Headache Grande: Trying to Talk Joy into Driving Stick Shift

One of the quickest, most concise ways to get a meta-glimpse at yourself is to review the terms in your Google search box. Since I’m online at least 40 hours a week, I’ve gots lots of search terms. Basically my whole life is crammed up in there.

A not-so-random sampling:

  • “mojito recipe”
  • “disillusionment” (spell checking for previous blog post headline)
  • “austin barton springs pool” (for upcoming trip)
  • “Popocatepetl” (local hard-to-spell volcano)
  • “pinched nerve in neck” (ouch!)

And, most recently and perhaps most embarrassingly:

  • “learning to drive stick shift”

Yes, folks, Joy can’t drive stick shift. No, more accurately: Joy gets heart flutters, palm sweats and crossed eyes at the thought of trying to get into second gear. Especially now that she lives in Mexico City. Why? As the Arizona Republic puts it, driving here is “headache grande.”

We’d like to buy a car — a cheap one — but the cheapest coches always have manual transmission. We have a friend who is selling her relatively new & cheap manual transmission compact car. It’s perfect…except for the whole transmission thing.

Of course, my phobia of stick shift driving irritates the better half to no end. “Why can’t you just learn? It’s eaaaaaasy,” he says. “Muy facil! Come on, you have to learn someday!”

So, amigos, what do you think? Am I being ridiculous and a little retarded? The few times I tried to learn, I was pretty shitty city. I managed, once, to drive to a mall and back, but not without stalling several times (and enduring merciless honking and shouting.) If I could drive around with nary another car (or batshit insane taxi driver, bus or truck) around, I’d try it. Sure, no hay problema. But on a normal day in the D.F.? No f’ing way. (I think my stress level — from just the mere discussion of this! — can be measured by the amount of swearing I’m doing right now.)

I like to blame this all on the fact that I’m left-handed. That if the gear shift was on the left side, I’d be fine — my left hand would be in control, I could become the female James Bond, shifting my way to lands yet unexplored at 80 mph, and looking good while doing it. (But do you even shift at that speed?)

I also think it has something to do with the fact that I don’t want to learn. I’ve got enough to learn right now, like a whole new language, culture and general-way-of-life. No small frjioles, eh?

Once I’ve got those three things mastered, perhaps I’ll take up stick shift.

5 thoughts on “Headache Grande: Trying to Talk Joy into Driving Stick Shift

  1. Julia Varga says:

    it ain’t so bad! it is a difficult and daunting task to master…yes, you will grind the gears. yes, you will stall the car-not just once, but multiple times. yes, you will get yelled at by people behind you. but, who cares???? everyone had to learn at one point in time or another. and NOBODY got it the first time. (whatever they may say). we all stalled, grinded and even rolled back into the car behind them (yours truly). so? it’s just a car. but let me tell you, when you do get? it’s awesome!!! you will really feel like a race car driver….i still make the race car sounds when i drive a stick. it’s fun. i do have to say, traffic is NOT fun, and it’s even more difficult to manuever the coffee, the phone and the stick all at the same time. Do they even do that in Mexico??? we call it ‘multi-talking’ others call it straight out dangerous. well, i live in LA and that’s how we do it!
    anyway good luck! have fun!

  2. DKN says:

    I can’t drive a stick to save my life. I tried learning how when I was a teen and it just never stuck with me, to put it nicely. In fact, after the lesson, my Aunt vowed that I was on my own with that one, lol! And now that I live in NYC and don’t drive…I feel like I’ll never learn.

    And frankly, i think you have a legitimate gripe about being left handed. I couldn’t imagine trying to do it with my “bad side”. Ack!!!

  3. nancy says:

    I can’t drive stick shift either. But that’s one of my goals. I really do want to learn, and Jeremy was teaching me before we moved here. But I am definitely NOT continuing the driving lessons here in Mexico City! I also think you have a legitimate gripe being left handed. My friend was telling me that it was totally weird driving stick-shift with her left hand (she’s right handed) while living in Kenya, where they use the British-style traffic rules.

  4. mmalan says:

    Handedness issue depends, I think, on whether there are some things you already do right-handedly. I have several, so operating the stick hasn’t been an issue. But learning in Mexico City would be horrific regardless. Maybe you should just splurge for an automatic transmission. Even then, it would require more courage than I possess.

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