After reading about that unfortunate driving lesson recently, I have to say that the best teacher I ever had for that one absolutely necessary driving skill is my Dad. I even used it to teach a friend how to drive her first stick shift some years ago. A skill so important it's one of the reasons I married the woman I love.

So how did Dad teach me and my sister to drive a manual transmission. Well, first, wise man that he is, he sent us to automatic driving school. Simple, hassle free, and an insured and licensed driver makes it easier to deal with any collision related expenses should the need arise. Then he bought a cheap under-powered car with said manual transmission. It's an overstatement to say it was under-powered.

Then he parked the car on the street next to house and came inside. I was 16, just begging to learn and armed with a basic understanding of manual transmissions and the bona fide permit to drive. So I begged. And he handed me the keys and said to go to the car, make it go forward 5 feet, then stop, then go backward 5 feet, then stop. Then he said the smartest thing anyone has ever said in the history of the world. He said to repeat the forward, backward thing for 2 hours, after which he would let me drive him to the store. I mumbled something about this being the dumbest driving lesson ever in the history of the world, then proceeded out to the car since no 16 year old can refuse a set of car keys.

I turned the key and... the car lurched forward. What the hell? Oh yeah, the clutch. A quick mental recap of the workings beneath my feet and I had the car started with the stick in neutral. Okay. Clutch. First gear. Gas. Clutch. Bonk. Redo. Bonk. After a couple of tries, I moved before stalling. I understood the forward backwards thing. I started up, selected reverse and bonk. Then motion. Forward now. Jerky, but no stall. Backwards. Smoother but not smooth. Back and forth. Back and forth. After what seemed like 30 minutes, I had no problems getting in motion. I was a pro. So I decided to go for a drive, around the block.

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Freedom!

Wait, what's that noise? Oh yeah, I have more than one gear. Second. Then third. Better not go too fast. Still new at this. But oh yeah...

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Freedom!

Hmm... stop sign. Okay, no problem. Brake. Clutch. Stop. Engine still running. No cross-traffic. Perfect. Gas. What the hell? Uh oh, I'm on a hill. How the hell do I not roll back when I have three pedals and two feet? Gas. Shit! Brake. Try again. Gas. Oh no, there's someone coming up from behind. Gas. Brake. Gas. Clutch. Stall. Restart. Gas. Stall. No room now. Wave them around. Phew. Sweating. Okay. Try again. Gas. Brake. Stop. Think. Engine needs gas to prevent stall. Motion needs clutch. Aha! More gas and more clutch. Ready. Release brake. GAS! CLUTCH! SCREECH! STOP SIGN!

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I think you get the picture.

After making my way as loudly as possible up the hill to the house, I parked the car where it all started and went inside. I really needed to pee, get a dry shirt and a lowered heart rate.

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With the biggest smirk, Dad said, "That was only 20 minutes, you're not giving up are you?"

"No, I just need a thicker shirt." When I returned to the car, the next three hours were spent going forwards and backwards.

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Later, as I drove home from the store, Dad said that he saw me drive off after 10 minutes and was still laughing when I returned.