Delphic Maxim 61 - Be On Your Guard

Φυλακη προσεχε

Approximate transliterationFylake Prosekhe
Direct translationCare Prison
Typical translationBe On Your Guard

Side note: I'm glad that I defined the dice rolling rules before I started this. It's funny that I rolled the exact same roll as last time.

Although this Maxim's translation seems to be nowhere near "be on your guard," προσεχε can mean both a prison and someone who guards it. "Care" is like the phrase "to take care" or "pay attention." So, this more directly translates to "pay attention to your guard" i.e. don't let your guard down.

This doesn't mean to become paranoid, but it does mean that you should be alert.

Be Aware

Know Your Surroundings

Finger Mugger
Finger Mugger

When people go out to a bar with friends, people tend to let their guard down completely. They're drunk, happy, and relaxed. This is all fine, but when you leave, a lot can go wrong. A designated driver is a great idea that should not an option; you must have one. However, what if you aren't taking a car home?

I've gone to bars and clubs in cities. There are a lot of people who leave wasted, then walk and take the subway home. I've known one person who was mugged when he was walking home drunk. Not that you can do much in that situation, but he could have avoided it. Have fun, be merry, but have your wits about you if you're not riding a drunk bus home.

This the most extreme case I can think of. There are lesser situations, like missing an exit on the highway, but those don't really highlight the point quite as well.

Stupid Mistakes

Crosswalk Misspell
Crosswalk Misspell

When you do something every day, you'll start to do it more quickly. Eventually, you'll start skipping an "unnecessary" step or two. You start completing the task faster and more efficiently. Unfortunately, that's also how stupid mistakes happen.

It doesn't matter how long you've done something, you're going to make a mistake eventually. It trick is to be alert enough to realize the mistake and correct yourself before it's too late.

I work with microchips. I've seen people destroy thousands of dollars of equipment through electro-static discharge (rubbing your feet on a carpet than touching someone to shock them is an example of this). There are wrist straps on every bench to ground us to prevent this from happening, but some people who "know what they're doing" don't bother with the one second it takes to slip them on. Actually, I have one at my desk.

The material stretches around my wrist. No adjustments are necessary. If you want, you can even detach the strap from the wire, meaning you don't ever even have to take the strap off to walk away from the bench.

The funny part is, I've only ever seen experienced people without a strap. People new to the field always put it on.

Reserve Trust


Dexter Comic
Dexter Comic

How well do you really know people? Every time you talk to people, you're only seeing one side of them.

I'm at work on my lunch break, so let's use office co-workers as an example. Granted, not everyone you work with is a Dexter character, but you're (usually) only ever seeing a person's "office" or "work-safe" side. Co-workers make office-humor jokes, talk about college football, and make bad work-safe puns.

I would say that likely most of the people you talk to are not like this outside of work. There are people who hike, build stuff in their garage, or garden. There are people who get blackout drunk every weekend. Others have mental problems they manage to suppress at work. Maybe there are a few who deal in illegal activities.

Chances are you are only meeting the side they want you to meet. Most people switch in to "work mode" without even thinking about it. I've known complete bigots who don't show that side of themselves until after work at happy hour.

How do you know who you can trust? In the beginning, you don't know. It takes time for each of you to trust each other.

Complete Strangers

Beer in a Titty
Beer in a Titty
It's surprisingly difficult to find a picture of a drunk guy at a bar.

There are people who go to a bar or party and tell their life stories to anyone who will listen. These people don't talk to people; they talk at people.

You don't know if the listener is being polite (most likely), actually engaged in the conversation (less likely), or at worst case an identity thief or social engineer.

Don't tell people everything about you when you first meet them. A typical conversation isn't a confession or a one-sided tirade (get a blog for that ☺), and you don't have to dictate a memoir every time you talk. You may be someone's stepping stone into corporate espionage, and your username will take the blame. It happens.

Criminal Twitter Facebook
Criminal Twitter Facebook

Of course, there is the online version of this: Facebook, Twitter, etc.

People who don't want to tell their family or friends certain things have no problem putting those thoughts on Facebook. Then, it's somehow Facebook's fault when those people find out.

Would you like your house to be robbed? Tell burglars that you're not home through Foursquare.

You wouldn't believe how much easier it is to collect sensitive company information or break through a company's Internet security barriers because of social media networks. That is a whole topic in itself that I won't get into here.

Not everything has to be shared. Be on your guard. Be aware, and protect your privacy.