The culture of carpooling in Lagos has become popular over the years and it is not just for people who do not possess automobiles. The horrific traffic and the pothole-filled roads have forced many Lagosians to park their cars at home and hitch a ride with colleagues to work. The impact of this on the traffic situation in Lagos (fewer cars on the roads equals less traffic, right?) remains undecided.
In my two short years as a working professional, I have had the opportunity to assist some of my colleagues with rides to and from the office. While I enjoy helping people out, I have come to the realization that carpooling can be tough on both the driver and the passenger.
As a driver who enjoys spending the early hours of the morning praying, having conversations with myself (yes, it’s a thing and no, I don’t have a problem!), planning my day and just generally meditating, I really do not appreciate having my colleagues play Instagram videos out loud or having phone conversations for what seems like an eternity. In the same vein, imagine how an introverted passenger feels when they have to put up with loud and intrusive conversations with their colleagues from the pickup point to their destinations.
For a smooth carpooling experience for both the driver and the passenger, there must be understanding and cooperation between both parties. Below are a few guidelines for a pleasurable experience.
Be on time
The takeoff time of an airplane will not be postponed just because you are not on it, will it? So why would you assume that it is okay for your colleague to wait a few more minutes to allow for your tardiness? Your carpool driver and other colleagues want to get to their destinations (home or office) on time and will not appreciate your lateness. A useful tip is to confirm the takeoff time from the driver and in the event that you might not meet the time, please send a text/call to inform him/her.
A rule of thumb for passengers is to always be considerate of the carpool driver. It is not fair on the driver for you to be on the phone for long periods in the wee hours of the morning or after a long day at work. It’s also not fair if he/she has to wait for you to buy Gala and La-Casera in traffic. The jury is still out on the appropriateness of sleeping during the car ride. The truth is, no one can tell the passenger not to fall asleep. Especially if the designated driver is not the type that requires you to step on an imaginary brake at intervals on his/her behalf. The important thing to note is that you shouldn’t make your colleague feel like just the driver. Appreciate him/her at intervals, say thank you occasionally or simply remember their birthday.
Understand your carpool driver
It would be helpful if you could take some time to understand your driver’s temperament especially if you plan to ride with him/her for the foreseeable future. If your driver often replies your chatters of office ‘gist’ with the occasional ‘hmm’ or ‘ehen’ without contributing significantly, there is a high probability that he/she just wants to drive to or from the office in silence. Your carpool driver is not unfriendly for simply sticking to ‘Good morning’ and not engaging in your banter. He/she might simply not be a chatty person. Understanding goes a long way in reducing unnecessary clashes.
A visitor in your house would be restricted to the living room and maybe the kitchen, right? Boundaries are to be respected in any situation – in the home, office or in someone else’s car. Please dear, it is not proper for you to change the radio station without asking, to lower the temperature of the air conditioner, or to pry on any document in the car seat. Get in the car, strap on your seat belt and mind your business.
Alight upon arrival
If you were in a bus and the bus reaches your destination, you would alight from the bus, wouldn’t you? This rule applies more to the journey to the office. Don’t stretch your legs to sleep and then refuse to get down from the car. Give the driver room to say a quick prayer, make a private phone call or just simply sleep. If you are still sleepy, remember you can continue your sleep at your desk.
In conclusion, carpooling can be a fun experience where you and your colleague(s) can gist and discuss work and socially related issues. However, it can very easily become a nightmare for the driver or the passenger if the aforementioned etiquette is abused. As the carpool driver, you must state clearly what is acceptable and all parties must respect one another’s space to allow for a smooth and enjoyable ride.
PS: Carpool drivers, these rules apply to you too. Your passenger is a human being too and should be treated with respect.