Today were going to talk about driving an
automatic transmission. Automatic transmissions have P R N D 3 2 1
or some minor variation. How difficult can that be? Most cars here
are standard transmission and IKEA was kind enough to get us an
automatic because they know that most Americans dont know how to
drive manual transmissions. What they didnt know is that yours
truly has never owned, solely, an automatic transmission and that I
Originally, we were supposed to live with walking
distance of the store, and this coming week we will. But from the
time since weve been here through the beginning of this week, were
about eight miles away and taking the trolley (or tram as its
called here) entails a pretty long walk at the other end, so they
gave us a car to use ($6.00/gallon for gasoline, but, hey, we asked
for this) until we move.
People who know me know that Im a lot of
things but Im no dope. I got in the car, turned it on and went to
shift gears. I looked down at the gear box and saw this:
At the O in the center was the lever, but
whatever direction I pushed it in, it always came back to center. I
had a clue what the N and R were, but for a few minutes I was
baffled by A, +, and -. We sat there for a bit while I moved the
lever around and then I noticed that near the speedometer there was
an LED display. When I moved the lever toward N, it said N, and
similarly with R and A. I still didnt know what A was. None of this
movement of the lever affected the transmission, it seemed. There
was never a hint of moving the car a little forward or backward.
When I moved the lever toward + or -, the display changed to M1.
Then it dawned on me. M is manual, A is automatic. So off we went.
As we moved, the A on the LED display changed from A1 through A5.
But if I moved the lever to A again, it changed to Mn (n being the
number associated with the previous A) and I could shift manually by
using + or -. To go back to automatic, smack the lever back to A and
The wipers are another thing. I can start them
(which one has to do a lot here) and eventually I can stop them but
Im never sure if theyre really stopped or in intermittent mode.
The rear wiper seems to have a sensor; when its wet it moves. When
its really wet, it moves a whole lot faster. I havent found a way
to turn it off except when I shut off the car.
The radio is the weirdest. I can turn the volume
all the way down and after a while, the station goes to commercial
and the volume comes back up. Once that happened at the start of a
traffic report. The traffic reports start with a loud blast of a
horn and I damn near jumped out of my skin!
It was easier getting used to driving on the left
side in Ireland, than it is the horns of cars as they cut in front
with no warning and the bicycles coming from every direction.