Achievement Unlocked: Driving Stick

Lately, in addition to my usual overly ambitious academic projects (like memorizing the entirety of Frankenstein), I’ve been thinking of life skills I’d like to acquire. Like a lot of twenty-somethings there are just gaps in my life knowledge. I’m a decent cook. I can mostly do my taxes and file an insurance claim. I do know how to change a tire — although the one time I had the opportunity, it did me no good because I’d blown two tires — and check my oil. I have rudimentary carpentry and plumbing skills (but please, please, please don’t ask me to do anything with wiring).

One skill I missed in my adolescence was driving a manual car. I learned on automatics; my first (and current) car is an automatic. I come from the “push accelerator, make car move” school of driving. And, despite the gas mileage benefits, I’m not really planning to switch. But I thought it would be a worthwhile skill to have. After all, who wants to be the person in an emergency situation who can’t drive stick?

So, last weekend I got some basic lessons on driving manual from my father. Happily, I managed not to stall although changing from the lower gears was most comparable to one of these rides. The clutch isn’t really all that difficult to deal with — after all, you don’t use your left foot while driving with two pedals. I think the main thing to learn was simple patience. I wanted the car to shift immediately, especially when someone was driving behind me, but forcing it only made the process more difficult. And of course, one lesson doesn’t make me expert. To really acquire a skill, you have to practice it. But knowing the fundamentals of something is a great start.

What life skills would you like to learn? 

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