QUOTE OF THE DAY (OR MORE): "No, no. You don't understand. This is an '89 Calico. I'm pretty sure that exceeds the Kelly Blue Book value. The cat's totaled." --A comedian whose name I forget talking about a vet who presents a $3,000 bill for a 12-year-old cat

Saturday, April 11, 2009


The husband smushed one of our cars a couple of weeks ago; he got rear-ended on the interstate (he's fine, thanks). The owner of the body shop where it was towed informed us the chances of its being totaled were about 60/40 (60% totalable). The insurance adjuster traveled to have a look at the car at the body shop and didn't even break out a pen. Totaled, she concluded without a blink.

Skip ahead to two days ago, when we brought a new car home. I insisted I wanted a stick-shift; they're more fun to drive and, with the 13-year-old being, well, 13, I advocated that he should learn how to drive a manual transmission (after he obtains a driver's license, of course...). Golly - everyone should know how to drive a stick shift, just in case.

I didn't realize it was a 6-speed until I parked it in the garage for the first time; in all previous parkings the new car had enjoyed a spot on the uphill driveway, parking brake duly applied. The major difference, then, between the driveway and the garage is the presence or absence of a hill.

The 13-year-old and I piled into the new car in the garage, all psyched to attend his orthodontist appointment. Next I needed to back out of the garage. Hmmm. I didn't know how to get the car into reverse. In a 5-speed it's right, right, down; however, right, right down in this car is 6th gear. The little handy diagram on the shift lever pictured the telling "R" symbol as left, left, up.

"Ooookie dokie," I assured the 13-year-old, aka natural-born worrywart. I depressed the clutch and shoved the shift knob left, left, up. The car inched ever so slowly forward; the car was in first gear.

"No problem!" I reassured the 13-year-old, who was growing more anxious. "Let's try that again!" Left, LEFT, up. A few more inches forward (did I mention the garage is not cavernous?)

Being resourceful, I decided to check the owner's manual, a fabulous idea thwarted by the manual's unfortunate location in the husband's car at work 38 miles to the south of us. Digging even deeper into my resources, I phoned said husband with the first-hand knowledge that he had successfully put the car in reverse the previous day. Voice mail.

"Hmmmm," I mumbled, not so reassuringly to the 13-year-old, who was now aging rapidly from stress. I tried left, left, up again, stumped. Reverse still eluded us.

"Want me to get out and tell you how much room you have?" the kind and helpful 13-year-old offered.

"Uh-huh," I accepted, thinking what a brilliant idea it was.

He held his hands less than a foot apart from each other in the air, then plopped into the passenger seat next to me.

"Okay," I decided, "get out and push."

"Lol," he laughed. I mean he literally laughed; he didn't say "L oh L."

"No, seriously," I said.

"I can't push a car," he argued.

"Sure you can!" I encouraged, "you'll be surprised how easy it is!"

Now alarmed on so many levels, the 13-year-old dubiously exited the new vehicle and planted himself at the front of the car. He began to push. Sure enough, the car moved. The 13-year-old was floored. He pushed some more. The car moved some more... and more... until it was safely on the driveway hill and began to roll gently backwards in neutral.

The 13-year-old's eyes popped, having temporarily forgotten that I had use of a brake.

We proceeded to the orthodontist's office, cautious to park on an uphill slant...


  1. good one--did you figure out reverse yet?

  2. LOL! I have to say, driving a 6 speed would screw me up, too. Left, left, up?? Yeah, that would take some serious getting used to. Did you ever find the elusive reverse?

  3. Does it have that little ring that you have to lift while putting it in reverse? Our Saab has that. (And yes, I talked him into getting the stick shift.) I also drove a Volvo once that had something similar. Neither were six speeds though - cool!

  4. I can't wait to hear the results of your tutorial with your husband!

    Also, it's a good thing that you were with a thirteen year old instead of a toddler, LOL!

  5. I wonder what the trick is? We used to have an old VW Bug, the shift pattern was completely different than our other cars... always threw me off. We also had a car that in order to engage reverse, you had to push down on the shifter. Maybe it's something silly like that.

  6. LOL. Glad you all are laughing at my expense...In case you're all on the edge of your seats, I DID figure it out with the husband's tutorial, yes! It's left, push DOWN, left, up! lol.

    Natasha the exile... wow - excellent point! Although... I wouldn't have had an orthodontist appointment to go to had I had a toddler with me...

  7. I have never driven a 6-speed. I think everyone should learn how to drive a stick shift. I learned in a creek bed of all places. I used to have a manual transmission car, but we decided with cell phones and unpredictable children and driving around with beverages, we'd be safer (as would other motorists) if we had an automatic. So far so good.

  8. Do you have a zombie chicken yet? If not, you have one now!

  9. i miss my stick shift! i told the wife if i can ever pull it off i want to go back to a stick shift. of course practicality rules my existance currently (she dont do manual). BUT AS GOD AS MY WITNESS, I'LL NEVER BE HUNGRY AGAIN!

    wrong quote...sorry about that.


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