Friday, December 5, 2008

Carpooling, 1, 2, 3 ...

Here in FX Land, we have been making the extra effort to be as green as green little men (and women) from Mars can be. We sent the second car off to a far-away city with #2 son, who needed it to support his hip lifestyle at school. I decided to use this as an opportunity to test the waters, so to speak, of carpooling.

Not a full-fledged thing, mind you, but a pretty good one. I carpool with a colleague three days a week. He happens to drive by my house on the way, so it's a bit one sided (remember, my car is far, far away), in that I don't really hold up my end in the driving detail, but all offers of money have been rejected. On the other two days, I drive my wife to work and continue on to my own work, and she walks home, about a mile and a half, when the weather is fine. She is getting up her nerve to walk when the weather is not so fine, but she (a) works a little longer, or shops and (b) calls me to let me know to get out early and come by and get her. We get by.

OK, the first thing about carpooling is dependence. The myriad of details of my friend's life that affect his commute - getting the kids to school, getting his wife where she needs to be, the tires and oil and brakes, the visiting relatives, the illnesses all become an addition to life. There is some waiting. There are some hurry-home early issues. Neither of us has to do this. I don't think we are making any kind of a statement (all are sinners here), but we are getting something done. Sometimes I get to working at home, and he is waiting out there in the drive. Once, I had my cell on silent, and was purty well absorbed by my work, and he had to ring the bell and then wait while I took care of chores that I had neglected (like getting dressed, shaving) before we could leave. Believe me, a well-planned morning at the office can get shot all to heck in short order.

The second thing about carpooling is, for lack of a better word, community. You end up talking to this person about all manner of things (I am interested in the dynamics of three-person carpooling, or four; purely as a social experiment). We actually have known each other for a long time, so we can put up with a lot, but I imagine some rules might be in order if we are going to get out there on Commuter-Connections-dot-com or whatever is working in your neighborhood and carpool with total strangers. The economy, the media, the election, raising kids, birth, death, sex and religion, this kind of stuff just comes up. We haven't had any days of strained silence, but it was close once or twice. This stuff is not unlike an online dating service. The mind boggles with the potential weirdness, but the fact that I think it might be weird is a sign of the times; a bad upbringing, so to speak. Umpty-years ago, folks were placed in close proximity to one another for extended periods of time and were able to be civilized about it, all the time!

Anyway, the saga is not over yet. The car, lent out only for a semester, became a buffer between a car with good brakes and a car with not-so-good brakes, and the insurance folks tell me they won't fix it. Now, this is an opportunity to make a statement isn't it?

1 comment:

katjevandijk said...

If you want to be green, going away from a meat based diet will do way more for the planet than carpooling (true). Try eating vegan once a week and you can then say that you are green, because you've cut your consumption of meat by 1/7th . . . and if we all did that, we would save the land and save the air.

Katje van Dijk

Truly enjoyed your article . . . lived in Europe, at first troubled by the car sharing with my husband, I became a public transportation junky and still am.