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the double-buckle method

May 25, 2011

Reading Domenico of Bettnet‘s reflection on The Seatbelt Generation Gap the other day reminded me of the glory days of our old station wagons.  All I can say is, it’s a good thing current safety restrictions weren’t in place back then.  Even in the wagon, we sometimes had to employ the “double-buckle” method to ensure all of us were strapped in. 

I hated being double-buckled.  We were all pretty small, but it still managed to be uncomfortable, especially when you didn’t get to sit by the window and were instead wedged against a car seat.  I remember arguments breaking out over who would be double-buckled and with whom.  My parents tried to alternate the poor souls who got stuck together, but the reality was alternating who I got stuck with.  They learned quickly that Rosario and Charles couldn’t handle even the shortest of car rides double-buckled.  That meant each one took turns being belted in with me.  Oh sure, I would bicker with my siblings from time to time, but what was a little bickering to avoid an all-out civil war?  So in the name of diplomacy, the good child was sentenced to years of being double-buckled.  It was a very severe sentence, I might add, because I was typically the one squashed up  next to the car seat, rather than fight my older sister for the window seat or allow my younger brother to torment the baby in the car seat.   

With all of that craziness you can imagine, Reader, how much I loved being exiled to the way back, as we called the extra flip-up seat in the trunk area.  Most station wagons had one seat that flipped up and faced backward, but our red wagon had two seats that faced inward.  We could stretch out with our legs on our bench or the one across from us.  We were riding in style back there in the way back!   Plus, the way back passengers were so far removed from the front and back seat passengers, that it gave us a sense of independence.  It was a far cry from the misery of the double-buckle method.

I can’t imagine what we would have done if today’s safety requirements were in place back then.  At least four of the six would have been within the age/height/weight limits in those days.  My poor parents would have pulled their hair out trying to squeeze all those booster seats in our station wagon.  (Not that the hair-pulling would have mattered much for Dad; his fell out anyway.)  Then again, I’m sure all our arguments and complaining over being double-buckled caused my parents to pull their hair out, so it may not have made any difference. 

Amazingly, all six of us kids survived without booster seats, and what makes our survival amazing is not that we survived without strict safety guidelines, but that we survived being double-buckled with each other.  Oh wait.  I should say it is a miracle that I survived being double-buckled with my siblings!

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