Are you taking out the recycling, or is the recycling taking out you?!

Don't tell the people who are doing home "canning" that they are actually using jars

I'm sure everyone has watched a movie or two which has the scene where a guy in a suit is sitting on a park bench reading a newspaper, and then a second guy in a suit approaches the bench and sits down, and also reads a newspaper, and at some point while they are both sitting there, an envelope emerges from someone's suit jacket pocket or gets shuffled back and forth between the newspapers or something.

I guess this is a clever enough way to exchange your envelope of stuff. You're in a public space, the thing you are swapping is pretty small. In modern films maybe it's a USB drive in a tiny pouch. The existence of this trope also allows for the existence of the trope where a law enforcement officer takes the place of whoever was supposed to do the swap with the suit guy, and instead the whole bench is surrounded by cameras and people with binoculars and so on, and we are actually watching a sting, not a simple swapping of envelopes.

Anyway, if you're like me, than probably 1-2 times a month you think "man, wouldn't it be cool to wear a suit and have a friend wear a suit and get newspapers and go to a public park and just exchange envelopes for a while?" In some versions of this daydream I think we'd take turns being the guy with the envelope. In other versions I think we'd make a point of picking a pretty huge park and arriving at separate entrances at different times and not actually telling each other which bench to meet on, just to make it interesting. I do think that whoever brought the envelope or the USB drive or whatever you were using would have a pretty big responsibility to put a really clever or really stupid message on the thing so that when the other person went and read it they got a good chuckle out of it.

If anything, you are probably surprised that I've never done this, and let me tell you why that's the case. I think that there are some risks attached to this scenario, and as a risk mitigation expert I have to take those risks seriously.

The first risk is that you are observed by actual law enforcement officials who mistake you for actual criminals and are a little gung-ho because it's their first day on the job and decide to shoot you in the face before you can explain that the whole thing is a big joke. Sounds unlikely, right? But did you know that more middle aged suburban dads die this way each year than die in shark attacks? That sounds like it could be true.

Beyond that ... there is a certain type of friend who you are going have to identify first in order to ask them to dress up in suits and go swap papers in a park. They have to bring a certain outlook on life to the table in order to be willing to participate in this. If you have a super serious friend who actually wears suits and either works in the criminal trades or maybe works in high finance or something, they might not be into this game because it hits a little too close to home for them. On the other hand, if you have a big slacker friend they might agree to the whole thing, but they are not going to approach it with the right degree of seriousness, and they'll probably start laughing. You need someone with a sufficiently grounded attitude about life that they will agree to this in the first place ... yet they must also have enough discipline to take the role playing aspect seriously.

So where the risk comes in is that the same sort of person who agrees to participate in this idea with you and take it seriously is also the same sort of person who would - without your knowledge - hire like 6 people from a local improv troupe to also wear suits, and outfit them with earpieces and radios and binoculars, and have them completely surround your park bench swap, and then have them "move in" on your deal just as "the exchange" was completed, and probably put you in handcuffs while your friend admitted that he took an immunity deal to get out of a longer prison term because he can't watch his daughter grow up from inside the joint, or whatever.

That would be so confusing.

If you're not dropping in you might as well be dropping out

In the immediate aftermath of 9/11 I remember being really uncomfortable with the ribbons and pins and flags everyone was wearing. I knew it bothered me and I couldn't really explain why. I think the most direct reason is that it just felt futile and small. I like to identify problems and find their solutions ... and for almost every angle I looked at the thing from, there was no way that "wear a tiny flag ribbon" was the solution to any of the various problems, of which there were and still are very many.

It also felt disrespectful to everyone who lost families and friends that day. Your ribbon isn't going to bring anyone back, and it's not going to replace their energy or love or income or promises in anyone's lives, either. Because I was trying to view the ribbons as a solution to the problem, I was irritated to the point of almost being offended by the people wearing all the ribbons. How horrible would you have to be at solving problems to believe that the ribbon solved any problems!? It's a very public announcement of your lack of qualifications to be a problem solver. You've showed your hand, and I can cross you off my list of big league problem solvers.

At the same time, I think I realized that the ribbon people just wanted to do something, anything at all, and that they were probably frustrated that there wasn't really anything to do, so the ribbons were sort of a way of throwing up their hands and giving up on the solution side ... but also putting up a little sign that said "hey, I thought about this, and I can't think of a solution, so please just know I tried".

I've since come to realize that the problems-solutions lens isn't the right lens to use in these cases.