I shifted the car into second gear and pressed on the accelerator. Just a little to make the car go faster. It was only my second or third time and I didn’t want to have to call my dad and cry about having had an accident. I wasn’t entirely sure that even if I did, if he’d be more worried about the car than me.
A van swung into the road ahead of me, moving very slowly. “Speed up, ya bastard,” I said, enclosed by windows and the AC and the music running full blast. Shockingly, he didn’t hear me and heed my advice.
We went down the hill away from my house and then the hill started to rise again. “Quickly, idiot, I don’t want to shift back to first gear.” Barely seconds later, I shifted into first. Safe than sorry right?
A couple of seconds later, the absolute idiot moron fool of a donkey stopped. I wanted to bite the steering wheel. We were so close to the lip of the slope. MOVE!
He started to move and I started to let the clutch breathe a bit. And….nothing?
The car stalled.
I turned the ignition, holding the clutch down, and then started to release.
Ignition, clutch, release.
Horns started up behind me. Now I was the idiot on the road.
I rolled down the window and motioned for other people to go around me. I felt like a fool. But there wasn’t a choice. A few cars made their way past me. And I let the car roll back down the hill, figuring I could maybe do it better with a headstart.
I felt the tears well up. I was an idiot after all. No wonder I hadn’t learned to drive all these years. I was a fool. All the men muttering “Lady driver” and zooming past me were right. I was a moron.
I looked up and saw a tall, slim guy in khaki board shorts walking towards my forlorn car. I braced myself. I was going to get yelled at. He motioned for me to pull down the window and my mind flipped through the expressions of “Imperious” and “Helpless”, ready to use either one.
He smiled and said, “Hi. Turn off your AC. Give it some gas and it’ll work.”
I stared at him. “What??” He repeated the sentence.
Oh my God! The car stalled when the AC was on! I turned it off. And while releasing the clutch, pressed the accelerator down cautiously. The car moved forward smoothly.
I turned the corner of the slope and wondered how to thank him. He came up the slope and motioned to his car parked there. I leaned across the car, the seatbelt nearly strangling my middle, and gasped out, “Thank you! Thank you so much!” He waved at me and smiled.
I released the clutch. The car stalled.
I was mortified. The stupid car stalled twice more before I was able to pick up the tattered remains of my dignity and calm and drove half a kilometre down, stopping at a signal. I looked to the side, and it was Mr Board shorts. He motioned for me to pull down the window again and I did. “Use the handbrake. Put it on, then press the accelerator and then unbrake once you’re moving.”
I smiled at him and thanked him again. When the light turned green, he went ahead.
And since then, I’ve been a little bit in love with my Sir Galahad, knight in shining chrome for distressed driving damsels everywhere. I doubt I’ll ever see him again or be able to find him. But thank you so much. I cannot say that enough.