Manual or Automatic. What is your preference? Most people I know go for automatic transmission cars, but there are those people out there who like to torture the rest of us and only buy stick shifts. Yes, I know they are faster, more fuel efficient, brake-friendly, and generally more fun [insert chosen adjective here] but require some skill. Nevertheless, those of us who don’t know how to drive one need to come to terms with our laziness and learn how to drive a manual transmission car. Here’s why.
My BF is one of those people who will only buy stick shifts for the rest of his life. Days before our cross country trip, I had a few lessons in his Wrangler. I was able to start, stop, and go in reverse. The basics, but apparently the toughest things to learn. We figured we’d be on main highways going a constant speed so there wouldn’t be much shifting involved. (remember this)
Photo taken from Route 120 in California aka Scariest Road Ever
I avoided the mountainous regions and once we entered to Nebraska, it was my turn to drive. Everything was going smoothly until I had to down-shift. Seems easy - as you go slower you shift into the lower gears. Well, as I was on an uphill exit ramp with a massive ditch on my right side going about 60mph, I followed BF’s instructions to shift from 5th to 4th - or so I thought. I actually went to 2nd.
Crazy swerving ensued as the tires jerked from left to right uncontrollably. I tried to gain control of the car while exclaiming “omg omg omg omg omg omg.” Somehow, I stopped the car, still on the uphill exit ramp, and looked at BF. He was perfectly calm. I guess he is used to stressful situations. I was overly concerned that I had broken the car - and even more horrified that we would be stuck in Nebraska forever.
BF took over and to my relief, the car still worked. Yippee! We went into the gas station and I said to myself, I HAVE to get back in this car or I’m never doing this again.
I managed to drive another few hours, completely terrified that I would screw up the down-shifting again. When it was time to, I took so long that I indeed could have gone from 5th to 2nd because I had decelerated to 20mph.
With only a few more mishaps to report for the rest of the trip, I never drove the car again. Of course, BF bought a new car - smaller, faster, TURBO. UGH! He’s had it for a year and the closest I have been to driving it is starting it, turning it off, and unexpectedly shifting for him as a passenger (while he was driving) as he would exclaim “Shift to 2nd!” putting me in a near panic.
My advice to you - learn how to drive a stick shift. Surely you know someone that has a manual transmission so ask them to teach you. There have been many times when I have visualized an emergency happening where I needed to drive BF to the hospital or when I just needed to drive and he wasn’t there to do it. I’m pretty sure I could manage the car, but I don’t want the first time being in an emergency situation.
Do you have a funny/sad/depressing story about when you learned to drive a stick shift? Tell me to make me feel better.