Random stuff that drives me batshit crazy: In the clutch

imagesI’ve been driving now for more than half a century — 53 years to be exact — and I can’t even remember the last car I owned that DIDN’T have a clutch.

Yes, I’m a veteran stick-shifter, and so is my wife. But even with all that experience, there’s something about having a standard transmission that still drives me batshit crazy, and it’s not anything that’s wrong with ME or my vehicles, it’s something that’s wrong with YOU!

When I’m stopped at a traffic light or stop sign on a hill, DON’T PULL YOUR CAR UP TO WITHIN A FRACTION OF AN INCH OF MY REAR BUMPER! Arrgh, it drives me batshit crazy when people do that!

See the hill? Give the car ahead of you a little bit of room, you idiot!
See the hill? Give the car ahead of you a little bit of room, you idiot!

Look, stopping on a hill doesn’t make me break out in a sweat or get a case of the heebie-jeebies. I know how to shift. I know how to use the clutch. But could you please just extend A LITTLE BIT OF COMMON COURTESY? Could you maybe give me at least one full inch of rollback room when the light changes?

For crying out loud, when I see someone getting too cozy with my rear bumper, I just want to get out and strangle them! Are you a fool? Have you no decency? One stupid woman last week had the audacity to lay on the horn after I rolled back a half an inch when starting from a steep hill! The problem was that her car was practically having sex with mine, and she panicked when my car rolled back fractionally when the light changed.

The problem as I see it is that so few people know how to shift anymore that the thought never even occurs to them.

So, let’s go to school!

See that pedal on the left? That's a clutch, you dolt! Some cars still have 'em!
See that pedal on the left? That’s the clutch pedal, you dolt, and it takes skill you don’t possess to be able to use one! Respect the people who know how to shift, and learn how to do it yourself!

Education is the key, and here are some bullet points to remember:

  • On a steep hill, drivers of cars with standard transmissions have to fight gravity the instant they take their foot off the brake, and it’s not uncommon for their cars to roll backward an inch or so before they engage the clutch.
  • The steeper the hill, the more room you should allow.
  • Yes, there are things that stick shift drivers can do to combat rolling back, like engaging the emergency brake or using a complicated set of foot gyrations, but don’t make us resort to those kind of tricks just because you’re an asshole. Be courteous to begin with and there won’t be any problems!
  • Never assume the car ahead of you has an automatic transmission.
  • Some drivers are new to a stick shift, and might actually roll backwards MORE than an inch. Cut ‘em some slack, at least they’re trying, which is more than you’re doing!
  • Learn how to drive a standard transmission yourself. It’s fun, and is a life skill — like writing in cursive — that shouldn’t be lost!

More and more when it happens to me, it’s always a younger driver who probably wouldn’t know a clutch from a hole in his head. But good habits can be learned, so listen up, you idiot, if my Starbucks barista can be trained to leave a little room in my venti Caffè Americano, then by god, you can leave me a fraction of room on my rear bumper! Don’t make me have to tell you again!


Add yours →

  1. “On a steep hill, drivers of cars with a standard transmission have to fight gravity the instant they took their foot off the brake”

    Hmmm… time to get you on a grammatical error.

    Automatic transmission driver here.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. My wife actually taught me that it’s a good thing to pull up behind another vehicle only to the point where you can still see the bottom of its rear tires. That way, if the car or truck ahead of you stalls or becomes incapacitated for any reason (say, because the one ahead of IT has rolled back and touched bumpers), then you will have given yourself room to steer around them. Other than that, hills aren’t really so much of a problem here in the Texas Gulf Coast flatlands.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Why are people so intent on leaving less than a half inch between cars? I have been honked at for leaving a foot behind the car in front of me. Then that same person will pass on the right and we both pull up to the next red light at the same time 🙂
    Automatic transmission driver here. Just could not learn to drive standard so for the sake of the rest of humanity I gave up.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I do know how to drive a stick shift, but since I mostly drive in city traffic, it would make me nuts – all that stop and start – and city drivers are not the most patient. But even drivers of automatics get annoyed by the person behind who seems to want to meld with the car in front of him/her.

    Personally, I always try to leave some room, just in case the car in front is a manual transmission or has some kind of mechanical problem that would cause me to have to go around. I don’t think today’s young drivers even consider that cars have anything other than automatic transmissions.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Maybe those cars that drive themselves is the answer!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’d go for that on a long trip. I think it would be great to sleep while the car takes me where I want to go, but I guess I could do that anyway if I just take the train!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Having had to commute in Denver, I came to really dislike other drivers. Not strictly because they’re more interested in their phones than in guiding their projectile intelligently… but because they were so godawful at driving that I’ve come to the conclusion that self-driving cars might actually be a good idea.

      As a veteran, unapologetic car lover and actual, proper driver, coming to that sacrilegious realization was horrifying.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Jason Fredric Gilbert November 24, 2015 — 10:17 pm

    I love driving manual and finally someone was brave enough to write about it! Good stuff sticking it to those automatic bastards!

    Liked by 2 people

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