Burning rubber

Will Milner ponders the particular perils of summer motoring...

The Knowledge

There is nothing that hurts quite like sitting on a car’s seatbelt buckle in a Dubai summer.

The only thing I’ve felt that comes close was that time I bit into an over-microwaved doughnut.

One second you’re fine – settling into the climate-controlled comfort of your car or warming up a nice sugary treat – the next your skin is being melted from your body.

At least with the doughnut you’re slightly prepared. Your brain has sent messages to your mouth warning it that heat is on the agenda. With that, an alertness is in place and you can proceed with caution. Sure, you get the occasional mouthful of molten jam, but as the old saying goes: if you can’t stand the heat, don’t microwave raspberry doughnuts in your kitchen.

But scorching yourself on a seatbelt buckle is another matter entirely. The short, sharp shock comes when you’re least expecting it. Because your car is air-conditioned and if there is one thing sure to make otherwise normal, everyday Dubaians lose their mind it’s air-conditioning.

Talking about it, thinking about it, adjusting it, setting a timer on it, wondering what all the other buttons do on it – whatever it is, we’re a city obsessed with our A/C.

Which is hardly surprising when temperatures are being registered at more than 50°C. IN. THE. SHADE.

In the summer we all know that we should park our car in the shade. Doesn’t matter that it is literally hot enough to fry an egg on the bonnet and your car has been parked up for three hours. If there is a slight shadow across the back window we just assume the car will be fine. Turn on the A/C and stand outside for a minute before climbing in, right? Wrong.

Don’t be fooled by the upholstery not being too hot. Reaching in and patting the seat with your hands doesn’t give you any indication of the heat. These are the same hands that tell the rest of your body the bathwater is just fine. Your feet and back can tell you just how little hands should be trusted. Hands are used to high temperatures. Hands lie.

Just watch somebody climbing into a car this summer. They’re flustered, blustered and sweating custard (that makes no sense but neither does standing around car parks trying to see people burn themselves) but once inside the car they start to feel relief as the A/C kicks in. When you see them leap into the air like a baby sitting on a bumblebee is the exact moment the metal seatbelt buckle presses against their exposed leg or sneaks under their shirt and brands their back.

Like I say, there is no pain quite like it. The only thing I can suggest is keeping a couple of doughnuts in the glove compartment to eat as you drive away.

Because 50°C is the perfect temperature to be eating hot doughnuts in.
Will Milner is our digital editorial director. He likes refrigerated doughnuts. A lot.

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