Just over a year ago, I either was really dumb or took a great leap of faith in myself. I bought a car with a standard transmission without knowing how to drive a stick shift. Needless to say, this “do or die” situation I put myself in greatly expedited my learning rate. By day two, I was near tears and convinced I would kill myself as well as everyone else on the road. By day four, I was a pro.
As everyone predicted, the inevitable happened: I became a manual transmission elitist. Yes, I do think my driving skills are superior to yours and no, I don’t care what cool features your vehicle has; if it’s an automatic, it’s lame. Case closed.
I’m one of those lucky people who absolutely loves my job – I work for a car dealership in Brockport. Sure, I have my regular tasks, but for the most part, every day is something different. In order to finish something I had been working on this past week, I needed to briefly move one of the SUVs on our lot. No biggie. I grabbed the keys, hopped inside, and was astounded by what I realized – I had forgotten how to drive an automatic.
After a few minutes of awkwardly shuffling my feet and accidentally flooring the gas pedal, it all came back to me, but I had to laugh at how the basic fundamentals of driving had thrown me for such a loop. The more I thought about it though, I realized I wasn’t simply bored by the idea of an automatic transmission; I was actually slightly creeped out by it.
What does an automatic transmission do? It allows the car to shift gears on its own. No shifting, no clutch, just put it in drive and go. Forget the fact that this immensely takes away from the driving experience; it’s also putting a large amount of trust into a machine which for all intents and purposes is just a big hunk of metal with a motor and some oil.
Apparently I’m not the only one who thinks essentially giving a car a mind of its own is a little scary. Who could possibly forget Stephen King’s classic, Christine? I’m sure most car owners can understand the feelings of closeness one develops with their automobile – hell, I’ve had full-out conversations with mine – but the day Jemma (yes, she has a name) cock blocks me by attempting to kill my love interest, is the day we are going to have some pretty big issues. I’m not worried, though; Jemma is a stick shift, and therefore, does not have a mind of her own.
It seems as though homicidal automobiles were quite a problem for Mr. King. Anyone remember his made for TV movie, Trucks a few years later? Once again, these vehicles develop minds of their own and begin attacking their owners. First they’re shifting themselves; next, they’re killing your friends. Where will this madness end?
However, I admit that I stand corrected. The wonders of Netflix recently introduced me to a little gem called Rubber. This time, it’s not the entire car that’s obsessive and demonic; instead, it’s just one single tire. If this is the case, it looks like all drivers are now doomed: automatic, standard, or otherwise. Damn.
Not enough science fiction in your weekly diet? Head straight to the Dryden Theatre this upcoming Wednesday, 5/16, to check out Faust! You won’t be disappointed with this mid 90s Czech tale of alchemy, puppets, and the occult. Be sure to let us know what you think!