My job involves moving about 150 cars a day. I’m a “car porter” which is an un-tipped valet. I move mostly automatics, and many manual transmission cars as well. But, only around the dealership.

My own car is a 5-speed stick. Today (thank God it happened as I was leaving work) a power steering line (or something) went and I limped the car into the shop. Almost everyone gone for the night. Power steering fluid dripping on the ground. Oh well, I work Saturdays and hopefully one of the two techs will diagnose and ( if it’s just a rusty section of line) fix it.

So, I signed out a loaner car. All the loaners are automatics. Okay, I move them around the service center all day long but I’m not used to driving them to-and-from work. Driving it home tonight was just plain weird. You get used to doing the same things at the same places and I — I kept moving my left foot to a clutch pedal that wasn’t there, my hand on a non-manual “stick” all ready to shift and — of course — not being able to.

I rely on cruise control to keep from getting speeding tickets. Okay, this loaner has cruise but the automatic downshifts up the hills of I-91 with a lurch. My ancient Forester is able to be left in 5th gear and maintains perfect speed up and down hills when in cruise mode. This loaner’s pissy-little engine couldn’t.

Mind you, I’m not knocking automatic transmissions. I’m just saying that it’s disorienting to go from a manual to an auto one on short notice . . .

But, I prefer my 5-speed stick and I hope my Forester can be fixed tomorrow with minimal expense. Having control over the trans makes me (probably falsely) feel that I still have some control over my life, or at least of my car.

Update 10/6: I’m *effed. The hydraulic power steering lines corroded and crapped-out. Probably all it took was hitting a bump and the corroded line gave way. The good news is I don’t need to get a new steering rack. The lines are sold as a kit by Subaru and with luck, can be installed without a new rack. The bad news is that my ancient, already leaking and much welded exhaust manifold has to be dropped to install the replacement lines. Ghod only knows what will happen when that is done.

Oh well, such is life.