I was lucky enough to meet Kanriah through Twitter (oh, the magic of Twitter- really!) because of Twookclub, and I’m very happy I did! She is an awesome lady & we’ve had some great internet talks over the last few months that we’ve known each other. I love that she wrote her post about one of my (many) goals, personal stories are always lots of fun to read! Don’t forget to go see what she’s up to on her blog and leave her some love in the comments 🙂
When I looked at Melissa’s 23 before 23 list I had to smile at number 9. It made me remember when I learned to drive a standard. Coincidently I was 22 when I learned too.
After moving with the military to Germany at 16, I wasn’t in a situation where I needed a license until I was 21. Since my first vehicle was an automatic there was no rush to learn how to drive a standard, and I was okay with this. Until Hubs (though we weren’t married then) went and screwed it all up by getting a truck with a standard transmission.
I did pretty well for a while letting him drive the truck while I drove the van, but it was clear that I’d need to learn at some point. Since he was my only option, Hubs set about teaching me. He’s not known the kind of person you want teaching you anything you won’t pick up on the first try, so this was going to be fun.
The town we lived in at the time was very hilly, so I’d often find myself getting off to a good or bad start depending on whether I was facing uphill or downhill. On one memorable occasion I bounced a full truckload of drywall out of the back of the truck. I’m talking Full Load, not just a few pieces. That stuff is heavy. Luckily it landed flat and it didn’t all break. Another favorite was the time I got stuck at a light going uphill. The traffic behind me stretched the length of the block and around into the heavy 3 lane road at the next intersection. A police officer had to come and stop the traffic at the light so I could get through before the light changed.
I was winning the driver of the year contest. For Reals, yo.
So we took a break from the teaching of the standard for a while.
Then the best thing happened.
Hubs had to go work on Long Island. I wanted to get out of our little town and Hubs was allowed to take me, so off we went. On the way there he had me drive, but on the interstate there isn’t much shifting needed. Then we made it to NYC. He wasn’t able to drive, so I had to.
Imagine with me:
I’m 8 months pregnant and my stomach is Huge. I’m driving a full sized chevy loaded with tools. It’s the middle of the day with traffic everywhere. We had made a wrong turn and were going through Manhattan and trying to find our way. And here I am, making the truck shake and usually die at Every Single Light.
Some people laughed at me, others probably had less kind things to say.
But we made it. All the way to the hotel we’d be staying at. My sister had been following us in my van since she worked with Hubs, so I was able to use my nice, safe, easy automatic minivan while they were at work. But I knew I’d be stuck driving back home.
Luckily it was easier to follow the signs on the way home and I didn’t have to make the detour with all of the lights and traffic. The rest of the way home was more of the same shuddering engine and trying not to kill the truck.
I was at the last toll booth a couple hours from home when Hubs made a comment that made me want to shoot him.
He told me I could hold the clutch down in stop and go traffic, that I didn’t have to let it go completely every time.
Really now. The whole time he had been teaching me he was telling me I had to let it go. He never once thought to mention that I could let up and not Release the damn thing. I had driven from West Virginia to Long Island and back. I was almost home, and he finally shared that information with me.
That was the missing piece of information for me. As soon as he said it I no longer had a problem driving a standard. Even up a hill.
Hopefully Melissa has a better teacher and an easier time learning to drive a standard this year.
Just remember: you can ease up on the clutch without letting go if you’re not going very fast. If your teacher doesn’t tell you that it’ll make for a very shaken up Melissa. Good luck!