One of my favorite things about flying is the opportunity to completely ignore the person whose information might save my life. As the recording goes on “to fasten your seatbelt…” the attendants stand in the middle, uninspired, snapping the buckle and pulling the belt. Someties I close my eyes and pretend to be asleep, while I’m really thinking “Is it over? Is it over?” Sometimes I watch the attendants, because I want them to believe that someone, anyone, cares. But never do I follow along in the safety card in the seat back pocket in front of me.
Now, the aforementioned safety belt spiel is one of my favorite parts of the flight. I like that they explain, step by step, how to fasten your safety belt and pull it low and tight around your lap. First of all, who doesn’t know how to fasten a seat belt? Are there people on this plane who’ve never been in a car? How did they even get to the airport? Come on. If I happened to be seated next to a guy who was like, “Oh, what? What’s this? How do I do it?” I would ask to be moved immediately. Just like if they sat me in the emergency exit row, because I’m obviously not paying attention. Secondly, are the seatbelts really that helpful? I’ve never seen anyone even almost fall out of their seat, and I’ve flown Ryan Air. The only situation in which the belts might hold you in is if the plane goes down, and at that point we’re all screwed anyway.
Which brings me to my other favorite portion of the safety speech: the seat as a flotatioin device. Now, it’s a great idea. I love when things hae double usages: the spork, reversible sweaters, Vaseline. But I’m pretty sure I’m going to forget all of that great advice from the safety card if my plane lands in the vast, wide ocean.
Here is an imaginary scenario to illustrate my point. This is a midwestern couple. Their plane has just hit the water:
Bill: Wowzers, what the H?
Jean: Bill!? Bill!?
Bill: Ya there, Jean?
Jean: Right here, just a little shaken up is all.
Bill: Now, I read the safety card. Did you?
Jean: I skimmed it.
Bill: Well, what we should do is use our seats as a flotation device. It’s simple.
Jean: (pulling the seat up and holding tight to her chest) Goodness gracious, Bill. You’re right. I feel much safer now.
Bill: (also holding his seat) Now, I guess we just wait…
I have never heard of those stupid seats working. Most people probably die of heart attack before the plane hits the water. I would. I would just cry and die.
Even with all of this doubt, though, some unwilling part of my brain listens to the little robot lady give the message each time. And if we lost oxygen, I’d know to put on my mask before helping someone else, and I’d know how to unfasten someone’s seatbelt and that maybe the emergency exit is behind me. Don’t forget.
Flying can be a scary thing for some, and these messages don’t really ease the mind. But if we’re lucky, there are a couple of people on the plane who know what’s actually going on (preferably the flight attendants, but you never know), and we all might just be ok.