Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Stick Shifts and Safety Belts

After many, many months of almost completely ignoring the idea, I have attacked my life list with renewed vigor and begun to learn to drive a manual transmission.  Stick shift.  Whatever it’s called--the kind where you have to shift the engine to a new gear as opposed to the car just doing it for you, the lazy person’s way.  

(Are people still doing life lists?  Is that still a thing?  I will no doubt carry on for at least another five years, so behind the times am I, but I might be the only one.  What can I say, I love lists, and I especially love crossing things off them).

For the last, oh, three months, every weekend D has said something along the lines of “Let’s go to the Lowe’s parking lot and I’ll teach you to drive my car!”  And I in return have said something along the lines of “Not this weekend, we have so much other stuff to do/places to go/things to see.”  Or simply “No.”  I don’t love learning new things, especially if those things will be hard for me to grasp and have the potential to screw up something complicated and expensive like a car.  And since D loves that car more than he loves me, or at least the same amount, I've been especially wary of learning this particular new skill.

But for some reason, the weekend before Thanksgiving break, when D cheerfully asked me for the 95th time if I was ready to learn how to drive his car, I finally broke down and said yes.  We went to the Lowe’s parking lot and he taught me the basics, and I sat in the driver’s seat and practiced turning the car on and off and getting the feel for the clutch, and then I drove around in approximately 25 verrrry slow donuts (sticking to first gear) before we gave up and went into Lowe’s to buy a Christmas tree, partly because I didn’t want to be in charge of a large and complicated machine anymore and partly because I felt we should buy something from the store after using their parking lot for such a long time.

The next weekend was Thanksgiving and I was in Texas, which was very, very far away from D’s car, but the weekend after we were back in the Lowe’s parking lot, driving around in circles again.  I was feeling rather confident with my skills at turning on the car, slowly cruising around, parking, and then turning it back off, when D threw me for a loop and told me to take it out on the road so we could switch gears.  Switching gears, while driving in actual traffic, was rather terrifying.  I almost wished we had a sign on the back of the car that said “Student Driver!” just so people would know what they were getting themselves into when they pulled up behind me.  I went from first to second to first again, over and over, before my nerves couldn’t take it anymore and we called it a day.  Being a slow learner, combined with not wanting to screw up D’s beloved car, means that I would prefer to err on the side of caution with our one and only vehicle.

So now, with lots of guidance, I can drive a manual/stick shift car.  In theory.  I have yet to drive very far or very fast, but I feel as though I’m making progress (although I foresee many more practice sessions in my future).  D, for the record, is the nicest and most patient teacher on the face of the earth.  I’ve decided that I’m glad I’m not also learning to drive for the first time, because that would be terrifying beyond belief.  Learning how to shift and not stall out while also knowing how far to be from the curb and other cars and a working knowledge of the general rules of the road would probably put me over the edge.  But I do already know how to drive an automatic and this is a skill I've always wanted to have.  I'm determined that slowly but surely, I will conquer this car.  Although we did just learn that D’s mom would like to generously gift to us his grandmother’s car, which is, of course, an automatic transmission.

8 comments:

Kristina Richie said...

Congrats that is awesome!!! I still have yet to learn this...I always fail when we reach stop signs and I stall out before I can get moving again :(

Everyone says driving a manual is more "fun"...I'll stick to my fake "manual" that you can shift gears without the whole clutch deal. Yeah I know it's cheating...

But seriously - nice work! It's hard to get past the terrifying/frustrated part!

Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks said...

Driving manual is awesomely fun. I seriously miss my car that was stick ... driving automatic isn't the same (though, probably a lot safer when also trying to deal with a cranky toddler!). I'll never forget the first time I learned to drive stick. My whole family was at my parents' beach house and there had been a hurricane, so there wasn't any power. Out of sheer boredom, my uncle offered to take me out to learn to drive stick ... and it was awesome fun, because all the traffic lights were out (and virtually no one was around), so I never had to stop and could stay in 3rd or 4th gear. My uncle was so frustrated (he really wanted to see me stall) that he made me take him home. hahaha.

Marisa A. said...

I think we are truly twins, beyond name twins :) I learned to drive Drew's car this summer also manual transmission. I actually learned when I was first learning how to drive and could do it well. But the first car I owned ended up being automatic, and so was the car after that so I hadn't done it since I was 16. I remembered everything but Drew's clutch is a sport clutch so it actually pushes back quite a bit which I am not a fan of. I'll drive it to the grocery store but that is about it.

Journey Authentically said...

Ha I just looked at your life list again and love it. I'm totally a goal person and have my life goals on my blog too. ;) Congrats on tackling the first part of this goal--stick shifts are a challenge!!

Alice said...

I am SO grateful to the one ex who taught me to drive stick. I don't need the skill often, but on occasion it's definitely saved my butt - first date who got too drunk to drive me home once, for example? his car was stick. different boyfriend got so drunk at a wedding he was physically incapable of driving us home the next morning? his car: also stick.

(what i'm saying is: it can come in handy :) )

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

I actually do not know how to drive a manual either and I don't know that I ever will learn as I don't know anyone with a manual! I think it is good to learn in case you are in a situation where you HAVE to drive and the car is a manual...

When I visited Kyria in San Fran, she drove her roommate's manual car all over that hilly city and I do not know how she did it!!

Lauren @ Sassy Molassy said...

Way to tackle the manual shifting! It's not easy. I still remember learning how to drive my stick shift truck with my dad in high school. The hardest part was always stopping on a steep hill and figuring out the right amount of gas, clutch release to give.

Kyria @ Travel Spot said...

Great job on learning. I think it's important to know. My cousin had to drive my uncle to the hospital once and the car was a manual and he didn't know how and it was very stressful!

I have always had a stick shift car and really would rather have one, even if it is sometimes a pain when you are stuck in traffic.