Driving a stick, part 1

IMG_1432 cropIn high school, I told a friend that I was going to drive a stick to her house. When I got there, she walked out to the driveway fully expecting to see me in a new car. Instead, she looked confused to see me getting out of my automatic. Then I showed her the twig I had carefully placed in the passenger’s seat.

Let me just say that driving an actual stick shift is totally different.

Yesterday, Pete gave me my first driving lesson in his Mini Cooper. I was half terrified, half hoping that I wouldn’t be as bad at it as I thought. … Let’s just say I need more practice. In fact, it only took 7 seconds in the driver’s seat to stall out.

We went to an elementary school parking lot to practice, so thankfully no one was around for our hour-long session. I practiced starting and stopping and shifting gears. Unfortunately, I find starting the hardest. Pete said as long as I don’t go anywhere with hills or anywhere that I have to stop, I should be OK.

Before we started the practice round, I set the ground rule. Yes, just one, and just for Pete: “OK, Pete, you can’t yell at me. … Please.” He was a very patient instructor, but I still felt bad for all the (many) times I made his car make bad sounds.

Finally, after lots of minutes going 5-10 mph in the parking lot, he thought I was at the point where I could handle the open road. … Or figured I wasn’t getting any better so we might as well try it. That was uber scary, even if I was only going a quarter of a mile down the road. I pulled out of the school parking lot and made it to the 4-way stop. I stalled out, but got it going on the second try. Two left turns later, I was in a church parking lot, then turned around to go back to our starting point. Again, I stalled out at the 4-way stop and had to wave the other cars to go ahead of me when it was my turn. “Stop stalling out!” I told the car, but it didn’t listen.

IMG_1430 cropMy second attempt at getting to the church parking lot involved an illegal move. I stalled out just trying to get out of the school parking lot, and while trying to get my mind straight, a girl pulled into the parking lot and got behind me to turn around.

“No, no, no!” I shouted. I felt rushed and panicked. And realized I don’t panic well in the car. When I got to the 4-way stop again, I didn’t exactly stop. OK, I didn’t stop. But I did slow down! I really didn’t want to stop and start again so I technically rolled through the stop sign to make a left turn.

Pete told me just because I’m panicking doesn’t mean I can break the law. 😦

I did find switching gears more fun than getting going. I still get the gears mixed up sometimes, like between 3rd and 5th. They’re so close together! There’s also a lot to think about in the manual. And THREE pedals! Aaaaah. And forget about eating a granola bar in the car on my way to work.

I reminded myself that I didn’t become a regular driver in a day, so it’s going to take some time to get used to a manual. But I’m determined to do it!

Here’s a video of one attempt:




2 thoughts on “Driving a stick, part 1

  1. You are too cute! It’ll get easier, you can do it!!! Then you’ll be a rock star and you can take it to the track for race days 🙂 Have fun!


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