In Christopher Paul Curtis's young reader's novel Bud, Not Buddy, protagonist Bud, being an orphan, has learned a great deal about the hardships of life, even at his young, tender age. He's gone through so many hardships, being sent from foster home to foster home, that he can sense when hardships are on the horizon and has even devised a list of rules for himself to live by in order to survive. He calls this list of rules the "Bud Caldwell's Rules and Things for Having a Funner Life and Making a Better Liar out of Yourself."
By Chapter 7, Bud has run away from the Amoses, his newest cruel foster family, and has decided the best thing for him to do is find his friend the librarian, Miss Hill, who may be able to offer him help. However, after looking all over the library for Miss Hill, he must ask the librarian at the lending desk where she is. When, the librarian begins her answer with, "Miss Hill? My goodness, hadn't you heard?," Bud gives his readers "Rules and Things Number 16," which states the following:
If a Grown-up Ever Starts a Sentence by Saying
"Haven't You Heard," Get Ready, 'Cause
What's About to Come Out of Their Mouths Is Gonna
Drop You Head first into a Boiling Tragedy.
In other words, Bud has taught himself to know that the announcement of bad news always begins with the question, "Haven't you heard?," and to steel his nerves for hearing the worst so that the news doesn't come as such an emotional shock and doesn't create as severe emotional pain.