Let’s shift gears here…

In Driving on June 23, 2013 at 5:20 AM

Recently, I took my first lesson in how to drive a manual transmission, and I didn’t do too badly; only stalling out twice! The lady who owns the car told me “it’s OK, you will do that a few times; nothing to worry about.” She also mentioned that she wants to trade it in in a year, so I couldn’t harm it. I enjoyed it immensely! The thrill of shifting gears, slamming the gear lever to change, hearing the engine rev up! Oh, how I loved it!

I have decided that when I get a car (or pickup) it HAS to be a manual, no automatic for me! I only drove from her house to mine which isn’t that far, but it was enough for me! I am a manual transmission man! I learned to drive in a mini-van that was automatic, and I excelled at it. If you remember my earlier posting about getting my license, then you will recall my timidness behind the wheel. With the stick, the only real problem I had was starting from a dead stop. I would stall out about one in four starts, but I found shifting gears to be easy as pie. I guess playing Gran Turismo and various Formula One games may have played a part in that…and yes, I was expecting a red stop sign or number telling me what gear to shift to, despite noir exceeding 40 miles an hour!

The car in question is a 2001 Honda, and far cry from my future (I hope) Michael Schumacher Formula One car, but for now it was fine. The lessons came about when I was asked to wash her car. She asked me to start it and it confessed that I didn’t know how…she offered to one day teach me…that was the day my life would change.

It was a cold day for early June. I was wearing shorts and a T-shirt, believing the wind would die off and the heat would increase. I finished washing and vacuuming the auto, and she pulled it out to the street, telling me “Don’t get in yet.” I allowed my self the thought of her running me down (she is elderly, after all) but quickly dispatched it, as I’m her entire workforce. I walked out to the street, my body shaking, not knowing at the time, the joy that laid ahead of me. I get curb side and hear “hop in, you’re going to learn something today”. I swallowed my spit (normally after work, I pack a bit of tobacco fir the walk home, but not today.) I get to the car as my friend and part time boss instructs me to depress the clutch, and shift into first gear. The car stalls out. I had no idea what to do. “Clutch, first again” I hear. Same results as before. I then look down and see that she (driving a manual exclusive fir 40+ years, she was) had engaged the emergency brake. I take it off, and press on the clutch, and slide the gear lever into first (see, most stock transmissions have the gears and their positions etched into the knob on the top…) I ease off the clutch and onto the gas. I was enthralled as to his smoothly the car pulled forward from the curb, and into the street. I’m sure I did, but I don’t recall blinking during that first time, just…driving and listening to the car.

I’ve known the lass who instructed me for a number of years, addressed her by her given first name many times, but her giving me instructions brought the formality in me, and I followed her questions with a “yes, ma’am” or “no ma’am”, and didn’t realize it until I pulled into the driveway of my house and she said “You don’t have to call me ‘ma’am’ you know. I’ve known you for many years, ‘Ronda’ is fine…(and not her real name, by the way). I apologized and collected my day’s pay, which would’ve been acceptable if she cut it by half, as driving a stick shift was more than payment enough! She told me that she would love to give me more lessons, but our schedules just don’t mesh up (I would for two other people, and she loans her car out to her friend so he can get to work, you see), so I said anytime she has me working and the car would be a fine time, even if it’s just to and from her house. She mentions selling or trading it in a year or so, and I asked to get first crack at it.

I have a few ideas to make the manual transmission better. Here they are (in no particular order)
Give drivers a discount for buying a stick shift. It could be in the forum of a tax credit, or in the firm of a cheaper car. Hell, a separate cheaper lane at the petrol station even.
Give them an option to choose between a “proper” gear box (as Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson calls it) or the Formula One style “flappy paddle” gears behind the wheel. Including the clutch pedal.
Third, tell every man who comes in that the amount of female attention (even from hus wife/girlfriend) will increase by 3000%! What man doesn’t want more sex. If your a homosexual, then tell em that it will increase the amount of sex you have by 3000%. See, I thought of everyone.
Tell the men that it will make you manlier to the women (or other homosexuals if that’s your preference)
If your a woman, it will make men (or women, if you want) become enamored with you (what man or lesbian woman doesn’t love a gal who can shift?)
Include a sticker that says “I shift” to plaster on your bumper.
Instead of the carpool lane, rename it the “Manual Transmission Lane” and allow them to go faster than the other, slow automatic vehicles on the motorway.

Now some history of the manual transmission.  THIS PART MAY BE TOO SEXIST FOR SOME, but it’s factual…honest. OK, still reading? Good. The automatic transmission was invented because the thinking was that women couldn’t get the concept of shifting gears. The automatics that people love where invented fir women drivers…as was power steering. Just remember that. The transmission and power steering came with the tagline “Your husband can shift, but you can’t”.

Now,  I must head off to sleep, so leave ne your questions and comments to respond to when I awake. Thanks.


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