On Saturday night, a neighbor and I were having noodles at the Vietnamese-Chinese place on Gorham (next to the video store). He mentioned that he was doing a firearms certification class at the place on Andover Street and would be purchasing a personal firearm.
"Sweet," I said, "Weapon familiarity -- what an awesome skill to add to your palate."
That wasn't so much his line of thinking -- he saw it more as an expression of patriotic duty. However, in my not as high-minded spirit, I immediately just kept ticking off the reasons why some kind of basic handgun or rifle familiarity is just a neat skill to have, because you just never know.
I personally don't ever want to own a weapon of any kind. Not while I'm still single, but especially not once I'm married and have little ones running around. But in the meantime, it's a comforting thought that I can recognize and identify different types of weapons (and the threats they pose), could load or unload and dismantle several of said weapons, and, if the fit really hit the shan, could possibly help win one for the home team (of course, I'm thinking John McLean in the first Die Hard...but you already knew that).
The point is, it's a neat skill.
So is driving a stick shift. I've never owned a manual transmission, I've never driven one full-time, and I hope I never do. From what I hear, advances in automatic transmissions have made them even more efficient, not to mind less of a pain in the posterior when you're caught in stop-and-go traffic.
Still, why have the skill?
Let's say your buddy is inebriated and you can save him from a DUI or something far worse. Let's say a pregnant lady is going into labor and needs to be rushed to the hospital. Let's say [you insert the 'save-the-day' contingency here].
Let's say the only auto available is a stick shift. I hope you learned this one beforehand, because it's not suddenly going to come to you while you're stuck in the middle of an intersection.
I was talking about skill sets with another friend this week and we both instantly recognized CPR as another to be added to this list.
Basic vehicle maintenance and home improvements come to mind, too. Maybe not as instantly critical, but the same principle applies.
As much as time allows, I'm always trying to work on the skill sets, and I recommend you do the same.
The one piece of advice I have is that the best (albeit the most expensive) way to really commit yourself to something is to formalize it. Unless you're part of a class or a group, you're never really going to practice your Tae Kwon Do Poomsae maneuevers, declinations of your Russian verbs, ability to resuscitate fellow humans, or maybe just to make a mean Cuba Libre.
Plus, it might be a fun way to meet your neighbors.