When the time came, I took his key and walked to his car. I got in, buckled my seat belt (safety first!) and looked down at the gear shifter. Sweet Freaking Felix, it was a stick shift! Without a word of exaggeration, it's been 28 years since I've had to manually shift the gears on a car. It's always been my contention that if they MAKE a car that automatically shifts itself into gear, who am I to buck the system and do it myself? I'd hate for the guy who installs the automatic transmission to be put out of a job, so I buy the car that has automatic transmission so he gets to keep his job. I'm all about the economy, folks.
Perhaps I should explain my irrational fear of the stick shift.
Back in the late 80's, I had a '74 Chevy Vega, a little grey thing with red hubcaps. Yes, red. It was a sweet little ride. It didn't matter that you had to open the hood, unscrew the carburetor and stick a pencil inside to hold open the choke to start it. Every. Time. Some call it a pain in the ass. I call it character. My little red-hubcapped character. She was an automatic and I didn't care that I had to jump through so many hoops just to get her started. She was mine. Until she died. (RIP little grey).
My next car was given to me by my Mom's old boyfriend who felt sorry for me (not sorry enough to buy me a sweet NEW ride, but sorry enough. Whatever). It was a '77 Buick Nighthawk special edition Skyhawk. And it was a stick shift. I had to learn how to drive a stick shift. Now it is my opinion that EVERYONE should at least have a basic knowledge of how to drive a stick shift, on the off chance that they are with someone who drives a stick and that person becomes unable to drive. It's a good theory.
But let's be honest. If you're lazy like me, you enjoy the automatic transmission. You prefer it. I know I do. But the car was free and I needed a car to get to and from work, so I gratefully accepted the gift. I don't remember much about the car (it started without me having to do the pencil in the carburetor thing so that was a plus) other than to get the car to go into reverse, you had to left up on this lever on the gear shifter while pushing the shifter all the way to the right and down. It took practice. Lots of practice. Parallel parking sucked. Hard.
Just when I thought I had mastered the art of going backwards, something went 'pop' in the transmission. And then I couldn't go backwards anymore. Now, that may not necessarily sound like a bad thing, but trust me. It's bad. You can only pull into parking spaces that are on the street, and then pray to whatever God you're worshipping that no one parks in front of you.
"Hello boss? Hi, yeah, I may be a little late to work today. Why? Oh, because there's someone parked in front of me and I can't move my car. Backwards? Oh, you mean reverse? Nah, that's not possible. Sorry. I don't go that way."
So yeah, when your car doesn't go backwards, it causes financial hardships. I drove the car to the repair shop, but gave the repair guy plenty of advanced notice that once pulled IN, unless he fixed the transmission, there was no going back. Literally.
Somehow, dude managed to fix what he called 'a problem with the linkage'. Linkage apparently means the go-backwards-thingy in the transmission. But he did warn me that it could happen again. That guy was totally psychic! Because it totally DID happen again. Three more times.
The last time was the BEST though. Whatever crazy magic voodoo that was happening with the linkage caused that car to then ONLY GO IN REVERSE. That's right. The car would not go forward, no matter what gear it was in. Now that right there, that's a bigger problem than not going in reverse at all.
Long story short, the local car dealership was having a 'Push Pull or Drag It In' sale so I had the car towed in, and they actually gave me $500 towards a trade in for a new car. I bought myself a sweet new '88 Mercury Tracer. Automatic.
So you can see why I have an irrational fear of stick shifts. I like being able to go both forward AND backward when I'm driving. Call me crazy.
Remind me to tell you about the time my '88 Mercury Tracer caught fire in my driveway. That's a blog for another day....