So recently I had an incident with a Deer in my car. Long story short the car got totaled, and I just got a replacement. This replacement car happened to be ANOTHER Mazda 3 (ok so apparently I love Mazda’s). This one has the updated skyactiv engine that gets infinity gas mileage and a few small cosmetic updates but is almost the exact same car, except it’s a manual.
After getting the car I told my parents I got a manual and my Dad’s response was “Chris, why the heck did you get a manual?” I brushed the question off at the time but really started thinking about it after a while. I even googled “Advantages of owning a Manual” and got a few results that are not really all that true:
1 – Better gas milage…this USED to be true but now auto’s are mostly better than Manuals
2 – Cheaper….ok true
3 – Women find it sexier…only partially confirmed, need more investigation
4 – You can do sweet car maneuvers….only applies to rear wheel drive cars
There’s also always some vaguely “it’s manly” reason for driving a manual. At first I sort of piled that on with the “Women find it Sexy” BS pile but after driving a bit I had some clarity. Now, I never had a manual car before, I knew how to do it and had driven one successfully a handful of times(plus I ride motor bikes) but it had never been my main whip. As I quickly found out there’s a big difference between knowing how to drive a manual, and being able to drive one: you forget you’re in a manual.
That is I was fine driving around and what not, I knew all the maneuvers and techniques until I got into a difficult situation: like making a U-turn in downtown Charleston on some ancient narrow street. I’d be pre-occupied with whatever and just clutch out too quick and stall out…then get taunted by drunk people walking on the street.
That’s when it kind-a sort-a clicked why a manual car = man (it has nothing to do with being man…just maturing). In order to learn, you just have to drive it a bunch until the whole process becomes second nature. It doesn’t get cemented in your head by the 20 times you start from a stop or incline right, it’s from the one embarrassing time you get it wrong. It’s demoralizing and embarrassing, but you cant sit around a wallow about how much of a dumbass you are for buying a manual car, there are cars behind you, you just have to get over it, restart the car, and try again.
Now that I’ve gotten past that initial painful learning curve I can honestly say I enjoy it. I’m still slow off line and a little herky jerky, but it’s now only mildly annoying to ride along with me. It really takes more focus, driving isn’t just something I have to do while I surf facebook, it’s something I look forward to. In the same vain that hipsters love their fixed gear bicycles, that cafe racer guys put up with their bike braking down once a month, the enjoyment is in doing the thing, not the destination.