A Different Kind of Independence

A week ago we celebrated our country’s independence from England. I’ve been celebrating my own freedom from dependence on others for rides-everywhere.  After ten months of not having a functional vehicle, I had my freedom restored.

On June 21st Tara picked me up and we went to the Seminole County Tax Collector’s office where she paid for my car’s registration. I am so grateful because there was absolutely no way I was going to get a car had she not done that. Of course, the cost will get added to the sales price of the car. And, it helped that I had the tag from my Beetle. New vehicle registrations in Florida are ridiculous. A couple of days earlier I paid my first month’s auto insurance premium.

I drove myself to work for the first time since August 2018 on Sunday June 23rd. It was empowering just unlocking the driver’s side door and slipping in behind the wheel. I no longer had to get into the passenger’s side of someone else’s car. It is a simple thing that almost everyone takes for granted. But, when you do that for the first time in almost a year and you sit down in the driver’s seat and put your hands on the wheel and then start the engine, it hits you that you have not been in control of your travels.

It’s weird transitioning from a diesel manual transmission to a gasoline automatic. I think I have gotten past the urge to use my clutch foot but, I still sometimes try to go from neutral to first gear when the traffic light goes from red to green. This gets reinforced because the Pontiac has a console floor gear shifter which, of course, is in the same place as the manual shifter on my VW. It was strange buying gas. I almost panicked when I got out of the car at the Shell station near my home. Gas, oh my God, do I need to tell the clerk what grade? Formerly, I would go plunk down my money and say, “Ten dollars on pump two.” Which would sometimes elicit the reply of, “You know that’s diesel, right?” My response was usually, “I certainly hope so.”

Fortunately, I got through my first gas pumping and a few others.  Watching my driving is going to be a challenge as both diesels and manuals in general get better fuel mileage than either gas or automatic transmissions. So far, that has been my only real concern. I am so happy to have control over my transportation again.

The day I got the car I drove myself to Publix to get some groceries. I pushed my cart along and started to tear up. I texted Tara and said, “I just drove to Publix. I cried a little.” She responded with, “Aww,” and a blue heart.

There are other little quirks I will have get familiar with. The car locks when it gets put into drive and unlocks when it goes into park. I gave one of my co-workers a ride home one day last week. Yay, THAT was a nice change. We got to her home and she couldn’t get out of the car cause I was idling in drive. It was pretty funny. I had to park the car to get the doors unlocked. I’m sure there is a less inconvenient way to unlock the doors but, I will have to learn by trial and error. Another oddity: the gear abbreviations on the gear shifter console do not immediately light up and leaving my first late shift at work was humorous because I had forgotten the order of the gears. I used the light on my phone to find the gears because I couldn’t find the buttons to turn on the interior lights. At some point they light up on the console but I haven’t detected the when that actually happens.

I don’t care. I am just so happy and relieved to have a car and to not be trapped. I will joyfully try to figure out knobs and levers and buttons on my own or maybe I can try and find a manual for a 2005 Pontiac G6 online. For now, I’m happy to discover things myself.

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