March 10th, 2010. It was 11 pm and Marieke wanted a Mcflurry. I needed to practice my manual driving skills, so we hopped into her car and sped off into the night. Okay, not really.
I managed to back out of our long driveway alright, but in the midst of switching from reverse to 1st gear, I killed the engine. It’s so easy to kill the engine driving a manual because you need just the right amount of pressure on the gas pedal before you can completely release the clutch or else it dies. Having driven an automatic for the 3+ years that I have been driving, it seems so strange having to worry about moving both the left and right foot in perfect harmony so the car doesn’t die or make funny sounds.
Once I restarted the engine, we were off down the highway. It was my fourth time actually driving Marieke’s car, and she told me that she was impressed how good I was at manual driving for a beginner because when she started she was really bad. I told her that’s because I actually know how to drive an auto and if it hadn’t known how to drive one, I would be just as bad as she was when she first started driving.
We managed to make it to McDonalds without incident and with me shifting gears most of the time instead of Marieke who in the other lessons did it for me while I got used to pressing the clutch and gas pedals.
When we got there, we met our friend James who said that this McDonalds ran out of ice cream for Mcflurries and he and his crew were going to another McDonalds(aka Mackers in Australia) for some. Marieke and I decided to follow in his car, which made me kind of nervous because it would be the first time driving further than that McDonalds, and I would be driving on major roads no less. Good thing it was so late at night and there was practically no one on the road which made me less nervous.
It actually wasn’t too bad driving there and then home, though for the most part our friend’s car was far ahead of us. Marieke had to help me out more with shifting gears, especially when we were turning in intersections.
The scariest parts were the few times when we were stopped at a red light and then it would go green so I would try to take off, but I took my foot too fast off the clutch and the engine would die, which meant I needed to start the car again. Luckily, in these moments there were no cars behind me otherwise I would have felt a lot more freaked out than I was!
Overall, driving on the left side isn’t that hard because it make sense to drive on the left when you are sitting in the driver’s seat on the right. There’s also a ton of “KEEP LEFT” signs which reminds you to stay on the left. The difficult part is learning how to drive manual and luckily, I’m left handed so switching gears with my left hand doesn’t feel too strange.
I can’t wait until I feel more comfortable driving manual though!