Saturday, December 21, 2013

Flip 'em the Bird!

Many of you know I have a serious commute to work.  At 26 miles away, at best, it takes me 40 minutes to get to work.  With Seattle traffic during peak hours, it often takes an hour to an hour and a half to get home.

Surprising, isn't it?  Me, the environmentally conscious, tree hugging, granola eater, spending that much time in the car burning fossil fuels...  it's really a shame.

But wait!  There's a solution!


Yes indeedy.  I've been carpooling for almost the whole time I've been at my job, and this school year, I have carpooled with at least another person almost every single day.  (I think I can count the times I've driven myself alone since September on one hand.)

This year, there are five of us in our carpool.  We all have slightly different schedules throughout the week, so we're not in the same car every day together, but it works out that each of us only has to drive our own car to work two to three times a week.  We all live in the North Seattle area so we meet at a park and ride and each have a designated day to drive to eliminate confusion.  Let's do some numbers.  If I were to drive myself every day, my total mileage would be 26 x 10 = 260 miles.  Blech!  By comparison, the carpool place is 6.5 miles from my house.  Only driving twice a week, it comes out to: (26 x 4) + (6.5 x 6) = 104 + 39 = 153.  260 - 153... I save 107 miles!  Sa-weet.  At about 33 miles per gallon that I get on my car, that's at least a $10 savings in gas each week, not to mention the carbon emissions that aren't being pumped into the air.  At those are just my numbers.  Multiply that by 5 and you start feeling pretty good about the impact that it could be making.

Though the gas savings was the initial reason my workmates and I started carpooling, there have been many other benefits that have come up that really makes it even better.  Let's discuss:


SANITY: Driving long distances, especially in traffic, can lead to lapses of sanity and major road rage.  When you have others in the car with you the share in the anger that other drivers can cause, for some reason, that rage is dissipated instantly.  Instead, we just make fun of the driver and imagine scenarios that lead to their fiery deaths or ferrets chewing on their testicles.  Which leads me to the next benefit:

PEOPLE WATCHING:  It's really hard to look at other drivers when you're the one doing the driving.  But when there are two or three other pairs of eyes in the car, each looking out different windows, there are lots of people-noticing opportunities.  And the people we've seen have been quite entertaining.  Take for instance, the lady who was doing a crossword puzzle while driving.  Are you fo real?  She had it rested on her steering wheel between her hands and was seriously working on it.  That's worse than talking on the phone.  Maybe worse than texting.  Then there are the people with funny wardrobes.  Like the lady who was wearing a sweet rainbow visor, pink sunglasses, and white gloves.  Or the all the people rocking out to their music, dealing with their own road rage, and making funny faces while driving.

FINDING THE FASTEST ROUTES:  There are always various ways to get somewhere.  When you have two cars leaving the same place or going the same direction at the same time, you get the rare opportunity of a little experimenting.  Is it faster to take the exit before and get out of the traffic to take the side streets?  Is it quicker and shorter to got to the other freeway entrance?  These are things that are hard to decide when driving yourself.  But when you have two cars and two drivers at your disposal, you can find out!  Though our efficiency makes it a rare occurrence for two cars to be leaving one place at the same time, it has happened just enough times to answer some of the most dire questions.

WHAT'S FOR DINNER?:  Things get done when you have more brains in the car.  The "what's for dinner" conversation happens nearly on a daily basis and actually gets answered on occasion.  This saves headache when you get home.  Other things that have gotten done in the car: parties have been planned, tumblr ideas have been created, life concerns have been solved.  Carpool therapy- you should try it sometime.

GOSSIP:  Duh, when you have a bunch of people who work together stuck in car for two hours a day, gossip happens.  But really not as much as you think.  It's more sharing work stories and sympathizing with the daily trials and hilariosity of working with children.

CAR/ROAD GAMES: Seriously, we play them.  And they work to make an hour drive slightly more bearable.

INSIDE JOKES:  So many inside jokes.  I won't go into details since they won't make sense but let me explain one: Lately, we've begun Flipping the Bird.  Most know this as a euphemism for giving one that has pissed another off the middle finger.  In this scenario, there are no fingers involved.  Instead, we have a picture of a Western Tanager that just happened to get trapped in my car from summer camp.  One of my carpool buddies discovered this one day and has decided that it should be flashed to people who make bad driving decisions.  Sounds dumb, right?  But it's hilarious.  (Maybe I take back my sanity argument.)  It's just a fun way to release our anger out at other drivers that they won't necessarily take as offensive.  It's win-win, really.  It makes us feel better, but doesn't piss anyone off.  Most people don't even notice, but the ones that do just get confused.  We laugh.  This leads me to my final benefit:

FRIENDS:  When you spend many hours a week with someone in a very confined space in a stressful situation, you have to become friends with that person.  There's no way around it.  I think this is one of the best benefits of all.

Western Tanager is yelling at you to stop sucking at driving. (And to buy shade grown coffee.)
The picture below was taken last year in my old car.  My friend has a tumblr and always needs ideas for new pictures and posts.  This was one of them.  

If you'd like to see more, here's a link to that particular tumblr.

Tea Robot carpools to work.

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