Sometimes the things we rely on the most in our lives are actually the simplest things. No need for anything fancy or expensive—these people share the cheapest things they put a whole lot of trust in:
#1 A Lot Of Faith
Someone mailed in a multi-million dollar winning lottery ticket. Not just a million dollars, multi-million. That's a lot of faith to have in a 40-something cent stamp. I would literally travel anywhere in the world to avoid doing this. I'd travel or Mordor and back to claim this ticket. It wouldn't take me three freaking movies, I know that.
#2 Imaginary Force Field
Paint. A simple stripe down the middle of a road and we trust it like some sort of force field against idiot humans. I get this wave of anxiety driving on the highway every now and then. I start thinking about how stupid some people I know are. My co-worker can’t figure out why his internet won’t connect, just to find out he hasn’t plugged it in. During a fire drill once, we were told that we couldn’t bring food into the stairwell and some dumb girl asked if her soup was food. My friend thought chipmunks were baby squirrels. Then I realize that all of these people are driving 2,000 pounds of metal going 80 miles per hour a few feet away from me and I start freaking out. Thinking about the trust we put in other drivers is wild.
#3 Trust The Green Man
Lights on crossings. I lived in Spain for four years, and I learned that an entire nation has absolutely no fear of crossing a road if they have the little green man on their side. Being from Britain, where the usual response is to wait for the green man, look both ways twice, do an awkward little stop-start run across the zebra crossing, and mouth an apology to the driver for being a burden, it was a revelation.
#4 Living On The Edge
I'm a climber. While most of the gear is ungodly expensive, on the cheap end I've literally put my life in the hands of $3 piece of metal. No regrets. Also, have you heard about the shirts which DMM put a 0 KN rating on? Some alpinists got stuck and used one to build an escape anchor. I think the company thought, "Well, no-one would be daft enough... Okay, okay... we'll put the warning on them."
#5 A Dangerous Gamble
A friend of mine will use a floor jack to hold up his truck while he works under it versus going to harbor freight and getting some jack stands. He must trust a 10 cent O ring more than I do. I get nervous when I crawl under my Jeep with two six-ton jack stands. I would never crawl under with just a floor jack supporting it. He's a mad one, that guy.
#6 Shiny Plastic
Money, in cash, is just paper and metal scraps. In the bank, it's just numbers. If we just decide one day a house isn't worth a few hundred thousand magic points, or paper scraps, it's still a house, but all those magic points just stop existing, and money isn't worth the paper it's printed on, or the metal it's stamped from. But that's how modern society functions, and we're not going back to silver and gold any time soon.
Even if we did go back to silver and gold-backed currency, who the heck really wants a brick of gold? You can't eat it, you can't live in it, and you can't drive it. Yes, it very useful in science, industry, and jewelry, but, it's just a hunk of metal. In all reality, barter and trade is the only way to exchange goods and services without any chance of it all going to heck.
#7 The Guy At Lowe's
I used to work at Lowe's and I would have loved someone pulling this. The best I had was a guy loading bags of soil and mulch into his truck. He stepped on a nail sticking out of the pallet. He started hopping on one foot and swearing. While hopping around, he banged his shin on one of the blue flat carts. He switched feet but kept jumping and swearing until he realized he was jumping on a foot with a new hole in it. He started to pick that foot up then stopped dead, looked me in the eye, and said, "If I wasn't so loopy right now, that really would have hurt." He turned around and drove off...
#8 Check The Lights
Fair rides are scary, but I have a good tip for them. I was taught by my dad was to see if all of the lights are working before going on them. And examine if all the lights are working on all of the rides. This is because it is mandatory (at least in New York) for all of the lights to be working for it to pass inspection. So, if they aren’t all working, then the inspector wasn’t strict enough about that rule. And if he or she wasn’t strict about that, you can’t assure they were strict about other important inspection components. So, if you do want to ride rides at the fair, check the consistency of the working lights. It could save your life.
#9 My Life In Data
Data storage. Email companies give away gigabytes of the stuff. Even buying your own HD or SSD or renting on the cloud is pretty inexpensive. And we trust vast amounts of human knowledge to these systems. I have OneDrive, Google Drive, and a Firefox account that stores my information... It's so much data about me just out there...
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#10 Full Speed Ahead
I was driving a car when the throttle return spring failed once, and I just accelerated down the on-ramp to the highway like a crazy person. I continued to gain speed until I was past the speed limit. It actually wasn't that long before my brain kicked in and held down the clutch and shifted out of gear, then braked onto the shoulder. But for those few seconds, sheer absolute panic. All I could picture was attaining light speed and rocketing off the highway at the first corner. We trust so much of these car parts that sometimes won't hold up.
#11 A Very Close Call
My husband had a stick shift V8 that he put aftermarket floor mats in. I was dropping him off somewhere so I had to move the seat up. Moving the seat shifted the mat and when I started to accelerate at an intersection, the gas pedal got stuck. I panicked for a second until I realized I could shift to neutral and reach down to pull the pedal up with my hand.
#12 Mindless About Water
Water. We trust the water that comes through our taps; that comes in bottles... that we drink and turn into food and shower with. It costs us pennies a day and yet, look at Flint... Not only can municipal water be toxic, but who knows how tainted our water can be? Also, water is taken for granted well before all of this. No one cares about groundwater. Look at California. Improperly allocating resources like water can really mess a state's economy and ecology for the future.
#13 Better Safe Than Sorry
Fire alarms, smoke detectors, and carbon monoxide detectors. They're like $5 on Amazon and they could be the difference between life and death for your entire family. I just bought one for my trips the other day. I travel extensively and have extended stays for work and it seemed dumb to trust their equipment. I found myself standing in Walmart thinking I don't want to pay 50 bucks, these should be like $5. I bought one anyway because dying over 50 bucks is something I'd never live down.
#14 Faulty Engineering
O rings! They're in just about anything with a seal in it, and they keep everything working properly. If they fail, we get stuff like the Challenger explosion... or you get a leaky pipe. I mean, let’s not pretend anything with an O ring is always for transporting explosive liquids. It’s a common component in all engineering, and they fail all the time.
#15 Elevated Risk
Ladders. You really don’t realize just how dangerous those things can be, especially if you’re more than a few meters up. If it’s not balanced properly or you take one wrong slip, that could very well be the end for you. It’s so important that you have a strong and stable ladder because it’s not worth gambling with your life just to try and clean some leaves out of the gutter.
#16 Just Safe Enough
Aircraft. Doesn't matter if they're the most efficient, most beautiful, fastest vehicles to travel on; manufacturing is just good enough to make it pass safety regulation with some give to it, while being as cheap as possible to manufacture and still make a profit. The freaking Space Shuttle was an expensive quarter-million-pound trap. If something bad happens, you're SOL. There are very few "Volvos of the sky," and only with time will we figure out if the new sky wales are that good. I'd say SAAB but they're only an aircraft company now. They made dang good cars though.
#17 Wipers Or Weep
This may sound weird, but windshield wipers. People like to spare expense for anything they don't actively think they use, like buying the cheapest wipers. I live in Florida, and when the time comes to flick the lever and see where you're going, cheap wipers can be the difference between life and death. I spend an extra $20 so I don't end up like the nine accidents reported on my route to work by Waze.
#18 Toilet Necessities
The little rubber ring that is the linchpin of your toilet bowl. It’s all that stands between you and a flood of a mess, literally. I had one fail on my upstairs and it ran through the vents and rained downstairs. My dad does bathroom remodels and always has me do the replacement on the rings on the toilets. They are revolting when old.
#19 Money, Money, Money
Free checking and savings accounts. They cost nothing; in fact, it can sometimes be a small benefit depending on the institution. But that's a lot of faith that your money will be there when you need it. And then you have the UK, where money in banks is protected by the government up to a certain amount. I don't know about the rest of the world. Heck, I have a debt to the bank I have all my money with, so if they went down I'd be pretty happy.
#20 Flimsy Piece Of Wood
A door. It's usually a flimsy piece of wood that protects just about everything we own. My front door has a huge, even flimsier window right next to it. I really don't understand why deadbolts are a thing. Buy a cheap pick and tension wrench and spend a small amount of time with it. Door locks and most deadbolts are more a deterrent than anything.
#21 A Hacker's Dream
Computers. Pretty much all of most people's personal information is on a computer, which could be hacked pretty easily if someone really wanted to. If you have the time to spend learning how to construct a PC, there really are inexpensive ways to do it. I constructed my home PC for less than $100, using a large filing box, a bit of tape, and a PC I stole from work that I hid inside the filing box. It's so easy, anyone can learn how to do it.
#22 Pull The Pin
A grenade pin. A tiny little strip of metal (basically a cotter pin) is all that keeps you from ending yourself and closest buddies. Oh yeah, and the cotter pin is attached to a metal ring that can get caught on about everything. Modern grenades have more than just the pin to pull, thankfully. There is a bent piece of wire holding the spoon on to the grenade... but still.
#23 Sketchy Teachers
Teachers. Regrettably, my experience with teachers is not a good one. My school district growing up was one of the poorest in the state. Our teachers were about 70% horrible I would say (at the high school level). I had teachers that were having affairs with each other, teachers buying illicit substances from students and a teacher got a student pregnant (he still teaches at the school, by the way).
#24 Trust The Pros
Anything automotive related, particularly safety items. Just because your friend, uncle, or cousin CAN turn a wrench, doesn't mean you should trust him to do it on your car for a fraction of what you should be paying a decent shop. Tires, brakes, wipers, that sort of thing should be ponied up for and a few extra dollars spent on quality parts, and proper skills to do it right.
And don't wait until you hear a noise or the part fails or makes a noise, actively check your vehicles for problems and get them fixed. You and those around you are driving 2 to 5 (average, including work vehicles) ton appliances at up to 70, 80, 90 miles per hour down the interstate. You want to stay in control of that appliance before you kill a family of 5. Sincerely, a mechanic who has seen too many accidents because of these reasons alone, without adding in human error.
#25 The Learning Struggle
Education. Government spending is regularly throttled in this area. Funding for the bureaucracy surrounding education is where most of the money goes, not to the costs of actual education. The reason we have trust is that we've all experienced the great teachers—the ones who love what they do and who have the wherewithal to keep grinding at it, keep getting better, and pull the best out of their students.
But we all know the other side of the street. The vindictive, power-starved, bureaucrats who live for no other reason than to take mindless action without applying any sort of common sense. Those are the majority of people who work in education. Those are the people who give rise to the costs, and those are the people that other bureaucrats look at and think "we should reduce educational spending".
Those great teachers and many more who have aspired to be like them would succeed if we only cleared the path for them and paid them a living wage. But we can't. And we won't. Because of bureaucrats.
#26 A Book's Impression
I’m going to get deep here for a second and say books. Why? Because when you buy a book whether it be a novel or an educational book we TRUST that it will either entertain us or educate us properly. But when it falls through and we aren’t entertained or we don’t learn. It causes us to stop reading and to stop putting faith in something that is so important to our lives especially as a teenager.
#27 Military Equipment
Consider military equipment. Multi-million dollar pieces of equipment, yes, but the contacts to build them are often given to the lowest bidder... My uncle was a mechanic for F-14s on an aircraft carrier years ago. The stuff he told me about how they fixed that stuff was terrifying. It all became a question of safety not only for the general public but for the staff as well.
#28 A Single, Tiny Piece
Split pins... Or cotter pins for you Americans. That tiny bent piece of wire is often the only thing preventing a major suspension component from loosening and flying off your car whilst you're driving 80 mph sending you flying into oncoming traffic with no control over your direction. Literally a single, tiny piece... that's all that's holding it all together for you.
#29 A House Of Nails
Nails. They cost pennies apiece but are responsible for holding your home together. My house is 103 years old, so there are these nails here that have been in place for 103 years, and enough of them are holding up to have kept the house from collapsing in that time, despite them being cheap. You wouldn't have a house without nails.
#30 The Flex Rings
The little flex rings you stick into the end of your U-joints on your car to keep it steady in your driveshaft. I changed one for the first time and when I opened the package and saw these dinky little paperclip things, I was like, "Well, this is safe." Then I learned they're annoying to put in, so I doubt they're popping out any time soon.
#31 Charger Reliant
Freaking phone chargers. My phone is my alarm. Not to mention, I work in construction, and my boss has a habit of sending me a text in the morning, 30 minutes before work, telling me what job site to go to. I beat the heck out of those little three-foot cables, and go through them like toilet paper. Should one decide to malfunction at an inopportune moment, I'm screwed.
#32 Carnival Scare
Carnival rides. To be fair, I suppose I don't know how cheap they are, but they do fold up on to trucks and are constantly assembled, dismantled, and reassembled. I don't know about carnival ride technicians, but I've always got an extra wooden peg or screw when I just try to put together a piece of furniture once.
#33 Cheaper Than Milk
I would say gasoline. $2.50 for a gallon of extremely combustible material. We store it in thousand-gallon containers under stations and trust the engineers who designed it. We also pipe petroleum everywhere and trust (vaguely) that it won't leak and destroy everything. Cheaper than milk. More destructive than we realize.
#34 A Vital Component
I'm going to go with brake pipes. The piece of rubber which goes from the metal line in the wheel arch to the caliper. There is a really small bore that dirt could block. We trust this system and drive very fast and always expect it to never burst or block and effectively were trusting something with a bore thinner than a drinking straw to stop 2 tonnes of metal. Considering a brake pipe is like 35 quid, that's a lot of faith in a really cheap part.
#35 Underappreciated Food
Fast food. Based on how quickly its made, how much is made at a time, how long it lasts, and prices. So many factors we pass up every day. I really enjoy fast food but my options are limited by the thought of what I may possibly be eating. 5 Guys is legit though, no thought goes into ordering 1,500 calories in one sitting. Not to mention the people making the food aren't looked at as chiefs by society, but rather as the low end of the job force.
#36 Thin Air
O rings in space. Tranquility has seven windows each with a cover on the outside but it can be taken off from the outside. Two eyeball-sized O rings are the only thing that separates the astronauts from the vacuum of space. Additionally, on the Apollo missions, parts of the space ship's walls were made out of a material as thick as aluminum foil. Crazy.
#37 Stay In The Loop
Open-source software. It's become an issue in the past few years with things like open SSL (now that has Microsoft sponsorship) and PGP (Facebook gave the single developer a bunch of money). There are tons of little and big pieces of software that people forget we rely on until it's almost too late. It's always good to stay in the loop with these things.
#38 The Power Of A Pen
A pen. A pen can be used to spend all of your money, agree to pay large sums of fees over a certain period of time, create a contract of legal obligation for you to complete a job or perform a service, put a child up for adoption, adopt a child, agree to a job, and pretty much everything else you are required to do. Pens do a ton.
#39 Keepers Of Money
A free checking account. You can save tens of thousands of dollars in the dang things. Yet the tellers are paid peanuts and we have to trust them not to steal or screw up our transactions or accounts. I mean look it this way, if the teller screws up and gets fired, it's of no consequence; they can easily just get another job with no problem. But to us, it's hundred or tens of thousands of dollars that's at stake.
#40 Duct Tape And Faith
Fair rides. Those things are put together with duct tape and faith. I had a guy come into our store one time looking for a bearing to go on the fair ride. He had to have it that day; only, he didn't disclose what it was going on right away. I sold him something close to what he described and asked if that would work. He said, "I guess we'll find out." Right before he left I asked what he was working on and told me it was a fair ride, then he jetted out the door.
#41 Take Good Care
Any of the little bits in cars. Ball joints, bushings, safety pins, springs, O-rings, you name it. The car might be drivable without them, but there is a reason why MOT checks these bits... Once they go bad, the car can become easily uncontrollable. Those bits are there to make the car manageable on the roads. Take care of your ball joints and bushings people. It is way cheaper to have them changed in advance than out of need when they break. And faster.
#42 One Loose Bolt
I was driving one day and my entire car just stopped and dropped at 5 mph. I couldn't move the car at all anymore. I looked under and saw that the axle fell out of the tire and dropped on the bottom of the rim. Turns out, the mechanic's coworker forgot to tighten one freaking bolt. One. My parents said had I been going on the freeway, I'd most likely be in a major accident... or worse. Needless to say, the mechanic fixed up my entire car for free without his co-worker there.
#43 Lucky Penny
A little less direct I guess, but the whole “lucky penny” thing. You know, find a penny heads up, you get a wish, or good luck, or whatever. If people are superstitious (like my mom), that one cent sure can hold a lot of weight. Actually, more than once it’s held the weight of my confidence. And every time it’s failed. Thanks, Abe. Stop entrusting pennies with your wishes and luck! Abe is a backstabbing truthteller and will betray you without saying a dang thing.
#44 Moog Ties
Well I mean, I went with the good quality Moog tie rod ends just recently when doing them in my car, but I can buy an economy version for $3.40. I don't know if it's just me, but the thing that controls my steering shouldn't have an economy option that's 1/14th the price of the good quality option. Seems like a fatal accident waiting to happen.
#45 Get A Proper Lock
For some people, it's bike locks. For those who cycle a lot or spend more than $200 on a bike, they know to get a proper D-Lock. But still, even if you spend $60 to $80 on a functional store-bought mountain bike, it is still worth buying a D-Lock, even a cheaper one because the sight of any D-Lock might be enough of a deterrent to bike thieves. Why spend $1 on a combination lock with a cable that is thinner than even my own tallywhacker to protect something that is $60 to $80 times more expensive?
#46 Hold Your Horses
The brake fluid line on your car. It's a cheap wear item on a vehicle that holds in brake fluid, allowing you to stop as intended. Before I'm met with resistance, I realize this isn't always a catastrophic event. But most people panic in a situation where they lose hydraulic fluid pressure and need to figure out an alternative way to stop the vehicle.
#47 Legal Battles
Attorneys. People think they're expensive, but as one, I can say that there is a lot of expense to create the person that the client eventually uses. Acquiring legal knowledge is expensive, maintaining your legal knowledge is expensive, and the hourly billable rate comes nowhere close to the value of the service clients are actually getting.
#48 Spec'd Out
I’d like to argue that access to clean water is cheap as heck, but you certainly don’t want to be WITHOUT access to clean water. Car brakes. For most, it’s about $50 per axel for pads before labor and we trust our dang lives to these things. Car tires. Same deal with breaks but they last years. I just got four three-year tires mounted and balanced for less than $200. I spec’d the heck out of them and they’re decent.
#49 Junior Sailors
In the Navy, the most important jobs are often held by the most junior sailors. On submarines, a guy will show up and then a month later be qualified to drive this billion-dollar warship. Yeah, he'll have supervisors, but all it takes is one tiny mistake to end 150 people and disable a ship carrying weapons and a nuclear reactor.
#50 Play It Safe
Plumbing fixtures. All it takes is one little rubber gasket to fail and you're on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars in damages. Take a look inside your toilet tank sometime at the cheap gaskets holding the tank onto the back of your toilet. I was staring at the gaskets on my Geberit in-wall toilet tank when I was installing it. I ended up replacing the o-rings with Viton o-rings because I just kept staring at the things thinking, “No way that cheap gasket doesn’t fail.” Now I'm questioning the rest of the fixtures in the house and considering going through them all and replacing the seals with better seals.