Scary Floorboard


“I just need an oil change and maybe check the windshield wiper fluid?”

“Part of the package, ma’am”

“OK.” I get out of my car and hand him my keys. “I’ll be at McDonalds,” I tell him. I’m doing the oil change on my way home from morning classes on a Friday. There is a mountain of papers to grade in a box in the back seat. I ponder taking a few to grade as I wait. “Good idea,” I think. I grab about ten of them.

As I’m walking across the parking lot toward McDonalds, I hear, “Ma’am! Ma’am! Wait!” He catches up to me. “You drive a clutch.”

“Yep I do. Always have, well, mostly.”

“I didn’t know any ladies drove a standard.”

I look at him. “Do YOU?” I ask him. He’s pretty young. He might not.

“Uh, well, no, I’m learning. Just that it might take a little longer. I have to wait for the boss to get back from lunch to get your car in the bay.”

“Seriously?” I ask, not angry. I don’t really care where I grade papers.

“I’m sorry. We’ll knock a few bucks off the price.”

“It’s not that. I…” I realize anything I say is going to insult this kid. I just say, “No worries, but, you know, you probably should learn that. My car can’t be the ONLY standard transmission that’s come in here.” It’s only 3 years old. I mean, it’s not a 1955 Ford named Homer.

“We don’t get many and most of those are trucks.”

“Just give me a call when it’s finished. I’ll be right here grading papers.”

“You’re a teacher?”


“What grade?”


“I’m going to college. I’m majoring in automotive technology.”

I think — but don’t say — “Cool, soon you’ll know how a clutch works.” I say, “Good for you! See you later!” He ought to be minding the store, not standing in the McDonald’s parking lot with me.

21 thoughts on “Scary Floorboard

  1. Clutch was almost normal in europe. Of course there were automatics but not so common as the States. Today it is different. There are people that insist on a clutch as they are convinced it is the true professional way to drive a car. I am not allowed to drive with clutch today. My neurologist found it great that we have an automatic and added I don’t need my left foot for that. My left foot has forgotten that it is there, that is the problem.

  2. Great socks, great story. Being able to drive a clutch is a really useful skill, I agree, although now much less common. Those of us who grew up driving in tough winter conditions appreciate the extra control and power offered. That said, I had a college-aged niece turn down the gift of my old accord because she didn’t drive a clutch and didn’t want to learn. One of her cousins is still driving that now 26 year old car.

    • I can’t imagine turning down a free car. :O I wish sometimes I had a standard in my car. Definitely in winter, but who knows. Maybe I’ll get my dream of owning a Jeep someday! πŸ™‚

      • I have turned down a free car–a friend wanted to give me her deceased father’s Mercedes. All I saw was maintenance costs, lots of gas consumption and driving around in a car that didn’t feel like me. I’m not a very good consumer, happier with my honda civic!

  3. LOL the socks, the kid who’s taking mechanics (unless the term technology makes it different) but can’t …lol….Martha this was delightfully humourous. I drove clutch too. I preferred an automatic due to my back but there’s a lot of fun in driving a clutch.

  4. I drive a stick shift – but it is definitely a dying skill. We tried to buy a car for my son with a stick, and there were none to be had in the state of California (at least when we were looking).

      • I love the way companies make all these decisions for us, deciding we should all drive automatics, and only used non-colored toilet paper (I am still bitter about that).

        • The toilet paper thing is from some discoveries that the dye was poisonous to the environment and caused skin irritation. But not making standard transmissions? That’s irrational …. 😜

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