Jumping to conclusions can lead to all sorts of accidents

Elspeth McLean.
Elspeth McLean
As usual, I was only sort of on trend.

With no bus to throw him under, I briefly considered running over my companion with my electric bike.

I could blame the cold for this kindness vacuum. I hadn't warmed up on my bike ride home.

On the way I had been fantasising about donning my birthday suit. Calm down, Appalled of Arrowtown — it's my birthday present to myself, a pair of overalls. The less said about my difficulties getting in and out of them the better.

The Grand old Duke of York would recognise that panicky half-way position where I am never sure if the overalls will proceed beyond being neither up nor down.

I reckoned there would be enough light for some purposeful stomping about the garden, possibly picking up the odd bit of firewood and stacking it.

On my arrival I was greeted by my companion who was already marching about purposefully with the chainsaw.

‘‘Why are you wearing my overalls?’’ I demanded. It got worse, although I did refrain from stamping my feet.

‘‘I wanted to wear them. And you've got them dirty!’’ (As we all know, work overalls are supposed to be pristine.)

He smiled and carried on adjusting the chainsaw. I put the bike away without using it in anger and returned for another whinge, while silently noting he looked better in the overalls than I did. The gathering at the waist had a waist on which to work its magic.

Taking a closer look, while still in full flight, I spotted a logo on his sleeve. I hadn't noticed that before.

Oblivious to my annoyance, and still half-smiling in an irritating way, he calmly asked me where I had left my overalls. There they were, hanging up in the hall.

While I was away, he had bought his own overalls. Closer inspection revealed that apart from the colour and general idea, they were quite different from mine.

They cost about half the price.

‘‘I bet they're not New Zealand-made'' was my feeble response to that. But, again, I was wrong.

There was nothing for it but to shut up, don my overalls and pick up the firewood.

On the question of jumping to conclusions, I wonder if ACC is also guilty of it.

During lockdown, we had considerably fewer accidents than usual. Preliminary figures from the efficient ACC data crunchers show 241,026 new claims were lodged between March 26 and June 8 (covering the time until we entered Level 1) at a cost of $49,262,982. Corresponding figures for last year show 429,024 claims costing $101,576,946, not wildly different from the same time in the three years before that.

Within the new claims total, road accident claims (3324) were under half that of the same time last year and, even though we were confined to barracks, the number of home-related claims was also down by almost 40,000 compared with last year.

Falls, a subject dear to my heart every time I enter and exit the overalls, were down too, totalling 98,679 for the period compared with 165,549 over the same time last year.

During lockdown Alert Level 4 to three weeks from the end of Level 3, ACC, when calculating the first four weeks of any weekly compensation on new claims, generously based it on what people were earning the day before Level 4 came into effect, recognising that many people's lockdown income would be lower than usual. However, this largesse has now ended. (After four weeks, compensation is always calculated on your last year's income.)

Should it have continued this short-term generosity longer? Has it assumed all employees' pay is returned to normal, overlooking that many new claimants will still just be getting by on lower pay than usual. Getting compensation of 80% of 80% of your usual pay, for instance, while also coping with the accident aftermath, sounds inadequate.

Jumping to conclusions may soon be an epidemic.

National health spokesman Michael Woodhouse wants us to believe, without evidence, that a homeless person had a luxury stay in managed isolation. And, having raised the possibility, he criticised the Government trying to find out if it was true.

Those responsible for overseeing managed isolation have jumped to the conclusion it was being done properly, apparently without fully checking it was. If resignations or sackings are required for those who played a part in this lack of rigour, we might run out of buses to throw people under.

Time to back up the bus and get on with solving problems rather than looking for people to blame.

In the meantime, while there is no evidence it's karma for my unkind running-over thoughts, my supposedly indestructible rear bike tyre was dramatically punctured by a piece of wire last week. Spooky, Michael.

- Elspeth McLean is a Dunedin writer.


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