You know the scenario: the plane’s just touched down, there’s an impromptu round of applause from a sub-section of the passengers who believe a safe landing should be congratulated rather than expected, and the plane is slowly but surely decelerating down the runway. For some reason, it is at this precise moment in time that an irrational instinct takes over the majority of passengers, and they develop an almost pathological hatred of something utterly benign.
For much of the flight the humble seatbelt has been an insignificant peripheral or, at worse, a minor nuisance. But now? Now it has become a burning chain of oppression; something they must shed as soon as is humanly possible. Usually, the opportunity to act upon this deep-rooted imperitive is signalled after the plane has stopped by the seatbelt light going out accompanied by a friendly “ping”. Cue a cacophony of metallic clicks as a plane-load of pricks discard the freedom-sapping paraphernalia.
But the desire to be rid of this evil life-preserver is so great that often the revolution is premature. An unrelated “ping” over the PA that is in no way related to seatbelt removal is often misconstrued as the all clear to dispense with this most basic of safeguards. The irony is that at this point in the landing process the stewardess is probably going to ask everyone to keep their seatbelts on until the plane has come to a complete stop. That’s because the plane is still hurtling down the runway at speeds far in excess of a Ford Mondeo. They can still crash you know?! In fact, they’re far more likely to do so on the ground, in a converted field full of buildings, vehicles and people, like AN AIRPORT, as opposed to the carefree emptiness of the sky.
Sometimes there’s not even a cue. It’s just some bloke who’s decided he’s had enough. But that one fuckwit’s defiant click-clunk is enough to cause a Domino Rally chain reaction involving almost every other twat on the plane who wants to play fast and loose with their personal safety. What’s going through these peoples’ minds? “Oh shit, that fella’s taken off his seatbelt! Did you hear it?! I heard it!! I’d better do mine as well! Because… because… Oh hell, I don’t have a valid reason, but he did it so I want to do it too! GIVE ME BACK MY FREEDOM YOU BASTARDS!!!”
I hope I’m never in any kind of emergency incident whilst travelling by aircraft. But if I am, I hope it’s a minor collision on the way to the gate. Shouldn’t affect me – but might knock some concussive sense into the twat that’s already on his feet.