I’m sitting behind the row of seats that are attached to the safety exit over the wing. Smart fliers know this row has an extra pinch of leg room, so it’s a popular choice.
But no one has to pass the safety regulations in order to sit there.
You know the routine.
As the plane taxis to the runway, stewardesses go over the safety procedures in case of an airplane emergency.
Just the thought of having one ensures my complete and avid attention.
They speak rapidly so they can themselves be buckled into the plane before take-off, which is imminent.
A yellow life vest goes rapidly on and off. They show you how to blow into the red tube if it fails to inflate by itself. An airplane emergency would have me hyperventilating; so I guess I could do that.
They claim that the vest is under my seat, but don’t want me to reach under there and pull it out unless we crash.
I’m really going out on a limb, believing them.
This is how the Titanic began its voyage.
They demonstrate the oxygen mask – yours first, your neighbors second – in case we lose air pressure in the cabin.
Do you have one for the pup in the back too?
And can I use mine if the kid next to me breaks into his corn nuts?
I watch as they ask the folks sitting in the emergency exit rows if they understand the procedures and they all nod, including the guy wearing large earphones that are pumping heavy metal into his cranium.
The stewardess seems satisfied and goes to strap on her parachute and a seatbelt.
I, on the other hand, have pulled out the cute little crisis card from the seat pocket and read it intently as the aircraft makes a hard U-turn and picks up speed. My super hero cape is already waving in the breeze, and I plan to be that guy on Survivor who doesn’t get voted off the island we’re about to crash land on.
There are three pages of emergency procedure cartoons to study.
If I can lift 50 pounds, I’m in. Well, my suitcase can’t weigh over 50 pounds by regulation and I would throw my back out trying to hoist it. But you have to factor in adrenaline, which boosts me into the “lift 100 pounds” category for about 10 minutes.
Which is all I’ll need to remove the passenger sitting next to the emergency door right now.
Because we can all see that he’ll be useless when the time comes.
Whoops, here’s one I hadn’t thought of. I can’t open the exit door if there is fire, water, or debris outside of it. What? They expect me to look out the window first? What can possibly be worse outside of a crashed plane than what is going on inside of a crashed plane?
The last man out is a rotten egg, and no one is getting near the other exits, as they are also being stampeded by frantic super heroes.
Er, concerned passengers.
Oh no. That door’s going down and we can jettison out on the inflatable raft, which obviously doubles as a shield. Look at this picture. It’s supposed to be in a box on the ceiling.
I look up. I look back. Nope. Phooey. No raft then.
What’s this? We have a slide! Yes!
Yank open the door, activate the inflatable slide, don our personal flotation devices, and…calmly orderly politely… belly-slide down the bouncy pinball machine.
Points for style.
The word “expeditiously” is used numerous times on this card. I take that to mean “as fast as you can caper”. It probably looks something like what mobs do at the end of a ballgame in the stadium.
No one is getting out of that parking lot no matter how fast you caper.
It says here that you can’t have vision issues, in case your contact lens pops out. You can’t have hearing issues, so the passenger’s screaming can motivate you to caper faster…no, wait, so you can follow the stewardesses screamed instructions across the smoky cabin. You have to know English. Even if the stewardess is going to scream in Portuguese. You can’t be travelling with pets or kids or medical issues that will distract you from the task at hand.
Basically, you must be Superman. Federal regulations insist.
Otherwise, you are politely but legally requested to exchange seats with someone who qualifies.
I have never once seen Superman sitting in an airplane.
The man flies his own Friendly Skies; seating for one.