By Jacob Hatcher
In my Daddy’s worldview, there are three things that are absolute, unquestionable truths: Jesus saves, a dog ought to listen to its owner and every human of driving age should know how to drive a stick shift.
I learned on my Grandaddy’s Ford Ranger that I’d bought from him, which was fairly small as far as trucks go, but I really wish I could have seen my sister learning in our brother’s Saturn.
Watching Daddy get into that Saturn was a little bit like watching Big Foot going spelunking. You see, Daddy’s the kind of tall that doesn’t need a ladder to clean out the gutters, and that Saturn was low enough to the ground that ants had to bend over to get into it.
It was really like something you would see in an absurd comedy movie, only Daddy didn’t find it all that funny. It had a sunroof, which was a saving grace for the top of Daddy’s head and a hysterical piece of physical comedy for everyone watching him ride down the road.
If you’ve never seen a sports car with a mustachioed cowboy poking his head out of the sunroof you haven’t really lived.
What strikes me about Daddy and that car looking back is that what seemed funny at the time I now understand to be an exercise in patient sacrifice on his part. He believed we needed to know how to drive a stick shift, and that was what was available to teach us with.
I know it was uncomfortable to sit in that passenger seat chewing on his knees while his children learned, but that’s what needed to be done, so he did it.
When I was learning, I would let the clutch out too early, stall the truck, and rattle every bone in our bodies. The more frustrated I got, the calmer he would say, “Keep going. You’ve almost got it.”
That Saturn is long gone, and so is the Ranger, but from time to time when it feels like the gears of life are grinding away at me, I hear a faint, “Keep going. You’ve almost got it.”