Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Drive Right On In

I have told you before that I can drive anything. My parents taught me to drive a car. I learned using an automatic transmission but manual transmissions were still in common use.

Of course my family had a car with a manual transmission as well as an automatic. My father had driven the automatic to a friend's house to help him work on a car he had.

My boyfriend and I took my youngest sister to the circus. She had such a good time but toward the end of the three ring shows she started to feel ill. We took her home.

By the time we got there she was really sick. My boyfriend went home. Mom decided that my sister needed to go to the hospital.

The problem was that we had no telephone and no way to reach my father. Mom told me to take the car and drive to get my father. Time was essential so I could not walk in time.

I did not know how to drive the manual transmission car. I knew the basics but I had never actually done it. How hard could it be?

Starting the car was no problem. But whenever I let off the clutch it would violently lurch and the motor would stall. It took me a few tries but finally I got the car to move forward.

Shifting gears caused more lurching but the car was in motion so it did not stall. By the time I made it to where my father was I was moving quite smoothly.

Daddy rushed home and my sister had an emergency appendectomy when they got her to the hospital. Poor thing was only 4 years old.

Because of my experience I have determined that the best way to learn to drive a car with a manual transmission is to have someone patient show you how. Explain the way to slowly let off the clutch as you step slowly on the gas. Then drive into the country where there is practically no traffic. Get out of the car and tell the student to come back and pick you up as soon as they feel comfortable with their performance.

They do not feel the pressure of having someone watching them. They will have to deal with the lurching either way but they will not be flustered at feeling the need to do well in someone else's eyes. It worked well for my children.

My boyfriend and I decided to marry. Neither of our families had much money and a lot in the way of children. Our wedding would not be expensive but I wanted a new dress. We needed rings. I prefer a plain gold band. I bought his and he bought mine. They were matching gold bands with rounded edges.

In order to pay for what we wanted we had to have extra money. My husband found a neighboring farmer who needed his bales of hay collected and stacked. Being young and strong we took the job for 10 cents for each bale.

The farmer provided the equipment needed. There was a flat bed truck with an elevator attached to one side toward the back of the flat bed.

My husband told me that all I needed to do was drive the truck so that the elevator could pick up the bales. It would lift them up and drop them at the back of the flat bed. He would be there to pick them up and stack them neatly on the truck. Easy enough.

I had never driven a truck before much less having to watch out the side mirror to make sure I lined up properly with the bales so the elevator could scoop them up. I learned. And I created a monster... my husband and I created a truck driver in me.

When he took a job driving an eighteen wheeler he was in heaven. He was able to travel the country seeing places he had not seen before. I was content to stay home with the children. Unfortunately he missed us.

His solution was for me to learn to drive those big trucks so the kids and I could go with him sometimes. So I learned and got the necessary driver's license so it could happen. I am still not great at backing up with a trailer behind me but I manage.

He finally stopped driving truck when he came home one weekend and our daughter was afraid of him. Soon he owned a junk yard. We had all manner of vehicles there. Tow trucks, hilos, and trucks for hauling. Some were regular trucks and there was usually an eighteen wheeler for transporting automobile carcasses to be reduced for recycling of the metal. I drove them all. I can even hook up cars for towing.

We had one customer who bought a lot of the motors from the scrap cars. He had a side business where he repaired cars. He rebuilt good motors from us and used them in the cars. He would bring in his pickup and after choosing the motors he wanted he left the truck. As soon as we loaded all the motors for him he would come get it.

One day I was especially tired after towing cars all day. When I pulled into the yard for the last time of the day my husband informed me that I had to deliver the motors because the motorman would not allow anyone but me to drive his truck.

I sighed in exasperation but agreed. As soon as my husband was ready to follow me so I would have a ride home I would be ready. Then I was informed that HE had a hard day and was going to the bar. The motorman would take me home.

I was furious. When I got home I informed my children that their father did not know it but I just quit And I did.

After we divorced I went to work for a friend of ours who also was in the scrap car business. He owned three junkyards. I managed one.

For a while I had one full time employee and borrowed what I needed from one of the other yards when we were really busy. On days when we loaded the carcasses for transport I usually had at least four helpers.

We would pick the car up with a hilo then back the eighteen wheeler under it so the hilo could stack it on the pile where we wanted it. I am not good at backing up.

I called for assistance but the owner (my "friend") said he could not spare anyone to help. I would have to make do.

The employee I had was my nephew who was not much more than a teenager. We set about loading the truck. I called a couple of times more to remind my boss that I needed help. No one came and my nephew and I had all but one car on the truck.

Suddenly there stood several of the guys from the other yard. The one who would be driving the load to the crusher came toward the truck to take over and back it under the lasr car.

I looked at him and said, " Back off!" He got a sheepish look on his face and took a step back. I backed that truck up like I was an expert!

Then I climbed down and smiled sweetly. "It's all yours." I went back into my office. My nephew came in and we laughed until it was time to go home.

While I was still married and still working for my husband I had an adventure. We had a stake truck. Those are the trucks that have a flatbed and stakes that look like a fence all the way around. I drove it often because I liked it.

The wooden sides were painted a pretty red. They rose about four and a half feet from the bed of the truck. There were heavy-duty metal hooks on the sides. They were used to anchor ropes when tying a tarp over the top of a load.

I had been running errands most of the day and I was ready to be finished. My last stop was the bank. I just had to make a deposit so I used the drive-through window.

There was a long line but it felt good to have a few moments of peace after a busy day. We inched along and finally it was my turn to pull up to the window.

I misjudged the distance because I forgot about the hooks on the stakes. As i pulled up to the window one of the hooks caught the top corner of the window. It ripped the bank window away from the bank. It was hanging at an angle in the spot it used to be.

I jumped out of the truck and rushed to make sure the teller was not hurt. She was huddled in a far corner of her little area with hers knees up and her arms in front of her to protect herself. The poor thing was shaking like a leaf. But she was fine otherwise.

The bank was very nice. They did not expect my to pay for the damages. I was thankful. After the police decided that i was not trying to rob the bank they left. And I had an adventure to tell you about.


  1. An exceptional life time. I attribute it to knowing you have to do what must be done. Well done, by the way.

    1. Thank you. I have had some really ridiculous things happen to me.

  2. My wife Jilda learned to drive a manual transmission the day we bought her first new car. It was a Honda Civic with a manual transmission.
    She drove that baby off the lot. Like you there were fits and starts, but she got the hang of it quickly.

    1. A little coordination and a little confidence is all it takes really.

  3. You've hot a pile of brave expetiences there, pretty not so ordinary. Everything was near to perfection until the bank incident. Glad no one was hurt, neither the teller nor you :)

    1. I felt so bad for the teller huddled in the corner. It is funny now and if I am truthful it was funny then but she was scared silly.