The bright red exclamation point light on the dash, followed by an incessant alarm made me know something was very wrong. I had just driven to the local car wash, but something told me a button or two were inadvertently pushed when the workers wiped down the dashboard. Unfortunately, the controls and warnings are all in Chinese, putting me at great disadvantage when trying to solve the mystery.
Note to self: LEARN the language. But until that happens, learn to deal with the unique situations that just might come up on a daily basis living in a different land. This could have been more upsetting than it was. Perhaps I’m just more used to these things happening. But it also reminded me of the simple kindness of strangers and how most just want to get along and help.
Hoping and trusting that the car wouldn’t explode, I decided to keep driving towards my destination not far away. I would ask someone for help in translation then. I got the Chinese-only manual out and looked for pictures of the dashboard so I could at least show someone what light was illuminated. Then they could tell me what was wrong.
I went to pick up my daughter at a painting class, and brought the manual inside with me. The receptionist’s English was too limited to help me, but she said quite simply not to drive. Great. Claire, the piano teacher I know well came out to help me, but she’s from Taiwan and wasn’t certain of the Chinese characters, especially in a technical book. Another local woman there could read and help translate, but she’s never driven a car, so the automobile lingo was lost on her. Claire then called her husband, who decided that it had something to do with my emergency brake. I was skeptical since I don’t use it (I have an automatic transmission and don’t use the emergency brake regularly). But he suggested I try it and see.
Sure enough, the car wash workers must have lifted the emergency brake ever-so-slightly while cleaning because that was the exact cause. I put it down and immediately all those threatening alarms and lights went away. Phew! Don’t worry, you car buffs out there who cringe and the idea of my driving around with the emergency brake on. While not ideal, I don’t think it was engaged enough to do lasting damage.
Just another lesson of living here — people want to help when they are able. And if you don’t get too flustered or impatient, you will figure things out. Yes, I need to learn more about the language and not be caught in those situations, but I feel comforted in knowing that I was able to get my answers in a relatively easy – albeit almost comical – way. And Chinese language or not, I’ll always know what that little light on my dash means if I ever need to again.