Risky Behaviors

Another fifteen minute flow of consciousness exercise: Go!

I’m appalled at the news from the Germanwings flight. I cannot get it out of my head. The images are so vivid – the locked out pilot, desperately trying to get back into the cockpit. The silent copilot working the controls to shift from cruising to descent. How could he remain silent? What was he thinking? Fuck. It freaks me out.

It’s heartbreaking.


I’m flying myself in a couple of weeks – multiple flights to get to Lisbōa and back. Twelve take-offs and landings. Plenty of chances to grip the seat in raw fear. When I tell people about my upcoming trip, the most common response is “Be careful.” I’m pretty sure this is because I’m going by myself. I appreciate the love and concern, but I live my life by myself, so why should it be very different when I travel? How risky is travel anyway?

In consideration of this idea I looked up some statistics.

On average, in 2013, 8 million people flew somewhere everyday (according to the International Air Transport Association). The 2013 total was 3.1 billion people. Dang! And although I was unable to get the number for 2013, I was able to get the number for 2014: 761 plane crash deaths in 2014. So let’s say the same amount of people flew in 2014 as 2013 – that means 761 out of 3.1 billion. IATA also offered this statistic: “The chances of being involved in a fatal accident on a major airline is 1 in 19.8 million.”

Now let’s consider driving: “Nearly 1.3 million people die in road crashes every year.” says the Association for Safe International Road Travel. “An additional 20-50 million are injured or disabled.” Holy shit! Are you kidding me? Why are we scared when we fly?? We should get the shakes just leaving our freakin driveway!

I also learned this tidbit: “Road crashes are the single greatest annual cause of death of healthy US citizens traveling abroad.” Well that settles it. I’m not driving on vacation.

Why people aren’t worried about me walking here and there alone, driving alone, or just living alone on a day to day basis is a mystery. I’m most likely to get hurt at home in the bathtub, right? Or be sexually assaulted by a date or a relative. Or die driving to the grocery store, for chrissakes.

But to be fair, there are risks associated with traveling solo and ways to minimize that risk. Don’t wander around neighborhoods at night. Don’t hang out on the beach at night. Don’t get drunk or use drugs. Don’t be stupid; keep your wits about you. There’s an assumption that traveling Americans are wealthy – don’t feed that by dressing all flash.

All in all it seems that I’m safest traveling if I act at least as cautious abroad as I do at home. More so, because I could be clueless about what’s really going on. But I refuse to let fear keep me on the couch.

Life is dangerous. It’s the number one cause of death. And injury.

But fuck it – get out there and live!


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