Published October 20, 2014 by rochellewisoff


            This past year has not been the best year for my car. In fact I’m beginning to think it’s the incarnation of the Li’l Abner character with a cloud over his head. Remember him? For those of you who don’t…never mind.

            In the midst of our frigid Missouri winter, my Chevy Cruz’s heater went out. So it spent some time in the shop. Due to the lack of a small part that had to be ordered my car was MIA longer than expected.

            My joy at being back in my little car was short lived. The day after getting it back it died in the parking lot after work. This time it had to be towed to the dealership but not before I spent an hour in the car keeping warm and bandying words with the dingbat at the dispatch center. It seems she sent the tow truck driver to Lee’s Summit, Missouri when I’d specifically told her I was at 23rd and Lee’s Summit Road in Independence, Missouri.

            After another week in the shop, my car was returned in perfect working order. End of story? I wish.

            About a month ago, on the way to work, a deer on a suicide mission ran out in front of me. While I was shaken by it, I wasn’t hurt and the car was drivable. Thank God for insurance and a $100 deductible.

Front end after hitting the deer.

Front end after hitting the deer.

     A week ago last Thursday we were on our way home from an event when the driver of an SUV decided he needed our lane on the freeway as well as his own. He sideswiped us and barreled down the road not so gently into the rainy night.

            Of course, the car’s back in the shop. Because we filed a police report and it’s a clear case of hit and run it won’t count against us on our insurance. I’m also grateful to be here. It could’ve been so much worse.

            My story doesn’t end here.

            I’m part of a dying breed of people in the United States who prefer a standard transmission as opposed to an automatic.

            It wasn’t always so, but circumstances thirty-five years ago dictated.

            When Jan taught me to drive a stick he assured me coordinating my left foot and right hand would become second nature. I had my doubts as I popped the clutch and bounced down the street like a rubber ball.

            It happened as he said, though not overnight, it happened. Since then every car, I’ve owned has been a standard. 

            Ever hear of a loaner car with a standard transmission? I shouldn’t complain, right? It could be worse. At least I have a car.

            An automatic requires intense concentration. When coming to a stop, my left foot trembles and my right hand wanders aimlessly. More than once I’ve slammed both feet on the brake and nearly catapulted myself through the windshield.  

            Tonight, I hope, my car’s coming back home, with luck, slightly worse for wear and virtually unwrinkled. I might take her for drive to experience the sheer joy of downshifting to a stop.

            I hope my brake lights work.


37 comments on “AUTOMATIC BLUES

    • Dear Susan,

      Funny you should say that. I’ve said the same thing. In fact, in the first month we had the car I dented the side panel above the wheel backing out of the garage. Because our insurance had just paid for hail damage repairs on our roof my husband didn’t want to file another claim. So the silver lining in this cloud is that the hit and run driver hit that spot and made it worse. So finally, after three years it’s getting fixed. Maybe now that cloud will lift.😉

      Thanks for commenting.




  • Crumbs. At least you yourself have come through unscathed.

    I think I’d have a hard time driving an automatic as well. Even on those rare occasions when I’m a passenger, I can feel my foot trying to push the brake, so imagine what I’d be like if I were actually driving and a pedal was missing.


    • Dear Ali,

      It’s nice to know that someone out there feels my pain. And I am grateful that neither of us suffered any bumps or bruises or worse.

      It’s really disconcerting, particularly when starting the car. My clutch foot goes bonkers.😉




  • Rochelle, you should be happy it was not a moose.. that can easily turn murder-suicide (in fact it’s one of the most common causes of accidents here in Sweden.. Here also the normal transmission is not automatic, and it takes some time getting used to, every time I have a rental in the US it’s the same time.. But if you ever come to Europe and rent you would feel right at home….


    • Dear Björn,

      It’s comforting to know there are normal people in the world. However if I come to Europe won’t I have to get used to driving on the wrong side of the road?😉

      Truly I’m happy there are no moose in Missouri. However there have been many deaths from collisions with deer, particularly among motorcyclists. The deer here are sometimes referred to as field rodents because they’re so thick.

      Thanks for coming by.




  • Hey, any accident you can walk away from…

    I haven’t owned a stick in years, but I still miss it. My foot and hand would wander for a while until I had to force myself to stop doing that. So much more fun to drive…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Guapo,

      I have a friend who hasn’t owned a standard in nine years. She says that on occasion she still tries to clutch and shift.

      I agree. We walked away without a scratch (unless you count the car) and for that I’m thankful. Thanks for driving by.




  • Liked your story. I agree with wanting a manual vs automatic in a vehicle. We live in hill country, and nothing is worse than icy roads on an incline and your vehicle making decisions on when to shift. Unfortunately, in pickup trucks, finding a manual shift is not easy, and our latest vehicle is automatic. About the moose… glad you don’t have them where you live.


  • This is one of those ‘there there’ moments – I don’t do them often so make the most of it!
    We bought an automatic 12 years ago before I had a hip replacement and my left leg wouldn’t work properly. Since then I’ve had the hip replaced but not the car, so I only drive a manual one when we go to the UK and I have to hire one. I like either, to be fair, but the automatic is what I’m used to now.


    • Dear Liz,

      I’m reveling in your ‘there there’ moment. Thank you. It’s much appreciated. Certainly as I haven’t heard from the body shop as yet and he closes in 45 minutes.

      I could get used to an automatic again if I had to, but I’d just rather not have to.




    • Actually, Randy, I haven’t had any problems with the car until this past winter. Fortunately it’s still under warranty. Then the matter of the deer and the hit and run jerk have nothing to do with the car. But I’ll take your comment under advisement.




    • Dear Patrick,

      Interesting comment that. However, I will say that my last rental was a Toyota. Like driving a flimsy tin can. Felt like my butt would scrape the road at any given moment.

      Yep…love my manual.




  • I understand your car woes. We got an older car when we came back from Korea and I’m trying to mostly maintain it myself. As for myself, one of my regrets is that I’ve never had the opportunity to learn to drive stick. I’d like to, but they’re not as common these days. Someday though. Someday…


    • Dear David,

      We’ve had quite a few clunkers over the years but this one we bought brand new. We really had to shop around to find a manual. They’re falling from grace because people multitask when they drive more than they used to.

      All three of our sons learned to drive a stick. You never know when the need will arise. Although not so much as it might have thirty years ago.😉

      Thanks for driving by.



      PS Got my car back finally and she looks brand new again.


  • What a nightmare you’ve had with your car and accidents. Happy to hear your safe and well. I never learned to drive a manual shift, only automatic. My girls learned well on the manual, but I didn’t get it.🙂 Hope you and Jan are doing well every other way too.


    • Dear Joyce,

      it’s been ages since we’ve communicated, hasn’t it?

      I don’t know if you remember when I tried my hand at selling Mary Kay. Up until that time I’d only driven an automatic. That in itself was something of a miracle as I didn’t get my license until after Shannon was a year old. But my Toyota went out and the only other car was our Plymouth Horizon, a manual. I had a party and the only way I could get there was to learn to drive the latter.

      Jan and I are both thankful to be alive. The accident could’ve had a horrible outcome. Angels around the car is my only explanation and I’m sticking to it. The happy ending to that story is that my car looks brand new now.

      Happy that you came by.




      • Yes, it was most definitely angels that surrounded you. Stay in touch. I read a few of the FF stories from time to time, and try to keep up with some of the FF writers. You are a patient, worthy leader to continue on leading that pack of wolves (just metaphorically speaking of their competitive spirit and eagerness to pounce upon the weekly prompt with a voracious appetite.) 🙂 I currently lead a small writers’ group in my home on Monday nights, sponsored through our church as a way of ministry and relationship building. It has been fun and great making new friends and building relationships. Currently, I am showing some how to create their own blog, maintain a facebook or Twitter acct. as some of them are not very informed or confident in those, yet.


  • Best of luck1. I run a very ancient Nissan (with gears – standard transmission) and since 2010 my husband drives an automatic Honda. We both happily and randomly drive each other’s cars. Believe me, you do adapt very quickly. I remember not to stall the Nissan and and no longer reach for the gearstick or the wrong pedals in the Honda.


  • The beauty of life’s woes is that they make for great stories, don’t they? It seems as though you’d want to say, “ah, what next,” but would probably hesitate at actually muttering those words out loud for fear of the answer! Cross your fingers and knock on wood! The Cruz is once again cruising!


    • Dear Mary,

      Any time I can get mileage from something like this I will. I often say I am my own anecdote😉

      The Cruz never looked better and she’s running fine. I call her Rosie after my childhood nickname.

      Thanks for commenting.




  • Dear Rochelle, Glad you are ok and sorry about your accident. Mike was hit on the interstate in Kansas City by a non-documented alien without a drivers license, driving someone else’s car with no insurance. No working phone number was given to him and the police can’t do anything about it. She took off the passenger side running board so now I have to pull myself up into the truck because I am tall – just not THAT tall. Oh well – our insurance won’t cover it because the truck is paid for and is old and we don’t have non-insured motorists on that vehicle. Figures doesn’t it? Live and don’t learn – I always say! Nan 🙂


    • Dear Nan,

      So sorry that happened to Mike. I have a friend whose son was hit by an non-documented alien and nearly lost his life. He still suffers the effects after seven years. So in all of that I’m feeling blessed and fortunate. Our insurance paid for the repairs and because it was a documented hit and run it didn’t count against us.

      Thanks for commenting.




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