So I guess Craigslist is kinda my thing. How is it my thing? If you count completely furnishing a three-bedroom apartment entirely with stuff found off free Craigslist, responding to ads resulting in group dinners, taking rideshares all over the West Coast, buying/selling things, finding three roommates and a house off Craigslist, you might say, "it's my thing."
Other people might be more "into" Craigslist than I, but I think I'm into it just enough to have a real feel for "Craigslist culture" (whatever that is), and not into it just enough to avoid being dead. Oh, Craigslist, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways... Actually, let me count one way, and call it rideshares -- aka Craigslist carpooling.
Yes, I love getting into strange people's cars almost as much as I love having strange people get into my car. It sounds crazy, and maybe I'm too trusting, but what I do know is that I have done rideshare approximately one billion times, and have never had a bad experience. The worst thing to happen is the driver or passenger flakes or sleeps the whole way (passenger, not driver). Now, let me say that the majority of my ridesharing has taken place in California going between Los Angeles and Berkeley, so the pool of riders/drivers is significantly narrowed to hippies, traveler types, students, or all of the above. No matter what, I can always count on an interesting five to six hours and help paying for gas.
If you thought that many rideshare experiences would make for varied types of conversations, you would be wrong. I have come to notice that, in fact, Craigslist rideshare conversations are formulaic and can be reduced to four to five topics:
1. Our take on polyamorous relationships
2. Astrology (this part goes on for way too long)
3. Free will, collective consciousness and the mind
5. Their trips (You know, the kind you get from going to Burning Man...)
If you didn't think it could get any more California cliché, let me just add that The Grateful Dead is almost always subtly making an entrance through the speakers. Groovy, man, groovy.
I'm in Los Angeles. My car is ready, and I wait for my passenger to show up so we can be on the road to Berkeley. The 5 freeway won't know what hit it. A guy pulls up to my driveway. He is white, has dreads. A girl kisses him goodbye. She is white, has dreads. Guy gets into my car. Introductions, small talk, "Was that your girlfriend?"
"Naw, she's more like my lover?" He states, but his LA inflection turns everything into a question. Thus begins the polyamory section of the Craigslist rideshare talk.
He really relates to what I say, so the next logical question is, "Ey man, so like what's your sign?" Oh God, the astrology part is about to happen, and I semi-want to kill everything at that moment.
"Ya, that makes sense," he says.
Here it comes... There it went. And it's an hour later and we are still debating about the validity of astrology. "But when you are looking at the stars you are looking millions of years into the past! How can it have any relevance to your life or personality??" I protest. He was prepared for that point. Damn. Thus endeth the astrology section.
Pause for In-N-Out.
"So if you believe that strongly in astrology, what do you think about free will? I may have initiated the free will, collective consciousness and the mind topic, but it just felt so... right.
He adds, "Meditation really helps me understand collective consciousness. Have you ever done that one retreat in that one place in that one forest?"
A really good Grateful Dead song comes on my iPod and it reminds him of, "This one time at Burning Man..."
"Dude, I feel like we are really connecting," he says sincerely. I think to myself, Okay, we have covered all five of the rideshare topics so, indeed, we are "officially" bonding. "I know!" I say, "I hardly ever get to talk about this stuff with anybody!" Ah ha ah ha....
Don't think that I am knocking my rideshare talks. I am not laughing at my riders or making fun. Though the rideshare can be a predictable sequence of events, I appreciate everyone's different take on these same topics.
Rideshare has given me the opportunity to meet people of all walks of life. I have met someone who's job title was "ticket scalper" and made a living traveling the world selling and buying tickets; I have met a professor who taught a class called "Why artists fail"; I have met musicians, artists, writers, ravers, Burners, backpackers, physicists, med students, law students, lots of Mormons turned atheist (I rideshare to Salt Lake City a lot), and a 19-year-old compulsive liar that told an elaborate six-hour story that turned out to be completely false (blog post to come). My ridesharing experiences have taught me about alternative life paths, people, psychology and trust. It has taught me to be open to new experiences, and that everyone does life at their own pace and in their own way.
I just moved to Washington, D.C., and am sure the East Coast rideshare conversation formula is different from the West Coast's, and I can't wait to find out what it is.