For Want of a Nail

May 10, 2017 0 By Mirm

There is a nursery rhyme that has a great message about the importance of details and ripple effects.

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

Something of great importance may depend on an apparently trivial detail.  The rhyme is really a proverb in which some little detail can impact the entire war!  It reminds me of the books about giving a mouse a cookie.  The point is often described as the Butterfly effect.  This is the theory that one small butterfly flapping its wings can eventually have a far reaching impact on future events, perhaps even a tornado.  A very small change in original conditions can cause a very different outcome; a major catastrophe can be traced back to a small error which causes a domino effect of consequences.

Saturday I was using my trailer and the hitch was making an incredible racket as I drove from Downey to Orange County.  I figured it was the way the hitch was attached to the Subaru since I didn’t have any trouble with the hitch attached to the Toyota.  George Sopp backed up my car and said he thought the ball was too small.  Well, he was right!  Just 1/8th of an inch made all the difference.

This is what happened.  As I drove home the ball fell off and the trailer slid under the car in the middle lane on a busy street.  Fortunately, I was able to get the trailer off the highway into a parking lot before an accident happened.  Even more fortunate was the close proximity to a U-Haul dealer where I was able to get a new ball that was the right size and have help securing it to the hitch. Best of all, there is no more rattling.  Who knew that 1/8th” could make a difference?!  For the want of a nail!