As humans, we are naturally inquisitive and open to new experiences. However, after repeated trials and tribulations, we often figure out what things aren't worth for us to try or pursue. Whether they're lessons learned or a surefire trigger for bad emotions, these are some of the things people have sworn to avoid at all costs:
#1 It's Quite A Shock
I saw what happened when a guy didn't properly tag out and rack out a breaker. The dude caught 440. Something like that vaporized the water in his hand and it split like an overripe watermelon. He was lucky he didn't take it across the chest or there would have been a smoldering smear left behind instead. Never mess with electricity.
#2 Kangaroos Not Welcome
Kangaroos. The most nerve-racking thing I have ever done was walk home during a blackout with kangaroos jumping around me in the pitch-black of night. I live in Canberra and our city prides itself on being the Bush capital. That means we have enough gum trees around that, from a certain height, you can't see the houses. We have kangaroos everywhere. I live in a house that backs onto a pathway connected to a reserve and there is a herd of about 15 of them that regularly cross into the streets and footpaths.
#3 Force Of Nature
The rain itself is ridiculously dangerous. People don't understand, but coming from a place where rain has ended hundreds of lives and is also the main source of water, rain is but a huge blessing and a huge curse. It's the most destructive force on Earth by orders of magnitude. Extreme winds barely even compare. A tsunami is the least survivable natural disaster by far.
#4 The Thalassophobe
My family doesn’t appreciate the thalassophobia that I’ve developed over the last several years. I even went swimming multiple times in the ocean about 14 years ago, but today, no thank you. I get panicky just thinking about being out on the ocean. I could probably tolerate standing on the beach but that’s about it. My dad took a fishing trip in Alaska last year and said they were 20 miles out on the sea... NOPE NOPE NOPE. “We could still see land, it’s fine.” Queue nervous laughter.
#5 The Merciless Sea
I’ve nearly drowned, I have friends who have nearly drowned, multiple friends of friends who have died surfing or commercial fishing, and I have three close friends who’ve been bitten by sharks. I know of countless more. Sea people are a strange breed, but it’s the only thing that works for most of us. Never turn your back on the sea... Or the sea will turn its back on yee.
#6 That's One Lucky Guy
Fire. There’s a story I know about a mate of mine. He effectively stole about 50 shotgun shells worth of gunpowder in an attempt to make a homemade artillery shell for one of those giant spud guns. He realized the shell was too big and used an ANGLE GRINDER to cut it down to size... it exploded in his face. He lost his right hand, half his left hand, his eyesight in one eye and he had enough shrapnel in his body to put a Marine to shame. Somehow, the guy survived. And the best part? His parents are freaking loaded, so he got all charges against him dropped.
#7 Seals Aren't That Cute
Seals. I thought they were super cute until I became a marine mammal medic. I found out they have bacteria in their saliva, blood, and blubber that causes infections and necrosis. They have insane teeth and can also twist their heads almost the whole way around. When we completed the course, we were given a specific form to give to hospitals if we got bitten, because it's rare enough that hospitals don't usually know amputation is almost always necessary. I was taught by a guy who lost fingers to this.
We were taught that the only way to rescue a seal in trouble is to leap on it from behind, straddle the body and choke the heck out of it so it doesn't literally bite your crotch and infect it. The only ones we can help? Juveniles. This is because there was an incident when three firefighters tried to jump an adult seal in trouble, and it went jaws all over the front guy's arms and thighs. I became a marine mammal medic to help the seals I saw in the area, but now when I see them I just want to stay the heck away.
#8 Trust Issues
People preparing my food. When I worked fast food, we would never do anything gross to the food of people who deserved it (spit on the burgers, undercook the meat, etc.). Instead, we would oversalt their fries, put an insane amount of cheese sauce on their stuff, add too much ice in the drink, or my personal favorite, put a load of pickles on their burger. This gave me trust issues when it came to other people preparing my food.
#9 A Delicate Organ
The pancreas was literally the only thing I heard during my entire surgery rotation. The pancreas is a very delicate internal organ and it is filled with digestive enzymes that digest anything they come into contact with. Your body tightly controls their secretion from the pancreas into the intestines. If you accidentally rupture the pancreas during surgery, you spill digestive enzymes into the abdominal cavity.
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#10 Beware The Postal Police
The United States Postal Police. Do you want to know what happens when you get the attention of the most boring federal police force in history? No. No, you do not. The Postal Inspection Service has a lot of staff for very few crimes, and they take having a low unsolved crime rate very seriously. If you commit a crime that involves the Inspection Service, you're going to be sitting in court facing a prosecutor with a lot of evidence.
#11 Listen To The Locals
If the locals or especially the lifeguards are telling you not to swim somewhere, or to get out of the water for any reason, do what they say! It feels like we had a lot of drowned tourists this year. This is more important than it sounds. We know you're on vacation and you paid a lot of money to stay at the beach for a week. Lay in the sand and swim in the pool. A week of inconvenience isn't worth yours or a loved one's life.
We had stretches of what seemed like weeks where the flags were out and they wanted no one in the water because the waves and rip current were so bad. But still, people ignored it and they became a headline. There were multiple children, including two 4-year-olds and others going all the way into their 60s who drowned this past summer. All of those lives were lost because they ignored the warnings and thought they were strong swimmers. Please don't be that person.
#12 Strive To Be Useful
Old men in a profession where you usually die young. I've been a practicing paramedic since the '70s. I came home from Vietnam and got the job by putting in every civil service application I could. People always joke that I'm bulletproof and can eat lightning and thunder. The truth is, I love to provide for someone service in what could be the worst possible moment in their life. Being useful keeps me going.
#13 Massive Metal Beast
Trains. Don’t play on the tracks. Don’t try to race the gate coming down. Don’t ever assume that you’ll be able to run away safely. Your tiny lizard brain cannot comprehend how quickly that massive, massive metal beast is moving, and it WILL win, and you WILL die. That’s what my mom has always told me. When she was little, I think someone got dragged by a train near her house, and she said that every couple hundred yards there’d be another blue tarp where a body part was ripped off.
#14 Dangerous Piggies
Never mess with a wild boar. I grew up with wild boar in the area. I saw one when I was a kid playing in the woods... I ran and it chased me. I climbed a tree and the boar waited for me to come down. It was super aggressive... Nightmares, man. the feral hogs in the U.S. can kill you, too. They're not wimpy little farm piggies at all.
#15 Highly Venomous
Blue-ringed octopus. They’ll kill you dead with their venom. I was at Sunshine Beach a few weeks ago and I didn’t have my glasses on. I went for a nice 20-minute walk before putting them on (I don’t know why; my vision is horrid) when I looked down there were blue-ringed octopuses ALL OVER the sand... like everywhere. I went swiftly back to my car.
#16 Chili Caution
Chili in a crockpot in a moving vehicle. Have you seen that episode of The Office where Kevin drops the chili? Now imagine that happening all over the passenger seat (and surrounding area) of your vehicle. Never again. Ten years later and hermetically sealed canned chili doesn’t even get to ride in my car. Nope. Chili is a stationary food. No exceptions.
#17 Life-Giving, Life-Ending
Flowing water. Six inches of water is enough to knock a normal person off their feet. At s7 mph, that six inches has the same force per area as the winds of an EF5 tornado. A lot of people really underestimate just how dangerous it is. Often times, it’s the strong swimmers who drown... I got told that one while training for an ocean swim-through. Basically, don't be an overconfident idiot.
#18 Household Hazard
Garage door springs. Fun story: my dad's coworker was working on his garage door and he had no idea about the spring. So he unlatched it and the second it got loose, it snapped back and cut his hand clean off. The house freaking shook. Like actually shook. He completely destroyed the ceiling and, all around, it cost about 40,000 dollars to fix.
#19 Don't Mess With Lathes
A lathe. Those things mess people up. I'd have to have an old veteran school me for many hours before I was comfortable firing one of those up by myself. Anything that spins is scary, but I have the least experience with a lathe, I guess. The number of times in high school that I forgot to remove the chuck key makes me wonder how I made it through unscathed.
#20 It's A Process
I won't look into a lady's purse. If my girlfriend wants something from her purse, I hand her the purse. It has everything to do with my mom's explosive temper when I was young. Though, from my experience Moms do it out of embarrassment because they have hygiene products there. If you're not that close with your lady yet that's understandable, but once you've bought them pads it doesn't matter.
#21 Cereal Obsession
I got addicted to a brand of cereal once. I ate it all the time, like three meals a day. I got anemia and stomach problems because of the lack of variety. I had to really struggle to stop eating it. I still think about it all the time and have to walk past it really fast in the supermarket aisle. I think I got addicted to the familiarity and I was slightly depressed at the time which I'm sure didn't help. But honestly, it felt like a real addiction.
#22 Must Be 68
I have always known not to touch the thermostat at home. In my own places, I set it to at least 70 because I’m paying my own bills and it will be whatever I want it to be. We moved into an apartment with HEAT INCLUDED (that’s really good in Maine, by the way–it's why I pay $1350 a month). It’s now back down to 66-68. I crank her up again and again, asking my boyfriend if he has messed with it. He always says yes—70 is too hot and we aren’t paying the heating bill, so 68 is fine.
#23 Just Run.
Never mess with geese, but if you happen upon a situation where geese mess with you, be prepared with some options. Personally, I like the suggestion of grabbing them by the throat and hurling them away. But even that can be hard. My personal advice is run and hopes you can outrun them. All it takes is one run-in with geese to realize what jerks they are.
#24 He Got Folded
I was downtown in Iowa city visiting some friends that went to school there when late one night, a big dude who clearly played for the football team started up with a not-so-big dude that had cauliflower ear. Hawkeye football is no joke, but Hawkeye wrestling is one of the best programs in history. It was over so fast and I've never seen such a big person get folded into a smaller package.
#25 No Turkeys, Please
Yeah, screw turkeys man. My grandma had them when I was a kid and they’d beat the heck out of me the moment the adults went inside. Those jerks ticked me off so much that I don’t even like eating them anymore because they just taste like hatred and loathing. Benjamin Franklin was wrong as heck in saying they’d be a better American National Bird than the Bald Eagle because they’re “noble."
#26 The IRS
The IRS. Never mess with them. I once went years without paying about $500 in back taxes and this was even after I moved to South Korea. Once I decided to take care of it, obviously, that amount shot way higher after penalties and late fees. It took multiple late-night calls (because of the time difference) and hours of total time on hold, but those nice folks at the IRS gladly waived all fees and I was only on the hook for the original amount, even though something like five years had passed. I paid it off in a few months and that was the end of it. It was surprisingly hassle-free, but I just got lucky—it could have gone much worse if I didn't take responsibility.
#27 Playing With Gas
Using gas to get a fire going. The number of people I have taken care of with disfiguring burns because they used gas is way too high! A little dab will get the job done. People underestimate how combustible and energy-packed gas is. Your car runs on the little explosions in the cylinder from very small amounts. Uncage the beast and you have three- to four-foot or taller flames if you have any significant quantities. If you're really dumb and standing over the top of it, you will not be having a good time.
#28 They Never Forget
We learned this with my cat. I'm not sure exactly what type of bird they were, but they were big-ish and black. My cat decided to climb their nesting tree when he was about a year old and they freaked out. I climbed up after him and managed to get him down before he got to the nests. The birds never forgot this incident. The birds always had someone keeping watch in a tree in my back yard, and they would start squawking any time the cat was outside. If he was outside alone, they would start diving at him. This went on for three years until we moved. Never mess with blackbirds.
#29 The Deep Unknown
The ocean. 95% of it is still unexplored so who the heck knows what’s in there. According to a marine biologist friend of mine, it's probably just more of the same and empty space. Yeah, lots of new species, but, you know, pretty similar to what we've already seen unless you really know how to compare these things. Some of the deep-sea stuff will probably be pretty nifty, but not exactly a threat. The likelihood that we'll find something mind-blowingly biology-changing hiding at the bottom of a trench somewhere is pretty low unless it's some kind of weird extremophile microorganism or shrimp or something. R'lyeh, Atlantis, and megalodons aren't hiding out there, as much as our deep-seated paranoia of the unknown wishes they were.
#30 The Bees Knees
I had bees living in my wall near the end of summer and as it got colder they started to make their way into my apartment through a tiny gap around the casing of the window they were close to. There was probably a 1/8" gap between the casing and the wall, I will never forget shining a flashlight in it and seeing dozens of pairs of little bee legs scurrying about. Absolutely terrifying. Luckily only a couple here and there managed to actually get through.
#31 Local Advantage
If you're traveling, never mess with the locals. I've seen people pick fights with one of the locals and 10 of his buddies came out from every shop around them. I'm pretty sure that happens everywhere. Humans are adept at forming groups on the spot based on shared culture and interests—vegetarians will sit with vegetarians and meat-eaters will sit with meat-eaters. Sports car owners will congregate in the break room. You attack someone in a foreign country, and suddenly it's you versus everyone else who all share the same culture and language.
#32 Small Claims Confidence
A person's income. A client ripped me off over eight hundred dollars and then tried to make himself unreachable thinking I would chalk it up as a loss and move on. I decided to make going after him a project to do in my free time and promised myself I would just try to have fun with it and not get upset regardless of the outcome. After seven months, I got 80% of my money yesterday. I learned a lot about the Small Claims court and have a bit more confidence in my province's justice system than I did before.
#33 Scary Tracks
As a train driver, TRAINS. I’ve just become a driver and a group of kids trespassing the tracks for some fun crossed last second with luckily a near miss. 10,000 tons doesn’t move around you, it moves through you. It’s affected me for a few weeks, please stay away from the tracks. And we love rail fans and sounding the horn for them. But just for our security and your safety, please stay in the safe zone.
#34 Let Them Sleep
You just don't mess with people's sleep in general. I live in an apartment and some people want to blare music at 3 a.m. on a Tuesday? Don't ever expect any of those neighbors to help you out, and if you find your tires flat, you can probably guess why. People get really freaking ticked off when you mess with their sleep.
#35 Lyme Ruins Lives
Ticks. If you find a tick attached to you, remove it carefully and see your doctor. Do NOT mess around with Lyme disease. Get a prophylactic dose of doxycycline from your doctor, especially if you live in a Lyme hot zone. Take it from someone whose life was destroyed by a freaking tick bite: DO NOT MESS AROUND WITH LYME DISEASE.
#36 Don't Try It
A man’s or woman’s livelihood. I was a new manager and joked a few times like, “Guess you’ll be needing a new job” or something like that, and each time the person laughed but in a blanched way. A more senior person took me aside and said, “Never mess with someone’s livelihood” and it was so true. Never did that again. Some people's thought process is: "If I'm getting fired, I'm making it worthwhile." A good way to get beat down.
#37 One Wrong Step
Rusty nails. I almost lost my life because I put off a rusty nail wound for a few days. Gangrene, blood poisoning, kidney shutting down, the works. I'm still in the hospital. I've already lost a toe. I also have no insurance because I just moved to a new state. Ugh. At least they caught my kidney in time to save it.
#38 A Real Struggle
Hypothermia, seriously. I was outside in the snow for five minutes the other day with no gloves on... just checking out the sky with binoculars. When I got back in, I could hardly move my hands. They hurt so badly that warm water didn’t do anything and it was nowhere near hypothermia. I can’t imagine being wet out there for more than a few seconds, let alone a whole winter as loads of unfortunate people have to do.
#39 Warped Face
Pressure and temperature. If you're on the wrong end of a "sudden equilibration event," well let's just say your face will then be on the wrong side of your head. Someone once opened a chamber at the wrong time, causing it to explosively decompress. It sucked a man through a narrow two-foot hole. It also boiled the blood of the other three divers inside.
#40 The Hornet's Nest
One day, while putting away my bike, it suddenly felt like someone stabbed me with an ice pick in my shoulder. A second later, someone stabbed me in the other shoulder. Most people would start looking around for what it was, but I just started running, heading into the house. I didn't know what it was and I was not about to stick around and look for it. I came back later to find I had disturbed a nest of hornets and was lucky I didn't stay around for the rest of the party.
#41 The Gentle Giant
That one guy you know who is usually very kind and well mannered to everyone he talks to. I know a big, yet gentle dude. He was at a bar with one of his roommates and some dude was messing with her to the point where the gentle giant felt like he needed to tell the guy to leave his roommate alone. The tipsy jerk decided to double down and throw fists. Fine.
The gentle dude got up, walked outside, took out his front teeth (a dental bridge), handed his teeth to his roommate for safekeeping, then turned to the guy, ready to fight. The tipsy jerk, upon seeing his large, quiet adversary remove his teeth, decided this dude was not to mess with and noped out.
#42 The Angry Anesthesiologist
The person putting the epidural in. Shut the HECK UP and be grateful. My wife was getting an epidural when the room phone started to ring. After the fifth ring, the anesthesiologist started losing it. It was still ringing when she finished, so she picked up the phone and threw it across the room. I could hear my mother-in-law on the other line going, "Hello? hello?" as the anesthesiologist was screaming "Who the heck lets a phone ring that long?" The nurse had to yank it out of the wall.
#43 Legends Have It
Any surprisingly consistent local folklore.
"Listen, if tomorrow we pulled into Biren and someone told you there were shamble-men in the woods, would you believe them?" My father shook his head. "What if two people told you?" Another shake.
Ben leaned forward on his stump. "What if a dozen people told you, with perfect earnestness, that shamble-men were out in the fields, eating—"
"Of course I wouldn't believe them," my father said, irritated. "It's ridiculous."
"Of course it is," Ben agreed, raising a finger. "But the real question is this: Would you go into the woods?"
#44 Flicking Fiends
Just the other day, I discovered that bumblebees can get quite territorial if you approach that flower they really like. I was trying to take a macro picture of one and it went nuts. It started bumping me on my face at full speed which felt exactly like someone flicking his finger at you. Literally worse than stepping on Legos. So add that one to the list.
#45 Safety Not Guaranteed
Not a physical thing I guess, but hunting in inclement weather. Last year I did everything right, had the right boots on, had the shotgun's safety on, stayed on a well-worn hunting path, but then we had a borderline monsoon. I slipped down a hill and my gun went off so close to my head that the barrel left a burn mark on my forehead. Instant tears. Luckily, the muzzle was pointing straight up, right around my hairline level when it went off. A second earlier or later and I probably would've blown the top of my head off.
#46 Nature's Anger
Lightning. In my country, electrical storms are really really dangerous. I once saw a lightning strike a palm tree less than 20 feet in front of me. It split a tree in half and set the whole thing on fire. I'm lucky to be alive. I've since developed a somewhat phobia for lightning storms. I'm always immediately indoors when they happen.
#47 Derpy Beasts
Please don't tick off a moose. They may look slow and derpy, but if you upset them or threaten their baby, they come at you in a heartbeat. They are huge, extremely fast, and persistent. If they are staring at you, licking their lips, hunched over with the hair on their backs raised up, they are angry. Try to walk away slowly and don't threaten it. If it's too late, then just hope you can get away quickly enough.
#48 Be Extra Vigilant
Hot oil or meat slicers. Don't ever become too comfortable around those. A split-second distraction can and will mess you up for life. Think serious burns or slicing a finger off. I am a professional in a kitchen, and those are two things I am extra vigilant of, especially meat slicers. It's easy to become complacent, then boom, you're missing half your thumb.
#49 The Elements
At their most chaotic: water, wind, and fire. I'm referring to the weather and natural disasters, obviously not water in like a shower or fire over a stovetop. The power of moving water or floods or hurricanes is stronger than any man. The same goes for wind at the right speed. And fire, well, that's a no brainer. Anyone of those three could kill you in an instant when they get to their extreme chaos.
#50 Enough Said
Mothers-in-law, Mother Nature, or Mother Russia.