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The Slice: Coming through in the clutch

Tue., Aug. 20, 2013, midnight

It’s too bad kids no longer learn to drive in vehicles with standard transmissions.

Learning how to operate a clutch can be momentarily humbling. That is not a bad thing for teenagers to experience.

OK, I assume a few young people still do learn to drive in cars or trucks with old-fashioned gear shifters. Farm kids, maybe.

Still, I’m guessing the vast majority of novice drivers prepare for their license exams on automatics. Many probably assume the only thing you need to know is which is the gas pedal and which is the brake.

Now there’s no reason they can’t become safe, courteous drivers. But something about learning to use a clutch, the inevitable bucking and lurching maybe, tells a person that a motor vehicle is not to be taken lightly.

Of course, that humility never has lasted all that long. Some of the most dangerous young drivers learned on a standard and grasped a stick-shift as they subsequently rocketed through town.

For others, though, learning to operate a standard transmission offered a lesson beyond getting a feel for the clutch.

It was this: The person behind the wheel needs to know what he or she is doing.

Slice answer (What leisure obsession, annual activity or shared interest is the glue holding your oldest social network together?): “Beer,” said insurance man Curt Olsen.

Long and short of it: Regular correspondent Gary Rust inquired about my criteria for determining who does or doesn’t qualify as a “longtime reader.”

Gary, it isn’t an exact science. If you have been reading The Slice for 21 years, you qualify. Or if you sent me something I still remember, such as you did in August 2006: “Does everyone in Spokane experience the same movement of throw rugs that ours follow? Ours always move from west to east.”

Today’s Slice question: Is it your guess that indiscriminate flickers of cigarette butts are capable of consideration for others in weightier contexts, or do you view that particular form of littering as indicative of a person being an irredeemable drag on civil society?

Write The Slice at P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; email Agreeing to serve as board secretary can be stepping onto a slippery slope.

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