Getting Buzzed on Labor Day

One of the highlights of my Labor Day was getting together with the Jaycees to help out at Gaithersburg’s Labor Day Parade.
G&G Jaycees paired up with Wheels of Thunder to guide "Gary the Glitterbug" (a huge bee) along the parade route.
We had our usual problem where the city’s organizers’ eyes were larger than their streets: The balloon traveled most of the parade route within a few inches of the street in order to avoid getting tangled in the numerous low-hanging utility wires. (Still, this was better than two years ago when we were guiding an airplane balloon with such a wide wingspan that people on both sidewalks had to duck.)
All in all, the hassle was pretty minimal. It was a fun event as usual.
A bit more “interesting” (mostly in the “entertaining” sense) was the afternoon’s driving lesson.
Kay’s leaving the country in a few weeks to take a job in Italy. She’s taking her car with her, but she’s already been told that she’ll have to do some driving in rental cars (if nothing else, while she waits for her own car to arrive). There are however two small problems. Minor things really, hardly worth mentioning:

  1. Evidently, most rental cars in Italy have manual transmissions.
  2. Kay has only ever learned how to drive with an automatic.

After remembering that my car has a manual transmission, Kay asked if I’d mind teaching her. So because I’m such a great guy, I ended up spending about 90 minutes with Kay this afternoon, driving around a mostly empty complex of parking lots with plenty of hills to practice starting on.
It’s only the second time I’ve taught someone how to drive with a manual transmission and it brought back a lot of memories from back in 1987 when I first learned. I had a rough time learning how to start on hills too. (Kay was no doubt hating me the first time I made her stop halfway up.)
Because it’s a hybrid, my car’s engine is quieter than most. So between wanting to make sure Kay could hear the engine and just generally wanting to avoid the distraction, I’d turned off the radio before she got behind the wheel. After dropping her off (I made her drive) I switched it back on.
I burned out on pop music about 12 years ago. These days my preferred format is country and when I switched the radio back on, I started laughing.
The first song to come on was by Alan Jackson. He was singing Drive.

2 thoughts on “Getting Buzzed on Labor Day”

  1. LOL, I can only imagine the experience. Jess’ mom briefly tried to teach her stick but gave up. We’re up to 5 manual transmission vehicles in our stable now.
    Do you have a tachometer on the Hybrid? if so, that can be useful for learning shift points as well.

  2. The civic is the third vehicle I’ve owned with a stick shift. It’s also the very first to include a tachometer.
    I told Kay what the gauge was and what it was for. Then I suggested she just ignore it.
    She only came close to redlining the engine once (she was too afraid of squealing the tires). Toward the end of the lesson she started figuring out when to shift without the visual aid.

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