- Erik JP Drobey
Save the Manual (-Shifting Arm)
I’ve got a few things on my shoulders these days--including a bum shoulder from old hockey injuries. After years of background discomfort, the pain in my right shoulder grew from nagging to acute to debilitating, and I finally opted for surgery, a routine procedure I underwent a couple of weeks ago. My prognosis is good, and I should make a full recovery. But I won’t be able to drive for another week, and I likely won’t be able to drive my manual-transmission MX-5 for another few weeks after that. I can barely type this article out, let alone shift through gears.
It could be worse. Back in 2013, I was off my feet entirely (and unable to drive) for over six months (thanks to another hockey injury). At the time, though, I wasn’t driving a manual, or anything remotely as fun or engaging to drive as the MX-5. And I wasn’t commuting 25 miles to work every day.
It’s only been a couple of weeks, but I’m surprised at how much I miss driving the Miata. I’m surprised not only because I like the idea of using public transit (though more on that later), but also because almost all my driving for the past few months has been of the mundane variety: commuting; running errands; enduring city traffic on my way someplace. Because I’ve had little time to take a drive just because or embark on a road trip, the MX-5 has been about as appliance-like lately as a convertible roadster can be.
Even as an appliance, though, the MX-5 is fun. And—smirk as you might—it’s actually practical as a daily commuter. The little car has returned over 30mpgs so far, and, as long as I’m not taking a Costco run, it’s great to run errands. And when I’m visiting my girlfriend, who lives in No-Parking North Beach, I can find more precious few parking spots with the Miata than most.
So, even at its most prosaic, the Miata is a car I enjoy driving—and miss driving now. A lot.
It doesn’t help that taking public transit to work is more of an odyssey than a commute. From where I live, I have to walk over a mile to light rail, take that to a train, then take a shuttle from the train to work, a journey that took almost two hours one particularly bad day last week. I don’t mind walking or taking transit, but that’s quite the schlep every day.
I am fortunate that I will heal fully, and as soon as I’m medically cleared, I’ll take the Miata for a proper drive. And I won’t take driving such a fabulous car for granted any longer.
I’ll also try avoiding any more injuries—at least for a little while (I miss hockey, too!).
Erik JP Drobey lives in San Francisco. He chronicles some of his culinary and vehicular adventures on Instagram as @zjpd.
The views and opinions expressed here are his own and may not align with the founders of Everyday Driver.