Bored of a long drive through the heavy traffic of the Fourth Ring Road? Feeling lonely or sleepy while commuting from Jahra to Kuwait City? Sandwiched between work and home schedules without any relaxation? Not for these bunch of employees. They enjoy their ride together and have no time to curse bumper-to-bumper drives. They share their daily work experiences and get feedback on a regular basis. They have fun as they go to and from work. They are carpoolers.
Car pooling is not new to Kuwait. There are many companies that arrange joint transport for employees. Many companies provide convenience for their employees, but sharing one's way to work for the sake of sharing - with money playing no role - is rare. For them, driving is a team effort, and the chance of the driver falling asleep is nil. It's a car community. In this 'many-in-one' ride, some choose to be drivers using their car throughout the year. Some groups take weekly turns to use their individual car
s. These groups, though the members each have their own cars, choose to travel in a group for several reasons. From energy saving efforts to environmental concerns, from companionship to feelings of community or to save on fuel. Sometime they do it just for fun. Or, in their own words:
I hate traffic.
I don't want the stress of driving.
I want company away from my company.
I am scared to drive alone.
I like to be with my friends, and transport-time is the only chance.
Amal, a Palestinian teacher who lives in Hawally and works in Jahra, accommodates four of her colleagues in her car as an act of kindness. "If my colleagues arrange transport, it is expensive and Jahra is any taxi driver's last choice," said Amal, adding, "Every month, we have a fast-food party to demonstrate our joy!
For Feras, Saleh, Magdy and Ravinder, the car is a "home away from home." "It's a man's world. When with family, we are husbands who shoulder responsibilities, but while on the road, we just forget ourselves," said Feras, who shoulders the driver's role. They discuss politics, football and sing along to 88.8, all in the car.
Huda, who has to shuttle between Jahra and Salwa, actually takes pride in the ride. Her father, who works in Salwa, drops and picks her up every day. "It's an exclusive time that my father and me share together," she said with a smile, adding, "I don't want to buy a car. Not because it's uncommon for a woman to drive in Jahra, but I don't want my dad to drive alone.
Henna, Usma, Jaya, Soya and Waseema, who describe themselves as "birds of the same feather" go to work together primarily because they get "feedback about the workplace" and "opportunities to correct and improve career-wise." However, sharing workplace news grows into gossiping, admitted Henna. Besides the benefits, sharing a seat has its own negative aspects. They are, according to them:
If the driver is sick, it affects the rhythm.
A friend quit carpooling because one of the commuters smokes.
Wanting to go to sleep while going back from work - But it's only a dream.
Friends become foes because of being late at the cost of others' time.
Fights over the radio channels!
But despite the friction, they admit, they flock back to the car because it's almost like their second home.
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