This is probably green blasphemy, but I think this notion of people still pushing work-related carpooling in 2007 is completely out of touch with today’s realities. Don’t get me wrong–I love what carpooling attempts to accomplish, with fewer cars on the road, less emissions and money-savings for the driver and the riders. However, these days, most workers don’t all live in one place and commute to a single location where they work traditional hours. In my old neighborhood, for example, I knew about a dozen folks who all worked for the same pharmaceutical or financial company, and even though they had these things in common, carpooling still wouldn’t have worked for them.
Let’s start with the fact that they worked in different offices the company owns in the area. Then there was the issue of the work hours themselves–some worked 7:30 to 3:30, others the traditional 9:00 to 5:00. Finally, these folks all had divergent after-work commitments, such as coaching or graduate school. On paper these folks should have been able to form a carpool. In reality, that just wasn’t possible.
That’s not to say that carpooling doesn’t work in certain situations. There are plenty of people nationwide that post their carpooling needs on websites like Carpool Connect and the “rideshare” subsection in “Community” on Craigslist (those these posts are more about one-off ride needs rather than long-term carpooling). I know that a friend who lives in a Washington, D.C. suburb used to pick up “slugs” (strangers who act as carpool buddies) at a centralized location right before a Beltway entrance ramp. By having these extra people in the car, she could drive in the HOV lane, drop these folks at a single Metro station in the city, and still get to work faster. But Slug Lines, as they’re called, are unique to DC.
Here’s what I think we can all do, even if we can’t carpool to work: we moms should make the effort to carpool to our kids’ activities as much as possible.
Some benefits of this kind of carpooling are similar to work-related carpooling, in that you put less mileage and wear-and-tear on your car, you don’t use as much gas, and so on. But there are social benefits as well: your kids get to “commute” with their friends, which makes the ride to and from an activity fun for them; and you, the parent, don’t have to spend most of your afternoons and weekends acting as Mom’s taxi.
Currently, we carpool to my daughter’s swim team, which holds twice-weekly practices. Because there are five families involved, it works out that I drive only once or twice a month. In addition, we have just started carpooling to religious education, something I remember my own mother doing in the 1970s, when the gas crisis introduced this newfangled concept of carpooling to mainstream America.
Wow, I really am becoming like my mother. First there was my enthusiastic embrace of recycling, then composting and now carpooling.
How do you make carpooling work for you in your real world?