9Reverse—Being Responsive in a Resistant World

One of the best TV shows available is a British show called Top Gear. It is funny, informative, and a bit crass—all the makings for mindless entertainment. One of my favorite episodes highlighted a three-wheeled car called the Reliant Robin, made by a U.K. car manufacturer in the 1970s.

There are numerous issues with a three-wheeled car, especially with the Reliant Robin. First, it was hard to turn, especially sharply. Second, it wasn't very wide, as it needed to hold the weight of the vehicle on one front wheel. Third, and most importantly, this vehicle on the show could not back up—it didn't have a reverse gear (or the reverse gear in the vehicle they were using was not working). Nonetheless, a car with no reverse would be difficult to drive and require a strategic eye when parking. Luckily, the Reliant Robin was lightweight and could be easily pushed back by a person or two.

In our 5 Gears metaphor, if vehicles represent people, then how many Reliant Robins are out there in the world, people who are not very nimble, whose lives are easily upended, and who do not have the ability to reverse, back up, and apologize. That sounds awful. To not have the ability to back up is like living with your right hand tied behind your back. And yet, millions of people live like this every day.

Reverse is a great gear. Having it in your car gives you the ability to parallel park or to hook up a trailer or fit into a tight spot. Without reverse, ...

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