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  • Waiting for a ride


Awkward or embarrassing moments can happen to anyone, anywhere, but there is a special kind of awkwardness and discomfort that can occur in the close intimacy of a casual carpool ride.  First off, you’re probably riding with 2 or 3 strangers, so being as candid as you might be with someone you know can be uncomfortable.  And what can you do, anyway?  You’re pretty much stuck with each other out there on the freeway until you reach your destination.  Bad body odor is a fairly common situation, and one where the driver has to decide whether or not to acknowledge the odor by rolling down a window or cranking up the air in the car.  Or doing nothing.  Awkward either way.  On a recent Friday evening commute I had a full car – 3 passengers and myself and once we all got settled and underway, I realized there was a really, really bad smell coming from the guy sitting in the passenger seat next to me.   And it wasn’t going away.  I finally had to lower my window a bit and let the air circulate.  Eventually we all became conditioned to the smell and soldiered on.

When I drive, I like to listen to KCBS Radio – every 10 minutes they update the traffic which can be most helpful, and I like their news and commentary.  Unfortunately, they also have a lot of commercials.  One early morning, I took off with three male passengers.  All three were big guys, which makes no difference to the episode, but  there was a very definite male presence in the car.  As we drove along, a  series of commercials began,  for solar panels, restaurants, auto glass, and then one for erectile disfunction.   A lengthy commercial, it went on and on, describing symptoms, treatment, outcome, in more detail than I would ever want to know.   Awkward?  Yeah, you bet.  Maybe the 3 guys were oblivious to what we were all listening to, but I was quite uncomfortable.  I finally turned the volume down.



Once as a passenger I experienced an odd, somewhat awkward moment.  I was in the back seat, and was filing my nails.  The driver and passenger in the front seat seemed to know each other and were chatting away.  The usual ongoing cacophony of traffic buzzed around us.  Suddenly, the driver turned around and angrily hollered at me, “whatever that noise is you’re making, stop it!!”  I could only assume she meant the barely audible sound of the fingernail file and of course immediately stopped, feeling mortified and embarrassed.   That’s one way to deal with an en route annoyance!

My most awkward and weird ride as a passenger was in a snazzy two seater Kharmann Ghia convertible.  Beautiful car.  The driver was a 60ish guy, also snazzy looking and pleasant enough.  After a few words, we settled down to a quiet commute.  About halfway through the ride, he turned to me and said, “I would enjoy making a stop before we get to the city, if you’re interested.”  The implication was clear, and, initially, frightening.  Although, once I declined, he was most polite and not another word was said.  When we finally arrived in the city, Getting There had never been more welcome.















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