All This Science, I Don’t UnderstandItem the first: Not all cars have automatic transmissions. Some of us old farts (and gear heads) drive something called a manual transmission or a "stick shift". If you've gone to movies like "The Fast and the Furious", any Bond movie, "Bourne Identity" or any film featuring race cars, you have seen the stick in action. It requires the use of a clutch and a gear stick to manually change the gear ratios in your engine, making use of said ratios to gain or reduce speed. With me? What this means in practical terms is that when we are all driving up a spiral ramp in a parking garage, I have nothing slower than first gear, unless you want to count rolling backwards. DO NOT, repeat, do not pound your brakes on the top of the spiral when you are driving in front of me. Although I keep a respectful distance from your rear fender, there is really nothing else I can do except stick it in neutral and play heel toe with the clutch and the brake and pray that I do NOT roll backward into the jackass who has his front grill stuck to my back bumper like I'm going to... to do what? We are all in a line on a spiral parking ramp. What the fuck does he think I'm going to do? Pass the car in front of me, and thereby win the very last space in the lot? Item the second: An elevator is fairly old technology by now. It should not be beyond the average person to understand how it works. However, this morning I learned that is not the case. So in an effort to help those recently deposited in the 21st century by a time/space worm hole, I will explain. The elevator button only needs to be pressed once. If it is lit, it has already been pressed, and pounding on it will not make the elevator switch directions or arrive faster. If the big arrow over the elevator door is lit up in green and pointing up, that means the elevator is going to go up. If the big arrow over the elevator door is lit up in red and pointing down, that means the elevator is going to go down. There are no other choices. It isn't trying to fuck with you by pointing up and then going down. Once the doors open for you, you should enter the elevator and move to the back. Or to the side, if you are the first one in, and there is nobody else there. It is helpful to all the other people trying to get on the elevator to hold. the. door. open. Or you can press the button on the control panel that says "Door Open" and it will hold the door open for others. It actually speeds things up when the doors aren't shutting on people. Also? Moving to the rear of the compartment also speeds up the loading process because people don't have to shove around your fat ass to get into the elevator. The elevator is a public transit device and as such is designed to hold many people, not just you. While I'm on the subject of packing people into small moving spaces, let's try the same concept out on busses and trains. If there is a door, go through it and keep moving. To the middle of the car. Standing in a doorway prevents others from getting on or off, slows things up, is discourteous and generally just lame. Thank you. This ends today's lesson in modern technology.
Point #1: It has always been my opinion that stick shift cars are simply not finished yet. Would you own a washing machine that required you to turn a crank to squeeze the water out? A refrigerator for which you need to purchase ice so that it will cool your food? No, I daresay you would not. Why on earth would you drive a car that requires that much active participation in order for it to move, speed up, and (inaccurately) slow down. Please don’t tell me that it’s for the “performance.” How many times have you been able to put it into fourth on U.S. 1? It is also unnerving to have a car in front of you slow down suddenly without the warning of brake lights (downshifting is what I think they call it). I don’t care how much following distance you leave. Vanity, sistah, vanity!
Point #2: In my office building, the outside lights for the elevators are not arrows. They are round. They are colored white for up and red for down. Sometimes the elevator arrives with a -ding!- and there is no light at all. You’ve got a fifty-fifty shot. Also, if you hold the doors too long, a loud, obnoxious claxon starts yelling at you. I don’t disagree with you—I’m just sayin’.
Point #2.5: I don’t disagree with you about the train, either, I just thought that this is a perfect opening to note my own pet peeve and favorite rule of physics: Spatial Displacement. You have to let PEOPLE GET OUT of the train (or bus, or elevator) before YOU GET IN. You cannot both occupy the same space simutaneously. And if you don’t let them get out first, there will be no room for you. I don’t care how badly you want to be first. And quit pushing the person in front of you because he/she is actually waiting for the people to get out before entering. That’s called assault.
Dear RJ, I drive a stick for the same reason I prefer to ride hunt seat (or English, if you prefer) over a Western saddle: more direct involvement with the vehicle.
To be one with the machine, ahhhhhhhhh, the wind in my hair, part of a mechano-bio team!
Luckily it’s a walk-behind, and I don’t have to push it unless it gets jammed on mulching leaves or something…..
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