I’m 21 and never learned to drive stick; a tragedy, I know. But bare with me, I just never had the opportunity. The only vehicle my family has continually had over the course of my life with a manual was a Volkswagen Thing, and try learning stick with a vehicle that is barely safe for highway speeds.
Thus I was left with a dilemma. I wanted to learn stick at this old age to continue exploring automobiles, but didn’t have a vehicle to learn with. Right then I got a text from my dad, who bought a 2004 BMW 325xi- with a 5 speed manual. I was ready.
I began learning in a church parking lot. I could barely get the 325 moving without stalling it. Eventually I caught on but hills were my kryptonite. You better believe I rolled backwards. It wasn’t but an hour after that I was bored of the parking lot and I had to wait until another day. But there was a problem...
See while BMW’s are known for the “ultimate driving experience”, they aren’t known for the least expensive driving experience and my dad’s car was no exception. In only a few months of ownership he had forked over a significant amount of money for repairs; leading my mother, very sensibly, to deny me the pleasure of rowing through the gears.
The next time I drove it, we actually drove on the street. Backroads in northeast Kansas. Wow what a time to be alive! I was feeling pretty confident and had even crossed a highway, so I was looking for a challenge worthy of my skills.
There it was, the biggest hill I had
ever (not ever) seen. And I was going to start the car in the middle of the incline and drive right up! Easy enough. It wasn’t so simple though. I tried and tried again, either revving it too high with my foot on the clutch, or rolling all the way back down to the bottom. I wasn’t quick enough to avoid going backwards a ways, making it near impossible to gain forward momentum. After happening over and over, with a burnt clutch looming in the not-so-distant future, we decided to call it quits. Maybe another day.
And that day came. I didn’t try that hill again, but got the chance to actually go to a store...in traffic...at night.
I did it all without stalling the vehicle or hitting anyone. I was a bit slow from a stop, but that’s because I was granny shifting, not double clutching like I should.
“What a success!”, I exclaimed, having just done something that millions of people do everyday; but I was proud.