Monday, April 7, 2008

How Danny Thomas Almost Killed Me ...

Well OK, it wasn't actually the actor, but the Danny Thomas party rental truck. It just sounded so much more interesting to say it was Danny Thomas don't you think?

Anyway, here's what happened.

I was driving through the park one day... oh wait, no.. I was driving through the mountains on my way home.

Normally this isn't cause for concern. However, today I was driving my husbands wife killing contraption car, which is always a cause for caution when I'm on the roads.

You see, his car is a stick shift.


I do not do the whole clutch, shifting gears thing. They are dangerous devices and should be outlawed!!

Ever since I was 15 and took my first driving lesson in one, I've hated them. The lesson started out innocently enough. In the beginning I did pretty good, tootling around the hills of my neighborhood having a jolly time.

At the end of the lesson however, I needed to make a stop. There I was, the first one stopped at a light to turn left.

3 miles of cars were behind me waiting their turn.

Can you guess what happened?

Yep. I stalled the car. Not once. Not twice. But 5 times! This meant all 3 miles of cars, myself included missed the light 5 times. Much honking and swearing ensued. Needless to say I was traumatized. Beyond repair. I NEVER drove a stick again.

Until ...

I married a man who insists that sticks are the only way to go. Ugh.

He's been very sweet about this phobia of mine, and even tried to teach me again how to drive his car. Which I'm proud to say I'm really good at!

Unless I need to stop.

Our first year together we took a road trip to Seattle. Since we took his car, he did most of the driving. Well one day in a fit of extreme insanity generosity I offered to do some of the driving so he could rest.

At the time it didn't seem like a big deal, as we were driving on a flat road going through some mountain valley.

Well, good things come to an end, and we came upon a little town with one stoplight. Of course the light turned red, just as I approached. And yes I was the first one again, with cars behind me.

Naturally I stalled the car, several times. Once I stopped crying we finally got going, I was immediately pulled over by a cop.


He thought I was drunk! Meekly I explained that no I haven't been drinking kind sir, I just don't know how to drive this F%$#@!* stick shift.

He let me go.

So today I'm driving his car again, because mine, the Black Beast may he rest in peace,


disintegrated while I was driving to the grocery store one day. Poor thing it held on as long as it could. It just gave a final chug as I drove across the intersection and then expired. I'm hoping someday to resurrect him, but until then it's my husbands car for me.

Okay, so I got a little off track, but you needed that background information to understand my fear of the manual transmission right? Just say yes, ok?

Anyhoo, back to Danny Thomas ...

So I'm driving home up the hill, when I approach a line of cars, led by the Danny Thomas Party Rental truck. Judging from the angry noises issuing from under the hood, that perhaps 4th gear may be just a tad high for the slow pace I was now going, I went to shift into 2nd gear. That's when all hell broke loose.

I don't know what the F%$# I did, but one thing I did NOT do was shift into 2nd. Instead, the car started to do the death chug, to combat this, I stepped on gas harder so It wouldn't stall. Uh.. Right..

Now I have to stop here and say, that I was on a hill roughly as steep as Lombard Street in San Francisco. If you are unfamiliar with that particular road, just imagine a street that goes straight up to the sky and that's Lombard.

So here I am fighting with this car to keep going and of course it stalls. Right in the middle of the road!

Naturally I panicked. I restarted and stalled. Restarted and rolled down the hill, then stalled. All the time keeping in mind that at any second a car can come whizzing around the corner as they are wont to do in the mountains, and ram right into me.

Since the hill was so steep, every time I tried again, the car would roll backwards, causing me to panic more. Finally after using the emergency brake and some fancy footwork, after the 4th attempt I got it going and made it home safe and sound.

And thank god, because if I had been hit from behind, Danny Thomas,


would have a lot to answer for!!


Michael C said...

I can see why you would rather not drive stick shifts! I remember my first driving lesson and how my dad wasn't paying any attention and had me drive on a street that led to a very crowded freeway overpass. Yep, the light turned red and I couldn't master the 'friction point' and kept rolling backward. It took me a year to be able to drive anywhere near that street again.

~Static~ said...

Yowza! How does your hubby feel about the abuse you are putting his car's clutch & engine through? Why, you might be responsible for almost killing him with a heart attack.

I also wonder how Danny Thomas feels about almost being responsible for killing you? That's right, he's been dead since '91. Are you sure you weren't responsible for his death?



Michele said...

Michael-See I knew I wasn't the only one out there! I feel for you. Just out of curiosity do you drive automatic now? Oh and I still shudder every time I pass the dreaded stop light that I stalled at 5 times. The anger and resentment fired at me that day, by the other motorists is forever burned in my memory..

Static-I know! You'd think he would ban me from his car and get my car fixed, but somehow he insists that I learn to drive his. Will he ever learn? Oh well. At least we just replaced the clutch. Maybe after I wear the new one out next month, he'll think again.

Yes Danny Thomas is dead, but see he came back as a party rental truck, as a secret plot to kill me. I just know it. Perhaps he still holds a grudge for what happened in 91?


I know how you feel! I drove a stick for years and always panicked and stalled on hills. Glad you made it.

Michael C said...

I got used to a stick eventually, but after being stuck in stop and go traffic all the time, I converted to automatic. FOR LIFE!!!!

Jenn Thorson said...

Nice piece, Michele!-- as a neurotic 30-something myself, I find myself strangely familiar with the thought-processes at work here. And hey, if Danny Thomas gives you any trouble, you just let me know. We'll take care of him. :) (PS- I added you to my blogroll.)

Pete said...

Yikes - You seem to have ALMOST as much trouble with cars as I do. Better be careful...

-The Rev.

~Static~ said...

Danny is rolling over in his grave.

I think it's great your husband is willing to let you drive his vehicle, even after a clutch burn-out. Perhaps you guys should trade it for a car that has an automatic?

Michele said...

Health Nut-It's good to be understood. :) my husband thinks I'm crazy, because I'm afraid of stalling . If there is any incline what so ever, and I have to stop, I promise I will stall at least 3 times.

Jenn- You'll be the first one I come to if Danny messes with me. And thank you for the compliments. :) I also added you to my roll. :)

Pete-You are definitely the master of car trouble, but I'm tailgating you. Better watch out!

Static-I'm going to give my husband your email, so you can talk some sense into him. Buying an automatic would be an excellent idea! He doesn't listen when I mention it though. Somehow he just doesn't see reason. Such a shame.

~Static~ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
~Static~ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
~Static~ said...

What I meant to say was perhaps he has faith that you will learn the art of driving a clutch soon?

Mikiye Creations said...

I know, I should NOT make fun because you were genuinely scared to death!
...I learned to drive on a stick and I remember my first trip to San Francisco for a training meeting...YUP, ON THE TOP of the BIG HILL! My palms were sweating, I was beat RED and my girlfriend/co-worker and I kept saying, "I think I can! I think I can!" did I mention feeling like I was driving at an 80 degree angle in first gear?!
Now it's no problem...
...don't feel bad, my BF can't drive a stick to save his life!

Michele said...

Static- he must have faith in me, though I don't know why. Yesterday I darn near wrecked his transmission while putting it into reverse. I made the absolute worst sound. :O

Mikiye-LOL! Oh man, you are seriously braver than me. I can't imagine attempting to drive in SF, It's hard enough in an automatic, those hills are something else. I don't know what they were thinking when they designed the streets. Obviously not of stick shifts!