Me and the stick

Like all Baby Boomers, I learned to drive on cars that don’t even exist anymore (parallel parking in a 20’ station wagon? Sure, we all learned to parallel park in cars that make today’s Chevy Suburban look like a Mini.) So when my beloved '95 Taurus decided to give out at the same time my savings account did, I decided to save a few bucks and get a car with a manual transmission.

Oh sure. I’ve driven sticks before. My first wife loved manual transmissions, and spent the last year of our marriage trying to get me comfortable with her car. Mrs. Kunilou did the same thing with her cute little Datsun. And in fact, I did drive a stick almost exclusively for a year. 20 years ago.

But hell, it’s like riding a bicycle, right? You never forget how. Just find the friction point, ease into the accelerator and you’re off.

It’s been two weeks now, and my shifting has settled into two patterns – lurching and lugging.

Lurching is for first and second gears. That’s me, hopping away from the stoplight, leaving little strips of tire rubber behind. Lugging is reserved for third through fifth gears, although it’s gotten a little better since I learned to shift from second to third, rather than pulling the stick all the way over to fifth.

I’m gripping the steering wheel so hard with my left hand that I’m developing tendonitis.

So if you happen to pull up behind a drak blue Pontiac Sunbird, particularly if it’s at a stoplight on a hill, do yourself a favor and stop about a car length behind.

kunilou, “stick” with it. You’ll probably get the hang of it before your clutch disintegrates. :smiley:

Also, trick for starting off when parked uphill. Put on the emergency brake. This way, you can take your right foot off of the brake and concentrate on the accelerator. Release the parking brake as you let out the clutch. With just a little practice, you can smoothly start off without rolling backwards at all.

Ha! You have my sympathy. Of course, I’ve been driving my latest manual transmission car for about seven years now, so I am like the Goddess of Stick-Shifting. Except when I grind them just a teeny bit.

Um…I’ve never owned an automatic transmission car, and driving friends’ automatic cars weirds me out, because I always end up kicking the floor with my left foot.

Good for you. Automatic transmissions are just more newfangled crap to break.

You’ll find the rhythm of it soon, don’t worry. I’ve driven nothing but sticks since 1986, except for a couple of rentals for brief periods.
The first was a Ford Mustang. Evil car. I think I gave myself whiplash in the first week, plus ticked off lots of innocent drivers at stoplights.
I don’t even think about it anymore. And I get great gas mileage! :smiley: