once upon a time, i started driving my dad's old 1983 suburu loyale. it took a lot of loops in the parking lot, trips around the triangle park, and start/stop practices in my driveway, but when i thought i could handle the real roads, i took my stick driving skills to school. the first time, it took me 25 minutes to get to school. which is... less than a mile away. within that first week, i left my english paper at home. uh oh. i was forced to drive home at lunch, alone, to get it. leaving right around the time that students were returning from lunch (i had an open period after), i ascended 6th street hill- a hill that is virtually a mountain. i started out just fine, even confident, but as i reached the halfway point of the hill, stanley (my car) started to stutter (office reference!). and...stutter it did... to a complete stop on a narrow two lane hill. i looked at the gas gauge and realized... i was out of gas. around me, cars were walking and a line of cars had formed behind me. all honking.
i don't know when i started crying, but i think it was after calling three of my male friends and still not being able to do anything but sit there like a new 16 year old driver (i.e. idiot) while people starting poking their heads out of windows and line the street. ugh. not long after my phone calls failed me, not one, but two cops showed up. the first one came up to my window, saw my tears, and immediately froze. i guess a crying hormonal 16 year old girl is slightly unnerving. he asked me if everything was alright (...clearly not) and what seemed to be the problem ("i have no idea! i just learned how to drive stick and i think i'm out of gas and blah blah blah blah!"). finally, he made some fancy cop hand signals to the cop below him and turned to me and asked if i could put the car in neutral and reverse the car down the hill. wait, what's neutral!? by now, dozens of high school students were returning to school. the first cop parked at the top of the hill and the second car parked at the very bottom. embarrassing. still crying, i figured out what neutral meant and let my car roll... slowly down the hill. slowly.
a chorus of applause rang in my head when i made it down safely and my car was hidden from public eye and could not disturb the public any longer.
today, i woke up to a foot of snow outside. now a pretty experienced stick driver three years later, i reversed my car out of the driveway today elated that i drove a suburu (and laughed at the beetles and two wheel drive sedans roaming the streets) with four wheel drive. yes! somehow, i managed to completely forget my terrible relationship with 6th street hill and found myself at the top of it... with only one way out: to go down. going 5 miles per hour, i managed my way halfway down and just like the first time at 16, it seemed i was going to make it. until 3/4 of the way down, i was suddenly fishtailing. and suddenly perpendicular to the hill. and then completely flipped around now facing the trick that had been behind me. luckily, he seemed to have some amount of intelligence in his head and had stopped when i started fishtailing.
my car stopped, dead in the middle of the hill for the second time in my life (two times too many and one more than i ever intended after the first experience). luckily, i had gas. and i started stanley up again and he started perfectly. i turned the car around easily and made my way down. because only in idaho is fishtailing and sliding down a hill just a normal obstacle in your day.