There’s a (social commentary) joke I remember seeing on Reddit that went roughly like this:

What’s something non-sexual that you find very attractive in women?
-When they can drive stick.
…In Europe we call that “driving”.

I tend to sneer at the notion of driving an automatic transmission vehicle. I grew up in the UK – we don’t really do automatic vehicles. Sure, they exist, but they’re rarer than hens’ teeth. As a result there were a few things that confused me when watching imported American TV shows as a child. A notable example of this is a rather quirky show that used to be on S4C (Welsh Channel 4 – “Ess Pedwar Eck”), Cadillacs and Dinosaurs.

At various times in the show there would be shots like this:OT1ZLKWemUfuI0

I now understand that what’s going on is shifting gears in an automatic vehicle but back then I was baffled.

A little later there was this:

I’d hazard a guess at me being sixteen or seventeen before understanding what “a stick” meant. We specify a vehicle is automatic, not that it’s manual. I’d heard of “manual” but the slang term “a stick” was completely alien to me.

Sneering aside I spent a while driving an automatic yesterday and I’ve got to say, ugh. How can anyone be comfortable driving one? When driving I’m used to being in control of the speed to a high degree. It’s a large mass of metal, I am not happy being only vaguely in charge of how fast I go!

Essentially it comes down to the fact that normally I use different gears as comfortable plateaus. Holding the accelerator at a particular position holds the speed there, holding it down long enough won’t push me into a different gear – there’s an upper and lower limit for my speed. The gears are a big part of how I regulate my speed for different situations. Not so nice.

So I stand by my derisive opinion of referring to someone who can only drive automatics as “being able to drive”. Learn.

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