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Take Your Foot Off The Brake

Chevy Nova at Golden Hour, Red HookHaving a cool car during your college career is a great bonus to your social life – at least it was for me.

When I arrived at Stetson University in 1981 during my freshman year, I was driving a 1973 Chevy Nova.  I don’t know if it officially fell into the “muscle car” category, but I thought it was cool.  It came in handy for Friday night dates, going to Daytona Beach on the weekends to see friends and visit my home church.

Then, one day, for no apparent reason at the time, all the benefits to owning that car came to a screeching halt.  I mean that quite literally.

I’d start the car.  The engine would run just fine.  Then I’d put the car in drive, put my foot on the accelerator, and would give it some gas

The car would grind and screech, lurch forward a few feet, and then come to an abrupt stop.  I’d give it a little most gas next time, hold the accelerator down longer, and got the car up to about 15mph.  The awful groaning and grinding of the engine was so awful, however, that I just couldn’t keep that up.

I inched the car back to its parking spot.  There is sat for several months.  Once I had been free to go and come as I pleased.  Now I was stuck on campus, unable to go anywhere except by foot to the few blocks of businesses within walking distance of the campus.

Several months later, as spring time rolled around, some of my fraternity brothers wanted to make a road trip to the beach.

“Hey, Nieporte, you have a car, don’t you?”

“Yeah, I have a car, but it does not run well!  I think something is wrong with the transmission.”

“I use to work on cars,” said Richard, one of my brothers.  “Mind if I take a look at it?”

“No, that’ll be fine,” I said.  He, several other brothers, and myself walked across campus to where my car was parked.  As we walked, I explained the problem. “Let me see the keys,” he said.

“Get in guys, I know what the problem is!” he said.

My brothers all piled into the car, Richard behind the wheel.  I did not get in the car.  I knew how poorly it ran.

“It’s not going to go anyways, guys!” I said.

He turned the keys to the ignition.  The car started just fine.  But I knew what would happen as soon as he engaged the transmission.  Then he reached down, released the parking brake, and put the car in drive.   I didn’t see them or my car for the next couple of hours.

I learned an important lesson that day about cars and life.  You’ll stay stuck in one place if you don’t released the brake.  If you drive down the highway with one foot on the accelerator and the other pushing the brake pedal, you’ll not get far.

For the next couple of month, I am going to be writing and speaking about the life challenge of taking our foot off the brake and putting it on the accelerator.

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