Colleen Figg

The seatbelt saga

2009-04-15 15:01

Colleen Figg

Anyone who travels regularly will be familiar with what happens when you board the plane.

Once the puffing and panting and hefting of suitcases and other storage items into the overhead spaces is complete, you sink with a sigh of relief into your seats.

Then the trim, pretty little air hostesses come out and start the "emergency and other procedures" demonstration with how to fasten your seatbelt. I always admire their make-up and uniform at this stage, wondering why it is that I can never get to look quite so wrinkle-free and foundation-perfect.

Last time I flew back from Cape Town I was seated next to a very voluptuous lady, twice or thrice as voluptuous as yours truly; and she was terribly anxious about catching the hostesses' attention so that she could order a seatbelt extension (for the fuller figure).

She was in the window seat and I was on the aisle, but things were not going according to her satisfaction because she tried to rope me in to catch someone's eye.

Getting attention

When I wasn't playing, she leaned her considerable bulk over me and waved furiously until an hostess came along and gave her a seatbelt extension - the mere sight of which made her as happy as a pig in excrement. [Although who says pigs are happy in manure, they may well have been oppressed and marginalised and made to feel they are happy when in fact they are not?]

Once she had her extension, we embarked on Phase Two of the Seatbelt Operation, ie getting her bulk out of the seat so that she could find the seatbelt under her posterior and then connecting it to the extension and closing it with a click that coincided with sighs of relief from both her and dear old moi.

This coincided in turn (thank the lawd or else the lady may have come over all queer) with the plane beginning to taxi down the runway and us all being told to fasten our seatbelts. And this, dear reader, is where I seriously come undone.

I mean: why? What is a seatbelt going to help if the plane's going down? The thing fastens across your lap and has extensions and pulls tighter to the right and unfastens if you lift the flap: but in the name of all that is demonic - what the deuce will the blasted thing DO when the plane is nose-diving some 30 000 feet to earth????

And this simple logical puzzle seems to faze no one but me! Once the plane leaves the earth the hostesses trip prettily past, inspecting to their left and right to see we've all got the things fastened as we should have - and rush to help anyone who may still be battling with this crucial piece of survival gear.

The inflating of the life vests and the assuming of the brace position are zipped through with a minimum of fuss and time when the hostess does the demo, but the intricate, may I say arcane, workings of the seatbelt are covered in minuscule detail.

'I seek enlightenment'

I am sorely tempted to stop one of them halfway through their lovely demo (complete with well manicured and painted nails flashing expertly to the left and right of the belt) and ask them what the blazes this little piece of canvas and metal does at the crucial moment.

As I say, I seem to be alone in this because everyone else fastens his belt with a marvellously reassuring snap and clink of metal and falls to reading the paper or the in-flight magazine with blithe reassurance that since he has his seatbelt on, nothing in hell is likely to befall him.

It gets me every time! I can't stop thinking about it!

Arrrggghhhh!!! *Tears hair out and writes to SAA about it*

Do explain, anything you know, dear, dear reader... I seek enlightenment!

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