A number of years ago, I took my then young family to our local county fair.
It was one of those dog days of summer, full of all sorts of bad food like cotton candy and deep fried Oreos. We rode all sorts of bad rides, held baby chicks, looked at various displays and competitions. The ideal summer evening.
There was one particular ride that, although I don’t remember it’s real name, became known within our family as the Vomit-Tron. I’ll leave that to your imagination.
There was one operator of the Vomit-Tron, a wonderfully droll guy, who would mumble away in the PA system while people were getting secured and ready for the ride.
Before the ride began, he would always make this separate side comment:
“Ladies and gentlemen, please ensure that the orange strap is over your left shoulder and firmly secured to the buckle on the right.”
These instructions were quite clear. Very specific, very direct, very simple, very obvious.
Then he would push Go and the ride would start spinning.
Beyond the usual screams and hollers, there were always patrons panicking over their respective orange straps.
“My orange strap isn’t here!”
“I can’t find my orange strap!!”
“There’s no buckle, there’s no strap!!!”
Then the panic would escalate…
“STOP THE RIDE.”
“I’m going to die!!!”
And that wonderfully droll operator would blindly ignore all those fearful comments… because as you’ve guessed by now, there was no orange strap.
He was getting in their heads, giving them some distraction, heightening the effect of the ride, and giving me a good show! I enjoyed watching and listening to it, and best of all I didn’t even have to purchase a ticket to be entertained. I simply sat there, eating my junk food and enjoying the various panicked reactions of those people.
Some people even went so far as to storm the operator stand and berate him about the safety of the ride; the irresponsibility of his comments. Who is your manager? We’re reporting you to the authorities, etc, etc.
Still not understanding the point that there was no orange strap to begin with.
At this time of enhanced volatility, my advice would be: beware the orange strap.
Beware of “the suit says” or “the doom prophets.”
Long term, the market will correct itself. Life will get back on track. There’ll be a new normal, but it will be normal.
Current contagions don’t need to significantly impact our financial planning. For all those panicking about a lack of retirement funds or long term investment strategies, don’t. It’ll be back — and your mental efforts are better spent elsewhere right now.
In times like these, it’s even more important to be smart, be prudent, be careful, be wise, be objective.
And that means, know when there is an orange strap and when there is not. Take advantage of them for your safety when they do exist, but don’t let yourself get tricked into panic.
You’re going to survive the ride if you follow the real safety precautions.