That Damned Chiming

February 22, 2011

Seatbelt warning chimes. I hate them. Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding. I don’t need to be told by some damned computer to put on my frigging seatbelt.

When I was a kid, the world wasn’t so safety conscious. Kids were allowed to roll around in the back seat, occasionally bashing into the window when Mom made a wicked turn,  or smacking their heads on an unexpected stop. But that was okay. That’s how the world worked back then.  

It wasn’t until our teens that the world’s do-gooders made my parents aware of those dangly strips of cloth wedged under the seat cushions. Gone were the days of unhampered movement in the rear seat of vehicles moving at high speed, of the freedom to wrestle, to lounge, to roam round that game-filled sanctuary behind our parent’s backs.

We were trapped.

But we learned to adapt. And for the most part, I learned those childhood habits well and carried them into adulthood. Wash your hands, say please and thank you, chew your food. And I wear my seatbelt. Big deal. You’d have to be crazy not to, right?   

Now, I’ve ranted about seatbelts before. I guess I just don’t like to be told what to do. Even when I know better.

But isn’t it ridiculous? You’re running down to the grocery store, zero-point-seven miles, you’ve clocked it, and you’re no more than 500 feet from your driveway when…ding, ding, ding, ding, ding. Alright, alright already. I’ll put it on. Jesus.

It’s like the warning on a pack of cigarettes that you might get cancer from smoking, or the safety message on a six-pack of beer to consume in moderation. Or McDonalds spending millions to print CAUTION – CONTENTS HOT on their McCoffee cups. Really?

Honestly, these warnings, safety messages, and seatbelt chimes are placed there by people who really don’t give a flying fig over Paris for our well-being. No, all these public-safety measures are just one big, lawyer-driven, corporate cover-your-ass legal tactic, so they can avoid lawsuits when John Q. Public does something stupid while using one of their products.

Oh, well. I can get even. Which is why I disable the seatbelt warning chime in every vehicle I drive. I don’t need some silicon brain reminding me to do what I already know I should be doing.

What? You can disable that infernal chiming?

Look in the glove box. It’s there, underneath that mashed box of Kleenex: the vehicle owner’s manual. And hidden way in the back, on the last page of Appendix H, in tiny little print, you will see a set of esoteric instructions on how to disable the warning chimes.

It goes something like this:

  1. Turn on the ignition
  2. Turn off the ignition
  3. Turn on the ignition
  4. Press the brake pedal three times
  5. Engage the right turn signal
  6. Honk the horn twice
  7. Perform five hail-marys
  8. Pop the trunk lid
  9. Open the right-front passenger door

Do all this within five seconds, and you have it. No more chimes. But it takes practice.

I’ve gotten so good at it now that I disable the seatbelt warning in every car I drive. Of course, the Nordic Warrior Queen has threatened me with bodily harm if I touch her Ford Explorer. She’s extremely safety-minded (you have no idea). But that’s okay; there are lots of other cars I can disable.

Borrow a friend’s car because mine’s in the shop – off with that damned warning bell. Take a spin in Mom’s late-model sedan – no more chimes to worry her old ears. And now that I travel? Well, there is a world of vehicles which I can fix. Every week is a new rental car challenge.

So when I get into my Dodge Charger at Budget Rent-a-Car, I don’t worry about adjusting the mirrors for better visibility, or making sure my seat is just right. The first thing I do is disable that damned chime.

So the next time you jump in your Alamo Ford Focus, you can enjoy nothing but silence when you forget to wear your seatbelt. Don’t bother thanking me.

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