Terrifying Technology

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October 16th 2018
Published: October 16th 2018
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Smart *ss carSmart *ss carSmart *ss car

Too advanced for me...
Sometimes I believe I’ve outlived my capacity to adapt, or at least to catch on...

To explore Wales, I’ve rented another car. This is the third one I’ve driven in the seven weeks I’ve been here, and I was pretty excited to get a MiniCooper, since I’d not even sat in one, much less driven it.

I got it in the rain, from a very busy agent named Charlotte. It may have been that she was getting wet standing beside me as I sat at the console, but she kept saying, “So, are you happy with the car?” And not in a good way - I think she was disguising impatience with solicitude. I had to go back into the office twice after signing all her forms, once to figure out how to get the SatNav to talk to me, and then again to learn how to turn on the headlights. It wasn’t until I drove off that I realized we hadn't even inspected the exterior (and I shortly discovered a scuffed bumper...)

Anyway, all was going swimmingly as I sailed out of Bristol, across the Severn River and into Wales (toll: $7.43). The countryside is jaw-droppingly beautiful,
Parking is tightParking is tightParking is tight

At my ATC hosts’ (yellow) house in The Mumbles, Swansea.
but more on that later.

The first time the engine quit was when I took an exit (despite the posh lady‘s instructions to continue on the M4) - the car needed gas and I needed a stretch. I reached the ubiquitous roundabout at the bottom of the exit ramp, braked for the traffic already in the circle, and the engine stalled. I instantly re-pushed the start button (yes, it’s one of those), and managed to merge without harm.

Then, a few minutes later when I pulled up to a pump at a fuel station, the engine quit again. I whipped out my phone and called the rental office.

“Oh,” said Charlotte breezily when I described the incidents, “that’s a fuel-saving setting.”

“Really?” I replied. “How about life-endangering? How does it score on that axis?”

Unruffled, she explained that modern diesel (yes, it’s one of those, too) cars shut the engine off when you come to a full stop. They restart when you take your foot off the brake.

Also, the intermittent wiper works only when the “rain sensor” is activiated; the actual wipers are set by bumping the stem once for regular speed and
We park where we canWe park where we canWe park where we can

Even up on the walk, in front of someone’s living room window
twice for fast. And the turn indicator gets bumped softly for a few blinks and harder for continued blinking (you have to bump the stem the opposite way to get it to stop - which I always do too hard, so folks behind me think I‘m chronically indecisive about lane changes.)

The SatNav screen is not touch-sensitive; one communicates with it from a little dial under the emergency brake, twisting and clicking it like a Dynamo Label Maker.

So that’s how I’m driving through Wales; twisting and clicking and flicking and cursing. And at every roundabout and traffic light, the engine stops, and so does my heart.

Good times.



16th October 2018

Learning new tricks!
What fresh hell is a car whose engine stops when the car comes to a complete stop?! How many glasses of wine did you need to get over that experience? Did the car rental place have any camels? Might have been a better choice :) Onward!
17th October 2018

To Barbara
Right?!?! Next time, I’ll check the camel lot before signing off... 😅
16th October 2018
We park where we can

Oh. My. God. Forgive me but I had to laugh. I did feel guilty. I'm still reeling at the fact that you are driving all over Great Britain on the left hand side of the road. Now you got a newfangled car with crazy s*** on it! I sure hope you can mellow out with it soon enough. I'm really looking forward to the pictures of this jaw dropping Countryside. I've seen it in my dreams. Be safe girlfriend!
17th October 2018
We park where we can

Yes, Diane,
If we can’t laugh, we’re toast. 😉
17th October 2018

OMG. U R Amazing !!
You my friend have taken “adventure” to another level! I’m sorry for your stress with your Mini Cooper! I hope this will all just be a good story down the road 😊. Your tale has been quite well written and very entertaining!!! Take care my friend 💕

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