On Safes

Written by Mike Parish, Illustrated by Dan Tarnowski
On Safes

If someone asked me what my favorite invention was, I would probably say a lawnmower. Lawnmowers are loud and get a job done and don’t know the difference between right and wrong. All they want is a little gas and some grass to mow, they never talk back to you and you can kick them all you want.

A close second would be a safe. My friend Drew has a safe in his living room that no one knows the combination to. There could be riches inside or the deed to the house or family heirlooms or pickled plums. The safe is large and gray and metallic and there are scratch marks on the floor from where someone tried to drag it; that thing ain’t going nowhere. Neither is what’s inside.

Safes lock up an area of air and space. Everything in the world takes up space: you and I, cars, tables, forests, skyscrapers; we’re all tightly packed subatomic particles that interact with each other depending on how we’re arranged. The reason I can’t fall through the floor is because the floor is more dense than my body, its particles are so close together that they do not allow mine to slip between. I’ll sometimes close my eyes and push my weight against a wall to envision a world made up of only mass, of only arrangements of empty and filled space.

A safe’s density is why you can’t just stick your hand right through it. Before we could lock up valuable possessions in the metal boxes of banks and other buildings, people used to bury them. As a child I expressed interest in becoming an archaeologist for the previous reason alone, but my dreams were discouraged; I was told by the time I “was old enough, everything would already be dug up.” Perhaps this is why I turned to a life of crime.

There is a direct correlation between the value of something, the size of it, and the ease of which it can be stolen. An expensive car is easier to hijack than the ruby red diamond in Aladdin; an entire underground tomb doesn’t collapse into molten lava when you hop into someone’s idling car outside of 7-11. Keep that in mind the next time you try to steal something: if it is big enough and nobody cares about it that much, you might be able to get away with it. If a safe is involved in guarding what you want, consider taking something from a person’s house instead: the space inside of a house is too large to keep secure. The empty space in the entire world for that matter is too large, so wherever somebody tries to hide something, be it in a safe, in a pyramid or inside a mind, someone is bound to make it their own eventually.

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