Carpool Memories

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A very strange thing happened to me today. I normally take public transportation to work but today I decided to drive in. I usually drive in solo but today I decided to pick up some passengers via casual carpool so I could jump into the carpool lane.

I lined up to pick up passengers. They jumped in and off we went. For those of you who don’t know about casual carpool, casual carpools are informal carpools that form when drivers and passengers meet at designated locations and are dropped off at a specific area. It is a strange concept but one that lessens your carbon footprint and is better for the environment.

I am normally a passenger. I remember I did a lot of research before jumping into someone’s car. I read up about what to do and what not to do. I used these sites as a reference:
http://rideshare.511.org
http://www.ridenow.org

There are a list of “rules” and proper etiquette when riding the casual carpool. I don’t think there is regulation on exacts and/or if there is a violation/fee if you break these rules. On the Ride Now website there is a good list of these “rules” and proper etiquette: http://www.ridenow.org/carpool/what.htm

One of my favorites is the “rule” on talking; Drivers generally should be the ones to initiate any conversation. Passengers should keep in mind that some drivers need or prefer to keep their minds focused on the road rather than chat.

Moving forward, my passengers were in the car and we were well off to our destination until midway through, one of my passengers says, “Do you have children who attend Ocean View Elementary School?” I nodded and said, “Yes…well, no, they are at the middle school now.” He then went on to say, “That’s where I know you from! You looked familiar.” Now I’m wondering if was ever introduced to this guy. He then goes on and says, “You’re the president of the PTA. You did a great job and thank you so much for your service.”

I blushed because there were other people in the car who probably didn’t have a clue what we were talking about. I continued to let him know it wasn’t just me and that I had a great group of parents who helped out. We went on talking about our kids and what we do in the city. Turns out, we’re both in the IT field and our kids are in the same grade. Then the ride was over and my passengers went on their separate ways.

It has been 10 months since I left that position after serving 2.5 years. Having that conversation brought back many great memories and other memories of hardships trying to make events and activities happen for the children. One of my most prized possessions is a stack of thank you cards written to me from a group of kids who were able to attend a field trip funded by the PTA.

John, thank you for the trip down memory lane. In a world where you don’t really get to meet your neighbors, I’m glad to meet a new friend.

Parenting is rough and I believe having a strong network can help during tough times. One of the greatest ways to get to know your child’s school, teachers, and classmates is to join the PTA/PTO and get involved in the school. I’m sure your local PTA/PTO will appreciate any spare time you have to help them out.

For PTAs, check out http://pta.org to find a Parent Teacher Association near you. If you don’t have a PTA in your child’s school, consider starting one or even start a PTO. http://www.ptotoday.com is a great resource on Parent Teacher Organizations.

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