[DWJ] Gears (was Re: Lurkers on the List)

Minnow minnow at belfry.org.uk
Thu Mar 29 12:57:26 EDT 2007


EGH wrote:

>Well, that's my other comfort about the pain of learning on a stick shift
>(proper gears?).  Chances are I'll end up living in Europe or the Middle
>East for some time, and if I want to drive overseas I've heard I'm pretty
>much going to have to learn to change gears while I drive.  So forth I
>go...lurching all the way.

Good luck!

It's a good idea to know that manual gears (stick shift) *exist*.  We have
a very sad story here about the poor lady from America who hired a car at
Heathrow and set out for Bristol, a hundred miles away.  The police found
her in floods of tears on the hard shoulder: the car wouldn't go over about
30mph, it made a terrible roaring noise at more than about 15mph, and it
had now run out of fuel.  She was really frightened and had had a horrible
hour or so.

After a short time the police identified her problem.  She had driven the
whole way in second gear, because she simply hadn't realised that the car
she'd hired wasn't an automatic and she'd never changed gear in her life.
How she got into second at the start was something nobody really
understood, and she didn't know herself how she'd done it: she put the
thing into what she thought was "drive", she said, and presumably the
clutch allowed it for some reason.

In the other direction, as it were:

Anyone who plans to use an automatic car only for a while, there's a really
important piece of advice: do not use both your feet in the automatic if
you plan to go back to a manual car afterwards.  If you accustom yourself
to one foot for the accelerator and the other for the brake instead of one
for the clutch and the other for both brake and accelerator, sure as
unicorns there will come the day you try to hit the brakes hard in the
manual car, and depress the clutch instead because it's where your feet
expect the brake to be.  My ma-in-law hired an automatic car in America for
some months and on her return to England and the family manual, she hit
what she thought was the brake at a T-junction onto a major road with fast
traffic on it, only it was the clutch her left foot was on and she had a
write-off-the-car, lucky-to-survive experience because she rolled
gracefully out into the path of a large Rover.

Maybe the safest course is just never to hire a car.  :-(

Minnow





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