When I’m asked how I drive a stick shift inÂ congested, traffic-laden Los Angeles, I respond with the fact thatÂ having a manual is actually the only way I could deal withÂ that trafficÂ effectively. I don’t think it’s ironic; I just think people don’t really know what they’re talking about. Probably 90% of the cars in Europe are manual – you don’t think they have bigger traffic problems in even smaller streets than we do?
If you just stay in the proper gear and coast, you press the brake pedal a lot less times than in an automatic because the gear just slows you down. So it saves you brakepad wear and it’s more fuel efficientÂ – plus,Â you have more control over your accelerations. To me, nothing is more frustrating in traffic than a slushbox. I don’t really care that I have a clutchÂ to depress with my other foot – it’s as much a part of accelerating and decelerating as the gas pedal. It makes me feelÂ as if driving were an activity, a skill to improve upon. Though I was tempted by the new technology that is, for instance, DSG or other transmissions that shift faster than a human ever could, I am not excited by paddle shifters. I get excited actually rowing through the gears. After all, if I can avoid being a robot inside my metal pod, I’ll take my chances.
I was on Facebook chat with an old friend from grade-to-high school and she asked me how I could fit anything in my Mini. See, there is plenty of room in Wisconsin and far less parallel parking to worry about (Can I justÂ brag aboutÂ the number of times I’ve fit into spots no one else could? It’s awesome.). The city is my context. And I don’t need a lot of carrying space as long as – *ahem* – I’m mooching rides from fellow snowboarding friends with their 4×4 vehicles to Mammoth during the winter. The Mini is great. Plus, I’ll pick any of them up and drive them around with the top down, any time they ask. Commuting in all forms is a team effort.