Slip the flat metal end into the buckle and pull the loose end to secure the belt around your hips. Get and remain comfortable. Passenger attitude is an essential component of airworthiness, which is not to say we could cause a crash by thinking about one, but why risk it. This aircraft is equipped with floor level lighting which will guide you toward the exit when the cabin fills with noxious smoke so thick you won’t see the wall of flame approaching row by row. Or at least it was designed to be so equipped and was once certified to have been so equipped, but the failure of a simple thermal switch never tested by the team subcontracted by this airline to conduct routine inspections will prevent even that laughably inadequate safety feature from providing you any life-sustainment. Sudden loss of cabin pressure, an event so unlikely it happens to fewer than one million passengers a year, will trigger trap doors in the overhead bin, spilling oxygen masks to some passengers. Yours will be functional. The thin plastic supply hose won’t kink as so many do in testing nor melt in the intense heat of the advancing inferno, but you’ll have swallowed so much smoke you’ll merely cough into the mask and, heaving forward, tear it from the pump. If only you had kept your belt secured around your hips. Blown backward by the blast from the baggage compartment, several seats from Row 8 will be wedged incongruously between the cabin ceiling and lucky Row 13, sealing off the exit door nearest you. Small comfort your seat cushion is a flotation device! Thank you for choosing to violate gravity with us today and if there is anything we can do to make you more uncomfortable, please hesitate to ask.

Copyright ©1997-2006 David Hodges

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