I am also a 2010 Passion owner since August. You could trust me and could be sure that inadvertently you touched the paddle.... is really very sensitive. That happened to me twice and I also was sure I had not touched the paddle. At first, I was very worried but then I was careful and I realized that it happened because accidentally I touch the paddle.
I hope you feel more relaxed knowing that other people have experienced the same thing.
>> had to stop and put car in park and shift back to drive
No need to STOP...Just hold the "+" paddle in for TWO seconds and the "D" should return.
I love to use the paddle shift option.
>>Do I pull the + paddle toward me while still driving or do I push it away from me while still driving.
Pull the "+" paddle "toward" you--Yes! While still driving--Yes!
***NOTE*** This is on my 2009 Passion!
While my wife was driving my leg bumped the stick shift and put the trans into manual 5th...No big deal...untill she was going up a long grade LOL The smart just went slower and slower. She was not used to the smart car, and did not think to downshift :-) I slaped the stick back into auto and told her to STEP on the gas...all was OK.
If you are in a lower gear and forget to upshift---The smart car WILL upshift to the next gear at max-RPM.
>>How hard do I have to pull the paddle towards me?
Not hard at all. You could do with a flick of a fingernail ;-)