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2/06/2008

Sarah Connor*: "If you're gonna be a hero, you gotta learn how to drive stick."

I can drive stick. If I was an actor, I'd be able to list that under "Special Talents" on the back of my head shot. I sort of didn't have a choice but to learn. For years, my parents only drove cars with manual transmissions. When I was learning to drive, at age 17--late bloomer, I suppose--my mother was driving a manual MINI VAN! I'm not kidding. It's the car I practiced driving the summer before going away to college.

I think it was on my Thanksgiving break of my freshman year that I was surprised with a hand-me-down (x 2) car. The little silver Toyota Celica had been my uncle's and then passed on to my grandfather, who gave it to me. It had a stick shift, of course. Having not driven for several months, I had to learn this vehicle's clutch.

My sister and I love to laugh about the time I was going to drive her to the mall in my "new" car. We got to a four-way stop not far from the house and I could not go again. I kept stalling. I think there were construction workers watching nearby, who may have laughed. Then again, that just may be an embellishment of the tale. Anyway, what I do remember is my younger sibling laughing and giving me so much shit that when I did finally get going again, I made a right turn, instead of going straight, and drove her ass back home. Laugh at me and no mall for you.

The Celica did not even make it through my full four years of college. It was a great car, but didn't handle well in the snow. That simply could have been driver error though. When I graduated and bought my first real new car, I chose a Honda Civic with a manual transmission. We lived in Florida at the time and it's flat as can be there, so no problem. I drove that car the entire cross-country trip to L.A. as E doesn't drive stick. Once I was driving on varied terrain and in stop-and-go traffic, I really started wanting an automatic. I had a weekend job that brought me up that big hill on La Cienega to Sunset, which was the worst.

So, I traded the Honda in for an automatic and have not looked back since. If I absolutely HAD to drive a stick, I could. The skill came in handy one night at the old gym we used to go to. The parking lot sloped down--toward the L.A. River!-- and this young woman could not get the shiny red car she was driving backed out of the space. She kept inching closer to the fence. She was exasperated and worried, "My dad is going to kill me!" So, I got in and backed her manual transmission car (or was it her dad's?) out for her. It's nice to know I can still do it, but I don't think it would be by choice, even if it does mean better gas mileage.

*TV's Sarah Connor, that is.

12 comments:

ren said...

it is that hill that makes me so glad i no longer have a manual transmission...until i remember how much fun it was to drive...and then i get stuck at that light on the hill and i am glad again.

Shayne said...

I can't drive stick to save my life.

Ashmystir said...

I never learned how to drive a stick but my hubby says I need to if I ever want to drive a REAL sports car. =)

Darlene said...

I'm stick shift disabled too. I thought trying out for the Amazing Race would be fun but again, the stick shift disability is holding me back.

Stan said...

I'm like you. I learned on a manual, and I've never even owned a car with an automatic. And the hill on La Cienega isn't a problem. The only time I ever really had a problem was when I was first learning to drive when I was 17. I stalled out on a hill that was something like 25% grade. I ended up letting the car roll backwards and to the side until the back bumper was against a telephone pole. Then I could let off the brake and concentrate on the clutch and get going again.

Jodi said...

As an addendum, I tried to teach E to drive stick, before our cross country trip, but I was deemed "a bad teacher!" My step-dad had the right idea. He went out with me once and then sent me on my own to learn, as he knew things would get ugly with both of us in the car!

the slackmistress said...

Funny, we were just talking about this last night! I know the THEORY of driving stick, but the practical application, not so much. It's one of the skills listed in the Post-Apocalyptic Workout, so you can cross that one off!

justJENN said...

I have that talent as well. Learning on your own is the best way to go. I love driving stick!

Aggie said...

I learnt stick when I first learnt to drive too. I've never had an automatic though I'd love one. Still, I'm waiting for a new generation car where I just hop in and tell the dratted thing where to go and it will do it itself. Yay!

Dianna said...

I remember that day well, being stuck there with the car stalling LOL Heck at least you can drive a stick now, I can't, and have no desire to learn.

Vanessa said...

I can rock a stick shift, in heels no less! Love it!

Nanette said...

I drive stick and I HATE it! I'm not even in bad traffic that often, but I still hate it.

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