Service of Assumptions That Get You Into Trouble

February 28th, 2019

Categories: Assumptions, Danger, Elevators, Rail Travel


The old saying “to assume makes an ass of you and me” can cause far worse repercussions than a spot of embarrassment–it can be dangerous. It’s best to assume nothing.


Tuesday morning an elevator operator survived a four story fall down an elevator shaft in Manhattan’s SOHO neighborhood.  According to ABC 7 New York “the 49 year old man was on the third floor of the building when he stepped into the open shaft, but there was no elevator there.” He landed in the basement. Amazingly his injuries were not life-threatening. He must have assumed that as it was every other day, the elevator was in place when the doors opened that morning.


As I write this I haven’t read or heard what the motivation or thoughts of the driver of the vehicle in the horrendous accident on Tuesday might have been. He [or she] swerved past the closed railroad gate while bells announcing the oncoming eastbound train clanged at a Long Island Railroad crossing. My conjecture: the driver assumed he could make it and thought the risk was a better option than the wait. The westbound train also hit the car and the three in it died. The impact was so fierce that first responders couldn’t identify the make of the car.

New Yorkers and other city dwellers walk into elevators countless times a day. Do we pay attention before stepping in to confirm that it—and not an empty hole—is on the other side of the open doors? Do people take outrageous chances, like the driver in the terrible LI Railroad crossing accident, assuming that they are fast, clever, agile or smart enough to survive a potentially deadly choice?



13 Responses to “Service of Assumptions That Get You Into Trouble”

  1. Edward Baecher Said:

    Edward wrote in Facebook: Complacency. I think we are all guilty of that from time to time.

  2. jmbyington Said:


    In the case of the elevator I think we assume it will be there—it always has been. We’re lucky such accidents don’t happen more often. The moral: pay attention! I’m speaking to myself when I write that.

  3. Phyllis StierPhy Said:

    I thought I was the only overly cautious person re elevators! I ALWAYS wait & look before stepping into an elevator….what does that say about me??…

  4. jmbyington Said:


    It says that you are smart.

    Walking around NYC these days, between bicycles on sidewalks going the wrong way and reckless drivers—a friend was hit crossing at a crosswalk at the light a few weeks ago—we must all stay focused—for our own good!

  5. Phyllis Stier Said:

    And those electric scooters!

  6. jmbyington Said:


    Don’t get me started….

  7. ASK Said:

    I confess to never getting into an elevator without looking to make sure it’s there, too nervous a person to do otherwise…And, truthfully, as I’ve gotten older, I am more careful crossing the streets, especially after reading in the WSJournal (I think) this AM that there has been quite an increase in pedestrian accidents!

  8. ASK Said:

    Re-reading your blog today reminded me of a horrible case of trying to beat out a train at a RR crossing after the lights started flashing to indicate an oncoming train. Years ago, a girlfriend’s mother who was late for a hair appointment tried to beat the train in her car. She started to cross the tracks, saw the train, did a deer-in-the-headlights freeze, and you can figure out the end. In the small community where I grew up, we were all stunned and horrified…

  9. jmbyington Said:


    Phyllis, who commented earlier, will be glad to read she’s not alone and I hope I join your ranks.

    As for your friend’s mother—what a sad story. I have never trusted any car I’ve owned enough to take such chances. Same when cutting across a lane of oncoming traffic to turn into a store parking lot. I’ve always wondered “what if the car cuts out this minute?” so I don’t risk it. I’d never dash through a clanging RR crossing for that reason.

    A high school classmate of mine lost her mother in a storm on the Taconic Parkway. It’s something you don’t forget. I often drive that Parkway and in the skinny, swirling parts I am respectful.

  10. Vicki Hidalgo Said:

    Vicki wrote on Facebook: I remember the time I was trapped in an elevator on the 23rd floor in a building in Manhattan. I was alone at the time and it was one of scariest experiences in my life.

  11. jmbyington Said:


    For sure! I too have had my share of scary elevator rides. If one sounds or feels the tiniest bit strange out I get and I always report it to the doorman or building staff.

  12. Edward Baecher Said:

    Edward wrote on Facebook: You guys use elevators more times before lunch then we do in a year

  13. Jeanne Byington Said:


    True, but folks who work in Poughkeepsie and other cities use elevators at work at least.

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