Words by Andre Palma
My first encounter with an automatic gearbox was back in college. Somehow, as the proctoring professor arrived at the examination room, I found myself separated from my exam permit during finals week. With my usual dumb luck, the said permit was a kilometer away and it was raining. A set of keys was tossed in my direction and off I went, down four flights of stairs with my academic life hanging in the balance. A sense of hope filled me. I could still make finals.
After fiddling with a Solex lock for what seemed to be an eternity, I jumped into the driver’s seat of the Ford Laser hatch, and in a single motion, kicked the clutch and tried to fumble the gear stick into neutral. To my horror, there wasn’t a clutch pedal in the car. Add to that the fact that the usual H-pattern gear change was missing as well. In its place were the mocking letters P, R, N, and D.
It was then when I panicked.