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Crash Course

Thank you, all you wacky people, for your interesting suggestions for new car names. After lengthy deliberation, we have christened our little red beast.

THE WINNER: Manuel (suggested by Simon)

RUNNER UP: Florence (suggested by JD)

NOT EVEN CLOSE: Purplish Viral Infection, Lady Margaret Deathstrike, Great Aunt Spagnum, Pedro the Panty Merchant.

HONORABLE MENTION FOR MOST VIGOROUS CAMPAIGNING: Screaming Silence of Your Impending Doom (repeatedly suggested by Mattay)

The winning name just clicked right away. We initally thought that the car was female, but now it's just going to be a girly kind of boy. We also like the Fawlty Towers reference, it recalls that lovely image of Basil Fawlty thrashing his broken-down Mini with a tree branch.

I've felt like taking a branch to the car myself lately, with my frustration at learning how to drive the bloody thing. But it's not the cars fault I am lousy with a manual.

My experience with the stick is pretty pathetic. I got my learner's permit the day I turned 16 way back in 1993, but nobody bothered teaching me to drive. I had one disasterous lesson with the Mothership on our farm. She kept pressing her foot down on the Phantom Brake in the passenger seat, nagging and snapping, You're in the wrong gear, you're going too fast, you're going to hit that sheep, etc. I didn't come anywhere near the bloody sheep, though the fence was rather close.

Next thing it was February 1996 and I was off to uni and needing a car to get around. But I had not had one single driving lesson since the sheep incident. So the Mothership finally conceded that it was time for me to learn. I'd been on my Learners for over two years, and now I had to learn to drive in two weeks.

The man assigned to the task was Bob from the Totally R.A.D. Driving School. It was like, totally rad! I totally forget what the R.A.D. stood for, but Bob was a rad guy. He had made a little Lego model of a clutch, which he liked to whip out every time you stalled, which in my case was quite often.

"Now this is the clutch, Shauna," he say in the hushed, awed tones that one usually reserves for some magical mystical occurence. "Now this is a bazillion-carat diamond that I dug out of my backyard with a teaspoon, Shauna." He would turn the little Lego crank and the little Lego gears would spin and he'd explained how it worked, and how my mission was to get to know the clutch. I would nod blankly and smile.

Over the next ten days he'd show me that Lego clutch a further fifty times, plus show me the wonders of reverse parallel parking, clutch control and using your mirrors. I stalled and swore, went too fast or too slow, but he was patient and spoke to me in soothing tones. "Now, go back a gear, easyyyy, easy now! Turn the corner, Shauna. Turn the corner, Shauna. Hey that rhymes! Hehehe."

The big day of the test rolled up and of course my chronic nervousness kicked in. I had thrown up my breakfast and all the mantras Bob had taught me seem to have been purged too.

I sat in Bob's Totally RAD Festiva as the RTA dude drummed his fingers on his clipboard, waiting for me to start. But my mind had gone completely blank. When you know how to drive, starting a car is something you do without thinking. But for me, with about 5 hours of driving experience and being generally loopy and uncoordinated by nature, it was hopeless.

I turned the ignition on, got into reverse, and tried to take off. No dice. I did this three times and was about to burst into tears when the guy coughed politely and said, "Have a think about what you haven't done yet."

I looked around for a good minute or two before finally realising the fucking handbrake was still on. "Ha! Haaaaa hahaaa," I whimpered as I took off the handbrake and proceeded to stall twice more. I had failed the test utterly and miserably before I'd even left the freaking RTA car park, but the bastard still made me do the rest of it. I went over the speed limit twice, I stalled again and my reverse parallel park was a dog's breakfast. I waited til I'd given Bob his Totally RAD car keys back before running into the loos and sobbing. Hehe.

I ended up going for my licence again the day before I left for uni. In that time I'd accquired The Bird, who was an automatic. I passed just fine, despite turning up the wrong street since I'd been to busy being nervous to listen to instructions properly

About two months later when my sister turned 16, Mum started teaching her to drive right away. Grrr. She says not teaching me to drive is a sad chapter in her mothering history, but at least she'd learned from her mistakes and now knew how to get things right when Rhi got her licence. What am I, the experiment child?

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About Shauna Reid

Ahoy there! I’m an author, copywriter and old school blogger. I love telling stories about life and helping my clients to tell theirs. Find out more about me and how we can work together.


24 thoughts on “Crash Course

  1. How do corner and Shauna rhyme? They don’t! Maybe in some magical made up fairy dialect only spoken on some island in the antipodes, perhaps, but not in real life!

  2. Firstly, how do “corner” and “shauna” NOT rhyme?? Have you never heard the Australian accent? EVERYTHING ends with “uh”. (So that would be “corn-uh” and “shorn-uh”. Get it?)

    Secondly, I empathise with you entirely Shauny, also being the experiment child. It sucks. They never taught me to drive either.

  3. So *that’s* where you got the idea to name your site the Shauna Corner. From RAD Bob.

    Yay Simon! Although nothing was funnier than his Muffin innuendos.

  4. *My experience with the stick is pretty pathetic.

    That could mean many different things, taken out of context.

    Of course, should I talk? I’ve never driven a manual…

  5. i am a proud non-driver. the fact that i wouldn’t use the brakes on my bike but preferred to jump off at the crucial stopping moment [i.e. before colliding with a bush/person/tree/car] prompted my mother to tell me she’d never teach me to drive. i did care, once. now i justify my status with comforting thoughts of supposed eco-friendliness, but really i’m still too scared to learn!

  6. I like the new name. Though I’d always thought of cars in female terms, but when I first saw the picture of your car I could only think of boys names. So Manuel is very fitting I think.

    It will also give you lot of chances to say “ce?” when your lost and someone is trying to give you directions or at the repair shop. Besides when you’re angry you can pretend to be John Cleese (right, like you don’t already!) and beat on your steering wheel!

    I think your story also explained why Australian poetry has never caught on in other parts of the world. The meter is all wrong and the rhyme scheme seems a little shaky. ;p

  7. I like the new name. Though I’d always thought of cars in female terms, but when I first saw the picture of your car I could only think of boys names. So Manuel is very fitting I think.

    It will also give you lot of chances to say “ce?” when your lost and someone is trying to give you directions or at the repair shop. Besides when you’re angry you can pretend to be John Cleese (right, like you need an excuse!) and beat on your steering wheel!

    I think your story also explained why Australian poetry has never really caught on in other parts of the world. The meter is all wrong and the rhyme scheme seems a little shaky. :p

  8. I like it! Manuel it is. I live in Texas, so that’s a pretty common name around here, anyway. Hehe. That, and Jose or Jesus. I think it suits your car.

    I could never drive a stick! I stink at it, so you go girl! You’re better at it than I am.

    I drive a frickin’ suburban, so I just call my vehicle “the beast.”

  9. One advantage of naming a vehicle “Manuel,” particularly if the car is a stickshift, is that, if you apply an embossed or machine printed appellation somewhere around the dashboard, then people may think that the car manufacturer deliberately misspelled the word “manual” when they were simply trying to inform a new driver that the car in question has a manual transmission.

    Of course, the big question that any astute passenger will ask is: Why is the car advertising the stick? Shauna’s clutch regularly goes out. There are only four gears and only two or three of those work, giving the car a top speed close to 34mph. What possible reason did the car company have for putting this notice, which glaringly illuminates the effort of a driver, on the dashboard? And why on earth did they bother to mess up the spelling?

    The brilliant thing is that the passenger will in most cases be too polite to mention these angry and maddening internal thoughts to you.

    So you have picked not only an admirable name with vestigial ties to the great John Cleese (and Andrew Sachs, the underrated actor who played Manuel), but one that will puzzle your passengers ad infinitum.

  10. Who wants to go in with me to buy Shauny and Rhi some nice new spanky personalised “MANUEL” numberplates???

  11. at least you’ve never had to undergo the horror of having one’s older brother attempt to teach one to drive. i’ve never recovered…

  12. bleh, driving is horrible. I’m surprised that anyone gets past the learning stage, what with all the knobheads out there who say “oh look a learner driver! Let’s drive like there’s a blind dog at the wheel! aaaaannnd swerve, and brake, and now lets turn on the headlights for no apparent reason”. Bastards. Bastards!

    Um, yeah. Hurray for the naming of the car! Did you do the thing with the breaking the champagne? You know, like the boats – “Mai husband sister and ai now proclaim this cah… ”

  13. yes! i want MANUEL numberplates! who are you, anonymous commenter? you are really unnerving me. please email or something before i cry.

  14. Just about anything rhymes in the UK. Meanwhile, the best of us Yank poets aren’t concerned with such niceties. 🙂

  15. Don’t feel bad; I left the park brake on in the Katana once after I landed at Hometown. Then, later, trying to get going, I actually got Pop to start pushing on the wing root, thinking there must just be a wheel in a rut – he was the one who thought of the brake. Chagrin!

  16. I wanna know who your commenter is, too.

    What I came in here to say was that I heard most of this story from you a couple of days before you posted it. What am I, experiment audience? :p

    Don’t take that wrong. I think you’re great. And I wanted to thank you for your nice comment the other day, too. Gave me warm fuzzies, it did.

  17. I also failed a few driving tests in my time. For the first attempt my gross inexperience led me to be “too cautious”, according to the tester. The second attempt failed as I didn’t come to a complete halt at the stop sign just outside the RTA. I didn’t realise I’d already failed, so I took to the streets with rather less caution than last time.

    Approaching a roundabout, my underdevoped sense of mechanical time and motion quietly advised me that there was plenty of time to drive on in. The car approaching the roundabout from my right must have been moving a bit faster than I estimated, as after a petite bunny hop into the roundabout my driving evaluator shat her pants.

    I didn’t really see what the other car did (i was so focussed on the arcane art of motoring), But the brave evaluators body language screamed “I’m going to die”. She actually used her arms to brace herself for impact. I saw this because she drew her breath in so quickly, the noise it made startled me.

    I wonder how many evaluators have died in driving tests that were already lost causes. Makes you wonder.

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