I Need Your Help Making a Big Decision…

To start I will tell you that I have decided that driving a stick shift car is analagous to practicing yoga for me.  I am pretty bad at both but I am intrigued by the humility practicing each bestows upon me.  And I know I am get better at either with more time and more practice and more humility.  I will never be a driving instructor and even less likely will I ever be a yoga instructor.  But I generally I enjoy the hard work, brain power, and sweat that goes into each.

With all that being said, it looks like the rental company WV is using for me has come up with a car this week that has an automatic transmission.  So I can trade in my little silver bullet for something that is much more comfortable or I can keep my little first car.

Now I know that approximately an average of 50-60 people read this blog everyday and I would like at least 15 of you to comment with an opinion for me!  I’d certainly appreciate it and might even find the time to send you all a personal e-mailed thanks for participating in the Socratic Method.  And if 15 people have already commented, please don’t feel like you don’t need to respond.  I want YOUR opinion more than anyone elses, yeah…YOU!

So here are a few points for you to consider before weighing in on the keeping or trading of the car:

-Before I moved here, I only drove a stick shift once.

-I only got my driver’s license on June 17, 2008 -so I am not a great driver period.

-I wake up thinking about how to back out of whatever space I parked the night before.

-Last night I had nightmares or conscious thoughts (it was late/early in the morning) about how many mistakes I’ve made with the transmission and the driving and how near real problems have been or could be in the future.  I can only cling to the divine protection I have been given so far.  This is not to say I haven’t tried desperately to be safe and engaged and careful.  But I am not a driving whiz especially on South African roads with South African drivers and South African signs.

-Last night was the first time the idea of driving (past or future) was scary. 

-Normally I love it, truly.

-Like I said above, I love the challenge and humility driving a stick shift offers.

-I plan on living overseas most of my life where the majority of cars have stick shifts.

-But I will probably spend the next four or five years in the states attending medical school where I can drive an automatic or take public transportation.

-I don’t want to give up on the learning process, but I don’t know if it would just be safer to switch back to an automatic.

So, what do YOU think?  Keep the car or trade in for the automatic?

Here she is, by the way, my current little stick shifter.

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13 Responses to “I Need Your Help Making a Big Decision…”

  1. I would trade it in a heartbeat honestly. Especially since you are a new driver!

  2. How much trouble are you having with the stick shift? If you’re getting around okay, I would say – keep it. Knowing how to drive a stick shift is a handy skill to have. If you decide to drive an automatic when you come back to the States, it’ll be a breeeeze!

  3. I say you should go for the automatic. you would just feel better and not have nightmares anymore.

  4. Keep the stick unless you’re really worried about crashing it.

    Consider it on-the-job training for your future travels – most places in Africa don’t have such nice roads and definitely don’t have automatic transmissions.

  5. havetheythoughtofthisyet Says:

    I think you can learn and will. You can overcome to anxiety once you’re comfortable and confident in your ability to drive the car!

  6. rob sorbo Says:

    You are more of an environmentalist than most people I know. After looking at that car, I’d say it gets superb gas-mileage (and stick-shifts are generally better for that). So, for Jen the environmentalist, I’d say keep it.

    Another thing to consider is money. If you are currently making $0 car payments and trading in would give you a payment, then don’t do it. BUT, if you are making payments, and trading in would cause no payments, then do it.

    Basically, I’d say that you should make a wise decision rather than a convenient decision.

  7. If you’re waking up worrying about it, I’d say it’s not worth it. Trade it in. Just getting your license, driving in a different country, and driving a stick is a lot to take on at once. Not that I think you can’t do it. 😉

  8. Well, those are good questions and you’ve obviously considered things well.

    As much as it puts my heart in my throat reading your driving stories (and thinking about it), I am of the opinion you should keep you stick shift. It is true that once you learn to drive a stick shift you will always be able to.

    Having said that —— you are the best judge of how much this driving is affecting you and your work. If it is going to be too stressful for you, or you think the ‘challenge’ of it is going to last longer than it should —- then switch. The most important thing is that you can concentrate on and do your work.

    Thanks for the shout-out, by the way. I feel so special, now that my name is on the title of a blog.

  9. Sarah Elmore Says:

    Hi! Not sure if I can comment without my own blog, but here goes. It sounds like from your list of reasons, you’ve already decided. You convinced me anyway that an automatic would be way better. I vote for you to trade it in.

  10. go with the automatic and use a stick when you get back to the states.

  11. Caitlin Says:

    So here is my input on your car Jen. I drove a stick shift right after I got my license. While it was ok for the most part I didn’t get used to the clutch after several months. I continued to stall at every stop sign/light until one day I stalled on a left turn out of a private drive and got creamed by a big truck. I was ok, but the car was totaled and the accident was ruled as my fault (because apparently I failed to yield at the stop sign I had sat at for 20 minutes before pulling out). Anyway, my advice is to practice on an automatic for a few months, get comfortable with driving, and then at some future date try a stick shift again. They’re tricky and I think too distracting for new drivers.

  12. Tootsie Says:

    Welllllllllllll………..in the words of my mother dear Jennifer, she said “TRADE IT IN!” You have too many hurdles to cross already and you can easily learn how to drive stick shift when you come back to the states where there are safer places to learn and more familiar people who can teach you. I wouldn’t worry about it. Do the automatic and your time there (and your sleep) will go A LOT smoother.

  13. Hello friend!

    I was going to say to endure and keep with the stick until I read Caitlyn’s post. Driving a stick is definitely useful especially in Africa I’m sure, but scary things happen all the time. This won’t be your only opportunity to learn to drive a stick, and like someone else said you can always learn how to drive one in the US where roads/road signs are a little more familiar. Plus in knowing you, I can see you really wanting to explore your surroundings. Do you think you will do that with the stick that is giving you nightmares? I’m a little worried you may get VW PTSD (says the social worker).

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