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My parents owned a car and a truck—both with standard transmissions—so when I was learning to drive, I had to figure out the intricate use of three pedals on the floorboard. Dad had learned to drive a stick shift in the wheat fields of Eastern Washington, so he volunteered to teach me.
Airport—with - Runways - Nothing - Clutch-using - Driver
We went to the abandoned airport—with long runways and nothing to crash into. Like a new clutch-using driver, I killed the engine repeatedly. We lurched and stopped. Lurched and stopped. Dad made me laugh—sparing me humiliation and keeping me willing to try.
It wasn’t long before I’d mastered the art of “not killing it” to get the car moving. Then it was learning how to shift—which involved some grinding of gears—again my Dad supplied the jokes and we were smiling at my lame attempts.
Streets - Neighborhood - Stop - Signs - Practice
Soon, we were touring side streets and using quiet neighborhood stop signs as start-up practice. Things were going great. Confidence was built. Then Dad introduced me to a stop sign perched on a slight hill. No one was behind me. I rolled back before the engine engaged—I knew I would have hit the car behind me, if one had been there. Dad winked and made me feel better.
During our long drives on country roads and city streets we talked about life and my unseen future. Soon, I’d mastered shifting and those pesky stop signs on hills. We decided to celebrate at Dairy Queen.
Dad - North - Cliff - Road - Name
Dad instructed me to turn down North Cliff Road. Let the name assure you that “cliff” is accurate. The curving road is also lined with tall trees, and an exceedingly sharp decline. I’d never driven down such a steep hill. As I came around the curve into the steepest part of the...
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