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?