What am I thinking about today? Today, it is more what I’d rather not be thinking about if I had to be honest. People talk, people talk a lot, people need to stop talking.
Consider it curious or destiny, I find myself on the topics of building codes today, but that happens to be only a vehicle that this issue drove into my thinking process. However, a common phrase that I’ll hear, and heard a few times recently is “those building codes are rather stupid” or “there’s some really stupid stuff in those codes.”
Let’s look at this in an intelligent manner (hopefully) rather than merely complaining. I have no interest in changing anyone’s opinion, but I find it necessary, dare I say therapeutic to explain the folly of the foolish words that leave our mouths as if they are inveterate to humans.
Next time, pause from the justified visceral response and discover these statements are emanating from an inattentive person casting judgment from a throne of ignorance. They have no idea what they are criticizing, but since an aspect of it might temporarily inconvenience them or their neighbor, it must all be stupid. It’s a non-sequitur.
Next, I doubt the critic has a relationship, affiliation or need to think of the codes after they’ve spouted their inconsiderate rambling. However, watch them look around smiling hoping for others to join in like a mob of self-congratulations. What they’ve done is insult everyone in the A/E community that is required to design to these standards, must persist in being creative to solve design problems within challenging boundaries of physical limitations, budgets, deadlines, and client demands. It’s far too easy to throw darts. Beyond that, they insult the tradespeople who construct to these standards and are required to pass inspections and certifications confirming their result. Those in the A/E/C community have a ‘skin in the game’ and therefore, have an educated opinion, even though those opinions vary dramatically.
Last, and perhaps worst of all, these comments diminish the dark history that birthed the codes through years of tragedy and death. Codes and standards are often written in the blood of those individuals who were hurt or died in fires, collapses and other disasters that led professionals to create and develop codes to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the general public. I won’t even get started on the comments I hear about accessibility or other forms of discrimination or exclusivity. If the person making flippant comments had a loved one harmed because someone felt they need not comply, one can bet they would be the first to demand justice for their loss to the highest degree and demand for stricter requirements. Does that seem a bit hypocritical?
- Can codes be frustrating (even maddening)?
- Do they contain unusual or obscure features in places (ask me about drinking fountains)?
- Are they influenced by lobbying groups?
- The answer is yes to all of these, but that doesn’t make them stupid.
As I said earlier, I have no interest in changing anyone’s mind, proselytizing or seeking to gain converts. I can’t change the codes in place, nor can you. Why, therefore, must we complain fruitlessly then?
What I hope we can do is think before words spew from our mouths, understanding the damage we do from not…you know…thinking.