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Monday, March 4, 2013

Maintenance Man Monday: Stick Shift Solutions

My husband and I recently purchased a car. It's a 2004, it's silver, it's super cute, and it's got a 6-speed manual transmission.

Oh yeah.

Now, I understand the reasoning behind having this vehicle. I drive about 20 minutes to get to school when I'm subbing, and hopefully I'll have full-time job somewhere in the future, and that hopefully-full-time job will mean that I have to commute at least a little. Better fuel mileage, especially considering the gas prices, is a very good thing. Our other vehicles include a big huge truck (which is a major gas guzzler), and a motorcycle (great for fuel mileage, but it weighs 600 pounds so I can't lift it, and I have no idea how to drive it).

Hunky Husband does not commute. We live on site at the Bible Camp (such an incredible blessing), so he goes to work by walking across the parking lot. Which means... I get to drive the new stick shift car.

I don't know how to drive a stick shift.

Zeke is teaching me.

Keep in mind, here, that Zeke has been driving since he was five. I'm not kidding. He grew up on a farm, so he was messing around with his dad, driving tractors and farm equipment since he was really little. He was a big kid (5'3" at the age of eight....), so by the time he was ten, he was driving tractors by himself, taking meals out to the field in trucks... and at 13, he drove a semi full of cattle to Montana. He's been driving forever.

Cut to me. I grew up in the suburbs of Milwaukee. My mom was a very nervous driver, so by the time I learned to drive at the "ripe old age" of 16, I didn't have a very high opinion of being out on the road. I never even rode along in a stick-shift vehicle until I met Zeke (I was 19).

To say the least, my stick-shift education has been a rocky one.

Everything will start out just fine... Zeke is his typical calm self, waiting patiently while I adjust the seat and mirrors multiple times. We'll get started out on the road, doing fine, and then I'll get to a stop sign. I'll stop. And then, as I start up again, I kill it.

Zeke says, "It's okay, just... wait, you're rolling backwards! We're moving!" I slam on the brakes, restart the car, and as I'm switching from brake to gas.... I kill it.

And now I'm getting flustered. Zeke says, "It's okay, just start it again. It happens." Somehow, miraculously, I'll get the car to move (eventually), and as I pick up speed...

"Shift." Okay, I shift.

"Shift. See, you're going 20, you've got to be in at least third." Shift again.

"Shift." Okay, I knew that one. I was just about to shift and then he told me to... I will get the hang of this...

"Now you're speeding." Sigh.

"Just pull into that gas station and we'll wash the windows." Gas station? What gas station!? What? Where? Oh, wait. My hands are shaking. Okay. I'll slow down.... Is that an entrance, or...

"Okay, now you're stopped completely." Okay, give it some gas to turn... Gosh I'm still pretty shaky...

"NO! You can't start in fourth gear! You're stopped! You've got to start in first!"

Yep, it hasn't always been the most pleasant experience, for either of us.

Instead of getting frustrated, angry with each other, or just giving up, after a less-than-lovely drive around town, we talked about it. He asked me what I needed, what would help me learn better. He told me I wasn't doing a bad job, that it's just when I get nervous that I make silly mistakes.  I told him that maybe it would help if he only made suggestions if I asked first, that I had to learn by doing it, not by being told exactly what to do. I thanked him for being so patient, that I appreciated him for teaching me.

He listened to me, and he encouraged me.
I suggested a solution, and I expressed gratitude.

Since that talk, the driving lessons have greatly improved. Yeah, I still kill the engine sometimes, and yes, I do still get nervous. I'm sure that he gets frustrated sometimes. But by keeping the lines of communication open, we're going to keep our marriage running.


  1. Best of luck to you both! I can't stand driving a stick...I can, I have, but it's not enjoyable. My hubby taught me too and will still occasionally practice with me (since I tend to avoid it at all costs), it definitely takes some patience & communication.

  2. What a fun experience! I fondly remember when my hubby taught me to drive a stick. Yes, this sounds just like us, but all these years later, it is a pleasant memory. I gave up my stick for a minivan when my baby was born (he's 11 now) but I'm glad I learned. And you will be good at it in no time - you'll see!

  3. You'll get it! My first car was a stick shift and I didn't know how to drive it. When I went to the car lot to look at it, the salesman asked me if I knew how to drive one. I said, "No, but I'll figure it out." I was one of those people who thought I could do anything! He suggested I wait until my dad was with me. Anyway, got the car and dad taught me. I LOVE driving a stick shift but I don't have one anymore. My family objected. They don't like them. My husband says "Why would I want to do that when I can buy a car that will do it for me!"


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