"I hate to be a kicker, I always long for peace, But the wheel that does the squeaking, Is the one that gets the grease." Josh Billings, American humorist

With the exception of the wonderful, helpful, and brilliant researcher from the D’Orsay, I’ve had no response from any of the sites I’ve just emailed about bouquinistes along the Seine who might recognize a Hubert etching. Something recently occurred that made me think perhaps I need to change my attitude. Last Saturday I attended a cocktail party given by a close friend and former carpooler. In my long and arduous commuting history I’ve been a member of three separate carpools and consider myself fortunate to still maintain close ties with all of my ride-share buddies. An anomaly if the old adage “familiarity breeds contempt” is true. Surely spending up to 3 hours a day, 5 days a week, in close quarters with the same person in rush hour traffic, should have bred enough contempt to spontaneously combust the vehicle.

Carpooler 1 and I maintained silence. Neither one of us a morning person, we drove each a.m. in a silence punctuated only by an occasional road rage expletive. The ride home was much more animated with conversation, rehashing the events of the workday all the while attempting to psychoanalyze the personality disorders in our workplace sprinkled with a little justifiable boss-bashing for good measure. Once, when the office dynamics were intolerable, we fabricated an overflowing toilet bowl in order to breakfast at the diner so as to delay our arrival and avoid the ever watchful eyes of the self-appointed hall monitor of the office. Then, there was the time Carpooler 1 and I were assigned to a photo shoot and carpooled to our destination in monsoon conditions only to discover we left the cameras in my car one state away. Carpooler 1 and I might have occasionally courted trouble at work but never in our friendship.

Carpooler 2 was a free spirit and compassionate soul, moved by the plight of a homeless woman we passed each morning who sat on the grassy embankment adjacent to our exit. Deeply affected by the woman’s situation, Carpooler 2 prepared a food basket for her and concocted a plan to toss the package from our speeding car as there was no place to stop. I decelerated as we drove by the indigent woman sitting in her usual spot and Carpooler 2 hurled the food basket in her direction. Unbeknownst to us, the homeless woman had relocated and a dog walker now sitting on the embankment was the unwelcome recipient of our meal on wheels. It was not long after, that Carpooler 2 shucked the corporate workplace for a position abroad teaching English as a second language. I’m willing to bet the traumatized dog walker found a new occupation as well.

I hit the jackpot with Carpooler 3 who, to my delight, assumed the driving while I sat in heated seat, sipping tea and reading the daily horoscope in Driving Miss Daisy style. If you really want to get to know a person well just commute with them. On one agonizingly long ride, having exhausted every current events topic and listened to every song on a 2 gigabyte ipod, I regaled him with details of my pregnancies, deliveries, and breastfeeding anecdotes. I can still recall the blanched look on his face as I persisted, fueled on by a grande cup of Starbucks Zen green tea. He enacted revenge by subjecting me to a litany of graphic details of his recent eye surgery. The paramount reason we carpoolers have remained friends is the fact that we are privy to enough intimate details to blackmail each other for life.

At Carpooler 3’s party he introduced me to someone who authors a work-related blog. Loyal comrade that Carpooler 3 is, he instantly pulled out one of the many Chasing Hubert cards I accidentally intentionally left in his car and handed it over to his friend who, good to his word, checked out my blog and emailed me with kind comments describing my blog as “very nice and very civilized.” And therein lies the problem – perhaps I’ve been too civilized about this quest. If it’s the squeaky wheel that gets all the grease, then maybe it’s my low noise tires that are holding me back. Maybe it’s time to start squeaking and I’ll eventually garner more grease….


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