Need for solitude

In a chapter on solitude in Catherine Ryan Hyde’s book “The Long, Steep Path” there’s a paragraph that got me thinking.

“I had heard, or read, years ago, a theory on why so many people won’t carpool or use public transit. Because, for a great number of those people, their daily commute to work and back is the only time they’re alone. The only time they can listen to silence, or play their own music, or think thoughts that no one else interrupts.”

So I don’t think that still applies to public transit. People can zone out with their iPods or phones or lose themselves in a book and they don’t even have to worry about driving. Many people traveling on buses or trains don’t have much interaction with their fellow riders anyway. This has actually been part of the marketing effort to promote public transit.

But carpooling, that’s a different animal.

I can understand why people would like to have that time alone in their car to shake off the work day worries before transitioning to the homefront. I’ve been there. I commuted for 20 years from Cortland to Syracuse, a 40 minute drive each way. And yes, although I hated the commute for other reasons, I did appreciate the time to decompress before opening the door at home to husband, kids, and dog. I now have less than a 5 minute commute home and can definitely bring the stresses of the day right through the door.

For two of those twenty years though I carpooled with one other person. So I know what that’s like. And there are advantages and disadvantages. Until you become really comfortable with another person being in the car, it’s very difficult to not feel obligated to keep a conversation going the entire time.

For many people, driving alone may be the only time they have to enjoy their own music in peace, or listen to a book without interruption, or be alone with their thoughts.

So it’s important to recognize this when we try and promote ridesharing.

Your thoughts?




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