The other afternoon I was riding in the back seat of a late model SUV owned by a successful businessman based in Guangdong. He’s a busy guy, with a high risk tolerance, so it really shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise that he doesn’t have much patience for seat belts, much less, the insistent alarms that his SUV sounds when he chooses to drive without fastening the one on the driver’s side. But I’ll admit, I was something more than surprised when he showed me the device that he utilizes to put a stop to those (in his view) irritatingly insistent alarms.
That’s right: he inserts a belt tongue (I looked it up; tongue is the term of art) that’s not connected to a belt, thereby disabling the alarm. Now, take a closer look at the above photo. Lacking a slot for an actual belt, that tongue has one purpose, and one purpose only: disabling seat belt alarms. According to my new friend, such tongues are readily available in most local auto parts stores (we were in Qingyuan). That is to say: there are enough haters of both seat belts and seat belt alarms (in Qingyuan, at least), to justify an entire product line. I asked to see this product line in its natural environment, and after lunch we stopped by a nearby parts store.
It was just as he said.
My favorites are the ones that come outfitted with cute stuffed animals/Snoopy attached to them.
No doubt, these orphan belt tongues won’t come as a surprise to some people. But they sure as hell came as a surprise to me. Perhaps it’s my sheltered background; or perhaps I just come from a place where seat belt laws are strictly enforced and I’d bet that these buckles are 100% illegal. But enough about me and instead let this serve as one more example of how China’s highly responsive manufacturing sector – in the absence of common sense, but with a surfeit of good humor – fulfills yet another need that most people never knew existed.