- Don't touch a wall that says "Fresh Paint"
- Don't touch an electric fence that says "WARNING: ELECTRIC FENCE"
- Don't run with scissors
- Don't throw knives at your brother
- Don't drink and drive
I think anyone who has lived on this planet for more than a decade can definitively tell you that common sense is in no way common.
Thom (not his real name ©), a healthy young man in his thirties (ie old enough to know better) stumbled out of a pub after drinking more than his fair share, wandered into the road, and was promptly struck by a car. His head bounced off the windscreen, shattering it, and he was launched (purportedly) 10 meters through the air, landing in a crumpled, beer-soaked heap on the side of the roadway. When the medics first got to him, he was completely unconscious, so he was brought to me as a level 1 (high level) trauma about 20 minutes later. Because of his altered level of consciousness, it was unclear to the medics if he had a severe brain injury, but when he woke up and vomited about a liter of undigested ale (it may have been lager) on my shoes, the issue started to become clear.
On my initial head-to-toe assessment, it was difficult for me to get past Thom's head since there were at least 10 separate lacerations on his scalp, all of them bleeding to some degree. I fashioned a makeshift turban to staunch the bleeding, and my survey continued southward. He miraculously appeared to have no broken bones or other serious injures. A CT scan ruled out any serious brain injury, but his labwork revealed the true nature of his problem: his blood alcohol level was about 6 times the legal limit.
I went through two stapling devices (which contain 25 staples each) to get all his scalp lacerations closed. I then hydrated the hell out of him, let him sleep it off, and sent him home.
A week later Thom came back to see me to get the staples removed, and something seemed a bit off with him in the waiting room. I watched him get up and walk into my examination room, and though it was rather subtle, he seemed to be off-balance slightly. My first thought was that he actually had a serious brain injury that I had somehow missed. Not two seconds later when he approached me, my worry was allayed and my ire started rising:
Thom had shown up to his follow-up appointment drunk.
He wasn't nearly as intoxicated as he had been when we first met and he was clearly trying to hide it as best he could, but the smell on his breath was unmistakable, as were his bloodshot eyes and his slurred speech. And the bottle of whiskey in his jacket pocket.
I wish I could eliminate the term "common sense" from the lexicon since it is an obviously glaring misnomer. Unfortunately "rare sense" and "unheard-of sense" just don't have the same ring to it.