Well today was another "first". I drove a manual transmission car for the first time since getting my store-bought leg.
I used to drive sticks almost exclusively, everything from small cars to large trucks, both civilian commercial and military. I preferred stick shifts but as luck would have it, back when I got hurt I actually owned a vehicle with an automatic transmission, only the second such vehicle I'd ever owned in my life. So at least I didn't have to deal with clutches right out of the gate. I'd always meant to get reacquainted with one, but I hadn't gotten around to it yet. Until today.
I took Nicki to lunch today, and since she didn't know downtown Washington DC traffic very well, she asked me if I wouldn't mind driving. Now being a guy, how could I refuse? It's just a guy thing that we gotta drive. But it wasn't until I'd agreed to do so and went to get in the car that I realized that not only was her car one of those little Toyotas (I'm an American car guy all the way), it was also a stick shift.
Well being a guy, I couldn't really back down. I'd said I'd drive, and the more I thought about it, the more I became confident that I could pull this off. And it's not like it was my car, so what the heck...
It took a few practice shifts to get the hang of where the clutch pedal was since I couldn't actually feel it anymore, but it seemed fairly straightforward. Granted, I did miss the clutch once and hit the brake instead, bringing the car to an abrupt stop in the middle of the road, but there was harm to us. The people on the tour bus right behind us probably weren't too happy when their driver locked up his brakes to avoid drop-kicking the Toyota, but life's full of surprises. Welcome to DC, tourists.
But I quickly got it down well enough to drive in traffic, and other then a tendency to ride the clutch if I don't remind myself to take my foot off the pedal, it went well. Much fun, and I got to take Nicki to my favorite Chinese restaurant, The Magic Gourd. (Best General Tso's Chicken I've ever found.)
All in all, it was a good day despite the rain. The food was great and so was the company. Nicki did seem to have a little trouble with some ice at the restaurant, but I won't go there. (Heh!) And afterwards, as a bonus, the rain stopped long enough to let me grab a nice little run around the Tidal Basin and Hains Point while I was down there. Sometimes life's just nice.