Manual

I miss my beat-up old Toyota Tercel, sometimes.

The Ford has been idling a little rough lately, so I noticed that my husband’s been putting it in neutral at the stoplights. So tonight as I drove home from a friend’s house, I did the same. And I thought about transmission.

I miss driving stick. I didn’t learn until we bought that little hatchback seven years ago, but learn I did, and I even got to like driving it. So as I sat at that interminable stoplight, I tried to remember why.

And I think it comes down to power. To control. An automatic pretty much just drives itself. And now there’s all this talk about cars that actually can, and while it all sounds very intriguing, I’m not sure I’d like that very much. I don’t mind being a passenger, in fact, since high school, I’ve actually begun to prefer it if I have the option. But if I’m going to drive, I like to feel like I’m driving.

That’s what I miss about my manual transmission. I liked the feel of driving. That I had to do more than press a pedal to make the car go. I liked to clutch and shift. There was rhythm. There was timing. I knew that car when I drove it. And even though it only had four gears, I had mastered all four of those gears. And also reverse.

I’d like to drive a manual transmission again. I fear I’ve forgotten how. But I’m sure if I was doing it every day again like I used to, I’d remember. But I don’t think we’ll find ourselves with a stick shift vehicle anytime soon. The Ford, while a little rough, is holding up alright. And the Nissan, while still tainted with the memory of its purchase, is still new enough and runs well.

When we got the Nissan, we talked about going manual again, and I kind of wish we had. So next time, I think we’ll have to actually make sure to do it. I think it would improve the quality of my car time.

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