Nerd Factor: Unhappy Travels
Dr. Mike Robinson ~ UL Communication Studies Professor
Recently I saw a video that shared some advice for staying happy. Most of the suggestions were about what one would expect. Smile more. Get some regular exercise. Eat certain foods. One tip surprised me though. The advice was to plan a trip, even if you had no intention of taking it. I thought that was rather odd. Even without the context of the coronavirus, this is the season of scares. The horror genre, after all, tends to complicate travel.
First there is the matter of destination. If the horror genre has taught us anything, it is that places are not what they seem. By daylight, cabins in the woods seem like great places to drop out of the hustle and bustle of life, chances to get away from it all. Come nightfall, though, these tiny holiday structures quickly turn into bases that offer very few defenses from outside attacks and often house some pretty nasty surprises within their old wooden basements.
Less isolated locations might seem safer, but small towns have their own troubles too. Amity Island has its shark attacks, although maybe things are okay in the off season. Bodega Bay gets attacked by birds. Kingston Falls fills up with gremlins whenever someone gets careless (granted, that is more of a Christmas thing). And something has happened in Santa Mira. Seems like everybody who comes back from there is a little bit different than they used to be after a night’s sleep.
Big cities attract kaiju. Oh, and every slasher worth their sharp weapon eventually ends up going to New York.
Just for the sake of argument, pretend there is a destination that is relatively safe. Getting there becomes the next problem. Your plane may or may not be taking you to your final destination, but it also has a good chance of having something on the wing. Maybe a man? Maybe a monster? Good luck getting anybody to believe you even when whatever it is starts messing with the engine.
Maybe you want to skip the flying germ tubes and just drive. But more troubles arise from this mode of transportation. Once you are out on the road, you have a fairly good chance of running afoul of possessed classic cars or getting into duels with angry truckers. All that is bound to distract you, forcing you to make some kind of wrong turn. And in the season of scares, wrong turns never go right.
At some point you will have to stop for gas, where as we all know there is a better than average chance that a hook-handed killer will climb into the back seat when you are not looking. But on the plus side, maybe the hook-handed killer will get in a fight with the inevitable scary hitchhiker that also seems to show up in many a horror film. It would be nice to use one archetype against the other.
Hopefully you have planned a single day drive, because of course there are any number of less than reputable lodging places along the road. Bates Motel is not where you want to stay. And avoid Motel Hell. You do not want to end up finding out what the famous sausages sold there are really made from.
Nope, better to stay home. Home is safer. Until the calls start coming from inside the house anyway.