“The world is a very scary place right now, especially for people of means; they feel cornered and threatened,” said Tom Gaffney, the president of Gaffco Ballistics, which has installed a number of safe rooms around New York City. “When you have so much to lose, and you can afford to, you put a premium on your safety.”
Safe rooms were popularized as “panic rooms” by the director David Fincher’s 2002 thriller of that name — one that the screenwriter David Koepp has admitted he made up because “safe room” did not carry quite the same drama at the box office.
“Panic Room” opens with the actress Jodie Foster touring a gorgeous brownstone on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, where she notices an uneven wall and is ushered into a hidden vault of concrete, closed-circuit televisions and a bare toilet better suited to a prison, which the room, of course, becomes. A similarly bleak model has played a minor part in theBBC hit “The Honorable Woman,” where Maggie Gyllenhaal beds down in a bunker behind a hidden panel.
The reality of today’s safe rooms is far cozier, and, rather than behind fake bookcases or trap doors, they tend to hide in plain sight. If there are cinder blocks, they are covered by mahogany paneling or smooth plaster, sandwiched between steel plates and Kevlar sheets. Some people fortify bathrooms or closets, others reinforce entire bedroom suites.
You know what keeps people safer than anything in the world? MONEY. Lots of it. Enough money to buy food and assure shelter, enough money to see doctors when you’re sick, enough money to fix the car when it breaks down, enough money to take care of an emergency without draining your savings or going into punishing debt.
Enough money for education, for enrichment, for love. Enough money for whatever you need.
That’s what keeps people safe. This isn’t safety, it’s paranoia. The only person who needs this kind of security is the president and his bunker is probably less fancy, and even then. Pace Jerry Bruckheimer movies but you are far likely to be killed by a preventable illness or by poverty than by a terrorist mastermind who breaks into your concrete hidey hole.
And I’d wager those who can’t afford them feel far more in need of security than some rich asshole who’s convinced himself he’s oppressed because hippies
on TV in his head are being mean.