Friday Funny: Driving

I have come to realize that I never wrote about some of the most interesting things that have happened to me while living in France. So, I’m hoping to at least try and play catch up with some of the best stories which I have yet to share.

Some of them will be funny, some of them will be informational and all of them will be embarrassing for me.

The best story, in retrospect of course, is the story about why I can't and don't drive.  We will start at the beginning.

When Cornel bought our car I was still living in South Carolina.  I asked all the important questions like "what brand?", "what color", etc. I never thought of asking "what kind?” as in manual or automatic.

You see, I'm that typical American girl who does not know how to drive a manual car.  When Cornel went to buy the car he assumed that I knew how to drive manual cars I just preferred not to.

One afternoon we headed out to an empty parking lot and Cornel tried to teach me how to drive.  I wasn't in the car five minutes before he (and I as a result) panicked that I would "kill" the car.  We switched places and my first lesson ended just as soon as it begun.  To this day, he claims that the car just "doesn't drive the same". 

One day over dinner with the girls I was recounting my first driving lesson.  They all laughed of course at the "silly American". 

"Driving a manual car is soooo easy.  We could teach you".

Famous last words, as the expression goes.

Since my friend Sophie had an older car, a Renault 5, she said it would be no problem to teach me.  We set the date to meet at our office's parking lot on a Saturday afternoon for  my first lesson.

source: Wikipedia

I remember the anticipation leading up to that day.  I was so confident that I would leave a "driver" and we could put this nightmare behind us.

Cornel drove me to the parking lot in complete and utter disbelief that Sophie would be able to teach me what he could not.

As I sat in the car, Sophie went over the basics.

Gas, Break, Clutch...check!

First, second, third, fourth and fifth gears...check!

Reverse and Neutral....check!

Simultaneous coordination of clutch and gas...check!

What a piece of cake.  Did I mention I hadn't yet turned on the car?

Turn on the car...check!

As Sophie explained what I needed to do to put the car in first gear, I heard it.  {CRUNCH}! 

Sophie:  "Step on the gas"

Me:  "I am but it's not working"

All this was happening as the car was gently drifting backwards through the parking lot.  I could see Cornel laughing.  I stopped the car and we put on the parking break.  Sophie & I switched places so that she could turn the car back on.  Cornel casually joked, "the car should be moving forwards not backwards".

When Sophie got back into the car it wouldn't start.  There was nothing.  In less than ONE minute I had killed the car she has had for more than 15 years.  Dead.

I felt horrible.  Actually horrible can't even describe how I felt.  The tow truck was called and he immediately took the little Renault 5 to a garage.

I had apparently broken some sort of chain, cost of repair 300 euros.  It could have been worse.

I went home and cried for hours.

Sophie never again offered to teach me to drive and I have yet to try again.  I have since given up all hope of ever learning to drive a manual car.

Am I the only one that can't drive a manual car?
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Melissa Hall said...

Thank you for this post! I too, cannot drive a manual car. After many attempts, I have given up! I thought I was the only person in the world!

When we were making our preparations to come to Toulouse, we looked at purchasing a car but became discouraged when we found that everything was manual. :(

Sarah said...

I have never even tried to drive manually. My dad and brother both know how, but I've never asked to learn. I guess I'm another "silly American", hehe.

Shell said...

You are definitely not the only one- I haven't ever even tried to drive a manual!

va_grown said...

Ha!Ha! My husband and I were just having this conversation! I've never learned and at this point I don't want to. He says that's ridiculous. He can drive anything, of course. Tractor, trailer, any size truck, you name it. Not me. I almost backed over him trying to help with the tractor and the post-pounder one time (he says it wasn't that close, but I cried for an hour).

He wants our next truck to be a manual because it's better at towing (or some such thing) and I am dead set against it because I won't be able to drive it. He says I'll learn. I say I've learned to doctor sheep, deliver baby cows, kill chickens, grow vegetables, cook lamb, and raise kids since we've got married--I think I've learned enough.

Ksam said...

You are not alone!! I've tried to learn several times now, but to no avail. The first time was when I was 15 and my dad tried to teach me to drive a tractor and I almost drove us into the ditch. Then when I decided to move to France, I gave it another go with a very patient friend - but was unable to even make it out of the parking lot. And then a year or two after my arrival in France, I wanted to be more independent so my (now-ex) boyfriend tried to teach me in a field full of cows. Since the third try was not a charm, I just gave up and shortly after we bought an automatic car and that solved that problem. ;) I would still like to learn someday though...

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