Saturday, February 12, 2011

Car Talk

Several memories, involving me, men, and cars:

My dad teaching me how to drive stick.  After suffering through the obligatory jerky parking lot hill starts and proceeding to normal-ish driving, he would sometimes yell at me "stop riding the clutch! stop riding the clutch!"

My high-school boyfriend, riding in the front seat while I was driving us through a washed-out gravel road, full of potholes.  "Stop! You're going to plant! You're going to plant!" he shouted at me.  "Don't plant!"

Since one generally has a hard time proceeding objectively when someone is yelling something nonsensical at you, I inherently ended up doing even more of the behaviors I was being told not to do.

In the second situation but not the first one, being considerably older and wiser, I stopped the car, turned the engine off, and rounded on my interlocutor.  "I will respect your advise if you present it to me calmly and tell me what you mean and why it's a bad thing for the car."

(What he called "planting" is driving through a pothole in such a way that your wheel goes into it so deeply that the frame of the car rests on the outside edges of the pothole, potentially even taking weight off of the tire. Driving forward in such a situation is very bad for frame, suspension, and axle.  In hindsight I don't think any of the potholes on that road were deep enough.)

This has been such a crucial life lesson.  Both that car issues can be understandable if one undertakes to understand them, and that people communicating only their frustration that you don't know something, are acting like assholes and should sometimes be called out accordingly.

A final car memory:  my dad, taking learners-permit me out after a winter snowstorm, having me stop and try to start at the bottom of a slushy hill.  I proceeded to slide and wheel-spin but followed his instructions and encouragement, put the thing in second, then third, and finally got going.  I experienced several slides and skids and weird driving obstacles that day, and to this day have strong confidence in my ability to drive my little sedan safely through snowy and icy roads if I need to.  So what I'm saying is, while sometimes a jerk, my dad is mostly awesome.

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