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How NOT To Drive a Stick Shift

How NOT To Drive a Stick Shift

When I bought my first car, I was ecstatic. Overjoyed. Super-extra-amazingly happy.
Except for one little snafu:
I couldn’t drive it.
I had foolishly decided to buy a stick shift (also known as a standard or manual transmission.)

My mom has had virtually nothing but a stick shift her entire life, and my dad can shift like no one’s business. I thought that, since I came from a long line of people gifted with the ability to not let the clutch fly, I would do just fine too.

WRONG. So wrong.
It probably would have been smartest to learn the basics of driving on an automatic. But I was operating under the illusion that all you do is push in clutch, then shift. I laugh in a very bitter, sarcastic manner at my naive 18-year-old self.

For those of you who have never been cursed with this foul breed of automobile, let me give you a quick run-down. Instead of two pedals, you have a third—the infamous clutch—that must be engaged when shifting gears, turning the car on, and braking. Too much clutch, and you won’t move. Too little, and your engine dies. Forget to engage it when you’re shifting gears, and you ruin your engine. I have had this beautiful, adorable silver Beetle for a year and a half. I’ve never managed to drive in traffic once. (Yes, I am brutally aware of my epic failure.)
So, while I cannot even vaguely tell you how you SHOULD drive a stick shift, I can definitely tell you how you should NOT.


Brake without your clutch. EVER.

Take your foot off the clutch and let it fly straight up, stalling your engine in the middle of the road.

Shift without your clutch.

Shift straight from first gear to third gear, bypassing second gear entirely and hurting its feelings.

Look down at your shifter instead of the street because you forgot where your gears were.

Put your car in neutral and mistake it for first gear.

Put your car in reverse and mistake it for first gear.

Forget to take it out of gear when you’ve parked it and shoot forward several feet.

And to put all of these in a humiliating real-life example….

The grocery store is two miles away from my house. Two sad, measly little miles. I thought to myself, "I can do this." (Foreshadowing: no, I could not.) On the way there, I stalled out once, and became so terrified of a left turn that I made my mom turn for me. When done, I proceeded to leave the parking lot going against traffic. Then I got stuck on an incline with a very new, very shiny car RIGHT BEHIND ME. Stick shifts roll a little when you switch from clutch to gas. So I spent two anxious minutes trying to switch without rolling and turn right at the same time. Then I finally got back on the road. I was less than a mile from my house. I can do this, I told myself. (Remember that foreshadowing?) So I managed a whole ten feet in first gear. I needed to switch to second. Then I really, to put it politely, made several large boo-boos.
I shifted without my clutch.
I drove at 45 miles per hour in NEUTRAL.
I looked down at my shifter because I was panicking and almost ran into a bus.
I swerved away from the bus and almost drove into the ditch.

Then I did the smart thing, which was throw on my emergency blinkers, pull over, and let my mom drive. I would like to point out all of the above happened with me screaming at top volume, my mom screaming at almost top volume, and me crying so hard I could barely see the road.

So, in a nutshell...don’t drive like me, and you’ll do just fine.

Post by PlathAddict16!

This sounds just like our first driving experience—and we were in an automatic. Plath, we're proud of you for even ATTEMPTING a stick! Do any of you butts have stick-shift stories of terror to share?

Topics: Life
Tags: guides, driving, funny things, how to, tips, funny stories, learning to drive, driving stick, getting a car

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