Step One: Learn how to curse like a sailor. It keeps things interesting, plus you will need the extra words in your vocabulary when you inevitably stall/ kill/ forget to use the clutch. Trust me, it will happen; and “Dang it” isn’t going to cut it.
Step Two: Find the oldest pickup you can, with a hard-shifting transmission. Better yet, the bigger the vehicle, the better… if you can drive an old, used, Chevy grain truck, you can drive anything.
Step Four: Familiarize yourself with the three pedals on the floor before turning the ignition over. Become friends with the clutch. Be gentle with it; like a woman, the clutch does not like the “wham-bam thank-you-ma’am” approach. Try it just once, and you will figure out why. As for the brake, well, think of it this way: just like it is hard to try to bend your ring finger alone, so too, is is a little difficult to hit the brake without using the clutch when coming to a stop… at least if you want to keep the vehicle running or moving in the same direction you were previously going.
Step Five: Drive, drive, drive, and drive some more. I remember driving for hours at a time from my mom and dad’s house, up the road, through the hay field, across the creek, up a steep, rutted out road, then turning around and going all the way back in a little Ford Ranger with no A/C for an entire summer after getting my driver’s license. My little brother was my teacher- no shit; although that was probably better than either of my parents… they intimidated the crap out of me! It was a real character- building experience; I can laugh about it now, but back then, he was real close to getting shoved out the passenger side door and “getting” to walk home.
Step Seven: Educate yourself on what these transmissions are called. Four on the floor; the stick; manual transmission; 5- speed; 6-speed; the list goes on. Save yourself the trouble and learn it now.
Step Eight: Step eight isn’t so much a step, as it is a hint for all you ladies out there: If your husband falls for the bat of the old eyelashes or jumps when you tell him how high, don’t be afraid to use it to your advantage; especially if you can’t quite master the art of the manual transmission. If you can get away with only owning automatics, lucky you. If not, well, then, by all means; don’t offer to be the designated driver unless you take your own car. The rest of us will pick up your slack. Thanks for making us look good.
Best wishes on all your driving adventures...