Thoughts From A Serial Carpooler

Cars are not my thing; I don’t drive. Somehow, someway, through a combination of money, massive texting bouts, and the kindness of complete strangers and close friends alike, I’ve traveled in my twenty-two years to some interesting places almost entirely without touching a steering wheel.

Now, this is not to say I don’t wish to drive, but, circumstances too complicated and personal to go into now prevents me from doing so. Which means, for the time being, I am a rider—I am a person in shotgun or the backseat.

And trust me when I say there is strangeness to this arrangement. Sure, back when we were kids, you and I, my reader, we didn’t drive ourselves. But I never gained that new freedom of travel and I imagine you did when you grew older.

And, without it, my perspective warped and shifted. Made me notice and think things perhaps others would not. And, since I am a case study, allow me to list off perspectives and thoughts vehicle-enabled individuals wouldn’t likely have—but I do.

  • Your house is your central point. If you are alone at your house, then you are mostly stuck at your house. Errands require planning, and there is no spontaneity to travel.
  • You get a much better feel for scenery; knowing well the world others drive by and don’t see.
  • Street names take a long time to stick. There’s almost no need to recall them, so landmarks become your frame of reference.
  • You gain preferences, trust even, in certain drivers. There are people I barely ever interact with outside of car rides, who I still trust enough to nap well I am in their car without any concern of something happening to me while I’m unconscious.
  • A better sense of people happens. I’m sure taxi drivers get a similar feeling. You just meet interesting people all the time. I’ve had wild, strange, politically charged, and wonderful conversations with people with vastly different worldviews than my own.

And, it’s that last section that really matters. I would not recommend being a constant rider. But, if you ever wanted a crash course in people—in the way they act, the lives they lead, and how they handle stress—there are few better ways than being in a car with a person in a massive hurry and sitting in their back seat, passively observing.

For cars are like a private world, and I’ve peered into so many of them now.

Special thanks to: Bob GerkinCollin PearmanDylan AlexanderJerry Banfield, and Michael The Comic Nerd. 

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