12/25/2014 09:48 EST | Updated 02/24/2015 05:59 EST

What I Learned This Week: The Case for Triple-Checking

David Gould via Getty Images


On Saturday, Dec. 6 at 3:00 p.m. sharp, I sat down at the Vic Park gym with trainer Haskel Garmaise to re-launch my intense workout regime with a brand new, multi-disciplinary program.

That is not the important part of this post.

To get you to what is though, consider that I reached out to Haskel on Facebook and asked him to work with me on November 16 at 8:50 p.m.

After much back-and-forth Facebook messaging about scheduling, we locked down the Dec. 6 timeframe on November 19th at 8:07 p.m.

On Sunday, November 30 at 5:34 p.m., Haskel sent me another Facebook message confirming the appointment now six days away.

On Friday, Dec. 5 at 7:46 p.m., he sent me one last message, this one to my phone, "making sure we're still good."

So, is Haskel a pain in the ass, or overly anal-rententive?

Neither. Haskel is smart. He's obviously been burned before, which is why, I suspect, Haskel assumes nothing. And which is why, Haskel is the poster child for this week's major learning, namely:

Assuming ANYTHING is the first step towards ultimate disappointment

Haskel is not alone. I get the same type of quadruple-confirmation every time I visit Dr. Elliot Mechanic, my dentist.

One could simply chalk up this type of "un-assuming" behavior to people who work on an appointment basis; doctors, dentists, lawyers, restaurants, trainers and the like. Their time is literally money, and any waste of the former is a throwaway of the latter.

But to me, eschewing assumptions has been a way of life. For example, to this day, while driving, I never, ever cruise breezily through a green light. Instead, I follow a lesson I have passed onto both of my sons: "Just because the other guy has the red light, don't assume he's stopping at it."

Paranoid? Perhaps, but as well as saving my life more than a few times, this post's overarching lesson has enabled me to control my temper in many off-putting situations, because rare is the occasion when I blindly assume:

  • the flight will leave on schedule
  • the cab will show up in five minutes
  • the show will start on time
  • Bell will send my iPhone in four-to-six weeks
  • the contract will be signed
  • the passport will arrive in the mail
  • the photo will be emailed
  • the piece will be repaired in two weeks
  • my restaurant table will be ready when I walk in

...I could go on forever.

On one hand, I don't assume; I accept. Now I'm not making excuses for, or enabling, others; I'm just accepting a cold hard truth of the way the world increasingly seems to work. It's like the basic premise of M. Scott Peck's book People Of The Lie, where he outlines that evil is the norm and good is the deviation from it. In my case, I'm not bowled over when something screws up, but happily surprised when it doesn't.

On the other hand, I don't assume, I check. And if I really need something to be done on time, like Haskel and Elliot Mechanic, I check, double-check, triple-check and maybe even exponentially-check.

The much quoted Matthew 5:5 passages in the Bible say something to the effect that "The meek shall inherit the earth."

Twisting and paraphrasing that a little bit, I think I've come up with a more contemporary Beatitude for a more wary generation:

"Victory goes to the unassuming."