“Stay safe!” “Have a safe trip!” “Be safe, OK?”
Most of us are guilty of addressing people with one or more of these phrases. I’ve done it many times and will surely do it again. When you get right down to it, these are no more useful than “You’re in my prayers.” In fact, they arguably translate to the same thing.
I have told a number of my friends on the East Coast, bracing for the possibility of a powerful windstorm this weekend, to “stay safe.” Maybe the fact that I have only written this in e-mails and not said it out loud lets me off the mental hook I’ve constructed and jammed into some needless wall in my mind. But I can’t help but be amused by common turns of phrase when they are essentially goofy.
I mean, what do I expect to change about the people I know by telling them to stay safe during, say, a transcontinental commercial flight? If I deliver these magic words, even if by text message, will this change the course of events? Will my friend have an epiphany and say “Fuck! I’d better sit up in the cockpit!” and take over in the event of an aircraft malfunction? I suppose it’s possible.
In some ways telling people to stay safe when a known hazard is heading their way makes more sense, as more factors lie within the sphere of their control under these circumstances. But most of my friends are not blithering waterheads, so in theory I don’t need to tell them to, say, not go sea kayaking in the middle of a category 4 hurricane, or make a sport of catching falling bricks or playing with live downed wires in the midst of a ruinous earthquake. Even if I had a habit of choosing such friends, they’d be quickly selected out of the population given the number of possible ways to behave in lethally stupid ways.
By the way, don’t be offended by any of this. Keep on keeping on, because it is what it is.