Thursday, June 7, 2007

I ride in the free car share every weekday morning. I walk two blocks down my street to a gas station where people and cars line up together. Three people makes a carpool, meaning faster access to the bridge and no tolls; everyone wins.

There are several usual approaches to the bridge from my car-share pickup spot and I have come to categorize driver personality and temperament based on choice of approach. No route is significantly or consistently faster or slower than any other, although sometimes one approach will bypass traffic whereas another one will not—but it’s not clear by pattern over my months of car-sharing which will be better on any particular morning based on what set of circumstance.

The most obvious and direct route to the 580 westbound toward San Francisco from Oakland is a right turn out of the gas station onto Grand, a right turn onto 27th, a right turn onto Harrison and a left onto the 580 ramp—this person has a lot of faith in the formal structures of the social to best provide fast no thinking timely arrival to the workplace, they believe this will always be the best way, it’s direct, and probably no one has ever shown them another route.

The less obvious but more popular method is for those who like to feel they’re the wiser, sneaking past others and getting ahead in a cutting sharp corners kind of way. They're in a hurry, they're fast, they're me-first. It's not unusual for a bossy passenger to enlighten a driver by directing them this way. It involves a double right out of the gas station up Perkins, & a couple of zigs & zags up and down some hills past a lot of apartment complexes, which residential streets then turn you out at exactly the same Harrison Street on-ramp the first method gets you to.These drivers show the same faith in main-highway mechanistics as the first group. They do shave about 40 seconds off their drive--as long as there aren’t too many other cars taking the back-door right onto Harrison at the same time.

The silliest way is to backtrack east on Grand to the Grand Avenue 580 entrance. The morning commute is not a go-east-in-order-to-get-west practice. These people need divorce lawyers.

There’s the straight shot, all-the-way-down-Grand-Avenue approach. It's grittier the further west you go on Grand, more abandoned, more dilapidated, more industrial, more shopping carts lying on their sides, more pedestrians likely to be enduring grueling hardship in their daily lives when it comes to those little luxuries we all take for granted, you know, the eating and sleeping kind. You have to deal with stoplights but not so much with other drivers. You take a Hwy 80 onramp straight onto the toll plaza. [Because this is my own favored route, I'm ill-equipped to comment on personality displays. Anyone care to diagnose?]

This brings me to the rarest and until today my least favorite of all methods of getting onto the San Francisco Bay Bridge heading west into the city. This one mimics the Grand-Avenue-all-the-way, but just a few blocks before the Grand Ave under/over pass swing onto the bridge the driver will suddenly make a left onto a wide quiet signless treeless mostly carless street, and drive a long long way through [south? west? southwest?] Oakland, finally arriving at the 880 north. The thing about this approach is that you have absolutely no indicators of the degree of bridge traffic, or accidents, or anarchy, or anything, not anywhere along the route, there's no sense of anyone rushing or even moving, and when you get up onto the 880 you're not only right on top of the maze and the toll booths, but you slide along next to and past all the other backed up traffic in your own private Hwy 880 carpool lane, right until and through the toll plaza. This driver is patient, stubborn, sure, doesn't have to see to know, has lots of faith, moves at a steady pace, and feels triumphant winning the game at the very last. They're the ones you want to fuck and love on, for sure.


jerrold said...

so i read this last night...then find myself thinking about the way i'm driving to various places today...

i swear i've never felt so self-conscious driving somewhere with noone else in the car...

-k said...

In DC this would be a slug love story.