As most of my friends and family know, I partake in the East Bay's Casual Carpool every morning on my way to work. It really is an ideal commute in that 1) it's free and 2) it's quick. And I don't mind my 12 minute walk to work from the carpool drop-off. A decent way to start the day actually.
Some friends have asked me if I'm ever nervous about getting into a stranger's car or, on the occasional day that I drive, if I worry about some weirdo passenger riding in Jetson. Fortunately, I feel fairly safe, and, after 3 years of carpooling it, I recognize most of the folks participating in my neighborhood. But one quickly learns that there is a precise etiquette involved in the carpool experience. A breach of said etiquette can disrupt the start of one's day, to say the least. If you're new to carpooling, here is my handy guide to Casual Carpool rules for a smooth ride to work (a work in progress):
1) Greet the driver/passengers with a pleasant "good morning" or "hello."
2) As a driver, the radio should be kept at a low to moderate level. No jarring, loud music as to avoid blowing out the eardrums of passengers. No shock jock morning shows. When in doubt, NPR is usually a crowd-pleaser.
3) Keep talking to a minimum. Friendly banter about the weather or light news is acceptable. No cell phone conversations! If it's an emergency, ask if driver/passengers mind a short phone call. Drivers really should avoid this though, especially phone calls just to say hi to your mom when you're a pathetic 50-year-old man.
4) Drive safely/wear seatbelts. Learn to drive well (no jerky, elementary stick shifting or weaving in and out of traffic at 80mph) if you're going to take passengers with you. Try to avoid fits of road rage. Actually, just because you can afford a BMW doesn't mean you should drive at all.
5) Don't flirt with the driver/passengers. See rule #3, pervert.
6) Extra credit for letting passengers know where you're headed and dropping them off on the way, especially when it's howling wind and pouring rain. Otherwise, drop-off is at the corner of Fremont & Howard.
7) Say "thank you," "you're welcome" or "have a nice day" upon drop-off.
See? Easy enough. Then why this morning was my driver blaring '60s rock and tossing me around the backseat (seatbelt on) with his swervy driving?! Have a nice day indeed.