Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Shifting with Confidence

I suddenly realized today just how comfortable I am with driving a standard shift car. There was a time in my life when I was just as afraid of driving a stick as I was of being in water over my head.

When my son was just a baby, my car died and the replacement car was a standard transmission Volvo wagon. If I was to go anywhere, I had to bite the bullet and learn how to drive it.

My husband did all that a husband could do, which ended with my being totally intimidated although I knew in my mind exactly what to do. It was actually someone in my office who offered to go out with me at lunch time and help me feel comfortable with my new used car. The one thing Niki told me that I will always remember is that you can always put the clutch in and then nothing, absolutely nothing, will happen.

After that I drove with more confidence. But I always watched the speedometer to know when to shift. I was never too good at down-shifting. Since that time, I have never regularly driven a car that had an automatic transmission.

I tried to teach my children how to drive a stick shift, just as I made sure they could swim as early as possible. But to no avail. Neither of them ever got the hang of shifting.

My current Honda, with 177,000 miles on it and its original clutch, attests to the fact that I am kind to it. I never gnash the gears or pop the clutch. I shift gently and do a damn good job on hills.

It was just today that I realized that I no longer look at the speedometer when I shift. In fact I shift without thinking about it by just listening to the engine I suppose. This is a life-time achievement I never dreamed I would have.

I just wish I could deal with my fear of deep water in the same way. Just yesterday my friend Kris told me her mother-in-law had conquered her fear of the water at age 64 when she took swimming lessons. I wonder if there is hope for me?


Blogger Jamy said...

I learned to drive a stick and I'm so glad I did. I almost killed my dad in the process, but he was patient and made sure I knew what I was doing before he sent me out on my own.

Why not try swimming lessons? Learning new things keeps us young, they say.

2:48 PM  
Anonymous suicide_blond said...

as i like to point out to my non-stick driving friends..
"what would you do IF someone wanted to GIVE you a Ferrari?"
..while unlikely..i like that i am prepared to accept and drive away before they change their mind!!

3:30 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Jamy -- I may just take swimming lessons. I sort of know how to swim, just like I sort of knew how to drive, but I don't trust myself in deep water. At some point in my life, I will probably say "What the hell?" and then realize I really can tread water after all.

Suicide_blond -- Is this you MAD? If so, welcome to my world! And, yes, that would likely be your thinking. You always were so practical!

3:38 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Where there's a will, there's a way. I believe you can do anything you set your mind on doing. You seem pretty capable.

10:31 PM  
Blogger Pauline said...

Been driving a stick shift since I learned to drive (age 12 on a tractor) but have not mastered swimming yet. I hope there's hope for both of us!

6:55 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Pauline -- Think we could take virtual swimming lessons together? :)

8:06 AM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

I never learned to drive a stickshift...I can't multitask..or even dual task! This is a good thing that I never drove on the roads in a standard!

8:10 PM  

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