Day 24: Learn To Drive Stick

If laughing and almost having a heart attack is any indication of a great time, I would have to say that tonight’s blog moment was probably my favorite one thus far.

Now, I love to drive. And when I say ‘love’ I don’t mean I can stand driving an hour to get somewhere. I mean I’ll pass the entrance to my neighborhood on my way home and drive for another 20 minutes in a circle just because I don’t want to stop driving. Ever. I’ve wasted countless tanks of gas on recreational drives, and I’ll keep doing so until I’m 80 and get my license taken away. In the past few years I’ve always wanted to learn how to drive stick because I’m always hearing how more powerful and in control you feel when driving. Sounds good to me! I also think it is good to know for emergency situations. But, no one would teach me on their car! CoughDebCough. So I eventually gave up my quest to become a manumatic driver (Yes, I’m using that word in the wrong context.). That is, until my good friend, Aaron, offered to teach me how to drive stick on his car! What a pal! So tonight, we headed over to Notre Dame high school so I could start in their empty parking lot.

Aaron explained to me how it all worked, and I understood… oh… most of it. The important parts, at least. We switched seats and I started the car (I’m doing great so far!).  I had my foot on the clutch and he told me again what I had to do to get into first gear. I eased my foot of the clutch and simultaneously started pressing the gas. Nothing. Nothing’s happening! There’s just a funny noise, what am I doing wrong?? Aaron asked me if I was sure I was pressing the gas and not the break. The break? There’s a break?? I thought the clutch was there instead of the break!! Crap!

This is embarrassing. Laugh it off, Sarah, laugh it off. OK, so there’s a break pedal next to the clutch. Got it. That would mean that the gas pedal is… ah, yes, found it. Same place it is in my car. Alright, I can do this.

I tried it again. Ease off the clutch, press the gas… we’re moving, we’re mooovi- and we stall. There’s #1. Let’s try it again. Clutch…gas… I almost have it. “Wait, why are we bucking?” Stall. There’s #2. Third time’s a charm. I got this. Clutch… gas… and… WE’RE ZOOMING FORWARD! WHAT DO I DO?? (This was the first time I asked this question, but I assure you, not the last. In fact, if you want to really know how I reacted the whole night, feel free to insert this question after every thing I think and say for the rest of my driving lesson.) Breath, Sarah! Press the clutch in, now lightly on the break…. and we’re good, we’re good. I can handle this. Yes, I’m driving! This is easy! I’m driving stick! I’m only going 10 mph in an empty parking lot, but I’m driving stick!

Aaron had me stop and repeat this process a few times, getting used to going into first gear. After a few trips around the lot, I was ready for second gear. Annd, I stalled. #3. The second time around, it was smooth sailing (ok, not totally smooth). I don’t know how many times we went around that parking lot, but eventually I built up enough courage to try to go for third gear. Apparently this gear and the rest above it were easy, pieces of cake. The only problem was that I didn’t have enough space to get up to speed without having to turn right away. So we planned on driving around the school to start on an end that would give us a long straight-away. I drove around the lot until a car passed, then headed towards the road. Another car came, and it was back to the lot. Finally there weren’t any cars driving by and I pulled out towards the road to the school- car! Crap. And back around the lot we go, again. Eventually, I was around the school and on my way to third gear,but I was coming towards a stop sign connecting the parking lots. Luckily, no one was coming, at least I hoped.  I was gaining speed. “I hope no one is coming the other direction, cause I’m not stooppping” -and I zoomed through the stop sign and into the other lot, where I had begun. I slowed to a stop. Man, I’m good. Look out, Trevor Bayne, there’s a new driver in town! (And believe me, I literally felt like a new driver. Especially since there was a student learning how to parallel park in the lot next to me, and a small group of students by the school watching me with pitiful expressions. (Don’t worry, the place wasn’t packed. It was at night and nearly empty. I didn’t hit anyone.)

I was now ready to go to the neighborhoods near Aaron’s house to practice on longer and more legitimate roads. He told me to put the E-break on so we could switch drivers. I pulled it up and it barely budged. I pulled harder and finally heard a clicking sound. We un-buckled and opened our doors. I stepped halfway out and started to exclaim at the top of my lungs with fake, dramatic effect, “I’m FREE!” That same second I thought, ‘Wow, firm ground really feels different.’ I’m really rocking. This is kind of trippy. Waaiiit, what’s happening?  Oh my gosh!!  The car is rolling! THE CAR IS ROLLING! This time I screamed from actual drama and adrenaline. I tried to keep moving with the car so I wouldn’t get stuck under the door while trying to figure out why I was moving, why the car was moving! Where’s Aaron? What do I do? What do I do?? I scrambled back in the car to see Aaron jumping in the other side and simultaneously putting the E-break on…the right way.

We stopped. Silence. We looked at each other.  A second later we burst out laughing. HAHAHAHA! OH MY GOSH! We both literally thought we were going to have a heart attack!  For a second there I felt like Marley in Marley & Me, when he’s half out the car window, walking with his front paws on the ground while the car was still moving, only in my scenario, no one was driving it.

After that incident, I think it’s safe to say I did everything else right. After an hour I was getting restless with repeating the same neighborhood courses and staying mostly in the first 3 gears. But I wasn’t ready for the main roads. I wasn’t ready for other cars. That much I knew! I called it quits, anxious to get back to the automatic car and what I thought was easy driving that awaited me. Turns out, driving home in my automatic was just as nerve-racking because the whole time I felt like I was forgetting to do something and kept thinking that I would stall or crash on the highway! Oh geez.

But what can I say? Aaron said I did great for my first time. I could count on one hand how many times I stalled and I even made it up a hill! Yes, I know, I’m a pro. Now will any one let me drive their stick shift?

Unfortunately, tomorrow’s blog moment will not be nearly as fun as tonight’s. In fact, I want to throw up just thinking about it. Tomorrow, I am going to cook a lobster. A live one.

 

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3 Comments on “Day 24: Learn To Drive Stick”

  1. Rachel Welge Says:

    love reading your blog sarah! any time you want to come to st louis you could learn lots of new things… how to build a fireplace, visiting the arch, how to fly an airplane… the possibilites are endless.

  2. Marc Stewart Says:

    Wait if you heard the click why didn’t the break engage? Entertaining story though lol. Reminds me of when I was a newbie. Don’t worry it gets easier.


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