Ok, well maybe not the fastest car in town, but I DO love driving my car fast and listening to the Beach Boys sing about fast cars at the same time. Anyway, I digress. I’m taking Garrett’s suggestion and am going to write a bit about my need for speed.
I haven’t really been a stick driver for a long time, for one major reason. My dad. There were lots of things my dad did really well, but teaching things and having patience were two things he was not so great at. So when he tried to teach me how to drive his beat up pick up truck well…things didn’t go well. I couldn’t get IN to first gear. At all. I kept stalling all over the place. The worst part about this experience was that my little brother who is 2 years younger and at the time, about a foot shorter than me, was sitting in the jump seat and laughing the whole time.
After about 20 minutes of this nightmare my dad turned around to my brother and said, “OK smartass – lets see you do it.” So we switch spots and my brother got into the car and I swear it was like his body was possessed by Mario Andretti and he just…took off. His biggest problem was seeing over the wheel. Damn.
So I stayed away from stick shifts for a long time. I mean, there were lots of times when it would have been practical for me to drive stick – Without giving away too much of “me,” I do work in the automotive industry and uh, it would be helpful to know how to drive all of the cars that I encounter daily. I’d had about 4 guys I work with try and teach me to no avail. I’d panic when having to drive a stick, even if it was just the distance of around the block. Finally, one of my co-workers had enough, took a HUGE car that had a stick and said to me, “you’re going to learn to drive today.” So I went out and went to get in the passenger side and he was all, “nope. You’re driving.” And he took me out into rush hour traffic at 5pm on a summer Friday. Yeah. I stalled. A lot. And I wasn’t the slickest. BUT I got it.
From then on it was a mission. I would drive a stick whenever I got the chance. I’d badger one of my (at the time) partners to let me drive her stick shift car. I’d make it so I had to drive as many standards as possible during the course of a day. I was still not great at it, but at least I was moving. Any practice was good practice.
And then over the summer I just hit a point where I was single, I didn’t have kids, I didn’t have pets, and my only responsibilities were to myself. And as much as I really did love the car I was driving, there was too much “old life” attached to it. And so I went out and bought the most bad-ass stick shift car that was just slightly practical – but not too much so:)
265hp, 4cyl turbo 0-60 in 4.8. But that’s all just numbers and lets be honest, I’m never going to be good enough to drive it that fast. Still. I love my freaking car. It took 2 months to figure out how to drive it, and another 3 to really figure out how to make the power work, and now it’s second nature. I feel powerful and strong, and I love, love, love, driving fast. Love.
And like I said in the prior post, there’s something about being able to handle the stick that just makes me feel confident. Strong.
But you know? I think that even if I drove my dad’s beat up truck I’d still feel the same way. It’s about driving and feeling connected to the car and…and…well. I’m just sorry that it took me so long to figure out this lesson.
That too long explanation aside, there are some things you can have in your car to be prepared for most situations. Jump cables are a big help if you have the room. If you drive a later model car, the odds are slim that you’ll actually use them, but if you do have tons of space or an older car? Go for it. Personally, in addition to the umbrella, I generally have the following things in my car for emergencies.
-Bottled water. I keep two bottles under the “floor” in my hatch. Just in case.
-Granola bars: Again, just in case.
-A blanket and small first aid kit…you get the drill.
-Tampons in the glove box. Yup, you know it.
-A map. I don’t have GPS nor do I really have interest in getting one, but I DO have a map of the state I live in, and small but detailed maps of the nearby cities that I visit most.
-Extra shoes and clothes. I try to keep a knapsack with a pair of extra shoes, shirt and jeans. This has come in handy more than once.
-Baby wipes – help out with little clean ups, mostly on the sartorial dog after an over-zealous park outing, but these have come in handy for other situations as well. I’m guessing they’d come in pretty handy for food or coffee spills, but I don’t know that as well, um. Yeah. That doesn’t really happen in my car:)
-Winter stuff. If you have a tendency to get stuck, some sand or litter or a small shovel to help yourself from getting really stranded.
-AAA membership or similar auto rescue. Seriously. I’ve never spent a day of my life getting paid to turn a wrench on a car and unless you have done this well then – let the professionals do it. For reals. I know I know how to change my tire, but I’m not going to do it on the interstate – as with everything else, safety first.
A final word about being a gentlemanly butch driver. Open the door for your date. Maybe you’ll get lucky and she’ll reach over and open your door for you once she’s inside. But even if your date is doing the driving? Open the door for her. Let her get in the car first. Prove that chivalry is not dead.
What are your favorite driving stories? Do you have any additions to the list of stuff to keep in the car?