Monday, February 13, 2012

Teaching an old Missy a semi-new trick.

The summer I was 18, my brother, Rob, taught me how to drive a stick shift. He did it just because he thought it would be a helpful life lesson to have. As it turned out, those lessons became a necessity when, later that summer, he broke his right hand (meaning he couldn't shift). So, we swapped cars (since mine was an automatic) for the many weeks that he had to wear a cast.

Once I got my car back, I didn't drive Rob's car again until the following summer, when I was home from college. He had gone to a local bar and had a little too much to drink. So he called baby sis to get come get him. Jason and I were hanging at my house (we were dating at the time), so we headed to the bar in my car to get Rob. Once there I loaded Rob into his car, tossed Jason the keys to my car, and our tiny parade headed back to my brother's house. Since it had been a year since my last encounter with a manual transmission, I was a bit shaky on everything. But, my brother said "it's just like riding a bike. It'll come back to you," and it all pretty much did. I think I was able to get back to his house without stalling it. That night was the last time I drove a stick shift. That is until this weekend....

In 1999 Jason graduated from college, got a job, and started earning some money. At the time he was between cars (his cars had a bad habit of dying on him). He had his heart set on a Mustang. And not just a plain ol' Mustang, but a Cobra. He saved up his money and he got one. His pride and joy. For those who don't know - Cobra's only come in a manual transmission.

Once we got married, it was understood that he had his car and I had mine... although he could drive mine, but I couldn't drive his. At this point it was 2001 and it had been a few years since I'd driven a manual transmission. I had basically forgotten everything about driving a stick shift. In 2011, Jason got a new car - this time an automatic. He didn't get rid of his Mustang though (need I remind you that the 'Tang is his pride and joy??). He said he would still drive the Mustang, but for the most part, it's just been sitting in our garage. Being lonely and neglected. Ya can't blame Jason. He's got a new toy. The new toy is an automatic, so he doesn't have to deal with shifting and all that jazz. Plus, the new toy is a compact SUV, which means that it definitely sits higher than the Mustang. Which makes getting into and out of the vehicle easier. Jason likes to complain about "his old man hips."

My heart started breaking over the poor, forgotten Mustang. I told Jason that he needed to re-teach me how to drive stick and once I was comfortable with it, I would start to drive it to work some (at least once a week...?). My lessons started this weekend. He took me to a school parking lot and let me go. Whew, this was rough. Some knowledge did come back to me, but other bits just had to be told from scratch.

Jason took me back to the school on Sunday and we practiced some more. I'm starting to get the hang of it again. I actually took the car on the road! About 2 miles away from the school is a shopping center - both the road the school is on and the shopping center are fairly quiet on the weekends (the shopping center is a fairly new area and it doesn't have a lot of stores in it yet). Jason let me drive up to that shopping center and then drive home. I didn't stall the car! I only had one "uncomfortable" moment. I came to a stop light that is on a slight incline. When I took my foot off the brake to hit the gas, I panicked a little since the car was rolling backwards (thankfully no one was behind me), gave the car a little too much gas and barked the tires one good time. Oh yeah. I'm a bad ass.

Anyway - I'm hoping to continue my driving lessons every weekend. Hopefully by spring I'll be ready to take the Mustang out in rush hour traffic (or any kind of traffic). All I ask is that, in the time of all this training, you all pray for the Mustang's transmission.


  1. Oh, that reminds me of my "stick-shift" days! But, it wasn't anything nice like a car was an Isuzu IMark. Well, it go me around...have fun "retraining!"

  2. If this helps, my brother's car (the original stick shift car) was a Hyundai Scoupe. I'm not even sure how long that car was made. This was in 1997. It was a "cute" (ooo, my brother will kill me if he reads THAT word) lil sporty car.

  3. Your lessons will continue boo and if you keep up the progress you will allowed to test your skills on an independent basis. I actually want to thank you for making me get you out there and giving the cobra some much needed exercise and enjoyment. Hopefully the transmission will outlast your training. Ha!!!

  4. See, this training is actually helping... me AND the poor 'Tang. Just sitting there, all lonely in the garage cuz no one plays with it anymore.

  5. " the poor 'Tang getting lonely cause no one wants to play with it" well that just sounds dirty in more ways than I can count.