When I see a standard shift car, I smile and think of my mom and her shifting gears. To give you a picture of my mom and her driving, her nickname was “pick-a-gear mama”. She could never quite figure out which gear to use, and we often heard the grinding sounds that would make your hair stand on end. I know what you’re thinking, why didn’t we show her how? Believe me, we tried. What this resulted in was one of us would drive whenever we needed to go someplace with our mom.
So when my mom offered to teach my new sister-in-law how to drive, we were speechless. The thing was we didn’t know that had occurred until after the fact.
I had just arrived home from visiting a friend. My new sister-in-law was in our family room telling my brother her story about mom’s driving lesson and shifting gears. Mom was nowhere to be seen.
My new sister-in-law was not as aware of my mother’s inability when it came to shifting gears, so she unwittingly accepted my mom’s offer to teach her how to drive.
When Mom told my sister-in-law what she had in mind, she was initially reluctant but ultimately agreed. After all, what was the harm? They both climbed into our new VW Beetle and drove to our church parking lot, a short distance from our home. On the way, my sister-in-law noticed the grinding sounds and how mom was shifting gears. Mom said something to the effect that it always sounded that way, and not to worry.
With much jerking and grinding, they made their way to the church parking lot. Then mom began her lesson. She put my sister-in-law in the drivers seat and showed her where the clutch and brake peddles were and explained what they were for. She had my sister-in-law start the engine, telling her to slowly let out the clutch and move the gearshift up. As luck would have it, my sister-in-law had shifted to first gear. So far it was going well. They slowly moved forward. Mom was very pleased with herself. Then my sister-in-law shifted to second gear, and that was when the trouble began. Mom was sure that it should go up further. Mom moved the gearshift for my sister-in-law and the car shook, made funny noises, jerked and ground to a halt.
Again there was much jerking, grinding and sputtering as the car inched forward towards an embankment. My mother, in her frustration, tried to put the car in reverse, the car kept moving forward. Mind you, my mom was shifting gears while my sister-in-law was in the driver’s seat trying to decide what to do with the clutch.
The minister of the church happened to be watching and wondered; “What the heck are those two doing?” The car was doing all manner of jerking, grinding and smoking, protesting loudly as if it were alive. Meanwhile, the car was continuing to inch ever closer towards the embankment. Our minister watched in fascination wondering if he should offer some assistance.
Meanwhile in the car my mom was trying to direct my sister-in-law as to what to do next while mom was shifting the gear stick like a Xbox joystick. My sister-in-law was getting quite nervous because the embankment was drawing ever closer with every jerk. Mom was determined, grew more agitated with every grind, only to have the car jerk to a stop and even closer to the embankment.
The Minster decided it was time to help. He walked over to the shuttering car. He knocked on the window and asked if he could be of assistance. My mom gave him a very puzzled look and said; “We’re doing fine.” My sister-in-law looked at the minister with a pleading look as if to say “get me out of here NOW“. Being the wise man that he was and knowing my mom he asked if my mom would like to take a break and have a cold drink. Mom thought for a bit and then agreed. My sister-in-law let out a huge sigh, kind of like a balloon sputtering out air. Mom asked my sister-in-law if she were feeling OK. Our Minster just chuckled.
In the end, our minister drove mom and my sister-in-law home and walked back to the church. That was when I happened on my sister-in-law telling the story of my mom’s driving lesson her shifting gears.
After that, mom never did offer to help with anyone’s driving. Dad decided it was time for a new car and bought an automatic. My sister-in-law did learn to drive, but with an automatic.
Please don’t get me wrong, my Mom was super smart, had a Ph.D. and was the head of a college library. She just wasn’t mechanically inclined.
What did I learn from this? Go with your strengths. Know your limitations. Find the best person or tools you can that will help you overcome those limitations.
What lessons have you learned about your strengths and weaknesses? How did you learn about your limitations?
I mustn’t forget to thank the person who initially gave me the idea for this story. So thank you, Leora Wenger, @ biz.leoraw.com for the idea and for all that you do to help others in this online world we live in. You are very much appreciated my friend.
Life’s journey continues…