A few hours later, another guy showed up. My wife, during her three weeks between jobs, contacted workmen to do everything she wanted to do, and last on the list was the railing in front of the house. I admit it needs painting. She wants it stained. Perhaps replaced. The carpenter explained that he could replace the railings, but they’d have to be four inches apart, maximum.
I said we wanted fewer slats. Wider spaces.
Well, he could do that, but if I sold the house I’d have trouble with the inspectors.
He got out a tape measure. “Yep. Four inches. The width of a baby’s head.”
It can’t be any wider, because a baby could get in there.
I explained that we were unlikely to have a baby, and on the chance that someone came by with a baby, it was unlikely that the child would find itself unattended on the front porch. Besides, look at these steps. We have to presume that a baby could wriggle through these bars and fall, oh, 18 inches, but it’s perfectly okay to have a flight of steps down which an infant could tumble.
He shrugged: it’s the code. What are you going to do.
It’s hard to argue against the ideal, becuase it’s ideal. But we will not achieve the ideal in this world, and its relentless pursuit often makes the less than ideal world even more so.