy seats within, would be absolutely perfect from tip to tail. This is where, as it always does, reality rears its ugly head. To keep up with the demands of travel, and to avoid dastardly delays that leave passengers sitting angrily at the tiny tables of a miniature McDonald’s, the FAA has had to decide exactly how broken an airplane is allowed to be to fly. There exists something that, as soon as you know about it, will make flying 5 percent less fun, which is known as the Master Minimum Equipment List. It’s basically an official list of everything that’s allowed to not work on an airplane before it has to be grounded.
Enjoy your next vacation knowing that whatever plane you’re on, the question of “how much of this plane is working” is not necessarily “all of it.”
Food Safety Guidelines
Speaking of horrifying safety handbooks, there’s one I’d recommend skipping if you ever want to enjoy a can of Chef Boyardee again. Yet, here you continue to read on, because of that deep human need to know exactly how gross things can get. I’m talking about the FDA Defect Levels Handbook. Even the word “defect” feels a little disingenuous, given that we’re talking about food, not robots. If I find a plastic glove in my Chipotle burrito, nobody in their right mind is calling that burrito “defective.” Regardless, that’s the nomenclature they’ve chosen.
Maybe it was a product of just shrugging their shoulders, knowing what they were documenting was deeply unsettling regardless of language. This handbook is home to the official allowances of things that are very much Not Food in your food. The demand for quick, convenient food is unending and famously insatiable, and to keep those levels of production up, the fact is you’re gonna eat some cockroach bits. Here are some horrible highlights to make you stare uneasily at your dinner: Every 24 ounces of cornmeal can have up to 13 bits of mouse shit; 28 ounces of tomatoes come with an allowance for three maggots; and 16 ounces of peanut butter? Rest assured there are no more than 136 “insect fragments” inside, and less than four rodent hairs. Welcome to your new diet plan!
Doctors Get Sued… A Lot
The word “malpractice” seems like a bit of vocabulary that notes the destruction of a family, a sort of divine tragedy everyone has nightmares of. Doctors, after all, go to school for approximately two centuries to learn how to fuck around in your body without making the lights go out, right? Doctors are like Santa Claus: As soon as you stop believing in them, the world gets a whole lot darker. At best, you get more scared of surgery, and at worst, you end up a Christian Scientist.
Which is why I regret to inform you that malpractice suits are a lot more common than you’d like to think. By the age of 55, half of doctors will have been sued at least once for malpractice. Not exactly the sort of thing you’d like on par with a coin flip, but here we are. To be honest, it’s pretty understandable and unavoidable that over the course of a life, there’s going to be one or two bad slipups, but it’s something that we need not to think about to maintain our mental health. Nobody wants to think they’ll be the one waking up from a gallbladder removal with a pair of forceps in their thorax, but every doctor I know has been awake for approximately 48 straight hours at any given time, so once again, here we are.
Anyone Having Access to Nukes
Speaking of things that are unhelpful to mental peace, I’d recommend trying to never think about the fact that nukes exist. Not only that, but the people in charge of deciding if they get launched are just that: people. Hairless apes in suits deciding whether the world goes dark on any given day. Of course, I’m sure there’s some protocol in place and some sort of Voltron key situation before anything goes live, but it’s still abjectly terrifying to me that it’s a decision that exists.
Anyway, off to take my anxiety medication!