Death of My Simple Mind

Law school has ruined my simple mind.  Everybody has a simple mind and a complex mind.  The simple is the one you use when you’re taking a walk or grocery shopping, whereas the complex mind is really saved for school and other work related tasks.  However, law school has completely ruined my simple mind.  Everywhere I go I find things that remind me of school and law.  I am not able to go grocery shopping without thinking of a case or a situation that has been discussed in a class.  I walk around life with a permanent complex mind now.

My environmental skills class ruined my simple nature mind.  That course covered the Clean Water Act and introduced me to all kinds of new concepts. However, it also has made me acutely aware of hazards I really didn’t want to know.  The other day I was walking around the Connecticut River enjoying the nice weather and I found a dead fish.  Instead of my usual reaction of “awwww, poor little fishy” my mind instantly jumped to several legal thoughts.  I looked at the land surrounding the River to see if there were any farms that might have nonpoint source runoff increasing the contaminated state of the river.  I spotted a smokestack and wondered if there was any mercury being emitted and if so if there was particulate matter in the air that would make the mercury deposit close to the smokestack (i.e. where I was standing).  I looked to see if the water had a greenish hue, a sign of algae blooms that which could lead to a world of problems.  Then I stopped and realized I was ridiculous.  While all my friends were poking the dead fish and skipping rocks I had become Sherlock Holmes the pollution detective.  Honestly though it’s not my fault.  Law school is an intense training and sculpts your brain into a certain way of thinking.  I look around the environment and I spot issues, and  there are cases that tell us what the courts think of those issues.  Not what I should think of those issues, but instead what the courts say is right and wrong.

My administrative law class has ruined my everyday simple mind all together.  My professor had us read The Death of Common Sense by Philip Howard.  This book points out the administrative process of everything around us.  It really dives deep into OSHA and the thousands of provisions for every factory, building, etc.  The other day I was riding the train into the city and I started to notice all of the signs stuck around the train.  There are signs for everything and in every language.  Exit signs are placed at all eye levels in case your neck doesn’t have the capacity to rotate or move up and down.  In addition, most of the signs have pictures to demonstrate the prohibited activity.  Although the pictures were
dumb they made me really think about the consequences of the prohibited action. The don’t-lean-on-the-door-of-the-train sign was accompanied by a picture of a man falling to his death because of his door lean.   I defiantly didn’t want to end up like that man so I didn’t lean.  Besides for me just noticing all the signs, I thought about the process it took to get those signs there.  There was probably a proposed rule following by a notice-and comment period where people were very upset at the idea of the sign, maybe followed by a hearing and then finally a final rule that mandated the sign.  All to put that stupid don’t-lean-on-the-door-or-you’ll-die sign on the train door.  It’s so weird to think that all the little things around us could have been fought for and are most likely there because something bad happened and sparked its necessity.  A man defiantly leaned on that door and ended up just like the sign picture.

The other day the label that really got me was the “do not swallow” warning on the package of fish hooks.  I am not sure if they wanted the people to read that label and internalize it or for us to turn around and tell the fish.  It made me wonder if someone actually swallowed a fish hook and then made the argument the package never told them not to.  Never mind the fact that I was reading the warning label on the fish hook package, I tell you it’s law school it ruins your simple mind.

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