The Decline of the World's Automotive Attitude

March 13, 2011
Now I could not decide whether to post this on my news blog, or my fun blog, so I'll post it on both. The reason for my indecision is that I do consider this a serious subject, however to most everybody else it's just another thing they don't care about. That in mind, read at your own risk.

I have noticed quite a decline in the quality of life in many Americans, as well as people of every culture and creed. We have become a people who only want to get it done. We want to go to work, come home, eat, and sleep. Only to wake up and repeat it again. The popular opinion is that the weekdays are only for work, and then our fun is condensed into two days and a night called the “Weekend”. It's rather unfortunate, as I watch people around me walking through life with a frown. Indeed, I often find myself without a smile gracing my lips. We all search for something to make us smile, perhaps we might even let out a small giggle, but no more. If we were to let anything else out, we might be accused of not working.

Perhaps the most unfortunate part of the whole matter is that the industry of the world hardly tries to stop this. Indeed, they design tools to make us more “efficient” and “fast”. Everything we buy is to help us do more, until we reach the point that we are overloaded with tasks. It's unfortunate, but we have brought it upon ourselves.

I don't know about you, but I don't have very much fun in a full day of school/work. Most of my off time is spent doing homework, even during the weekend. However, today I took an opportunity to do something I haven't done in a long time. I was running some errands, specifically, I was buying some batteries at my local Walmart. On my way home, I decided to take a little detour on some of the side streets around the town. When I got home, I found myself very energized and promptly attacked my homework with fresh eyes. Now, I wouldn't say that I was so invigorated just because of the break form homework, that doesn't usually do much at all. I would say that the fun oriented drive had everything to do with my refreshed attitude. It wasn't the manner that I drove that made me so happy, for it was nothing special. My normal speed, two or three over. My normal handling style, just over the top. I think the biggest game changer was the car.

My first car was a faded green Saturn SL1 with an automatic transmission and a small four cylinder engine that couldn't scare a kitten. I loved the car more than anything, giving it the name “Yoshi”. I hate to say, but my driving was probably what killed Yoshi. I was quite a wild driver, always pushing him to the limit. I was heart broken when my parents made the decision to sell him. The day that the buyer came to drive him away, I started him up and sat in the drivers seat wishing to never leave. I'll never forget that car and the gaping hole between first and second gears. My next car was a gray Nissan Sentra with a manual transmission. I started out hating the car, I didn't know how to drive a manual. However, circumstance forced me to, so I learned. At first, I was pretty shaky, stalls happened pretty often. The more I drove it, the more comfortable I became with it. I am pleased to say that I haven't looked back.

If I had my choice, I would never sit on an automatic transmission again. With a manual, you become part of the car. In my opinion, a manual transmission is like a very faithful spouse. Changing when you ask, never disagreeing, always part of your soul. I love taking turns shifting a manual, the feeling is incomparable to anything else in the world. With such strong feelings towards that particular transmission type, I am increasingly alarmed at the trend of carmakers to reduce the availability of it in their models. Some carmakers don't even send manual equipped cars to showrooms or dealerships, simply because demand is so low. Even the companies who use it exclusively, such as Ferrari, have forgotten to put the clutch in. Then they cut the stick in half and put the pieces behind the steering wheel, calling them “Paddle Shifters”. What the heck is a paddle shifter? What a sad situation. People don't want to have fun while driving, that's why they want an automatic, it's “easier”, and “faster”. Well, when you bond with the car like I have, shifting is a natural part of driving, and no slow downs are involved. I pride myself in a quick two-three shift, and I must say that I am a lot quicker in a manual than an automatic.

People who drive automatics only aren't driving, their car is.

I was very happy when I found others with such strong feelings as myself. I found out of a campaign started by some Car and Driver writers called “Save the Manuals”. I don't have money to donate, or buy merchandise, but I fully support the cause. They too realize automaker's mistake and the world's acceptance of it, and they're standing out in defiance. I join my voice with theirs in warning of our automotive decline. It's time to return to our roots. The manual transmission has almost become a thing of the past. Like an aging historical figure, America wants to put it into a museum, never to see the light of a summer day again.

Wake up world, go outside, get in a real car, roll down all the windows, and have some fun driving. What happened to the Sunday drive? I think it's time to bring it back. We should teach our kids to drive, not to steer. This is a decline that we can beat. We need to bring the manual transmission back into demand, and start having fun again.

Until then, I'll be here, sitting, waiting, wishing.

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