This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.
Fascinating article in the NYT on the decline of carpooling, as Americans get wealthier and more spread out. I hadn’t heard this statistic before:
Car ownership has outstripped even population growth, as the number of cars parked in American driveways has risen by nearly 60 percent since 1980, while the number of Americans has grown by a third.
It makes sense. We’re getting wealthier as a country, and more spread out, so more people are going to own cars. Plus, the cost of a 30-mile commute has gone down by half since 1980. And cars themselves seem to have gotten less expensive.
But what I find remarkable is how much pain people are willing to put up with in order to drive themselves to work:
“Books on tape, music, it doesn’t help,” she said about the daily trip (most of the commuters interviewed here asked that their names not be used). “All I’m thinking is, ‘Oh, God, this is going to hurt.’ ”
The grind of the drive provokes such frustration that commuters do odd things to stay calm. One commuter waiting for a ride at a meeting point here said that one driver had become notorious among the regulars — “the puppet guy,” who apparently used hand puppets to act out arguments to manage his anger over being stuck in traffic.
Puppets. I’ve seen some crazy things on Metro buses. I’ve seen plenty of people talking to themselves. But never have I seen someone so angry as to use puppets as an anger management tool.