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Driving a Monstertruck around Bernal Heights – San Francisco

Tales from house sitting #2

As part of our house sitting commitments we also need to move the family car for the weekly Friday 9am-11am street sweeping (or risk getting served a pricey ticket! San Fran may be known for the flowers in people’s hairs, but the traffic-parking ticket distributing people have hair on their teeth and no flower anywhere in sight!)

From now on we refer to the family vehicle as “Monstertruck” because it is the size of a small house {{{and from a European perspective this is just completely wild; especially considering the family riding in this vehicle are a child and a very slim lady, occasionally another adult. It would be different if it was a family of 6.. But then I would imagine a VW family bus would work the trick and be so much cuter..}}}

Now, for the past 20 years I have spent most of my time cycling, driving or otherwise taking note of traffic on the opposite side of the road to America. Street markings are completely different, we don’t have free right turns, I also would like to note how much I miss pedestrians not being glued to a mobile phone while crossing the street.. I want to roll down the window and shout: “You trust ME to see you every time you do that? Please don’t, I am afraid I might have to scrape you off the crosswalk like a stamp one day!”

Monstertruck has no clutch! What the hell?!? Monstertruck works very much like a fairground bumper car, except of course ideally I should not bump it on anything at all! Especially not pedestrians who don’t look where they are going, but mini-sized dogs that I can’t see from the high perch of the Monstertruck seat should also be avoided; ideally… The brake pedal is huge, like as if it suggests that people have difficulty finding it unless it is extra large. So it is less a pedal and more a paddle..

The car alarm enjoys going off while I am inside the vehicle, making me wonder if soon I may by accident end up wearing jail breakers black and white stripe pyjamas.. So far so good..

So you press a button and that starts the car. Like a bumper car, exactly..  anyhow I spare you every minute detail of the day’s excitement…

Monstertruck is back in it’s parking space. I somehow managed without killing anybody, they would have had to be really stupid to get killed at 10mph .. (I actually did accidentally end up on the main street that I tried to avoid and did drive 30mph at one point.. so I am not as incapable as I present myself but I am genuinely incredulous at the size of American road vehicles. They simply are wild!!) I held up traffic like it was my job, got stuck not able to pass a removal van, caused a line of cars needing to back out of a one way street behind me, had a stranger help me get past the van.. Ended up having to help the same stranger with a manual car, because she couldn’t drive THAT..

Ended up blocking somebody’s drive way in the process.. Ended up pacifying the drive-way owners with unfulfilled promises of coffee, wine and pizza..

Did one standard brake-manouver and everything (I mean everything!) in the car flew past me to the front. Never experienced such ‘sensitive’ braking system before.. I am used to the type of car where you have to push the foot down and through the floor to get it to stop..

Got stuck in a maze of roller coaster blindingly-steep streets, was pursued by a traffic lady on a mini traffic vehicle, I may well be served a ticket for driving too slow !!! Found a parking spot 45 minutes into the mission (apparently mission nearly-impossible) ..

THAT was a ball ache and cost us a grand total of $7 for mediocre coffee and monster-size-minimum-flavour-croissant + about $1 in calls and texts..

Verdict: Monstertruck is gigantic, I think I could learn to handle it but the only reason why I even consider is because we are reasonably seriously considering living in a school bus for the duration of times that we will be in the Bay Area. This of course is another story to relay when I next have time..

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