How to Ensure that Your Carpool is a Happy One
Many a time, we have extolled the numerous virtues of carpooling. The benefits are plenty and the potential for long-term sustainability is endless. However, the financial, environmental, and other benefits are only ever worth it if the overall experience is a good one. And like all human relationships, carpooling does require a bit of work and a great deal of effort for it to be a consistently happy and peaceful one. You will be dealing with multiple types of people at a specific time, after all, which is why there is such a thing as carpool etiquette. While a lot of these fall within the realm of common sense, it really does not hurt to define the protocols of carpooling to ensure that everyone’s on the same page and thinking along the same wavelengths to avoid conflict.
Here are some of the things that are expected of you in a carpool arrangement—which, by the way, you can also expect from your companions in turn, so it’s really a win-win situation.
Share the costs.
In life, there’s no such thing as a free ride, and that is especially true with carpooling. It is, therefore, always a great idea to discuss fuel, parking, and even maintenance costs right off the bat. This normally applies if there is only one vehicle and driver involved. If there are multiple vehicles and drivers, cost arrangements can be more flexible. Again, these are important details that should be ironed out right from the start to avoid possible misunderstandings in the future. After all, you do not want to be the person who collects from someone who expected a free pass. That is just awkward.
Remember that carpooling is essentially a relationship. Meaning, you also have to think about the needs and circumstances of all the people involved—that is to say, your carpool mates. It goes without saying that being late is an absolute no-no, especially if it means that your companions will also end up being late because of you. It is, therefore, very important to establish a clear route, a firm pickup schedule, acceptable wait times and, stick to it.
Another thing you should also remember is that your carpool is not your personal chauffeur or taxi service. This means that you can’t expect your ride to make stops as and when you choose. So a quick grocery run or stopovers to get take-out food is not part of the agreement. Instead, you go straight from point A to B and back—no buts, end of story.
Think about the little things.
And while still on the subject of being considerate, do think about the little things, as well. You are going to be cooped up in a car with several people for a specific amount of time daily, so do be mindful of your hygiene, your habits (like smoking, for instance), and even your song choices. Again, this is something that you need to discuss with your companions beforehand because, really, nobody wants to suffer body odor and bad taste in music, to name a few.
There are also other things that may seem inconsequential to some, but may be very important to others. It is a very good idea to consider these, as well.
For instance, eating in the car may seem like nothing for some people, but may make others uncomfortable. So it’s a good idea to know right off the bat how people feel about this. Ditto with taking off shoes and/or putting feet up, as well as singing in the car. Remember that a carpool is only as successful as its passengers’ comfort and happiness.
Have a backup plan.
Of course, you can’t avoid illnesses, vehicle breakdowns, and accidents. So make sure that you have a backup vehicle and/or driver, just in case your usual or scheduled one is out of commission. Also, having adequate insurance is necessary, especially in a carpooling situation where there are passengers involved. For only a few dollars more, insurance providers can actually ramp up coverage, in case of any untoward incidences.
Indeed, happy passengers make for a happy carpooling atmosphere. Carpool etiquette is definitely something that carpoolers should live by for a peaceful, comfortable, and harmonious carpool experience.
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