Manual Transmission

Andre Evans
4 min readAug 20, 2019

“Let’s try and have a good time this weekend. We could both use it.” Maria said to me after what seemed like an hour of silence on the road between us.

“I’ve been trying to have a good time, and so have you.” I shot back.

“Will you let it go? How much longer are you going to rub it in my face? I’ve apologized for not telling you that he had feelings for me and I’m not going to talk to him anymore. Apparently I have a void that I’m trying to fill with the attention of others. That’s my stuff that I need to work on.”

“Okay. We’ll see. I hope the snow isn’t heavy going over the pass. I don’t wanna get stuck up there.” I said out loud and mostly to myself.

Ahead there was action on the road, a couple of men stood in yellow jump suits flagging us to stop. I rolled down my window.

“You got chains or is this four wheel drive?” said one of the men as he looked at my truck.

“I have chains and this is four-wheel drive.” I said back.

“You’re good to go.”

“Is there much snow up there?”

“Up near Vista there is.”


We carried on along the road and gained elevation quickly. Soon we were up at 6,000 feet. Just an hour before, we were at a coffee shop in Nevada City visiting with some friends. Now we were weaving through a frosted pine tree lined corridor. I pulled over onto the side of the road so I could lock the front hubcaps. The road was one moment slick with ice and the next slushy with snow and more was falling. It struck me that traveling in a vehicle in such weather really should only be done if absolutely necessary. Our extended weekend getaway didn’t feel necessary, but what did I know.

“Have you ever driven in the snow before?” Maria asked me.

I thought for a moment. “Once, maybe twice. Going over the Siskiyou pass maybe ten years ago. I was by myself in my old Volvo and it got pretty hairy. Back when I would go from Oregon to California a lot. You?”

“No, I’ve never personally driven in the snow.”

“You’re S.O.L. if something happens to me in this truck. Now would be a good time for you to know how to drive a manual.”

“Why haven’t you taught me sooner?” Maria said in pretend anger. She had a corporate job, hated spiders, and drove a newish BMW. She had never seriously expressed interest in learning how to drive a stick shift. But I could still teach her. I filed the idea away as a possible “date-night” activity.

“Earlier I imagined pushing you out of the truck.” I said the words and Maria looked at me funny. “I know that sounds really fucked up, I’m sorry. I felt horrible right after I thought it.”

“That is messed up. I imagine hitting you sometimes.”

“Oh yea? How do you do it? Straight on punch, tomahawk, slap?”

“I find that I get the most bang for my buck with the tomahawk.” With a clenched fist she pantomimed the motion.

“I bet.”

The snow continued to come down and we carried on once again in silence. I became focused on the road and was determined to feel the ground underneath the tires of the truck. I tried to feel when we were mostly on snow, ice, or asphalt. I also made it a mission, when it seemed appropriate, to try to follow the tracks cut out before me from vehicles that had gone before. I was settling into a groove. I became unafraid of the relentless snow and surrendered to the path that we were on. I would stick to going slow and steady. Even if I thought I could go faster, slow and steady was enough.

“Everything would be easier if you just had feelings.” Maria said, bringing me up and out of my trance.

“I have feelings, just not in the same way that you have them.”

“You haven’t cried in the three years I’ve known you and that’s not normal.”

“I well up.”

Maria let out a laugh and looked away. “Do you know why snow is white?”

“I don’t know why snow is white. But it’s beautiful.”

“Yea, it’s a mystery. Just like you.”

I took my eyes off the road for a second and tried to smile at Maria. “Maybe just like everything.”