A sort-of Success Story

On Monday my sister and her fiance and I went to the beach. Since I haven’t seen the ocean since 2010, it was a wonderful experience.

The day started out quite normally. While driving over we rapped along to Vanilla Ice and Will Smith (we ballin’, yo,) sang along to Adele and the Backstreet Boys, and bounced around to some of Jessie’s random dance music.

We found a beach in Oceanside, and after traversing through a mysterious and wet tunnel (in which I was reminded that Toms are terrible shoes for stepping in puddles,) we arrived at a stony beach.

My sister and I share a tick where we look at inanimate objects and see other things in them. For example, this might just look like a bunch of rocks to you–

But Jessie, upon sighting this stone, exclaimed, “It has a nose!” which became instantly evident to me as well.

And when I see driftwood, I often don’t see driftwood.


We took some obligatory posed dancer photos, which I may or may not add into this post once Chris-topher shares them with me.

But the photos are not the point!

After frolicking on the beach we were driving along the Pacific scenic highway, in search of another worthy beach. Suddenly, I realized that the conversation had shifted and Jessie and Chris were talking about teaching me to drive a car with a manual transmission. Since we were currently in such a vehicle, I started trying to backpedal, frantically, yet subtly. But as reluctant as I was to be taught the function of this type of vehicle by my sister and almost-brother-in-law (“I know how in theory,” I said, “Just not in practice,”) their stronger wills and my underlying desire to know how to do everything won out.

I found myself behind the wheel, foot on the clutch and hand on the… I don’t even know what it’s called, gear-shifter-stick-thingy. Since I’ve moved, I haven’t driven much– this excursion makes three times behind the wheel of a car since January, so I was like this.

My brain while driving such an unfamiliar car.

“Okay, shift into first and ease the clutch out really slowly while giving it a little gas,” Jessie instructed, patiently. After a couple false starts, I managed to get the car going, into second through fifth gears, and we were cruising along nicely until I had a sudden lapse of confidence.

I downshifted more abruptly than was probably good for the engine, braked, and pulled over into a little graveled driveway.

Jessie and Chris were kindly pep-talking me when two large pitbulls ran up from the house that belonged to the driveway in question. Dogs don’t scare me unless they’re barking and showing their teeth right outside my inconveniently open window. This interruption provided me with the motivation to continue driving again, and after again a false start (there were dogs in front of the car, okay?) I got out onto the road again.

I was gaining coordination and confidence, and Chris pointed to a park where we could park and eat our sort-of picnic. I slowed and turned without issue, shifted down to second, and started to park.

“Waaarrgh!” I yelled, “There’s no power steering!”

I cranked the wheel with difficulty, tried to shift into first, and killed the engine, halfway into the parking spot. I restarted, and per Chris’s instruction, let the clutch out really slowly without giving it any gas as to ease gently into the parking spot.

Thrice I tried– thrice I failed.

Finally on my fourth try, I scooted the car the remaining six feet into the parking spot before the engine jerkily died– but I got into the parking spot straight.

Overall? Success.

  1. Hahahhahahahahah You didn’t kill a dog or us… I’d say success! And you didn’t post the extra special inanimate object that looked like the thing I saw downtown yesterday…

  2. You got it right; it’s the gear-shifter-stick-thingy, otherwise known as the GSST. Automobile manufacturers call them “gear shifts.” But that’s a stupid name.

    I ran into the fence the first time I drove a manual – the brake was one too many things to keep track of.

    • Kittie Mahnke
    • April 5th, 2012

    Enjoyed your blog : ) I needed a laugh!

  3. What you and Jessie missed is the alien face in the big rock to the left of nosey… Also, “Whaaarg!” is the greatest statement of all time. Love you, sister!

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