February Sunny Groundhog Days


WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 2. GROUND HOG DAY. A huge line of cars all the way around the block. I’m the only rider, at least for the moment. I get into the back seat of a lovely, luxurious Cadillac. A very stylish lady is at the wheel in a wonderful black & white checkered pant suit. She’s model thin. A great hair cut and perfect manicure. I want this car and that haircut! The car reminds me of the Chryslers my parents always used to have – big, leathery, roomy. This one has a sunroof, and a super large gps screen. It’s a beautiful sunny morning and there will be more of the same today and for the rest of the week. Almost impossible to imagine the howling snowstorms going on in the east. But the bright sunny light on Groundhog Day means Mr. Groundhog has seen his shadow and we’ll have 6 more weeks of winter. Mmm. We roll past Berkeley and the view of the city in brilliant light and shadow is reminiscent of an Edward Hopper painting.

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 3. Frost on the windshields this morning but sunny. Once again I’m the only rider in line, but the street is empty and not a car to be seen. Within about 5 minutes they start pulling up and then a few more riders come along. My ride is in the back seat of a sporty Nissan. The driver barely acknowledges us but is eager to take our $1.25 toll. There’s a book on the back seat, “Discipline of Godly Man”. KGO radio is on REAL LOUD. The driver listens intently, concentrating on the traffic. A contrast to his nearly horizontally reclining seat.

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 4. Today’s driver looks familiar. But he drives like a maniac, and you’d think I’d remember that before I got in this killer car. Too late now. It’s Friday light so he has more room to drive like a lunatic. Lane changing and going too fast. I’d guess him to be a mid-level management guy. Business suit, crisp blue-striped dress shirt (even on Friday!), short hair and fingernails that look chewed. The car is a small, new Honda. Once the traffic gets heavier near Berkeley he is forced to slow down and we all relax.

He takes 3 of us and accepts the $1.25 without a murmur ($3.75 collected for a $2.50 toll). Ah, but it’s a gorgeous morning and the promise of an even more gorgeous weekend. I saw the first pink blossoms on the flowering quince and plum trees today. I think the Groundhog might be wrong.

Happy weekend.

2 Responses

  1. Are you seriously complaining about a driver collecting $3.75 for a $2.50 toll? You’re begruding him the extra $1.25 because he was generous enough to take three riders instead of the required two? Do you believe, therefore, that you should have only had to pay 83 cents and were therefore overcharged by 42 cents? C’mon, give the guy a break. I do the same thing when I take three riders…and if each only pitches in $1, I don’t complain about the 25 cents. We’re not running a money-making scam here. Think of the times he may have only picked up two, and each rider only volunteered $1. Then he’s out 50 cents. Worry about your own $1.25, please, and remember it’s a steal for you no matter what.

    • Hello All-time Driver! I do love these toll discussions. I had a great chat in this morning’s ride with a relatively new driver. He moved to Vallejo a couple of months ago so he never knew the Casual Carpool without the toll. He was puzzled by the amount that some people give him – $1.25 – and I explained as best I could. That typically there are 2 riders and they are expected to cover the entire $2.50 toll amount, even though our presence is already saving the driver $3.50. If you’ve read my other comments on the toll issue, you should know I do not begrudge paying. The spirit of sharing is what the casual carpool is all about – sharing the cost, sharing our time, and our space together. It’s the LACK of that spirit that gets me grumbling. And yes, that ‘lacking’ can be seen in both drivers and riders. I have ridden with drivers in vans that are not picking up ‘extra’ passengers out of the goodness of their hearts, but because they want to collect the $. Some even have a ‘toll can’ with the toll amount printed on it. As though they are running a cab service.

      And in this morning’s ride, my new driver talked about the $600 a month it costs him to commute (gas and tolls) and that some riders pay nothing, some only give him a quarter.

      I agree it is ridiculous, grousing over $1.25, but when I see drivers behaving that way, it’s the same thing that you’re talking about with my comment as a rider. Anyway my complaint was not about the $3.75, but rather the attitude of assumed entitlement. And hey, driving in casual carpool is giving you a break, too, right?

      Thanks for the comment. CG

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