Thursday, December 07, 2006

Carpooling

As life goes, I get occasionally pushed into something with reluctance and trepidation and end up really liking it later. Carpooling is one such case.

Just about a month ago, my car's ingnition keybox jammed at work rendering inoperable my only means of transporation. Towed it to the repair shop nearby, and because I had brought in the car so late in the day, the mechanic could not get the necessary parts in time, so I found myself stranded nearly 30 miles from my house here in Southern California, a region with the dubious honor of trailing most of the Third World in the availability of public transporation.

Then it dawned on me that one of the guys in the office lived just a few blocks from my house. Asked him if I could get a ride, and off we went up the 405 taking advantage of the carpool lane through one of the most traffic congested stretches in the country. It took us 35 minutes, reducing our commute by a whopping 20 minutes at least.

Since then, he and I have taken turns in driving to and from work on a regular basis, allowing me to leave my car on the driveway half the time. Per month, I believe I spend about 15 hours less on the road, and save roughly $80-100 in fuel, tolls, and wear and tear on the car.

But all of the said benefits are eclipsed by one thing.

Do you know what traffic is like around here? The delight of zipping right by the poor motorists sitting in bumper to bumper traffic brings about tears of joyous and perverted gratification. And seated on the passenger side, I wrestle with the urge to taunt them with my head protruding out the car window like a dog. Probably not a good idea if I want to continue to carpool.

Okay, this is getting to be TMI, so I shall not go into any more sordid details. Yes, I am a horrible person. Decades of traffic and smog have clearly destroyed my moral certitude.

Just a few weeks ago, I found another carpool partner who has driven with me to work when the other one can't make it. These two guys can't carpool together because of their conflicting schedules, but my flexible work hours as a consultant allow me to carpool with whoever happens to be available on a given day.

In fact, there have been times when one of the guys has taken me to work, and the other back home. They just can't pass up the opportunity to use the carpool lane, so they put up with me.

Just don't call me a carpool whore, okay?

9 Comments:

At December 08, 2006 1:55 AM, Blogger Brian Buriff said...

The Cincinnati area is not familiar with carpool lanes as you've described, although I've seen them in other cities. Soon, however, it will get it's first taste of a similar lane during a 4 year highway construction project. I'm crossing my fingers, wondering how that will turn out. I'm figuring lots of citations will be issued before people finally get it that it's for a those with cars full of people - not just one.

 
At December 08, 2006 5:48 AM, Blogger JustMom said...

Does wearing a seatbelt count as practising safe carpool whoring?

 
At December 08, 2006 6:40 AM, Blogger grace said...

David,
We don't have carpool lanes out here in the sticks. Of course, we don't have traffic either. :)

 
At December 08, 2006 9:26 AM, Blogger Bruce said...

Zipping past rush-hour traffic that is anything BUT rush-hour is always an exciting thing. May your journey always be speedy. Taunt away!

B~

 
At December 08, 2006 4:37 PM, Blogger Elevated said...

haha I'm glad I'm not the only one that feels a guilty rush of superiority while zipping along.....and BTW we'd never accuse you of being a whore..well at least not a car pool whore

 
At December 09, 2006 2:26 PM, Blogger Gary Means said...

I've been riding in a 12-passenger vanpool for about 8 years. Prior to that I drove into work alone. It's 27 miles. In theory, according to MapQuest, that should take 33 minutes. It takes a little less than that when I leave the house at 5:00 a.m. But if I leave at 5:30, traffic will already be stop and go much of the way. If I am foolish enough to try to leave at 6:30, well it's a long, aggravating morning, and I'd better have a full tank of gas, and not have drank too much coffee.

Depending on which national study you look at, the greater Seattle/Puget Sound region has the second worst traffic in the nation, or the forth worst, or the twewlth worst. I don't know where it ranks, I just know that it sucks. By the way, LA is at the top of all of those lists.

 
At December 09, 2006 2:29 PM, Blogger Gary Means said...

Speaking of the guilty pleasures of the carpooler, we all cheer on the vanpool when we see a State Patrol officer pull over an HOV lane violator.

 
At December 09, 2006 3:18 PM, Blogger A thinker said...

Teehee. No, I think you're just enjoying some well-deserved gratification.

Don't do the head hanging out the window like a dog thing, though. We don't want to read on the news that you got shot ;)

 
At December 11, 2006 11:05 AM, Blogger SUPER said...

Smalltown life...I don't have to worry about traffic and how many hours I'll spend sitting on the highway. All I have to worry about is if I get stuck behind a 90 year old going 4 MPH or if that pothole I just hit is gonna mean another trip to the mechanic!

 

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