The word carpool means different things to different people. When I first moved to my home 24 years ago, carpool meant that every morning a black Volvo station wagon was going to pull up in front of my across-the-street neighbors’ house and honk for approximately two minutes until it woke up my little boys AND a little kid came running out of that house and got into the black Volvo station wagon. That was my introduction to carpool.
Over the years, I have written about my various experiences with actual carpooling adventures. The “happy honker,” who was never happy with my kid, who was always running late. Because of that, he took out his frustration on the horn of his car. The kid who was always even later than my kid was when I was part of a different carpool. The mother who would get annoyed with me, and rightfully so, because I was always late picking up her kid because my kid was always running late. I think that there is a theme here… And then there was the first year that I did not have to carpool because Son #3 had a car and I would get emails from the principal about the issues that my son’s lateness was going to cause his grade point average. I would also like to point out that we loved (and still love) Son #3’s principal and did not enjoy aggravating him. He just ended up being a casualty of this particular war between me and Husband #1.
I think Son #3 might have missed morning services most of his senior year. This is only ironic because, as some of you know, he is in a pretty shtark yeshiva in Baltimore now and he is never late to those services. Just goes to show what can happen to your child. You never ever know. Truthfully, the message is that a mother is always right. I told Husband #1 not to worry when Son #2 wanted to wear “nice shorts” on Shabbos and well, he no longer wears shorts at all. To be clear, he wears only black pants and white shirts. And I told Husband #1 not to worry about Son #3 being late to school every day and I already explained how that has come to fruition. Though, don’t think that I don’t know that all of this very easily could have gone in a different direction… Back to carpool.
Carpooling, for this mom, was a rite of passage. It was part of the whole mom experience. Like in order to qualify for the really mushy mother’s day cards, you needed to carpool. Why I thought this I have no idea. The summer that the camp bus became really expensive, I even carpooled my kids to day camp. Thinking about that now, if gas was then what it is currently, the bus would have been the cheaper options…actually, Husband #1 would have made me walk them the 20 miles to camp (just kidding. Sort of). When carpooling officially ended, I was sad. Just like all of those other things that just happen when you aren’t paying attention — they stop holding your hand, they start shaving, they stop realizing that you are the only “girl” in their world….cue Sunrise Sunset.
Carpooling for Husband #1 meant something else entirely because he only carpooled with grown-ups and it involved driving over the George Washington Bridge. Until 2016, Husband #1 commuted to work. His carpool experience did not involve little kids who didn’t say thank you when they left the car or forgot their lunches in the backseat. It involved, for the most part, really lovely people who carried on really lovely conversations. But, for Husband #1 carpool meant saving money at the tollbooth. If you have three or more people, you get a considerable discount. And Husband #1 is very serious about his considerable discounts. So much so that when driving to the cemetery for my dad’s burial, we called Son #3, who was driving in the hearse, to tell Anthony, the amazing driver, to take the upper level because my dad still counted as a third and Husband #1 wanted to be able to get the carpool discount. No, I am not kidding, and yes, I did think it was very funny.
But as of this coming Sunday, there will be no more cash lane. There will be no more carpool discount. This might mean that I will no longer be driving into the city with Husband #1. This might mean that you will see us standing on the Jersey side of the bridge trying to hitch a ride. Or it might mean that Husband #1 will just have to get over yet another change it an ever-changing world. And that is just the way life goes…
Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck still remembers when driving over the bridge was $4 and her father bought her a book of tickets to use when she went into the city in Goober, her beloved brown Cadillac.