Two Roads Diverged

Life is all about choices – so which choice is coming next?

Reverting to 16 Years Old

on December 30, 2012

New Driver

Day 1
“Why are you wearing flip flops?” asks Dad.
“Well, I drive barefoot.”
“Your feet will get tired.”
“I’ll handle it.”

Dad and I jumped in the car, and he drove us to the church parking lot.

“It’s like I’m 16 and learning to drive again!” I joke.
“Well, you are learning to drive. A stick shift,” says my ever-logical father.

I lol'd.  This is me. Viking hat included.

I lol’d. This is me. Viking hat included.

He starts the process of explaining how the clutch works – what it does for the engine. Technical talk to fill up my brain.

I push in the clutch, and turn on the car.

“Ok, push the accelerator and let’s bring it up to 2,000 rpm. Listen to the engine, hear what 2,000 sounds like. Then slowly let off the clutch.”

I listen. I let off.

We jerk.

“Ok, let’s do it again.”

We try that for a while. Lots of jerking.

“Ok, let’s try something different.” He puts on the e-brake. “Let off the clutch, we’re looking for the slip. Feel the slip of the clutch.”

I feel it. We take off the brake, and try to let go of the clutch, and push on the accelerator; simultaneously.

The engine dies.

“That’s ok. Again.”

The engine dies.

We keep trying. As the engine dies for the 250th million time, hot tears spill down my cheeks. I pretty much am a 16-year-old-frustrated-at-learning-to-drive-and-not-being-perfect-at-it again.

“Don’t get frustrated,” my father calmly says.

Yeah, I’ll work on that…

“Ok, pull into a parking spot. Right, good. We’re going to go in reverse. Now the engine power is lower in reverse. You can’t let go of the clutch, you have to slip the clutch. Let’s just go in reverse for a while.”

And it finally starts to make sense. I feel what slipping the clutch is! I’m going backwards, the car’s not dying!!!!

“Ok, good. You feel it? Right. Let’s go forward now.”

And now, I can go forward! We’re not dying! Sure, I’m jerking at least half the time, but I’m not killing the engine!

“Ok, let’s go out of the parking lot. We’ll turn up the street and go up to the Smith’s house the next street up.”

Attempt to pull out of the parking lot: successful
Going up the hill: successful
Turn onto the next street: successful

“Let’s stop, we’re going to practice e-brake stop and start to go up a hill.”

I stop on the hill. Pull the e-brake. Clutch and accelerator. Release e-brake. Engine dies.
Repeat. Car rolls back.
Repeat. Engine dies.

“Maybe this wasn’t the best idea,” dad ponders.

We eventually, eventually get over the hill, and then safely back to the church lot.

Dad takes over from there and we drive home.

That night is filled with dreams of clutch failing on steep hills at a stoplight with cars behind me…

24 responses to “Reverting to 16 Years Old

  1. vyvacious says:

    Ooooh sounds like fun! I’ve had a car almost crash into me because her car starting rolling backwards down the hill towards me when her engine died. Needless to say I got out of the way quickly.

  2. Keep practicing! My father made me learn to drive a stick-shift when I was learning to drive, and as frustrating as it was (combined with the stress of learning to drive on top of it); I’m grateful he did that! I love driving a stick-shift and still drive one 16 yrs later. It means that I can drive any car and not everyone can drive my car! MAWHAHAHAHA

    Happy New Year ~ and thank you for being part of my 2012~

    • That’s so true – people who drive stick, I almost feel like most people can’t drive their cars! You guys are definitely the lone driver of your car! haha

      And Happy New Year to you too!

  3. mairedubhtx says:

    That was always my greatest fear when I lived in a city that had many steep hills–that I wouldn’t be able to engage the clutch and gas in time to keep the car from rolling back down the hill. I had the hardest time learning to drive a shift until my father-in-law sat me down and drew a diagram of what was happening with the clutch and the gears in the car, then we went driving and I was able to understand what was happening. It all made sense after that. All my husband’s screaming at me did no good but my father-in law’s explanation had made sense to me.

    • Having an explanation of how the engine work does help a lot, you’re right! I do tend to learn better when I understand what’s going on behind the scenes. I think my biggest problem was I was assuming things my dad hadn’t said, which threw off the picture of how it worked😛 But that came together eventually!

  4. twindaddy says:

    It gets easier, I promise.

    • That’s actually what my next post is about! I most definitely didn’t think it would though! I was having one of those crisis moments that night, you know the ones where it’s like, “I don’t want to try anymore – but if most people can learn it, then obviously I can too!”

  5. MissFourEyes says:

    I feel like such a girl for not understanding most of that. Good luck, Jill!

  6. El Guapo says:

    You’ll get it.
    Like your dad said, pay attention to what the car sounds like.
    Keep the accelerator steady, and watch teh rpm gauge as you lift your foot off the clutch.
    When you see how the speed dips as the engine engages, you’ll also hear the sound, and know to step on teh gas more.

    It’ll be second nature soon, and you’ll wonder why you didn’t learn it sooner!

  7. MaximumWage says:

    Had a very similar experience with my dad only a lot more yelling. I taught my brother in a parking lot and it took him 45 min. It took me 3 days. I am a way better teacher than my father.

  8. This sounds eerily similar to what it was like when I learned to drive a stick! Wow. So terrible. It took me a solid three weeks! Once I learned, though, I did love it!

  9. calahan says:

    Driving stick is the best. You will hate driving automatics from this day forward, Giggs.

    Congrats on your stick-related achievement.

  10. Jill, sounds like a trip in the car with my Dad – we are always going to be our parents’ child

  11. Lily says:

    I love that Flava Flav picture! Yea Boiiiii! Haha. I don’t even know what the clutch is meant for. I should probably learn…You are inspiring me.

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