I’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!
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!
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!