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  • 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.

This sign could refer to the MX-5, but not me!

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.

It's practical!

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 take the MX-5 on a proper drive as soon as I'm two-armed again.

I’ll also try avoiding any more injuries—at least for a little while (I miss hockey, too!).

It's not just the car disease with which I'm afflicted.

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.

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