KRWG

'You Just Get Used To It': An LA Commuter's Diary

Nov 19, 2013
Originally published on November 19, 2013 6:50 am

For two years, Neville Amaria carpooled to his office in Los Angeles. That puts him in the same category as about 10 percent of American workers, who drive or ride to work in a car with two or more passengers.

Even still, Amaria's carpool stood out for its extremes. His mega-commute lasted two to three hours, round trip. And he did it with up to four co-workers squeezed into the car with him — most carpoolers only ride with one other passenger.

"I guess after a couple months you just get used to it," Amaria says. "You get used to getting home late, going to the gym late, eating late and sleeping late. And doing the same thing over and over again."

Through a stroke of luck, that mega-commute ended recently when Amaria's workplace relocated. Now his office is closer to home, and his carpool group has disbanded.

We asked Amaria to use his smartphone to record an audio diary on the last morning of his carpool, with co-workers Cristina Cooper, Bryan Kim and Brian Morrison.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And let's join a group of commuters now here in Southern California. For years, Neville Amaria and up to four of his co-workers carpooled a total of two to three hours every day. Amaria and his co-workers' mega-commute ended recently when their workplace relocated. On the last day of their carpool, he used a Smartphone to record this audio diary.

NEVILLE AMARIA: 6:21, getting on the 405 right now. The way L.A. works, though, I mean I'm assuming it's like this in every big city, if you leave 10 minutes later, it could be the difference of 40 more minutes in the commute. Sometimes when I oversleep, sometimes when others oversleep, we end up late in the office.

But our managers know that, so - the cool thing about driving too is every person basically picks their own music. Cristina typically doesn't like the '70s and the '80s that I play. But I mean, it is what it is. I have to listen to her stuff when we get in her car, so...

I'll give you a little taste of what I'm listening to.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

AMARIA: So we have all four people in the carpool, Bryan and Cristina. How do you guys feel that this is the last day of commuting this horrific drive?

CRISTINA COOPER: Whoo.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Yeah, it's kind of bittersweet. It's fun. The camaraderie in the carpool is great, but the drive is terrible.

AMARIA: On the way back from the drive, when people have bad days, sometimes we kind of take (bleep) out on each other.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Yeah, you guys bicker like siblings.

AMARIA: Yeah.

COOPER: You're like an annoying little brother.

AMARIA: I think she threatened to kill me one time, actually.

COOPER: Because you took the front seat.

AMARIA: 'Cause that warrants killing someone.

COOPER: I called your parents about it.

AMARIA: You did not call them.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

AMARIA: Being in the carpool for a long time also gives you a chance to call in to radio shows. Cristina and Stephanie were - or Stephanie is a big fan of Rascal Flatts and they called in and if they answer, that means you have a chance to win the tickets. So I actually remember the song that they had to guess. It was called "Life Is A Highway." Yeah, I'm not gonna sing it though.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LIFE IS A HIGHWAY")

AMARIA: Exiting the 10 freeway, it is 7:17. Keep in mind, I left my house at 6:21 and this is considered to be a good day.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: A great day.

AMARIA: When I tell people the story about our whole situation of carpool, they really don't understand how we do it every day and how we've been doing it for over two years. But I guess after a couple months you just get used to it. You get used to getting home late, going to the gym late, eating late and sleeping late. And doing the same thing over and over again.

You know, and looking forward to the weekends and going out and drinking.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LIFE IS A HIGHWAY")

MONTAGNE: Commuters Neville Amaria with co-workers Cristina Cooper, Bryan Kim and Brian Morrison.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LIFE IS A HIGHWAY")

MONTAGNE: It's NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.