Friday, October 4, 2013

Stick Shifts. I love them. I hate them.

When I was 15, I got my crash course in driving stick.  My dad told me to get in the driver's seat of our F-150, and take it on down to the cow pasture.  

Now, I'd had very little experience in driving any vehicle up to now.  And the concept of using the clutch was very hard to understand.  Plus I was getting on streets that were not known for slow traffic.  The pasture, maybe ten minutes down the road, took almost a half an hour for me.  Between taking forever to turn onto the main road (too much traffic for me) and having the engine cut off almost every time I tried to shift...  By the time I got their my grandmother had already fed the cows and was leaving.  I don't really recall the trip back, but I'm sure that it wasn't any better.  

But, I eventually figured out how to drive stick shift.  And I became pretty good too!  The rescue squad that I volunteered for needed drivers, so I took the course and became certified.  When I got hired in corrections, I took the EVOC course for cruisers and vans.  The instructors kept making the van course tighter for me because I could do some fun stuff with the transport van.  

There were some interesting incidents.  The first time I was put in the drivers seat of a massive moving truck, I had to get used to the idea of "Reverse" in the far upper left position.  I was exceptionally used to First Gear being in this spot.  I only confused the two once...  Unfortunately I was at a stoplight driving uphill.  It was pretty scary.  

So...  About two years ago we bought a new car.  My wife's car was having back to back EXPENSIVE mechanical issues.  When the transmission went, so did the car.  We were fortunate that we had a friend who was a manager at a local Hyundai dealer.  We got a great deal on a used Elantra.  One of the reasons that we got such a good deal was that it was manual, and not automatic.  Apparently there is not a huge demand for an Elantra that is not Automatic.  

I hate that car.  

Shifting is such a pain.  I'll grind gears or place it in the wrong position.  I'm just terrible at using it.  The manual transmission for this car is just so different from the larger trucks that I'm used to driving.  In the trucks, I had the feeling of power when I was able to shift myself.  In this car, I think it's built for speed but with four cylinders it doesn't seem to work.  Now, my wife has absolutely no problem with it.  She is in love with her car.  Well, I guess it's good that I have no desire to drive her car.  

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