Shifting Gears

A clueless driver gets behind the wheel after 16 years of city life

Sara K. Runnels
Human Parts
Published in
6 min readOct 17, 2022
A woman driver
Photo by Jan Baborák on Unsplash

“Why am I even listening to you to begin with? You’re a virgin who can’t drive.”

I think about this cutting insult delivered by the iconic Brittany Murphy from the cult classic, Clueless, every time someone discovers that 2006 was the last time I drove a car.

(Don’t fret, I’ve had sex.)

After graduating college, between my 12.5 years in Manhattan and four in downtown Seattle, not once have I found myself in the driver’s seat again. For many lifetime city dwellers, this is a lackluster reveal. But for others who rely on such a conventional practice, that information is usually met with an onslaught of profound and curious questions like: How? And Why?

Innumerable vacations, visits back home, impromptu road trips, you name it, and I am consistently the D.D.D.D. — Designated Directions Deputy/Deejay. Or, more routinely, the backseat rider in a 4.72-star-stranger’s car.

I have walked and rolled and played passenger for so long, that as time went on, I thoroughly convinced myself I was terrified to ever grip my hands at 10-and-2 and be the mortal power behind a two-ton machine again, forced to continue this casually chauffeured lifestyle for the rest of my adult life. Technology and modern convenience have made it possible for 100% of my car expenses to be categorized as Someone Else’s Time and Gas; to never lose a moment of my life trying to find parking; and to be able to crush countless cocktails without anticipating blue and red lights in my rearview.

Easy, breezy, beautiful, ‘your ride is covered’ girl.

Being — or feeling — in control is clutch in many aspects of my life, but like many big-city transplants, I had no problem letting the traditional ability to “get up and go”… go. Relying on public transportation, cabs, and my legs sufficed. And later, I could simply push a button on my phone to get going. I don’t trust others easily, and yet, when a stranger named Vince in his Toyota Burrata pings me that he’s outside my exact address, I don’t think twice about hopping in the backseat and trusting him with my entire life as I let him drive me to happy hour.



Sara K. Runnels
Human Parts

Copywriter by day. Humor writer by night. Exhausted by afternoon. @omgskr /