Monday, June 22, 2009

On having safe trips...

I took a business trip a couple weeks back and before I left, everyone I saw said the same thing to me: “Have a safe trip!”

I have decided this is one of the dumbest things anyone could tell another person. My reply was the same to everyone: “I’ll try, but it’s not really up to me.” The consensus is that I’m a morbid freak who just needs to learn to accept socially accepted colloquialisms and not take everything so literally.

There’s probably some truth to that, but I’m going to state my case anyway because knowing me, I have to be right to at least some degree, right?

I understand that the intent is a wish of a safe journey, not an instruction, but that’s not what people are saying. The words they use, in the combination they say them makes it kind of an instruction. If people had been coming up to me and saying, “I hope you have a safe trip.” I’d probably have replied with a thankyouverymuch before making an Elvis-like exit. If they’d said something vaguely medieval like “Safe journey!” or “Godspeed!” I’d probably have bowed with a flourish and thrown a thank-you M’lady or Good sir back at them.

I wasn’t being wished a safe trip though, I was being told to and while its all fine and well to want to have a safe trip, I don’t fly the plane, I don’t pick the mugging victim, I take my chances with every taxi I get into—I have very little control over things actually.

But really, what’s the difference between that and my everyday life? Why is safety so important for my trip, but not for my everyday life? Why aren’t these people who care about me calling to wish me a safe trip to work each day? More people die in auto-related accidents than do in airplanes after all. Why is my trip safety important and my everyday safety not?

I’ve decided that “have a safe trip,” is one of the dumbest things that anyone can say to anyone else. I wonder what they’d think if next time I replied with, “thanks, have a safe staying here!” After all, they could get struck by lightning, they could have a tree fall on them, they could eat poisoned sushi, they could fall down an open sewer, they could catch Flying Pig Flu and topple over with fever! Anything can happen!

Some expressions have just run their course. I’m not mounting up on a horse and riding down a trail filled with highwaymen and vagabonds waiting to assault me and steal the coin purse hanging from my belt. At no point will I be forced to use a sword to defend myself and my trusty steed. In fact, if I try to bring a sword with me, they won’t even let me travel now! Travel has become pretty mundane for the most part—at least compared to when the actual journey part was perilous and treacherous.

Travel now consists of sitting in a plane, reading a book, watching the clouds fly by and if something bad happens to the plane, well there’s not much I can do about it is there? People who are travelling are no more likely to die or get hurt than those who stay home now. So, while I appreciate the demand that I actively take measures to assure that the trip I take is a safe one, or even the wish and hope that it will be, next time, I think I’d rather hear a “see you soon,” a “take care,” or a “have fun,” than the standard and irritating “have a safe trip.”
Unless, of course, you see me saddling my horse and sheathing my sword, in which case I’d heartily welcome the wish of a safe journey.


hushed said...

Would you rather an.unsafe journey? At least their heart is in the right place. If not their brains (if they can't come up with any heartier parting sentiments).

Anonymous said...

My usual response to "Have a nice day!" is: "I'll have whatever kind of day I damn well please!" :D