Tuesday, October 2014
I had to drive a smart car today. Just from the garage, back to the house. A mere 5-minute journey. I thought my biggest worry would be that I had never driven in London before, but I was young and naïve then. Such a fool.
Have you ever driven a smart car? No? Well, let me paint a picture for you.
It’s kind of like driving… a toy car. Too small, poor visibility, strange angles – like sitting in something I put together myself from a cereal box – and would only move in the direction I leaned in.
Just getting into it felt traumatic. Shouldn’t a door weigh more than my purse? How is this meant for 2 people? What happens if there’s a strong wind and I am taken somewhere far away?
It was also an automatic. To an experienced driver, this means nothing. Easy, I hear you laughed whimsically.
But you see, until this point in my short driving career, I had never driven an automatic. And I am the type of driver that will close my eyes if a car passes too close to me on a country road. Yes, you are starting to understand now – today would not be a good day. For pedestrians.
I didn’t know you needed to press the brake and start at the same time. I didn’t know how easy an automatic is to drive. Now I do. But not then. Apparently, the mechanics found it extremely funny when I asked how the start button work. Surely, I couldn’t be serious. And I tried my hardest not to give the mechanics the impression that because ‘I’m a woman’ I don’t know anything about cars. On the contrary, I don’t know anything about cars because they are BORING. If they wanted to know what kind of broom Harry Potter has in the 3rd book – no worries mate. But this is not my forte. So, let’s not blame my entire sex on my lack of interest. Senior Mechanic-man did feel sympathy for me though. He had kind eyes. And he spoke slowly when he showed me how to use the ‘on’ switch. He was probably wondering how I got dressed by myself that morning. He mumbled God speed as he tapped me on the shoulder.
To be fair to me, I am the kind of person who doesn’t shy away from a hard task. I dive in and learn as I go. For instance, I am learning what this stick thingy does. I thought automatics didn’t have gears – so why is the stick here? And what are the letters for? D – Don’t know. P – Probably shouldn’t touch. N – Never do this again.
Later on, I learnt that the gears in a smart car, are based on Formula 1 race cars. Because smart cars are known for their speed.
Now, as sexy as you think I looked driving this glorified paperweight around London, the reality was more my face pressed against the windscreen, just so I can give myself the illusion of visibility. I had better control in those little red and yellow cars we had as kids. But it’s fine, it’s not like I’m driving in a highly populated area – oh no wait, *$%& – yes, I am.
And Londoners – are not normal people. They are not like you and me. They are born with a sense of self we will never understand. No matter where they are going – they need to get there faster than you. They invented the powerwalk. They need to be the closest to the tube doors, they need you to stand on the right so they can walk on the left. And, they do not wait for the green man to appear before crossing the road. They give no-hoots about road safely. They are hoot-less! Don’t even get my started on the cyclists. (I don’t need your attitude in those lycra shorts Derrick). They believe it’s up to the driver to go around them. They just walk across the road whenever and however they please, as if testing your coordination. But I have no coordination. I fall off scooters. Children point and laugh. (London children are mean).
In conclusion: I cannot see, I have no dexterity. I don’t know how to drive an automatic (what they HECK do these letters even mean!?!). And, the no-hooters dance in and out of view to mock me. The last thing they will ever see will be my face pushed up against the screen mouthing ‘why?!’
Ok. Breath. I can do this. I completed a medium level sudoku puzzle the other day – by myself. I can do anything.
I push the button to start (like a toy). Move stick thingy to D aaaaand stall. Breath. Push button, lean forward and….go! It’s not exactly smooth but that’s fine because it’s just 5 minutes.
Wait, what’s that noise?
Hmmm, maybe Mr race car doesn’t like going slow. I’ll speed up.
Nope. That made it worse.
My social chameleon ways start to emerge from pure panic. Now both me and the car are harmonising – ‘EEEEEEEEE’
I’m leaning against the glass pretending I can see, whilst yelling out my window ‘I’m not from here!’ at the no hooters, trying to indicate and remember – what was it again? Oh yes, don’t die.
Did I forget to mention the reverse is broken? The only way is forward. Onto the curb.
On the plus side, I know what it feels like now to hyperventilate. And those pedestrians now give some danging hoots.
I guess we’ve all grown today.