Monday, February 13, 2012

old dogs learning new tricks

You guys. You will never believe what I finally accomplished last week.

I learned how to drive stick.

Yes, me. The one that has struggled with this mundane task, a task that many many people find so easy and straightforward. Why it was so damn hard for me, I will never know. But I have a few theories.

Danny tried to teach me when he bought his car, before we were married. I failed, and I said screw this!

He tried to teach me last June, but we had hardly any time to practice with all the packing and apartment hunting- so it was only one evening in the abandoned Kmart parking lot by our house that I cursed his existence and gave up once again.

One week after moving here, while standing in the ridiculous line at Costco, he gave me an ultimatum. 
"Learn to drive my car by August first, because that is the last day I will be driving you anywhere."
I bawled in the parking lot, pressure is not my favorite motivator. In fact, pressure does the opposite of motivation- It makes me angry and therefore I refuse to do whatever it is. 

Eff you, pressure.

He backed off, and was so very sorry. He hates shopping with a passion, especially at Costco, and he also hates driving to go shopping. Actually, he hates driving anywhere. He is the worlds most grumpiest man behind the wheel. I laugh every time we go anywhere, because there are much worse things in this world than driving behind someone going the speed limit. Like, for instance, your cervix being attacked by a bottle brush.

But then he got used to it. He'd not so grumpily drive me to the grocery store, and sit in the car while I did the shopping. And sometimes he'd even go into Target with me. Sometimes.

Then he got super busy with work. And his free time became very limited and very precious. So we tried again. I googled "how to drive stick" and read and re-read and memorized top advice on the subject.

We found a parking lot, I practiced on a slight incline for 45 minutes. When it comes to driving stick, I have no patience. Fail. Then I demanded doughnuts for my tremendous effort and zero results.

The most frustrating part about being so frustrated was not knowing why the hell it made me so frustrated! I can bake amazing cheesecakes, make intricate and painstakingly complicated sewing projects, why oh why can't I get this?

I had complained to my sister in law Stevie about this. She laughed and reminded me of that Modern Family episode where Phil teaches his "stupidest child" how to use the complicated remote so that he can prove to his wife that she can learn how to use it too. Haley asks her mom "Why can't dad just teach you?" And Claire says "Because we're married."

Danny finally got so annoyed with me that he offered to pay for lessons. We simply didn't have time to practice together anymore.

At that point- I had already considered lessons, I had looked up a few driving schools and was planning  to ask if I could learn that way.

I contacted the schools- none of them taught stick. Just regular driving lessons. But I finally found a guy that did, and I booked a lesson.

His name was Derrick, and he came to my house on Friday afternoon. It was a bit rainy- mostly misty. We spent 2 hours in the same neighborhood that we live in. Within 10 minutes I was driving down the street, not stalling. I was driving in second, then third gear! I got on the freeway and got all the way up to fifth! I drove up a typical steep San Fran hill, stopped at the top, and continued on, without stalling.

I got honked at quite a bit. People honk A LOT here anyway, and being behind someone just learning how to drive stick really pissed them off. But I learned to ignore it. Breathe and focus. Move it back to first gear. Clutch all the way in. Feel for the gears without looking at the shifter. Take your time, don't rush, you will make a mistake and it will take more time.

After I got home, I went inside and jumped up and down and texted Danny that I was successful. Then after resting for a bit and letting the newness settle in- I went out on my own. 

I drove to Daiso- the japanese dollar store in Daly City that Danny refuses to drive me to. It's about 15 minutes away, mostly freeway. I memorized the way via google maps and made it there. On my way back I had some trouble at a light that was on a slight hill- I missed 3 lights. The more honking, the harder it was!  But I made it home- safely. 

When Danny got home from work he asked me if I finally felt free. "Not really," I said, "I never felt trapped. But I bet YOU feel free!"

Now I can go to Costco and Ikea! Like whenever I want! And I can venture out of the city in search of actual fabric stores!!

It took me long enough, and I never thought I'd actually learn. I'm still kinda in shock that I have this new knowledge. 

Where will I go this week? To get a California driver's license!

1 comment:

  1. Now you can go on "The Amazing Race." They always have manual cars on that show and there's ALWAYS contestants that have no idea how to drive them.