Ella got behind the wheel.
‘What’s this?’ she asked, incredulously looking at the stick in the centre console, with the knob on top.
‘It’s the gear stick,’ Ella’s boyfriend, Nick, replied.
‘It’s how you change gears, El,’ Nick said.
‘But I thought the car just did that.’
‘I don’t know how.’
‘That’s why I’m teaching you, babe,’ said Nick. ‘Now, press your left foot on the clutch and push it all the way to the floor.’
He paused while she did so.
‘Now, slowly, release the pressure, but keep your foot on the clutch. Slowly. Can you feel that part about halfway, where it feels different?’
‘Really?’ Nick asked.
‘No,’ Ella responded.
‘Try again. There’s a release there, like a spring, where the clutch plates move. When you feel that while you’re driving, you slightly take your right foot off the accelerator at the same time as shifting the gears with the gear stick. K?’
‘Let’s go then. Turn on the ignition.’
Ella looked at Nick. ‘I don’t think I can do this. Can’t I just stick with automatics?’
Nick sighed. ‘You can do it, babe. You’re going to love it, trust me.’
Ella turned the keys in the ignition and pressed gently on the accelerator. ‘OK, but don’t get mad at me when I bunny hop.’
‘Everyone does to start with. Just let’s try it. I know you’re going to enjoy a manual.’ Nick replied right at the time Ella crunched the gears and stalled the car.
‘Ooops!’ she said, giggling.