Stick Chick

In 1977 my best high school friend Kenny Jay Crawford taught me how to drive a stick in his dad’s bullet proof farm truck which happened to be a ’59 Ford pickup and a total pain in the ass to drive. This was for the sole purpose of using me as a hay mule, but that was okay; even back then in rural America not many of my female friends could handle a manual transmission so it made me feel like a badass. To paraphrase from the Red Green Show, “If boys didn’t find me pretty they could sure find me handy”. My love affair with the clutch solidified in the 80’s when my now ex husband bought me a 1977 Camaro with a 350 and a Muncie lift reverse complete with competition clutch. And headers. I was officially the coolest mom in elementary school.

Every car I have owned since then must have a manual transmission and both my car and truck are five speeds. I like driving and I love being in control of and engaged with my vehicle; crappy road conditions are a million times better when you can dictate what your wheels are doing and insurance company statistics can already tell you that people who drive a stick are lower insurance risks out of the box likely because they are paying attention. My daughter is of the exact same mind and was recently frustrated by the new car choices for clutch lovers; the fact that it is getting harder and harder to find cars with a manual transmission option is both appalling and alarming.

Equally appalling was the experience I had today after waiting an hour and a half to get an inspection on my truck at the local Valvoline shop; the young lady who was the inspection tech was unable to drive a stick and therefore could not complete the inspection. I had never heard of such a thing! ¬†She assured me that the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles had disallowed her from completing inspections on vehicles with manual transmissions because she had been unable to complete that part of the test. My first response was, “Girlfriend, get behind the wheel because you are about to get a lesson”, but of course she was on the clock and could not do it. To her credit she quickly called a couple other of their local shops to find one with an open bay; I was able to get my inspection done at a shop about four miles away by a cheerful young man who was apologetic about the inconvenience. But it blew my mind that someone in the business could not drive a stick.

I guess the meme I have seen on the internet about a stick shift being the ultimate anti-theft device is laughably true.