I always wanted to know how to drive a stick shift because I thought cool, independent women drove stick shifts. I desperately wanted to be one of those ladies that could wield a powerful machine! That’s how I felt inside anyway. But when your parents’ only stick shift is a super tricked-out, high-performance sports car that they barely let you breathe on, you don’t get to learn– regardless of the powerful-woman-machine-wielding person you are on the inside.
The years went on, and whenever there was a situation where someone had to drive someone else’s car but it was a manual, I could never volunteer. It kiiiiiiilled me. So, I figured what better way to remedy this than to put it on my life list?
Michael offered to teach me, so we just had to find a stick shift and a parking lot. My mother in law stepped up to the plate, letting us borrow her ’94 Geo Prizm, so Michael and I headed up to Napa early Sunday morning.
Michael drove us around the parking lot first, explaining everything and showing me just how easy it is. Then it was my turn, and having been driven around in stick shifts for so many years, I thought it would come naturally. And it kinda did.
I quickly learned that getting from a dead stop to first gear was pretty much 90% of learning how to drive a stick. I cursed every time I stalled out, but Michael was super patient and kind as usual. I started to get the hang of it, repeating dead stop to first gear over and over again, and I got like twelve perfect shifts in a row. Then FIVE times in a row it didn’t work. I finally realized I was trying to get from a stop to third gear instead. Oops! I got it back into first and went back to perfection.
After an hour or so of practicing and simulating real life traffic situations (Michael’s also good at making those up on the fly… should I credit D&D for that?), we decided I was ready for the street.
Mild panic hit me when I realized that the surrounding traffic sounds hindered my ability to hear the engine, so getting going at that first stop light was both horrifying and comical. I stalled twice in a row and finally got through the green light just before it turned red again. (I really should have put a “Student Driver” sign in the windows.)
I got three hours under my belt, and only stalling out twice on the road and never grinding the gears, I think, is a pretty sweet accomplishment. Now I’m a woman who can wield a powerful machine! Really, now I can say I know how to drive a stick, which, when I really think about it, is all I wanted in the first place. Driving a manual, while it may have some slightly heightened maneuvering abilities, seems rather pointless with the kind of driving I do. But now, when someone has to drive someone’s manual, I don’t need to hang my head in shame. I can volunteer! Boo yah life list! Thanks for continuing to rock my world….