In preparation for our upcoming trip to South Africa and Namibia, I needed a refresher course on driving a standard transmission vehicle. Part of this trip will involve renting a car – probably a standard – and driving from Cape Town to Windhoek. With lots of stops along the way, Junkii and I, and our co-traveller Jenn, will need to spell each other off, taking turns behind the wheel.
That’s fine, but my co-travellers have both had plenty of experience driving a stick. I’ll likely only be a third-string driver – and mostly highway driving at that – since I haven’t driven a standard in about 20 years!
My sister taught me how when she lived in Toronto, back in’92. But even then, my practice was minimal. I mean, it’s not like I had regular access to a car back then.
My mom always told me that, once you learn how to drive a standard, you never forget. Not that I have cause to doubt her, but I wasn’t sure how true that was when my friend Steve agreed to take me out for a road lesson last weekend.
Steve gave me lots of good advice as we made our way to the practice area he had picked out. He explained some of the intricacies about what to do at a stop light and how to take a turn – all really valuable info – before finally showing me how to get started without stalling.
Once I got to the practical part of the lesson though, I found out just how right my mother had been. I’m sure Steve’s lessons were a big help, but I quickly felt comfortable with getting the car moving. I know damn well that wasn’t the case when I learned back in ’92! So muscle memory must have played a big part in why it came so easily this time.
Thanks for taking the time with me, Steve. It’s much appreciated. We practiced for a bit, and I now feel confident that I can get us where we need to go when the time comes. But it might not be quite so straightforward in southern Africa. There they drive on the opposite side of the road!
Junkii learned to drive on that side back when he lived in Malaysia, so he’ll probably be fine. Jenn might have more trouble getting used to it. As for me, I’m not sure. Will it be easier to sort out the left-handed stick or trickier, given how little practice I’ve had with the right-handed one to begin with?
Guess we’ll find out soon enough!