BMW Stick shifterIt’s that ominous question that strikes fear in the heart of drivers everywhere: When faced with a situation in which you must, or desperately want to, drive a car that is not your own, you’re asked: Can you drive a stick?

Whether it’s avoiding extra fees for an automatic transmission at the car rental counter at Charles De Gaulle or getting that once-in-a-lifetime chance to drive your pal’s Ferrari, if you can say YES, your fortunes are far more blessed. But here are ten real, practical and compelling reasons you should learn to drive a stick shift (Note: No. 6 makes you a better citizen, No. 8 makes you more fashionable, and No. 10 will keep you smiling all day!).

1. A stick shift puts you in complete control of the car: It gives you opportunity to decide the speed of the engine, the speed of your car, and second by second, gives you much tighter control over the car; you–not some random pre-programmed transmission criteria–decide moment by moment based on traffic, the road and conditions, how to operate your car.

2. You will inspire other girls and women to be in control: of their vehicles and their destination; you’ll teach the girls in your car how to think about what needs to be done and when, and to not be afraid of the car’s mechanics, because over time you’ll naturally become attuned to your car’s natural rhythm and function.

Feet on PedalsThe pebbled bottoms of driving moccasins help to keep the driver’s feet from slipping off the pedals

3. A stick shift is fun to drive. Way more fun than an automatic. It might be impractical (or even impossible) to buy a minivan, SUV or other large cargo-hauling car with a stick shift. But there’s always that second car– a Jeep Wrangler, a Mazda Miata, a Ford Mustang or an Audi TT. And, consider the exclusivity of the passenger seat if you choose a two seater: your passenger has a unique view of the world and gets to spend special time with you. But if you really do need the cargo space, consider the Cadillac CTS-V Wagon or the Subaru Outback.

4. Manual transmissions generally get better gas milage and longer wear on the brakes. That’s because you control the engine’s speed and its operation and can make more economical choices while driving, and by downshifting you can use the car’s engine power to slow the car, saving wear on your brakes. 

5. You’re good a multitasking–of course! Driving a stick shift takes concentration and the ability to do a number of things at once. You have to think about traffic, speed, cars around you; you have to consider which gear you’re in and when to shift to the next gear; should your engine speed be lower or higher? Both your left and right foot have roles in getting you to your destination, and you have to remember not to ride the clutch (or you’ll wear it out and have to replace it!).

6. You can’t text while you’re driving–and neither can teens at the wheel. It’s almost impossible to manage or operate your iPhone or other device while you’re shifting gears, much less read an email or send a text. And, if you teach your kids to drive a stick shift, they can’t text while driving either! Thankfully, Apple’s Siri and the many other voice activated hands-free options give you the opportunity to talk, text and catch up while you drive. 

7. You won’t be stuck when traveling internationally. Manual cars are far more common (and often are the only option) outside the US, so if you can drive one, you’ll never be stuck at a car rental desk, at your hotel or at the mercy of taxi cab drivers; you’ll be able to hop into that cute little Renault and go. 

8. You’ll need a pair of super gorgeous driving mocs. The ones with the rubber pebbles on the sole; they were created for drivers who are clutching and breaking as they drive–the pebbles keep your feet from slipping off the pedals, and the ones on the back of the shoe protect it from wearing down from all the shifting and accelerating. 

9. You will earn the respect of valet parkers, garage attendants and anyone who drives with you. It’s a really nice boost to your ego that these people are walking around thinking “that chick is really cool…”

10. You get to secretly snicker every time you hear the word ‘tranny’ said with conviction by a gear-headed guy talking about cars. Of course YOU know he’s talking about a five-speed gear box, but just imagine that he’s talking about a six-foot-two, hairy chested, false eyelash wearing, lip gloss sporting, Dolly Parton-wig topped dude; and, enjoy.