Friday, May 23, 2008


Yesterday morning, I heard this piece on NPR's Morning Edition: Slugging to Work

For those of you who don't want to go read the whole article or listen to the segment, the basic gist is that in Washington, D.C. there is a system of car-pooling called "Slugging." The "slugs" wait in a line, and folks who want to be able to drive in the HOV lane pull up and call out where they're headed. The first slug in line who is going there hops in and they ride together. Here was the kicker for me: They don't share names, personal information, or really engage in any sort of meaningful conversation.

When I finished listening to the segment on the radio, I felt sad. As the report mentions, there are people spending hours of their lives in the confined space of a car with other people and they aren't connecting on any level deeper than a slug connects to a piece of driftwood as it floats down the river. While I understand the realities of a world where people have limited time for relationships, I think I'd have a hard time being a slug.

So, I wondered later, why is that any different than riding the bus or on a plane while listening to my ipod and reading The Atlantic? Somehow it feels different, especially if it's just the driver and the slug in the car together. What kind of meaningful relationship opportunities could be lost because of rules of disengagement?

Anyway, the story made me sad.