I remember the unenlightened days of my poor, meaningless existence before the Wonderous Time of Stick Shift. Those were dark days – driving around with only two pedals and nothing for my poor left foot to do but sit there, wondering when it would be used! Driving an automatic car was such an embarrassing time – stopping at the stop sign without down shifting, letting my hands hang uselessly with no shifter to grab on to. And although I loved my first car, a gold Honda CR-V that was so old she needed oil every 70 miles as well as lots of encouragement on steep hills, she was unfortunately an automatic. And until I bought my current car, I was like all of you dear readers, unaware of the real world of driving, the enjoyment in the actual act of driving and the transcendence beyond using my car as just a means to get from A to B. Once you start to drive stick, you will realize driving is not a meaningless pastime to get somewhere. Driving is a work of art.
“What is driving stick?” you may ask ignorantly. But fret not, for I shall enlighten you. Driving stick shift means you operate a clutch engaged and disengaged by your left foot (or hand lever if on motorcycle) which regulates torque power from the engine to the transmission, as well as a gear selector. Your gear options typically are first through fifth, and you also have reverse. There is no parking setting; instead, you use your emergency brake so your car is still where you left it when you get back. Every time you want to shift, which you can do at any speed, you simply press in the clutch and shift the shifter to the desired gear, depending on your speed. This is really quite simple, and people who cannot understand this basic concept and continuously stall their cars are embarrassments to the stick shift clan. (Yes, there is a clan, but you shall not receive your invitation via owl to join until you have mastered the art of driving, of course).
“So why are you teaching me how to drive stick if you are hating on people who do not know how to do it?” you may wonder. Excellent question. That is because I need you. In case you were not aware, the American society is increasingly becoming more and more like the people from the movie “WALL-E,” who, for those of you who have not seen it, are incredibly lazy and rely on technology to do everything for them. Everyone is becoming lazy. This is also reflected in the cars we buy. The amount of stick shift cars being produced currently for the average consumer in this country is about 4%, according to quote.com. And yet, in other European countries and in Japan, over 80% of the cars are manual transmission. Why? Because these countries are frickin’ awesome and understand that technology can only do so much for us before we start to experience the consequences of no longer doing anything ourselves. But do not just take my word for it: experts all over the world have determined stick shifts are better, and here are a few reasons: stick shifts cars have easier maintenance and do not use automatic transmission fluid which is used up faster; they also have better fuel economy, up to as much as 15% saved compared to an automatic transmission; and stick shift cars are usually cheaper than automatic, except, of course, for the beautiful works of art that are made for speed and cost more than my entire education here. And some benefits about driving stick – you are better at multitasking and prioritizing, and you tend to be more adventurous, brave and intelligent. Also, people who drive stick shift are bad ass – look at every racing movie ever. So please, add some adventure to your life, become more interesting, spice up that meager list of things you can brag about when trying to pick up chicks or dudes and learn stick shift.