How to Buckle a Seatbelt

Seatbelt cartoon by Tom Toro, via the New Yorker
Cartoon by Tom Toro, for The New Yorker, May 12, 2012. Used by permission.

Once I was on a plane late at night and the punchy flight attendant said, “…and for those of you who have not been in an automobile since 1965, here’s how you buckle a seat belt.” On Virgin America, which I’m on right this minute on the way back to California, the pre-recorded announcement says, “… for the zero-zero-zero-point-one-percent of you who don’t know how to buckle a seat belt, here’s how…”

The whole Virgin airlines vibe is cool and kind of cheeky. West Coast designer  Suzanne Tucker put me on to the JFK-LAX Virgin flight a while back, and it’s great. (Thank you Suzanne 🙂 ) You know how some flight attendants or yourcaptainspeaking seem to think they are Elvis Presley and that you are dying to hear them go on and on and on on the microphone? They pointedly do NOT do that on Virgin. The food is even good, and they have two kinds of Honest Tea, which I love, because I drink iced tea all the time, because I am turning exactly into my mother.

That last sentence definitely had too many commas.

I do wonder why airlines still have to explain the buckling business, though, don’t you? Isn’t there something insidious, if not outright silly, about the adherence to a rule whose practical application has expired? I mean, how do they think people get to the airport? Roller skate?

To change the subject, here is something cool I learned in preparing this post and using the cartoon above. The New Yorker website is very user-friendly and getting permission to re-print a cartoon is as simple as an email and 25 bucks. They wrote back immediately and couldn’t have been nicer. I didn’t even have to look up any words. Which is more than I can say for when I read the magazine.

But I did have to look up whether seat belt was one word or two. Most sources say two, though such compound nouns often evolve into one word. Like nosebleed.

I don’t know why I thought of “nosebleed.”

Next stop: Rancho la Zaca. It’s been nearly three weeks since I’ve seen that cowboy a’ mine. Yee-haw! I miss Bee Cottage, but I miss him more.

P.S. There will be a seat belt quiz in the morning, so y’all study up.


  1. Magnifico! Checked in during lunch hour and yes, I am sitting at my computer, laughing like a loon picturing hordes of people on rollerskates descending on an airport all yelling “1, 2, seat belts are cool, 3, 4, shut the front door!” It’s been a looooooong week. Thanks for the laughs, much, much needed. Can’t wait for the quiz!

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