“Just relax, you can do it! All you have to do is remember the timing and you can do it!” As soon as those words were spoken, we were already leaving and I was driving scared to death. “ Are you sure I can do this? Can I really do it because it seems so much easier looking at it.” I asked my friend Mike, sitting in the passenger’s seat. “ You can do it! Remember that you have to change gears fast after you press on the clutch.” My mind was racing as I changed gears while driving, I would keep on asking myself, “ Why the fuck did I want to learn to drive stick!”
To start off, my curiosity with learning to drive stick first started when I was about 10 years old and my dad would let me change gears when we drove his Volkswagen Jetta. He taught me where everything was in a simple way. I learned where the reverse gear was and how to put the car in neutral when the car is stopped at a light, and which gears to move into as well. The only thing I did not know was the timing to change gears or what he was looking at to actually change gears. Fast Forward 8 years, when I started talking to my friend about wanting to learn the proper timing in order to drive stick in the future. Our talk went on until he asked me, “Are you sure you want to learn to drive stick?” Although I did know how to change gears and where everything was, I would get nervous every time we would talk and meet to go for a drive as he would explain when he changed gears and how it felt with every shift. The first time we went on a drive, we started driving on his 2008 Integra which he had recently bought from another person, “ Ignore the ugly red and black of the car because I’m going to paint it later,” he went on as we laughed about its color. On the first drive, he went around the block and to Walmart while he told me to just stare at both the dashboard and his feet while he drove as he knew that I could already tell what gear he was on.
All was good for the first few times, and I was learning and noticing how much time was in between every gear change when he was driving faster or slower until I could tell him to change the gears correctly. I remember him telling me, “ You’re getting the timing down well and you’re not even looking at the dashboard to see the rpm anymore” which was a great thing for me because I felt like I was going to be bad at the timing part of changing gears. Throughout our rides and time together, we started talking and becoming better friends and learning more about each other. We became close friends and we knew exactly what we liked to listen to in the car. Throughout our time together, I learned about the timing of changing gears as well as some more crazy things about changing gears or skipping a gear.
Although I learned a lot when it came to changing gears and timing, it was incredibly difficult the first time I went on a drive with my friend. It took me a while to get used to having to multitask and do everything quickly. I remember being nervous about messing up the car and asking him if it was okay if I messed up. He told me “ as long as you don’t fuck up the car and leave us with a broken down car, it’s okay” which gave me confidence because we joked around and laughed. “ You’re actually doing it! You haven’t messed up yet and you can do the timing perfectly.” I couldn’t believe that I could do this well on my first try, which would soon turn out crazy bad. My nervous excitement would make me lose my concentration and I almost hit a car.
To my surprise, I was able to somehow adjust the car and save us from hitting a parked Camry. “Jesus bro, you almost hit that car! How did you save it?” He asked so confused as to why I was able to calmly save the car. “ Well my the same thing almost happened to my dad and me one time so I kind of tried to copy what he did when it happened.” I was met with a surprised look and a sunken face. “ How the hell did you save us bro? That was one helluva save dude, but you still need a little bit more practice.” It was a crazy ride back to his house, but I did better and I did not freak out over it. I felt more in control and relaxed after the incident due to seeing how much I had to control myself. It felt so surreal to drive and almost get hit and somehow save us, as soon as it was over I felt more in control of the car and I felt like I could do better driving. Although I was more in tune with car due to the near miss that had happened, I did not need it to happen to learn since all it did was speed up my abilities. “ Bro, I know it was your first time driving stick, you did pretty good and I feel like you could do really good with more practice.” His words resonated within me as they felt so uplifting so that I could try driving stick more and feel comfortable. I felt as though with his help, I could do so much better with him helping me than with any other person.
With Mike’s help, I learned how to drive stick and feel so much more comfortable with it. If it wasn’t for his help I would have felt like I could not have driven stick well enough like I did. Driving stick is not as easy as it may seem when you actually start driving it yourself due to how many things you have to focus on whilst also focusing on the street. In my experience when I first learned to drive stick, I was so nervous that I would forget some steps and when to change gears. It even led to me almost crashing the car and having to do my best to save us from a collision which is insane for a first time driving and knowing it isn’t as easy.