Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Staying out of the Borrow Pit

"Do you realize that you are driving in the 'borrow pit'*?"

"That left turn was a little sharp, don't you think?"

"Now, ease, no, eeeeeaaaaazzzz off of the clutch."

All these statements were said (with a rueful smile so I would know that he wasn't really mad at me), by my father nearly twenty-two years ago. He was sitting rigidly in the passenger seat of our faithful Dodge Colt, while the nearly-sixteen-year-old-version-of-me tried (usually in vain) to work the controls in the driver's seat.

The Colt had a standard transmission, and back in those early learning days, I honestly didn't think I would ever get the hang of working the clutch and gas together in harmony. I would look at my parents, older cousins, and other relatives in awe as they would drive these cars, manage to shift gears, all while seamlessly maintaining a conversation with me or whoever happened to be in the front seat with them. They didn't stall the engine, they didn't miss a stoplight, they didn't even cause the car to shake or jolt the tiny-est bit. It absolutely amazed me. I couldn't imagine how they could have the coordination to do it all at the same time, and I was positive that I would never ever be able to it.

I remember my mother telling me once that eventually it would become second nature to me, and I'd be able to shift and accelerate and brake and do all those wonderful driving things without even having to think about them. I wanted to believe her, but I honestly couldn't fathom how she could possibly be right.

As it turned out, she was. I'm proud to say that I am now able to drive a car with a standard transmission without getting a tension headache. In fact, I can take a sip of water, or talk to someone in the seat next to me, or chew gum, or sing along to the radio at the same time as I am driving the car, and it all works out just fine. (Note: I can't do all those things together at the same time as I am driving. That would definitely push me over the edge.) I can drive a stick shift, and I almost never end up in the 'borrow pit' anymore.

I think about that sometimes. I especially think about it when I'm starting something new and/or difficult, something that is waaaay outside my comfort zone, something that I'm afraid I'll never learn to do adequately, let alone well. I've thought about it as I've accepted new church callings, started new jobs, taken on new responsibilities, and entered into new stages of life.

Silly as it might seem, reflecting on the fact that I am able to drive a car with a standard transmission often gives me courage to try things that I otherwise might not have the guts to attempt.

And what's not to like about that?

Happy Tuesday,


*I used to think he was saying "barrel pit", and I never understood why he called it that. It's not like there were ever any barrels there.


Jeri said...

ok, i give, what is a "borrow pit?" borrow pit/barrel pit... both make no sense to me.
enlighten me with some corry/cantwell wisdom puhleez...

Harmony said...

I am not about to say that motherhood is a piece of cake, but I think you'll discover built-in motherly instincts in much greater proportion than built-in stick-shift driving insticts!

Anonymous said...

Funny that I learned to drive a stick in that same wonderful colt. I seem to recall going up Lay Hill and having Doug yell from the back seat "Shift into Power, Shift into Power" Good Times.

Charlotte said...


For purposes of this post, (i.e. what my dad was talking about) a 'borrow pit' is that deep-ish gutter that you find along both sides of the road when you're driving down one of those rural roads in Southern Utah. (say the frontage road that lead out to Hamilton Fort when we were at SUU (you know--the one with the 'love bumps'?)--except that that particular road is now a much more mainstream road with sidewalks and houses and stuff, and so there is certainly no borrow pit there now)

The actual definition (according to Wikipedia) has to do with contruction, and a pit in the ground that is formed when ground/gravel/whatever is 'borrowed' to create some other kind of project.

melissa c said...

This post brings brings back memories of my dad teaching me to drive a stick.

Ah, the good old days!

Jeri said...

thanks for the clarity. i actually did look it up on wikipedia too, after i asked the question, and was guessing that might be what he was referring to.

Jake said...

I always thought it was a barrel pit too.

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