Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Get in the Van

You have seen us, we populate the landscape of your daily commute: Vanpoolers.

Fleets of vanpools descend on the city every morning and recede into the suburbs every evening. I am one of them, and this is the story.

Admit it, you've wondered what goes on behind the tinted windows of our late-model 15 passenger vans: Are there assigned seats? What station do they listen to on the radio? Who does the driving? Do they talk to each other? About what? and Why are they driving so godamned slow?

Full disclosure: I am a relatively recent convert to The Van as mode of transportation. I finally secured a respectable grown up job about six months ago and while I was delighted to join the 9-5 set, sitting in bumper to bumper traffic for 45 minutes twice a day would have lead me to bash my brains out on the steering wheel of my Volkswagen. There simply is not enough NPR in the world to make that drive a worthwhile use of my time. Not to mention that my benevolent employer sees fit to gouge staff at the rate of $150 per month to park on the premises.

I needed an alternative and that right soon. So I took to trolling the parking lots of chain stores surrounding my subdivision looking for vans advertising for riders (that's what we're called, "riders"). I found one that would fit my needs perfectly and it was, of course, full.

During the intervening three months, I joined another vanpool which ultimately broke up (yes, just like landmasses and garage bands, vanpools are coming together and breaking apart all the time).

On my first morning of my new vanpool, I introduced myself around and tried not to seem weird. I even thumbed through a recent copy of People magazine to prove my accessibility and normalcy to my new riding companions. I later realized that any attempts to put my best vanpool foot forward with this crowd were an entirely wasted effort.

And this is how it began. We have been together for three months now and I have more material than I could use in a year. So rather than entertaining my family, friends, and Gays with these tales, I will share them with you. I hope you enjoy the travelogue of this life.

Keep your eyes on the road,


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