Judge John Hodgman on Driving Stick

Sarah writes: My husband and I will be traveling to Portugal in a month with our two kids. Renting an automatic-transmission car costs nearly two times the price of a manual! My husband thinks I should learn to drive stick. But is it worth the stress? (Note: My husband is blind, so he can’t do this himself.)

You should learn to drive manually. It’s fun. It connects you both physically and intuitively to the engine. And it’s a vanishing art (at least here in the U.S.). It would be cool to say, “I drove stick in Portugal,” at a party, just as it would be cool to say, “I’m a scrimshander.” But there is one way to un-fun and un-cool driving stick — and that is to do it with little experience, two children and an unsighted husband, whose terror at your lurches and stalls would be true punishment for his putting you up to this. I think you can do it. But now, with so little time to go, I give you a pass on this one.