July 6 evening and July 7 morning -Coming and Going Observations

July 6, Tuesday evening, San Francisco

I got to the carpool line at 5 Tuesday evening and perhaps beat the crowd. There was a line up of about 20 riders, but the cars were flowing along. A great self-appointed ‘monitor’ – Brotha Clint – is keeping us all moving. “That’s b-r-o-t-h-a, not brother” he tells me when I ask him his name. He coaxes 3 riders into most cars instead of the required 2, and flags the cars along. He’s terrific! I’m in the front seat of a Chrysler sedan with two riders in the back seat. A lovely car. We pull out our toll dollars, but the driver turns them down. “You’re keeping me out of a traffic jam”, he says. We all say thank you. He’s a cute Kevin Costner-looking guy. He says that the increase in toll will prompt him to take BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit – our ‘subway’ system) more often on days when he misses the carpool hours. Traffic’s not too bad until we cross the Bay Bridge and then it’s hallelujah time for the carpool lane. We are rolling along past the 4 crawling lanes of single drivers.

July 7, Wednesday morning, Vallejo

A short line of riders and not a long wait, thankfully. It’s another chilly gray morning. I turn down the first car – a tiny sporty roadster. My ride is a Land Rover, the driver a young woman with long brown hair, wearing jeans and a black and white checkered shirt. A very serious 30’s something. She asks for toll when we get in and I and the other passenger each give her $1.25. The GPS on the dash is keeping us on track, lest we forget where we’re going. A highly fragrant orange pine tree air freshener hangs by the driver’s key ring. Nice, light traffic – even lighter in our lane. I don’t see a transponder but just before the toll gates the driver reaches across the front seat to the glove box and pulls it out, still in its silver wrapper and slides it against the windshield. She wraps it back up after we pass the toll area. I noticed the Cash Only line at the toll gates was long and barely moving. The single-driver FasTrak lanes were backed up a bit, but moving through.

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