Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Driving Lessons: Sticking the Landing

Learn how to drive stick in five minutes:

Let's just say there are two people in my life who could use this video.  I was lucky enough to have access to a manual transmission car when I was 16: my mom's Datsun 310 if I remember correctly.  I had a heap of practice when my mom was out of town for a weekend.  And then I had it, more or less.

Which was a good thing since early in my driving days I got a job as a valet!  I parked cars for a firm that sent out valets to events like weddings or whatever.  I learned through that process that cars, especially high end vehicles, had funky ways to get the key out of the ignition (not so important these days), to get into reverse, and some other stuff.  The firm that hired me was, well, stupid since I only had a few months of experience.  But I didn't scratch or dent anything or race the car a la Ferris Bueller (My mom knew of my using her car, but she didn't seem to recall my being a valet--things you learn on vacation with the family).

The one memorable event was at the Philly Art Museum, where we parked cars all over the grounds.  Heaps of high end vehicles, so that was my first porsche (and perhaps only) to drive.  I didn't park Brook Shields' car (she was at the height of her fame... and of her height and of her eyebrows), but I did end up walking right by her. 

My most recent stick experience was driving in the low countries during the fieldwork of 2011: from Brussels to Arnhem to the Hague to Brunnsum to Maastricht to Bastogne to Luxembourg to Vimy to Brussels.  The hardest part was at the start--figuring out how to get the car into reverse--I had to push down.  The old valet lessons were too long ago, off in the memories with Bingbong.

I have only had one experience of driving on the other side of the road, about two years back in Scotland in the highlands in search of the MacLeods.  Tiny roads, big rental SUV, two conflict scholars to tease me along the way.  Not too problematic except for starting to go the wrong way on two roundabouts on the way home. 

Driving to frisbee games in Montreal tested that love, although it often helped me hone my parallel parking skilz.  On Friday, I go for a long drive to pick up Intern Spew, but I don't mind as I will have my podcasts to keep me awake on the way there and the daughter to ride shotgun on the way home. 

I still love driving.  I love the independence it gave me long ago, and I understand how the old folks I know are reluctant to give it up.  I will probably have to be pried from my car at some point.  Which is appropriate since much of my early driving was in a car that was taken away from my grandmother:
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Not my car but a picture of the make/model that I had.

Ah, the USS Obieland.... I kind of miss it--great acceleration, big seats, huge trunk.  Great for moving to and from college and camp.  Anyhow, see you on the road.

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