Rainy Day Commutes


A few reflections from the past week’s car pooling . .
The day before the Thanksgiving holiday was a good day to stay in bed – a cold, wet and dreary day. But I was out on the freeway. My ride was the back seat of a super-sized pick up truck. The driver was a very young-looking guy with an earnest way about him. He asked if I had enough room and drove carefully. A series of Spanish CDs serenaded us on our trip. Several earlier accidents slowed us down. Heavy traffic in and out of the city. I wonder if more people are driving and avoiding the ‘patting’ and screening mess at the airports.

The following Tuesday, November 30 was cold, but not freezing. There was another spectacular sun rise show this morning. Brilliant shades of crimson. My ride was a Honda sedan and started off well. A crisp, business-suited fellow at the wheel was very solicitous about the heat, the reclining features of the seat, room for my bag. However, once on the road he was a terror at the wheel. Driving too fast, zipping in and out of lanes. All made worse by the fact there was very light traffic and lots of room for him to be crazy in. We made the normally 50 to 60 minutes trip in 30 minutes.

Wednesday, December 1 was another cold commute. I rode in an older model Volvo sedan. Not a bad ride except that there was no heat in the car, although the driver appeared to be fiddling with the dials throughout the trip. It was really uncomfortable. I felt like asking for my toll money back. Traffic was heavy and slow, prolonging the agony, although the carpool lane kept moving between 20 and 40 mph. I thought about the impending express lane conversion and if it had been in place on this ride, we would all be moving at about 10 miles an hour.

Thursday, December 2 I’m in a WARM Toyota Prius. 60s something driver is crisply white-shirted and suited. Yet another amazing sunrise. KCBS radio is talking about the November 11 Fastrack screwup. That was the day that traffic on the Bay Bridge was halted for several hours because of the disturbed driver who claimed he had a bomb. In an attempt to get traffic moving, the California Highway Patrol instructed drivers to turn around and take another route, which many did. Unfortunately, Fastrack counted that as illegal, and all those drivers were billed an additional $56. The transportation officials are working to straighten this one out.

Friday, December 3 I’m snug and warm in a Honda sedan. It’s a damp cold morning. Friday light traffic and the news today is that the wrecking ball will begin demolishing what’s left of the Transbay Terminal. I walk past the demolition each morning on my way up to Market Street and my bus, and today I stop for a final look. The old building is pretty well hollowed out, the roof and windows are gone. A surprising number of people have stopped to look and take pictures. The wrecking ball will strike at 10 a.m., after I’m at work. I say goodbye and trudge on.

Monday, December 6.
A break today in the week-end storm. No cars yet, but it’s not a long wait. I’m in the back seat of a Toyota. The driver is distracted as I and the front seat passenger get in. He seems to be reading an auto repair bill, and barely acknowledges us and our toll money. He’s wearing a cell phone ear device and a too-small black fedora style hat. With his black jacket and glasses, he looks like one of the Blue Brothers. Traffic is heavy so it’s slow-going this morning. I stay immersed in my book (The Coming, by Joe Haldeman) and have tuned out much of the ride, but I sense that this fellow is an aggressive driver. It really shows as we exit the bridge and get in the drop off line. A car cuts in front of him and he goes nuts. Tail gating and obviously angry. He’s further annoyed by the fact that the other rider and I do not spring from the car as he approaches the line. When we finally get out, the other passenger and I agree the guy was a road-rager and will not ride with him again.

Once again I walk past the rapidly vanishing old Terminal building, and although much of the building is now rubble, what shocked me was the destruction of the two 3-story pine trees that had been in front of the building, probably since it went up. I guess I knew they would go, but it’s hard to see trees that were so beautiful and majestic hacked down.

2 Responses

  1. I was amused at your wanting your toll money back because the car was so cold. I often think about how the drivers expect us to share the toll, and I am totally fine with that, but sometimes the ride is really unbearable, mostly due to differences in their taste of music, so I keep earplugs in my bag. Drivers, women in particular, are still being petty about the toll and demanding $1.25 and get downright snotty about it when I don’t have a quarter to cough up. A young woman informed me on Monday that I should advise drivers that I only give a dollar before I get in. I just ignored her. The petty woman fails to recognize that by taking riders who each give a dollar, her toll only costs her $1.00 dollar a day instead of $11. I will watch for her and skip her car from now on.

    • Hi Victoria! If you’ve looked back at some of my earlier entries, I struggled with this toll issue and had a lot of unhappy rides. Plus some unpleasant encounters. My position was that since the toll was a new situation to EVERYONE (drivers and riders alike), it should be shared more or less equally, or at least shared. I don’t know where this $1.25 business came from, because as you know, when 2 riders contribute $1.25 the driver pays nothing at all. I got a lot of indignant responses to that position – “the driver is paying for gas and parking, etc.” – but of course, that was the case BEFORE the toll and riders were not paying the driver a penny. But I’ve caved in – it’s not worth the fight – I meekly submit my $1.25 to the driver, and occasionally they even say thanks. Yes, I agree that more women are petty about the toll than the men. When I drive, I refuse the toll, a good feeling for both me and the riders! CG

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