Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Idiot expat moment of the day:

Stalling three times while driving up an icy hill.

This is the hill* that makes me break out into a cold sweat each day as I take the kids to school.  It's right before a stoplight (naturally), and every morning I cross my fingers that the light will be green and I won't have to stop on the incline.  Today, the light turned green just as I was starting up the slope, so I inched forward and then downshifted to second just as I was nearly stopped because I'd heard you didn't need to shift into first as long as you had some forward motion.  Well, I guess that doesn't hold true on a hill, especially one covered in ice.  So I stalled out, panicked restarted the car as quickly as possible, only to realize I actually hadn't stalled:  the engine was still running.  This, of course, confused me so much that I did actually stall.  Then I tried starting off again, but had forgotten to shift to first.  So embarrassing!  I will say, however, that drivers here are incredibly gracious.  No one even honked at me or flipped me off or anything.  They just carefully went around me.

I did redeem myself somewhat by driving to Ikea (in Belgium!) on the autoroute without incident.  I thought that would be really hard but it's much easier than driving in town.  And I was very careful in Ikea not to make an idiot of myself:  I needed to buy some very large furniture so I meticulously measured the cargo space of the car first to ensure my purchases would fit.  And they did.  They were so heavy I had to drag them through the slush and manuever them with my legs to angle them into the car, but I did it.  And I was able to ask questions in the store (in French) and get answers that I understood.  Whew!  Shopping in a foreign country is rife with potential for making an idiot of oneself, so I'm feeling lucky that I only had one idiot moment today. :)

* Okay, it's not really a hill, especially by San Francisco standards, but it is enough of a slope that the car rolls back pretty quickly.  That's enough to scare me!


  1. During my Mega-shop at Ikea last Tuesday (note to self: they still have not called me to deliver), at one point I was dragging boxes onto my cart and laughing because they were so freaking heavy. I had to get Warehouse Dude to help me with some that I thought were stored on the shelf over my head. Turns out they were also stored at ground level. Oops.

    What was Culturally Interesting was watching 6 foot-plus, strapping Warehouse Dude greet his colleague (also a man) with the French bis/kiss. ("Hi! Oh, are you on this shift today?" kiss-kiss)

  2. I know! I can't get used to the kissing either, especially when men do it.