“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”
It was 2003, I was 18 years old, and I had just dropped out of college. I was too embarrassed to come back home so I decided I would move to Texas and live with my uncle who I had only met once.
After working for a few months on the graveyard shift at Walmart, I had saved enough money to start looking at used cars.One afternoon, my uncle came home and told me a friend was selling a 1990 Toyota Corolla and asked if I wanted to see it. After a few weeks of searching for used cars with no success, I enthusiastically said “YES!” Right before we got there, he asked me if I could drive a manual car, afraid that I wouldn’t get a chance to see the car I told him I knew how to operate stick shift even though I didn’t.
As I sat in the driver’s seat, I attempted to turn over the ignition, but the car wouldn’t start. I tried multiple times with no success. It was after about my fifth time trying to turn the car on that my uncle asked, “if I was pressing down on the clutch hard enough?”.
“Clutch? What’s that?”, I told myself. I suppose it was the other pedal to the left of the brakes. As I pressed down the clutch, I turned the ignition over, and the car started right up. My heart was racing!
Right before he shut the door, he told me that “it was going to be hard to get out of first gear” since I hadn’t driven a manual car in a long time. If he only knew! I nodded at him trying to look like I wasn’t afraid but I was crapping my pants.
In the quarter mile that I drove the car down the street, I stalled the car six separate times. By the time I got back to where my uncle was standing, he asked me how it drove. I said, “great!”
So we bought the car.
There was only one problem. I had to drive it 15 miles down the interstate back to my uncle’s house. Playing it off like no big deal I drove the car all the way home in first gear! If you know anything about stick shift that is the worst thing you can do for the engine.
As weeks went by I got better and better at driving. To this day I’ve never told my uncle I couldn’t drive stick. I think he secretly knew I couldn’t drive a manual car but wanted to teach me a lesson.
And that lesson was if you can’t drive stick, don’t tell someone you know how to drive stick. I made learning how to drive a manual car harder than it had to be. Over the next month, I made my life so difficult every time I sat in the car. When all I had to do was tell my uncle I needed help learning how to drive it.
Sometimes we make life harder than it has to be.