How to Secure a Seat Belt (and Other Challenges We Could Figure Out Ourselves)

Seat belt instruction is still provided on flights. What if other parts of the hospitality industry provided similarly useless tutelage?

The last generation of travelers that was not raised using seat belts is slowly passing away … yet airlines still begin every on-board safety lecture with buckling instructions.

Why? Are they worried that an aborigine who never flew or drove might be on board? Or that, if they drop the lecture, the next time an unbelted passenger is injured a Tennessee law firm will bring a class action on behalf of all passengers suffering Whiplashed Belly Syndrome?

Whatever the reason, the lecture itself has the feel of a historical playlet, like eating at a New England inn where a middle-aged woman is role-playing Louisa May Alcott. “So this is what it was like to break bread in a Concord parlor in the late 1800s!” one is expected to say.

Similarly, when watching a stewardess (or, these days, a pre-recorded video) describe the intricacies of seat belting, one is inclined to say, “So this is what it was like to travel on a Boeing 377 Stratocruiser in the 1950s!” But, of course, it’s a half century later and those stewardesses are now 50% male and called “flight attendants.”

If they can modernize jobs, why can’t they modernize safety lectures?

Which makes you wonder how it would be if other parts of the hospitality industry provided similarly useless instructions. So consider the following my-lawyer-made-me-say-this safety lectures.

Lights:  Welcome aboard Non-Smoking Room 747, which comes fully equipped with a king-size bed and all the latest safety features, including “light switches” that enable you to “switch” on “lights.” To do so, please heed the following:

If returning to your room after dark you wish to see where things are, including where we put stuff and where you put stuff, note the location of the rectangular wall plates nearest you. Each plate contains a “light switch.” To ensure visibility in the absence of ambient natural light, place the underside of your thumb or pointer finger beneath the switch and push gently upwards until it snaps into an upright position. (If hands are occupied or you suffer from severe bursitis, use nose, chin or, in extreme situations, elbow. Men, do not be tempted to use your, uh, pizzle for this.) You should experience vision and are now free to move about the room. Unless you strained your pizzle.

Toilets:  Your hotel room comes equipped with a fully-functioning toilet, consisting of a white oval top or “lid,” a horizontal ovoid with a large center hole or “seat,” beneath which rests a receptacle filled with water or “toilet bowl” and behind which sits an enclosed water repository or “tank.”;

Should you feel the urge to relieve yourself, gently raise the cover, position your bottom directly over the hole, fold at the knees until your posterior rests comfortably on the seat, and “do your business.” Men needing to urinate may position themselves in front of the toilet and whiz directly into the bowl.

When done, find the lever, button, pulley or pull cord attached to the tank and give it a lift, push or tug, as needed. If a single “flush” does not completely empty the tank, repeat until tank water is clear or a velvety blue. You may now close the lid. (Men, take care to first disengage your pizzle.)

If traveling with a young child or elderly person, be sure to relieve yourself before placing that person on the seat. Federal law prohibits disabling of odor detector or room deodorizer.

Coffee: Welcome to Delta Airline’s InterContiHilton Double Ramada Tree Marriott Guest Center and Resort. Your room contains an ice bucket, two plastic glasses, and a coffee maker with caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee packets, non-dairy creamer, hot cups and plastic faux creamer stirrer. Be careful when opening coffee packet as contents may have shifted.

Federal law prohibits disabling the coffee maker or mislabeling the coffee creamer. Do not tamper with the stirrer either. Federal law does not prohibit calling plastic “glass” or non-dairy supplements “cream.”

Fitness. This hotel comes equipped with a hot tub and swimming pool. The seat cushions in your room may be used as flotation devices in the unlikely event you land in the water. The inflatable devices under your mattress are intended for recreational intercourse and should not be used for flotation or with non-dairy creamers.

Historical Note: Although seat belts were not required in automobiles until 1968, the familiar style became available for cars in 1956, but was first introduced in airplanes in 1913 – so perhaps we have it backwards: if belting lessons are needed, they should be given when a person first rides in a car, not an airplane.

Howard Zaharoff