The Lost Art Of The Stick Shift

In general I am a man who is obsessed with the new and wonderful. I like having the latest iPhone and the fastest macbook. I want my screens to be ultra high res and attached to the fastest broadband that money can buy. My camera can not only compose it’s own picture but also light the scene while telling the model how to pose. I love technology in all of it’s forms. If it’s shinier by more than three percent I will abandon the old model for the new in a cyborg’s heart beat. The only place this doesn’t apply is with my car.

I drive a stick shift.

I am not a former formula one driver who needs to be able to down shift and drift that turn at a moment’s notice. I am not a car nut nor can I be bothered to learn how to change my own oil. I drive a 2010 Kia Rio with no power steering; no power windows; no air conditioning; and an manual transmission.

The reason for this is largely because I really don’t give a shit about what vehicle I drive. I don’t see a car as a status symbol. I’d rather be on a subway train because those are way cooler, and I can read a book or buy candy from someone who I assume is working towards their business degree. The less there is to break in my car the better. If anything it’s a point of pride that my cars last for ever because there’s not so much an engine under the hood as the smallest collection of parts it takes to move a human from point A to point B.

Over the years I have gradually learned that there are some huge advantages to driving with such an antiquated transmission. None of my friends drive stick so I never have to let anyone borrow my car. There’s never any guilt. The conversation is always the following:

“Hey can I borrow your car?”
“Sure, can you drive stick?”
“Never mind I’ll find someone else.”

Bam. No one moves my seat around or fucks with my radio stations. This weekend I found out something even better about driving a manual transmission machine. If we take my car somewhere I am never the one who has to get out and push.

When going camping it’s important to take other people with you. In my case there were 200 other people because it was a big event. The weekend was fantastic despite the rain. Said aerial moisture turned the camp ground into a huge mud hole. That mud is a lot of fun when you are drinking mimosas around a camp fire. It’s less fun when you have to drive through it to get back to civilization.

For the record; I did not plan what I’m about to describe. However, in the future you are damn right that I’ll plan it this way.

Driving back to the main road we were one of the first cars out. I knew my car was small and light, so I would have the best chance of not tearing up the grass any further than it already was. I packed up all the gear as well as all the trash as we could muster in order to set out back to humanity. Predictably my car lost traction right in the middle of the largest mud bog of the campsite.

I offered to help push the car out. I really did. It’s my car, and I got it stuck. I should be the one getting dirty. When you push a car out of a mud hole there is going to be lots of tire spinning. The little car is going to throw dirt and water and mud all over everything. I firmly believe that if you got the car stuck you should be the one who gets the mud thrown on you. A lot of people helped push that car, including people who were in that car. All of them got muddy.

Fortunately I was the only one who could drive stick.