Last Friday I drove my car, the oldest in the mission, a 12 year old manual transmission ‘wagon’. Arriving a few minutes before 8 a.m. I parked in my usual spot on the side of the road, just after a bridge. Bridges here are always built higher than the road, with the exits sloping downward.
As I parked, my cell phone beeped, giving me a message that occupied my thoughts for a few moments. Then I locked each door (no automatic locks on this antique) and proceeded to walk along the road toward the car dealership. Just before turning in, a car identical to mine passed me on the road. It was dirty and unkept, causing me to think badly of its owner. I looked to see who was the driver.
What, no driver! A quick turn of the neck revealed, to my horror, that my car was no longer in its parking spot. I had forgotten to lift the parking break! Now my car was on its own well ahead of me, beginning to veer into the far lane. Frantically, I began chasing after the self-driving vehicle, waving my hands and warning the oncoming traffic to watch out for the runaway wagon.
Amazingly, no accident occurred as the car finally left the road and the front wheels feel into a ditch. Once inside, I quickly realized that the front-wheel drive vehicle wasn’t going anywhere as the tires spun in the muddy ditch. Fortunately, several men at the car dealership saw the predicament of this old clumsy missionary and came to my rescue, pushing and lifting until the antique was back on the road and headed in the right direction.
Had this occurred in the U.S., security cameras surely would have caught sight of a panicking man running down the middle of the street with his arms waving wildly, chasing a dirty car with no driver. A YouTube sensation, thousands of viewers would have been delightfully entertained. As it was, my embarrassment was limited to the staff of the car dealership who now have a designated parking space for me near the office.