Casual Car Pool Etiquette

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 (Adam Faughnan)

After handing over my $1 bill my casual car-pool adventure begins every morning. There are certain etiquettes that have been established and are mostly abided to by both drivers and passengers. A clean car that is sufficiently warm. NPR playing on the radio is a bonus. In my experience this is probably 90% of the cars I have traveled in.

But then, I am also a sneaky selective car-pooler. When that decrepit Honda Civic with dog blankets piled high in the back is next in the queue, I suddenly feel the need to tie my shoelaces. The ten second delay sends the Honda on its way with two unfortunate souls and I get the Mercedes that was visible behind it. I have out-sprinted fellow car-poolers for a new Porsche. This was poor etiquette on my behalf. You should roll with the punches and take what you can get. Unless you are a woman and the next vehicle in line is a white van that looks suspiciously like the one from 'The Silence of the Lambs'.

 Upon entering the car it is polite to say good morning and offer your donation. A crisp one dollar bill neatly folded in half is ideal. Four grimy quarters or spare change will get a deserved eye-roll. Offering a $20 bill and asking for $19 in change is sufficient to get you a one-way ticket to carpool hell.
If the driver decides to take the 880 shortcut on the back-streets of Oakland, it is good etiquette to ask the passengers first. Especially for new car-poolers who assume they are being abducted and jump out of the car at a red light and start screaming for help.

Once you use the car-pool lane, cut 30 minutes from your commute and get through the toll booth you are now dead weight to the driver. Your worth as a person has gone from 'savior' to 'deadweight' in seven seconds. The goodwill from zipping through a parking lot of traffic will last until you hit heavy traffic on the bridge. Then the driver is secretly wishing they were driving a James Bond Aston Martin with passenger ejector seats. So be sure to be friendly and thank your driver profusely upon exiting.

With a Perspective, I am Adam Faughnan.


Adam Faughnan is a 10-year veteran of casual carpooling in Oakland.