Not so Universal Design

I hate feeling silly. Sadly, I have found many opportunities of late, to feel and look really silly. Being in a new country means I don't know how half the things work and often, when I ask for help, I get that look of  'where are you from?'

The other day my silliness was amplified when I was unable, in front of an audience of a couple of drivers, (complete with giggling teenagers) to drive a car up an incline, after I had reversed out of a parking space. Worse still, the car was almost brand new and a Hyundai Elantra for that matter, so I could not feign car trouble. For what seemed like agonizing hours, but were actually just a minute or two, I struggled with the gear stick and the clutch, cursed and prayed, and tried my level best to move the car forward. But the car, obstinately, slipped backwards whenever I tried to change from brakes to accelerator. I was sweating, almost in tears, all the while, the pairs of eyes that were focused on me increasing, as more drivers joined the long cue of cars that I had blocked from passing.

In my defense, please,  let me explain that I am a very good driver with many years of experience. I did practice driving a manual car but I then converted to an automatic and I promptly forgot how to hill balance a manual car. Now, I find myself in the predicament where, almost all cars in South Africa are manual.

You may now sufficiently sympathize with me and imagine the embarrassment I felt, which was only slightly lessened by the hope that other drivers, noted how fly I was, given that they had ample time to do so. As I checked the back mirror to ensure that I don't knock the car behind me, I did take consolation, that indeed, my spectators may have noticed my good looks.

Finally, the car yielded and I moved forward. I apologized profusely to each driver and I even stopped shortly to chide the teenagers, who were actually, on closer scrutiny, not teenagers even though they had behaved so.

As I drove off, I thanked God for my brown skin, for if I was any lighter, I would literally have gone beetroot red.

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