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An Early Embarrassment
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Years ago I was a bus driver. I drove a 78-passenger bus, with, of course, manual transmission. The clutch on those old buses has a long travel path, so there's a lot of leg movement and a non-synchronized transmission requires double-clutching. In glacially slow rush hour traffic, the driver really gets a workout.

After a few months of employment, I'd finally saved enough money to buy a car. I had my eye on an orange Mazda station wagon (wankel engine) and to my delight, I could afford the payments.

After signing the papers, they gave me the key and walked me out to my new car. The salesman expressed concern that it would be impossible for me to drive and didn't I really want an automatic transmission, since women couldn't drive manual transmissions....

I mounted my high horse and declared my competence to drive a manual transmission as a former truck driver and current bus driver.

"I'll show them", I thought. Of course a woman can drive a stick shift.

I started the car, put it in gear...and proceeded to pop the clutch and kill the engine. The salesman smirked but had the wit not to say anything. Those little automobile clutches have almost no free travel at all, as I found out by a little experimentation.

I sailed out of the driveway and into traffic, glorying in my new car.


They had put in less than a gallon of gas and I ran out of gas on the way home. Didn't know where the gas gauge was and it never occurred to me that the cheapskates wouldn't start me off with a full tank. Buses are always at least 1/2 tank full. I got plenty of walking exercise that day.

Not one of my more stellar performances of skill and competence.

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