This one was inspired by Alice's recent post about her daughter getting her finger stuck in a seat belt. I read it and laughed (as one can only laugh at such distressing circumstances long after they've happened). It reminded me of a story I like to tell that I'd nearly forgotten (not nearly as serious). One time I got my whole body stuck in a seat belt.
I don't remember what year of high school it was. I was one of a few passengers that Anthony Johnson took from early morning seminary to the school. (Junior year, maybe? Sophomore? I can't figure out why I was riding with him and not my brother, or just driving myself. Maybe our car was in the shop? Oh well, it doesn't matter.) Anthony drove a sweet faux-wood-paneled Chrysler minivan back in the day. I was sitting in the middle row. We got to school and everyone exited the van. Except for me. I couldn't get my seat belt undone. (I am, and always have been, a very diligent seat-belt buckler. Which is a good thing. Except for this one day.) I tried and tried with all my might, but could not get it unbuckled. Everyone else gave it a try and none of them could get it to disengage either. A few friends we knew went past the vehicle on their way in to school. Some of them gave it a go too, but with no luck. It was just a lap belt, but not the adjustable kind. It was the kind that gets tighter and tighter if you let it, and won't let back out until it's retracted all the way. You know the kind? Good for keeping children in place, not so good for high school students trying to get to class on time. All of the fussing with the belt had resulted in it getting tighter and tighter. I tried sliding out, but it was too late, it was too snug now to budge an inch that way. The clock was ticking and soon school would be starting as our group stood around the minivan pondering our next move (what loyal friends! I was not abandoned to spend the day working it out for myself). I don't think it occurred to any of us to send someone in to ask an adult for assistance. If it did, no one mentioned it. To me, once it became clear that none of us could get the belt to unbuckle, there was only one choice. Cut the seat belt. I had a little swiss army knife on my key chain that would do the job. What else could we do? Eventually I would need to use the bathroom. I needed to get out of that van. Anthony was hesitant. He wasn't sure about my plan to cause lasting damage to his vehicle in the name of personal freedom. He wasn't sure if his parents would think it was the wisest course of action. My teenage brain insisted there was no. other. choice. Finally he agreed and I cut myself out. I laughed about it and retold the gripping tale all day (again, teenage brain). I vaguely remember Anthony saying something later about his dad being mad and it costing a pretty penny to fix the seat belt, but I could have that wrong. Perhaps it was actually that his dad was really proud of me for being so heroic and keeping a clear head in a time of crisis. Either way, I've harbored a tiny fear of Chryslers ever since.