Abigail you are more knowledgeable and active in the Perl community than I am.
But on this you are wrong. If I do not know what is the best way to handle failed subroutine calls, then it is reasonable for me to find out what others have determined is best for them.
Because what is best for others who have approached the same problem is probably, 97 percent of the time, best for me. So I say that one should, when learning Perl, let the experience of others direct you when it is not clear what direction you should take on your own.
What should you as a Perl programmer do when you are "on your own, with no direction home, a complete unknown, like a rolling stone?" Plagiarize the code of others, I say.