Coordination and Timing

D8E76B46-A028-42B9-897F-87A4CF51EBFAI suppose it’s all about timing.

My father’s car had a three-speed, steering-column mounted standard transmission. He insisted that I learn how to drive using his car, rather than my mother’s, which was an automatic. “You need to know how to drive a stick shift just in case you ever find yourself in a situation where a car with an automatic transmission is not available,” he explained to me.

“But there are three pedals, Dad,” I whined, “and I have only two feet.”

“The one on the left is the clutch,” he explained. “And all it requires to master driving a car with a clutch pedal is coordination and good timing.”

And so my father spent many hours sitting shotgun while I learned how to drive a car with a manual transmission. After a while, I nailed it and I even took my driver’s test using his car.

As it turned out, I came to love driving cars with manual transmissions. In fact, every car I ever owned on my own since learning how to drive has had a manual transmission with a floor mounted stick shifter.

Until, that is, my wife and I moved to San Francisco recently. The streets of San Francisco are known for their very steep inclines. I quickly learned that proficiency in driving cars with manual transmissions is not enough in San Francisco. No amount of coordination and timing could save me. I ended up driving miles out of my way in search of relatively flat streets rather than having to experience the smell of burning out my clutch trying to navigate the treacherously steep grades of the streets that were on the more direct route.

And so, after decades of driving cars with manual transmissions, I finally caved a few years back and bought a car with an automatic one. While I miss using a clutch and throwing the shifter from gear to gear, I can now get from point A to point B in this hilly city by taking the most direct route.

Of course, I find that I need to replace my car’s worn brake pads quite often.

Written for today’s one-word prompt, “clutch.”

9 thoughts on “Coordination and Timing

  1. newepicauthor November 24, 2017 / 11:13 am

    I rented a Mercedes in Germany with a stick shift and there was no indicator that told me how to get into reverse, so I had to push the car ton get out of the parking spot. When I stopped to get gas the attendant told me how to do it and then I was ready for the Autobahn.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Marilyn Armstrong November 24, 2017 / 11:18 am

    I gave up the clutch for three good, solid reasons: Garry couldn’t drive it and had no interest in learning. We lived in Boston and the hills were killing me — and modern drivers don’t realize they need to leave some room between them and the car in front of them in case it’s not an automatic and will roll a few inches.

    And my right knee was killing me. Even my son gave up and got an automatic. Knees. They get tired.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. cagedunn November 24, 2017 / 12:17 pm

    Well, as an ex-driver of quarter-mile drags and owner/purveyor of ‘oldies’ I also loved the clutch vehicles. However, yes, we age, and unlike the vehicles I used to work on, we don’t get the opportunity to ‘be made like new’ again. I also liked a clutch vehicle for the simple expedience of a push start when the battery failed. Of course, batteries have changed and you can’t even do that anymore – but I still have one (old) car, clutch and an ‘older’ style battery. You just never know.
    BTW – as you seem to enjoy some of the political elements of this world, would you like an allegorical tale (free, and no obligation apart from sending a request to my email: cagedunn at gmail dot com) – along the lines of Animal Farm allegory, but contemporary.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. melanielynngriffin November 24, 2017 / 12:30 pm

    lol – I, too, loved a manual once I learned to drive one. Such a feeling of mastery and control! Then I went about a decade without driving one, and then got a “Rent a Wreck” car w/ a manual — in San Fran! Same thing, very scary when you had to stop on those hills.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Lynn Blair November 26, 2017 / 6:29 am

    Most modern manual transmission vehicles have a hill hold feature that will hold your brakes just long enough to get to the engagement point and get moving. My 2015 Fiesta has this and let me tell you it is a godsend. Makes life so much easier.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango November 26, 2017 / 8:47 am

      Good to know. Maybe I’ll go back to stick shift for my next car.


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