Friday, August 10, 2007

Learning To Drive

When I was a teenager, my mother hired someone to teach me to drive. No fool she. Mr. Thompson was in the business of teaching driving - and his nerves all seemed to be intact. He had a car that came complete with two brakes, one on the driver's side and one on the instructor's side.

In a few weeks, he decided that it was time for me to take the driver's test and get my license. On the way there, I got rear-ended. At any rate, it wasn't my fault, and young as I was, I had no nerves to speak of, so I went ahead and took the test and got my license. Ta-Da!

My point here is, after all that, I could only drive a car with automatic shift.

Fast forward a few years. I was making preparations for my wedding, and my mother decided to buy us a car as a wedding gift. (When DJ and I divorced, she demanded that we pay her back for that car. But, that's neither here nor there.) The car she bought us was a two-door Chevy, white, with A/C and a radio, and a stick shift. What????? (When she told me she wanted to be paid back for the car, I told her she obviously gave it to DJ, because I sure couldn't drive it, so she could get the money from him. Ha! Gotcha!)

Anyhoo, the day came when I absolutely had to learn to drive a stick shift. DJ had made a few slight attempts to teach me, but, he was no Mr. Thompson, and each lesson ended with him hollering at me and trembling. We decided to wait until we moved to Yellville, after he got out of law school. He thought he'd be calmer then. Not so.

Things rocked on with him doing all the driving until, one day, I stayed home and he walked to the office, leaving the car with me. I needed to go to the grocery store. I went out to the car port and looked at the car. The car looked back at me. I thought, "I have had lessons, and I know how to drive this car. I just haven't had enough practice." We were on a back street, with no traffic to speak of, and it was a relatively straight shot to the grocery store. Well, why not?

So, I got in the car, got it started, backed out of the driveway and lurched and ground the gears all the way to the store. But, I got there, and coming back, I drove with no problem. That's all it took. Just me and the car on that little back street.

Free at last!


Joan said...'ve hit on a sore subject in our house. When I learned to drive, we only had automatics so I never learned to drive a stick. Hubby insists REAL drivers only drive stick shifts and has never owned an automatic. So we've always had to take my car on trips so I could help with the driving. Now Hubby is looking for a new car and the battle is once again on...stick or automatic.

jusdealem said...

I really hate stick shifts, they are horrible in traffic or numerous redlights. We have one, a Mustang, and I can't wait to trade it in! Good story, though, Betty. Your mother was something else, huh? :)

Nancy said...

Hi Betty,

Great story and good for you for driving that car! I like that.
A friend of mine's husband died suddenly,leaving her with two young boys and a gear shift car.

She had never driven any car so she just left this one in her garage. She had never worked either but had to get a job now.
She found a job in a bank about 5 miles from home so she rode her bicycle back and forth to work and because the boys came home from school for lunch, she had to come home,too.

One day she pedaled home at lunch time in a real downpour. She was soaked and disgusted. She went out to the garage and got in the car and backed out into her quiet street. She bucked and bounced and screeched but she made it to work . She was just determined to drive that car and she never looked back.
When she was really good at the gears and brakes and all she went for her driver's license and passed the first time.
She is now 80 years old and still drives her little gear shift car all around town.

Freddie said...

"...each lesson ended with him hollering at me and trembling."

EXactly... I'm really afraid I won't be able to pass my driving test if the instructor doesn't bark out orders and bitch about every single thing I do.

Tink said...

I still have no idea how to drive a stick shift and I'm scared to death of learning how. That's awful about your Mom wanting to be paid back though. It would have been nice if she'd told you the "terms" before giving it to you.

Peggy said...

I remember having to learn to drive a car with standard transmission (stick). It wasn't as awful as I made it out to be. In the end, I was forced to drive that sports car so that my husband could get to the hospital.

Over here in Europe ALL cars have standard transmissions (stick). There are only a few automatic transmission cars around, mostly rental cars for Americans and those with physical limitations.

I was given an automatic car to drive for work for a few months. I remember thinking, "No clutch? What am I going to do for exercise?"

Only in America will the sentence, "Can you drive a stick?" make sense.

Betty said...

joan: I don't know if I could still do it, but I assume it would come back to me fairly quickly. I don't know about all these new-fangled 4 and 5 speed things though.

jusdealem: Mother was a complex person, but at that point, I think she was just so upset, she didn't give it much thought. Strangely, I think I understand her much better, now that I am older.

nancy: We do what we have to do.

freddie: I'm sure the nice policeman will holler and tremble if you ask him to. lol

tink: At that point, she was just trying to work out her frustration over our separation, etc.

peggy: When we were in Britain, we rented a car and, of course, requested a stick shift. It seemed too much to ask us to shift AND figure out which lane was correct.

her indoors said...

cant beleive your mum wanted paying back for the weeding pressent!
question for you Betty, if you pass your driving test in an automatic are you allowed to drive a geared/stick car? as over here you can take your test in an automatic but you can only then drive automatic cars. ps i do drive an automatic and love it!

Claude said...

I've always driven stickshifts, except when in the States.
Have never been very fond of driving but I guess it's a necessary evil.
Your mother seems to have been quite a character! Asking for her money back!

Betty said...

her indoors: Oh, she was just upset and didn't really mean it. She didn't know how to deal with the divorce. You know mothers. Yes, once you have a driver's license, you can drive any type.

claude: She just overreacted. I don't really like to drive a stick shift car.

Queen of Dysfunction said...

So... did DJ ever pay your mom back for the car?

I kid...

gawilli said...

...and the rest is history. Right?

My first car was a stick. It was a 1973 VW SuperBeetle. I loved that car. I had a 5 minute lesson then the salesman sent me packing. I took 45th Avenue to Broadway. I didn't realize that there were stop signs almost every block to Broadway and them stoplights from there on home. Pitty the poor folks behind me, particularly on the hills. In the end It worked out all right. There was no other choice!

Betty said...

QofD: He stiffed her. lol

gawilli: It was embarrassing lurching up the street and killing the motor every few feet, too. I hope the neighbors weren't watching.

Kay Dennison said...

My ex taught me to drive a stick shift when we were newlyweds. Once I learned, I truly liked it and I think it made me a better driver. Now I just hate to drive.

Cazzie!!! said...

I loved it when I got my car license too. We lived 20 miles from anywhere. So it was freedom. Problem these days that I see when I am at ork is the young kids that abuse their privelage to drive with a license and hoon around on the roads and cause harm to everyone else and themselves too...then they are destroying freedom for us all. I wish their cars would be crushed when they are caught hooning in the first is the only way to stop them I think.

Joy Des Jardins said...

I kind of learned how to drive stick shift, but I never really cared to drive it, eveb though my husband was very patient when he gave me a few lessons. Knowing how I felt, he just made sure we always had automatic cars.

Nothing worse than being yelled at when you're trying to learn to drive...and not everyone should try to be a teacher.

Betty said...

Hi, Kay: Thanks for coming by.

cazzie: Our problem here in the states is that kids get their own cars way too young. I think 30 is a good age to be allowed to own a car. lol

joy: For some reason, he was always afraid I'd strip the gears, whatever that means. lol

susan said...

I learned how to drive on a stick...and despite the MomMobile being an automatic, driving a stick seems to be like a bike, you just never forget.

So, did your mother ever manage to get any payments back for her "gift"?

John said...

For many years 'stick shifts' were the norm in the UK. The first time I drove an 'automatic' was in 1977 in the US. I had to tie my left foot to the seat. :-)

Sister--Three said...

I love a stick shift. First thing i drove was a grey ford of those 8n fords. then an old truck that jumped out of gear. The stick shift makes me feel powerful! Now, I am old and drive an automatic. Stick shifts are not as much fun on long trips.

My daughter learned like you. First with a passenger...gripping the door rest and tensed to a demonic stare. Then finally we found a back route to college and she just took off. On day two, she was a pro!

Chancy said...

I also learned to drive in a stick shift car but when I went for my driver's exam I had not yet learned how to operate the car in reverse. My sister in law had gotten her license and she did not have to back up so away I went and sure enough the examiner only had me start the car and drive around the block. :)

I hate stick shifts and could not drive one now.

Anonymous said...

I love driving stick shift! 'Round 28 years ago, my boyfriend taught me. Shift was all he'd drive at the time, that changed when he started driving a tractor-trailer for a living and shifted so much in a International Transtar with a 238 Detroit, that now he loves automatics!