There are few things in this world as helpful for developing humility as learning to drive a manual car.

I just bought a 1995 Honda Accord. Last night Kim took me to a parking lot to practice. I circled around the lot, jolting from first to second and back to first. I was undignified, uncertain, terrified. I needed constant encouragement and direction. I was a child. It suddenly struck me: “Is this how my students feel when they are learning something for the first time?”

Then she suggested that I drive home. I stared at her as though she had suggested we highjack Airforce One. “You mean drive on the real road?” I said incredulously. “What about all those unsuspecting motorists?” Somehow I feared that as soon as I ventured out, people would throw themselves in front of my tires in suicidal attempts and I, in panic hitting the clutch instead of the brake, would become a murderer.

Kim talked me into it. I gripped the wheel and steeled myself. I breathed in and out loudly, like a woman in labor. Somehow, we made it home. Kim hugged me.

Tomorrow is the real test. I am traveling to a conference in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and am meeting some friends to carpool. I will have to drive to the redezvous point alone. If three days go by and no post appears, look for me in jail.

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