When I got on the NL bus this morning for the morning ride to work, the driver, a jovial friend who normally gives me a hearty handshake, fist bump, or hug when I board, greeted me with “Traitor! I saw you getting into a casual carpool yesterday.” His grin betrayed him, and he did grab my hand and gave it a little pat, but it made me think.
The people who gather each morning between 7:45 and a little past 8:00 each morning are a community not unlike the neighbors who might gather at a corner in any small town in America. There are people who live in my building with whom I like to engage in conversation. Most mornings I hop on the bus but some days I grab a ride in the casual carpool.
It’s not unusual to get a ride with the same carpool driver on multiple days. I’ve ridden several times with a woman who works as a counselor at a county jail in the west bay. She’s also an aspiring standup comic, and riding with her is always fun. The first time she picked me up she said, “It’s two dollars for older white guys.” I started reaching in my pocket before she chuckled, “Nah, I’m kidding.” The next time she picked me up, I was heading for the back seat but she snapped at the woman getting into the front seat, “No, no — you get in back. Don’t you see this tall man behind me? He needs more leg room.” Then she turned to me and said, “You sit up front, honey — I know you like my act.”
Once we arrive in San Francisco we all scurry off to our offices and occupations, but when we’re connecting in Adams Point, in our little corner of Oakland, we are friends.