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  • Waiting for a ride

Friday, August 27 – Vacation Next Week!

Finally Friday. I’m on vacation next week and especially after the last few days, I really need it.

This morning is cool but sunny and I’m riding in the back seat of a Toyota Tacoma 4-door pickup truck. A cheery driver in a long-sleeve white polo shirt and jeans greets me with “Happy Friday!” He looks to be in his early 50s, close cropped hair, glasses. He’s wearing several rope bracelets and has a large Starbuck’s sitting in the cup holder. I pass him a dollar and he looks back to see if there’s more, and then quickly looks away. Young Asian-American guy in the front seat gets in and pays “full fare” ($1.25). Nearing Richmond we leave the sunny morning and enter the massive fog bank that’s enveloping the bay and San Francisco. Traffic’s heavy for a Friday, but we’re all moving at the limit.

Next week I’m vacationing with my family on the north coast, south of Fort Bragg. It’s just a few hours away, but wireless connection is iffy, so I may be out of touch. If I can latch onto the internet, I’ll keep you posted on the thrills of driving on scenic coastal Highway 1.

When we’re all back after Labor Day there should be some interesting views and news to share on the increased post vacation commute traffic. I’ll be looking for the new numbers on toll revenue and carpool lane tallies. Till then, keep pooling and enjoy the last of the summer days.

California One

A Rough Week

My last post was on Monday when I mentioned my cat, Lucky. He died on Tuesday. If you’ve lost a beloved pet you know how tough it is to go through this. This was especially devastating because he was relatively young (His 10th birthday was, perversely this last Saturday), in apparently good health and the illness hit him quickly and hard. Our family spent a mellow and blessedly warm last day with him on Tuesday and then said our goodbyes.

Lucky, a dear and constant companion. So much loved and so terribly missed.

When I left for work and the carpool early Tuesday morning, I did not know how sadly the day would end and felt optimistic in the glorious sunny summer morning. The air was deliciously warm and I felt exposed leaving the house without a coat or sweater. I was tired and stressed about Lucky who at that point was undiagnosed. The vet said she’d have the test results this morning. I rode in the back seat of a spotless Lexus with two crisply dressed executive types in front. They sounded like work colleagues, rather than social acquaintances and were engrossed in work chatter during the commute. The driver declined my toll offer, “My company picks up the tab.”

The freeway was packed and the carpool lane was the place to be. We cruised along at about 55 mph. Moving past Berkeley, I looked across the bay at San Francisco basking in the morning sun, and just above the horizon of the hills south of the city was a fine dark line of – oh no, could that be smog? In San Francisco?!!!

Wednesday passed in a sad daze. Still wonderfully warm. I rode in a Toyota sedan, paid my toll, which was unacknowledged by the fellow driving. Air conditioning was going full blast, cold but it felt good this day and helped wake me up. The city looked soft and welcoming in the warm morning haze. The driver maneuvered through several lanes trying to find an opening in the sluggish traffic, but to no advantage. We made up for lost time zooming through the toll gate and were in the city in good time.

Thursday, today. Brrrr. The air from Alaska has returned and it is a windy gray morning. About a 10 minute wait for a ride. I get in the back seat of a big Ford Explorer. Large older guy with his young son, about 11 or 12 years old. I pass up 4 quarters. The driver lays them out in his palm and says “It’s $1.25.” I explain that I usually pay one dollar. “You’ve ridden with me before”, he scolds. “That’s what it is.” I don’t remember riding with him, but I will surely try not to do it again. I feel quite annoyed and would have left the car had we not been on the freeway entry ramp, but I pass up the additional quarter. Good grief. Like I’ve said before it’s not the money it’s the attitude and this guy’s attitude needs some work. But if a quarter is what it takes for him to make it through the day he’s welcome to it. Driving a behemoth like this Explorer he undoubtedly needs to collect whatever he can to pay for the gas. To hell with the planet, right? He clutches and sips at a super-sized paper cup of Cibolo Mountain Coffee throughout the ride. Traffic is heavy and once again the city and bay are invisible under the thick fog. I am grieving, feeling sad and vulnerable and am sorry to be riding in such an unfriendly car.