Friday, September 14, 2007

Todd's Fabulous Car

Todd’s been in San Francisco all week, and I’ve been driving his fabulous car to work every day he’s been gone. His car is a 6-speed stick shift. It has a killer sound system and is way nicer than my Wrangler. When I drive his car I unconsciously keep my hands at 10 and 2 on the wheel, and to sit bolt upright and alert as I drive it—paranoid about hitting anything anywhere at any time. Not that Todd would be mad at me if I did hit something. I am sure he’d just be annoyed at the inconvenience of having to get it repaired. But it’s such a nice car I don’t want to damage it in any way.

I can hold my own when driving a stick, but I have to concentrate on it all the time. I learned how to drive a stick on my brother Walter’s truck when I still lived at home. The truck only went up to third gear, in Todd’s car I’ll occasionally forget that I can go all the way up to six. The tachometer will skyrocket; the engine will rev high which is my cue to move on to fourth, fifth and eventually sixth gears.

On Todd’s car the sixth gear is on the far right on the bottom row of the tree diagram on the ball of the shift handle. Reverse is on the very far right, on the bottom as well. When I am on the highway, driving fast and not feeling it as the car rides smooth, I get a pit in my stomach as I fear I will accidentally shift into reverse instead of sixth. It hasn’t happened yet, but I always imagine the chaos that would erupt as I unintentionally shift into reverse on the highway and all the cars behind me come crashing into the back of the car, and the cars behind them come crashing into the backs of those cars, and on it will go like an accident scene you’d see on that show Chips. Mangled car parts strewn all over the highway, broken glass, snakelike shreds of tires flying through the air as the drivers slam on the brakes to accommodate the woman who randomly threw the car into reverse at 70 miles per hour. I blink my eyes, wince, and shift into sixth and let out my breath knowing that I haven’t caused a scene worthy of Ponch and John arriving at the scene on their motorcycles to scrape my sorry body out of the crushed car.

To give you an example of how badly I drive a stick when I am not 100% vigilant, a few winters ago Todd and I went to the town pool on a Friday night. The pool is located near the ice hockey rink, where a hockey game was on. The parking lot was packed, and I was trying to find a space to park Todd’s car, while Todd was already in the pool. I backed right into a car behind me, and scratched up the back left corner of the bumper; I broke the man’s light on the front of his car and left a pile of his busted car parts on the pavement.

I couldn’t find Todd’s proof of insurance in the glove compartment, so I went into the pool to ask him. I waited for him at the side of the pool, when he surfaced I asked “Honey, where’s your insurance card?” He told me it should be in the glove compartment, and went back underwater as if I’d asked him something common like “Honey, do you have a pen?” I went back outside to check again. I am sure that as he was descending he thought to himself “Now, wait a minute, why is she asking for my insurance card?”

He asked that very question when he came out into the winter night, his hair wet from the pool and smelling of chlorine. The collar of his jacket getting damp and cold from the water dripping off his hair; he surveyed the damage and rolled his eyes at the prospect of having to repair his car. We laugh about it now, when he describes swimming on the bottom of the pool and the thought occurring to him that I had just asked him for his proof of insurance, and me scurrying out of the pool, feeling like I’d gotten away with something “He didn’t notice that I trashed his back bumper!”

Todd will be back tomorrow morning, and I have one more trip home from work in his fabulous car. This morning I think I had left half of his transmission at the intersection near work, as I tried to start at a green light while stopped on a hill. The engine revved and jerked me forward and backward as I tried to ease my feet off the clutch and the brake, so I wouldn’t roll backward into the truck behind me. The tires screeched and burned against the pavement. I looked around to make sure nobody I recognized from work was in the cars nearby, as I made the turn into the parking lot at work arriving safely once again.



Blogger Gypsy said...

You're doing better than I would! I can't drive a stick. :)

September 14, 2007 at 11:57 AM  
Blogger Augs Casa said...

hm, 6 gears, I want a photo of this automobile. Well, being from the south, my daddy put me into a stick shift car was I was 12 years old. I drove stick all my life up until about 4 years ago. I finally decided not to shift gears anymore. I miss it sometimes.

September 14, 2007 at 12:40 PM  
Blogger BJ Knapp said...

Augs, it's a 2004 Acura TL. You can kinda see it here in this picture:

September 14, 2007 at 12:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's one thing my mom made sure I knew how to a stick. My only thing is going from driving a stick to an automatic...I go looking for the clutch and mash my left foot to the floor boards when nothing pushing back against it. LOL! At least I'm not mashing on the brakes. Doing a brake check at 60 mph would suck.

September 23, 2007 at 8:14 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

My parents, god bless them, bought me a stick for my first car. How kind but cruel all at the same time, no? I haven't driven a stick in years... but they say it's just like riding a bike and you never forget...

Those new Mustangs look mighty nice...

Or a new Mini Cooper!!!

October 9, 2007 at 9:39 PM  

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