Vroom Vroom*

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Well, I’ve finally done it. More accurately, I’m finally doing it.

I am finally learning how to drive a manual car.

I know, I know… this may seem like nothing newsworthy, but like my passport, it’s just been one of those things that has been sitting on my to-do list forever.

You’ll remember that the Hubster and I bought a truck about a year and a half ago, just before we purchased our house. I have always loved trucks, and was thrilled that I had finally awoken his inner Northern Ontario-ness  when he announced that he wanted one to be our second vehicle.

Initially I went with him to see a few that he was interested in, but as he was going to be the primary driver, I wanted him to make the final decision.

Which he did.

He found a great little Ford Ranger which was perfect for our family of two at the time (aside from the ugly silver decals that we had removed immediately. gross).

There was just one tiny problem: it was a standard. The Hubs had had some experience driving them in the past and was able to pick it up again without too much trouble.

Me? Not so much.

Our family vehicles were always automatic, and my only real previous experience driving a manual car was with a guy I once briefly dated a billion years ago. Basically he just told me when and where to move as he drove and guided my hand as I shifted gears.

The end. When that love interest died, so did my exposure to manual cars.

After we bought the truck, I decided that I should probably learn how to drive it in case the Hubster needed to drive to one of the other locations for his job (which are much further away from where he works now). I considered having him teach me, but as he was still re-learning and I wanted to save my marriage from imploding, I asked Big Dad.

Big Dad taught me how to drive when I was a teenager, and I remembered feeling calm and safe with him there teaching me. Setting aside the time we witnessed an awful motorcycle accident one of the first times I got behind the wheel, it was a positive experience. So, we took the truck up to B-town so I could go back to driving school.

My first lesson was about a year and a half ago, and it went fairly well. Big Dad took me to a parking lot and showed me the basics. After about an hour I could start it easily, had learned how to shift to 3rd, and could reverse without feeling like I was going to destroy whatever was behind me. The hardest part was the clutch–I had the seat as far up as I could go and I could still barely get it all the way down.

I felt great after my first lesson, and we decided to have another go the next time I visited.

Welllll….. about two weeks later the Hubster and I found out that I was pregnant. Then my summer of sickness happened, and then my belly prevented me from being up close enough to get the clutch down.

So, my dreams of driving the truck were dashed and I continued driving my little mazda.

Until now.

In just over four weeks I go back to work. (AH!) We are now in the process of trying to sort out which days I’ll work and childcare for Ruby. Part of that is planning out when and how to take her and pick her up on the days that I have to work. As a supply teacher I don’t have the luxury of a consistent start time for work. Some of the schools I work at start as early as 8:15am, while others don’t begin until 9am.

To make a long story short, if I end up at a school with a really early start time, the Hubs may have to be the one who drops Ruby off in the morning.

Sounds great, right?

Problem: my car is the family car. The truck doesn’t have a back seat, which means no place for Ruby’s car seat. Which means that if he has to drop her off in the morning, then he has to have the car.

Which means I have to take the truck.

(Cue panic attack.)

So, now I’m under the gun. Initially the Hubster offered to show me the ropes (again). My lovely, lovely neighbour found out about it and offered to teach me, since she was in the process of teaching one of her teenage sons anyway. We made vague plans to go out for a lesson, but nothing was set in stone.

Two nights ago she showed up at my door, waved her car keys at me and said, “Let’s go!”. I had no time to overthink or be nervous, I just grabbed my wallet and ran out the door. Her son took me for a spin around the block to show me his skills, then he hopped out and it was my turn. I was worried about being overwhelmed with trying to remember when to shift, how to stop on hills, etc etc.

We started a little more basic that.

Lesson #1 was learning how to start the car. We spent almost an hour practicing how to release the clutch and give a little gas to get the car moving. I finally mastered it (and only stalled a couple of times) but I have reached the following conclusion: driving with two feet sucks. haha! I have to retrain my feet, as I immediately want to hit the gas after releasing the brake, and kept forgetting about the clutch.


My left leg was so sore when I got home. It was the weirdest sensation: it felt like I had been to the gym, but that only my left leg had worked out. Ha.

So, I’m hoping my track record this time around will be a little better than my last. I never made it past lesson #1 with Big Dad, and I now have four weeks to figure this out.

Any tips for me?

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  • Zyanya

    I had the good fortune of learning how to drive stick early on…but the way my mom explained it to me was just to pretend that there were 2 sewing machines that I was working at the same time, and the pressure had to balance between the 2, so if my left foot was going down the right had to come up and vice versa. This helped me because she had always taught me to control my speed on my sewing machine very carefully…and I was frequently hurting one foot or the other, so I learned how to sew with both feet. Good luck! Once you get it it’s something that sticks forever…and it’s a lot more fun than automatic :)

  • Tania

    Ha! You will get it! And yes the first week your leg will be so sore! I learned years ago. My husband bought the car on a Friday and I had to drive it to work Monday! Haha! I stalled like crazy. But now I’m a pro. I too need my seat up the furthest it goes to reach the clutch. Ha! Good luck!!!