7 Things Southern Girls Must Do: Learn to Drive a Stick Shift

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This series will cover seven essentials all Southern girls must do to earn their keep. While we don’t much care for rules, we do believe there are certain things one simply must accomplish in order to call oneself a true Southern girl. This is just one. 

When I was a really spry 8-year-old my mom’s car was in the shop and we had to drive my dad’s truck for the day. The truck looked exactly like Marty McFly’s really cool truck in “Back to the Future” and much to my mother’s dismay, was outfitted with a standard transmission, a stick shift. I remember the scene vividly, yet have blocked a majority of it out of my consciousness because the experience was so traumatic at the time. My mother, who grew up on a farm (and was supposed to be familiar with a stick), stalled out at the intersection of Main St. and Arkansas Ave. at the height of midday traffic. She just couldn’t get that truck to go. We both cried.

After we both calmed down and we made it through town, I remember thinking, I don’t want that to ever happen to me. I was also in 2nd grade and couldn’t have realized at the time just how difficult it was to push the clutch and let up on the gas pedal at the same time with a judgmental 2nd grader’s eyes watching your every incompetent move.

Luckily I grew up in the South, with two sets of grandparents who owned farms, farm equipment and trucks. Therefore, I was afforded the opportunity to drive many a standard transmission trucks through a field. It was kind of a rite of passage into the family or maybe just a checkmark on my dad’s list of things to teach me, but regardless– every Southern girl should get to a field immediately and learn how to drive a standard as soon as possible. I can’t stress how important this skill is, as you just never know when you might need it.

Why do Southern girls need to learn to drive a standard?

What if you and your boyfriend/husband/brother are driving through the woods and there’s a medical emergency and he can no longer drive? You could save a life!

What if you found a really good deal on Craigslist and the only truck available to drive to pick up your bargain is a standard? You’re a lady on a budget and you cannot miss a good deal.

Do you have aspirations to be a stock car racer? Well, bad news: most stock cars (or probably all stock cars, who really knows?) are outfitted with standard transmissions. If you want to drive on the NASCAR circuit, you must know how to drive a stick shift.

What if your car is in the shop and you need to run errands with your kid one afternoon? Learn to drive a standard, so you don’t scar her for life!

I’ve never met a man who is unimpressed with a woman who can drive a standard.

Sometimes, a standard transmission vehicle is cheaper to buy than an automatic transmission vehicle.

I read somewhere once that, “once you drive stick, you’ll never go back.” That’s definitely not true, but once you drive stick, you’ll kind of know how to drive stick and can consider yourself a true Southern girl.