Thursday, April 4, 2013

It's never too late to teach an old dog a new trick.

It happened a couple weeks ago, I bought a new old car! This was a long time coming, as it is near impossible to get around in Delaware without a vehicle. I really needed a car, and it just so happened, a neighbor had a car he really didn't need. And it was a nice car; sunroof, power windows, CD player, all the important things I look for when I'm purchasing something to drive. The only problem was it had a manual transmission.

I was never against learning how to drive manual. When I was learning to drive we just didn't have one I could learn on. In fact, I was basically the only one in my family who didn't know how to drive stick, and this bothered me. I needed to know what the big deal was and why people still drove a manual when they could easily drive an automatic.

On the day I bought the new old car I had my dad give me a driving lesson. It was like I was back in high school again learning all over again. We started by just getting the car around the block, which in my parent's neighborhood means going up and down a fairly steep hill. Then it was out into a larger connecting neighborhood with right and left turns, stop signs, and irritated drivers. (I'm happy to report I didn't completely piss any one off enough to receive the passing finger...just a glare here or there.) I felt pretty confident after an hour and a half of driving around the back hilly roads of Hockessin, only stalling out occasionally at a merge or red light. I was nervous, but knew it was time I had to go out on my own...I had to get myself to work anyway.

Wouldn't you know I hit a problem as soon as I left the house? With my heart pounding and my dad's instructions running through my head, I coasted up to the red light with my foot on the clutch, then tried to put the car into first gear. Only the car wouldn't shift. Nothing I did got it into first gear and the row of cars was growing behind me (Who pulls up to a car with their flashers on anyway? Really people, flashers have a meaning and when the car is stopped it usually means it isn't going anywhere.). Dad to the rescue, who gave me a quick scare that I had burned out the clutch (Thankfully, not true, as I've heard this is an expensive repair.). Apparently, the clutch got stuck, making it so you couldn't switch gears, easily fixed by manually pulling it out of engagement.

It's been two weeks since that day. How am I doing? I think great! I stalled a few times at red lights, but have gotten better at preparing to drive. Reverse was a disaster at first (It is not like the other gears, I learned it is more like first.), with a lot of jerking back and forth into a parking spot. But after two weeks of driving, I really feel like I've gotten it down and know what I'm doing. I'm a natural!

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