My Personal Battle with the Stick

So it’s officially been a week since we purchased Jefe Blanco (That’s what we named our new 2010 Kia Soul…In Spanish, it means “White Boss” cos he’s a white car…lol). So anyway, we’ve had the car for a week, which means I’ve had a whole week’s worth of practicing stick shift. Yeah, good old Jefe Blanco is a manual, and until last Thursday when the car salesman took me out for a quick 20-minute lesson, I had never driven one before.

Ironically, I did surprisingly well. My husband was sitting in the back seat, waiting for me to stall the car repeatedly and grind the gears. However, I surprised him and the sales guy (who was holding onto the side door for dear life) when I transitioned from neutral to first gear without any problems whatsoever. In fact, I drove around the whole parking lot, shifting gears and starting and stopping, and I only stalled the car once…At the very end.

I literally had to scoop my husband’s jaw up off the floor after I drove around for a bit. He was convinced that I would have one hell of a time picking up stick shift because it took him weeks to figure it out when he first learned. I guess you could say that I kicked ass that first time we took the car out for a spin. =)

The second time, third time…All the way through the tenth time that I took the car out for a spin…Not so much.

It started with a hill. The same night we bought the car, my husband suggested that I drive us to the library to drop off some stuff we’d borrowed. I put the car in gear, and we were off. About two and a half minutes later, I slowed the car down and put it in neutral to stop at a red light on a hill. The light turned green. I stepped on the gas, released the clutch, and the car did this jerky mambo-sputter thing, moved about two inches and died.

“Whoops!” I glanced at my husband, kind of laughing it off as I turned the key in the ignition and re-started the car.

I hit the gas, released up on the clutch, and…Sputter, sputter, jerk, jerk, clunk, clunk…Stop.

I tried about two more times to put Jefe Blanco into first gear and go before the light turned red again, but it just wasn’t happening. The cars behind me were honking and passing by me, showing me their appreciation by giving me the “special number one” sign with their finger.

In a panic, I turned to face my husband, choking back tears…”Can you drive?” I asked. “This hill…It’s gotten me all screwed up, and I just…Can you drive?”

My husband smiled and said ‘yes.’ I thought I noticed a half smile on his face as we proceeded to do a Chinese fire drill at the red light. (Looking back now, I think he was somewhat happy that my beginner’s luck had worn off and that I hadn’t really picked up on the stick shift so quick after all.)

The rest of the week was a blur of practicing in parking lots…Neutral to first gear is the worst…And it seemed like the more I practiced, the more I stalled the car. It wasn’t until my husband got out of the car, opened up the driver’s side of the door and literally watched my feet as I practiced shifting from neutral to first gear over and over and over again, that he figured out I was dropping the clutch. And anyone who drives stick shift knows that dropping the clutch makes it next to impossible to transition into first gear when you’re stopped. Too bad he pointed this out two days ago…

Alas…Since my husband made this miraculous observation, everything has clicked for me. I feel about 97% comfortable driving Jefe Blanco now, as I rarely stall it when I’m out driving on my own. (That’s right…I’m driving on my own now, folks!)

I’m not saying I’m a pro or anything, but I can definitely get around town. I even tackled a really big hill last night, and I didn’t freak out or stall or anything. OK, well…Maybe there was a little bit of freakage…And OK, maybe there was one teensy, tiny stall…But that was it…I swear! 😉

About Nikki Flores is written by Nikki Flores, a clueless girl who lives in Littleton, Colorado and blogs about how clueless she really is when it comes to life's crazy adventures. She writes in an honest, open, and sometimes witty voice. In other words, she keeps it real, raw, and completely relatable.
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