I had a driving lesson last night. It should be noted that I can drive exceptionally well – it was only the once that I turned the wrong way down a one-way street in Surry Hills, and the time I thought my battery was dead because the car wouldn’t start could have happened to anyone. And so what if the NRMA dude had to point out that if you don’t put your car fully in park, of course it won’t start?
However, the world is divided into those that think I can drive, and those who think I can steer. You see, I am one of the evolved homos (that’s sapiens, in this particular case) who chooses to drive an automatic rather than a manual. For the life of me, I can’t see the difference between driving a manual car, and, say, electing to run MS-DOS on your computer, or sticking with beta when the world says VHS. Manual drivers often like to wax lyrical over the ‘control’ they have over the car, the ‘feel’ for the ‘beast below’. Forced to part from their scrub boards, I am convinced that is what early housewives said about the washing machine, protesting plaintively that a whirlpool could never perform the same subtle services as their red-raw knuckles.
My question to you is as follows: why perform a service for a machine that the machine can do itself?
Philosophy aside, the hard facts are that my girlfriend drives a manual car, and unless I want to be an eternal passenger, I need to learn how to use the clutch. I am pleased to present the following stats from my lesson:
Event: number of occurrences
|Engine died in middle of intersection: 0
|Engine died when waiting to turn left at lights: 1
|Changed to 5th gear instead of 3rd gear: 2
|Girlfriend promises we will stay on the ‘back streets’, and I suddenly find myself about to turn onto the freeway: 1
|Times I pretended I was a racecar driver: 4-5
|Girlfriend’s semi-heart-attacks occasioned by my rough handling of the gear stick: 10-12
She is very encouraging, even when the engine dies and she has a vivid, visceral flash of the engine of her expensive car crunching itself to a standstill. If worst comes to worst, however, I can borrow her moped for the summer and drive the fair streets of Linz with my hair streaming in the wind. Or at least as much streaming as is possible at a maximum speed of 45km/h.