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Driving Miss Amy

Monday, March 30, 2009

There are lots of things I just can't do. I can't eat lobster without dry heaving, sit through any of the Lord of the Rings movies without falling asleep, or go more than 12 hours without swearing. I also can't drive a standard, and I don't think that's going to change any time soon.

All my life I've been an automatic transmission girl. I learned to drive in my dad's old black F150 and all my vehicles have been automatics. My parents' cars were always automatics. I've never had any reason to need to drive a standard. The shifting seemed cool and exciting and race-car-ish, and I figured one day I'd just hop into a standard and zoom off all Fast and Furious style. How hard can it be? I wondered. There are tons of complete idiots driving standards. Surely I can get the hang of it pretty quick.

Hmmm. Not so much. For starters, there's way too much going on and wayyyy too much work involved when you're driving a standard. Let's compare:

Driving a Manual Transmission:
1. Start the car
2. Foot on the brake
3. Foot on the clutch
4. E-brake off
5. Give it a little gas
6. Let the clutch out too fast
7. Stall/Lurch forward/Mild whiplash
8. Repeat steps 1-7
9. Repeat all of the above several more times
10. Engine finally catches
11. Scream "Fuckin' A!!!"
12. Get up to second gear, reach the end of the mall parking lot, cram on the brakes, stall.
13. Repeat all ad nauseum

Driving an Automatic Transmission:
1. Start the car
2. Put it in "D"
3. Go

It's the real life equivalent of sending someone across the country an e-mail versus walking 4,000 kilometres and battling bears and snakes and tribesman in an epic quest to deliver your message. One makes sense. The other doesn't. Whyyyy all the extra work??!!

Then, once I actually figured out how to get the car moving, I realized there is way too much happening simultaneously and something's gotta give. How in the hell are you supposed to pay attention to when to shift up, when to shift down, when to have the clutch in, when to have the clutch out, whether you're rolling down a hill, what gear to be in, etc. ANNNND watch out for things like other cars and pedestrians and stop signs? Luckily I was driving in circles around an empty mall parking lot and my only obstacles were a huge orange dumpster and an upside-down shopping cart.

H2B was my patient teacher. "You're doing really well," he told me, trying to be all encouraging when I was near tears after stalling his Civic literally 10 times in a row attempting to get it started. Come to find out, I was actually in third, not first. Woops. I also had a little problem with forgetting to let off the gas when shifting gears which made for some scary revving and lots of screeching from me. "I'm wrecking the shit out of your car!" I kept fretting. I guess it was still operational today, so maybe I didn't fully cook the engine.

At the end of our lesson I was about 50/50 for starting off without stalling--my biggest faux pas is letting the clutch out too fast--and was able to shift pretty smoothly. If me driving a standard was equated to playing junior high basketball, for example, I'd be the most improved player winner...I still suck the worst, but not quite as badly as when I first started.

I have come to the conclusion that standards are built for people who feel they have something to prove. Clearly there is something in their personal life that's lacking. A small penis, illiteracy, an embarrassing food allergy, consistent post-nasal drip, perhaps? Some inadequacy they try to cancel out by driving a vroom-vroom manual around town. "Yeah, my weiner is pretty much as useful as a wicker bedpan but watch me power through these gears, baby!"

When I want to go somewhere I want to get there. Now. I don't have time to arse around letting the clutch out slowly and having to start from scratch every time I get to a stop light. Plus, I'll have higher resale value when I sell my automatic. I save time, earn more money, and have to do about 5% of the thinking and effort to get from point A to point B. Automatics FTW!

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  1. I used to claim to be a fast learner. Then my parents tried to teach me how to drive stick.

    They ended up buying an automatic. I'll leave it at that.

  2. In your comparison, you also forgot to mention the fact that standards are usually significantly faster than automatics. Embarrassing food allergy or not, I'll take the extra juice of a standard every time, thanks. :)

    I once dumped a girl for failing her drivers license test twice. Being able to drive is pretty important to me and automatics don't count. Keep going, you can do it!

  3. I'm going to keep trying :D I'll crack the nut eventually. Stupid clutch...I failed my drivers test twice too but only because of the parallel parking. I tried to argue out of it by saying "but that's what parking lots are for!!" No dice!

  4. hahaha ok so I thought I wanted to learn to drive a stick... maybe I don't after all!!

    How sweet of the H2B to be so encouraging, though!

    Twitter has been so fun to learn about... I'm also interested in interactive marketing so all these Web 2.0s are fascinating to me! Probably why I love blogging so much :) Thanks for stopping by my blog-- I'm so glad I joined 20sb!

    Can't wait to read more of yours!

  5. lol ...yes to everything in that first sentence!!!! ... I learned how to drive on a stick shift ...but prefer automatic ..you can do more things while driving lol!

  6. Yeah in Australia we call that a manual car, I assume that's the same as stick/standard

    There are lot's of good reasons to drive manual and lots of good reasons to drive automatic. Of course you aren't a "real man" unless you drive a manual, but other than that it is just pure personal preference.

    (plus people who can drive manual get to laugh at the people who can't... so there is that)