“Make sure you call me when you get to the airport. If we don’t hear from you in a few hours we’ll send out the search party!”
Parting words from my friends as they dropped me off at the moterway entrance to catch a lift with “Gio”. I was using Bla Bla Car (a car-sharing service) for the first time and I didn’t really know what I was letting myself in for. Sharing a car with a few sconosciuti for a couple of hours seemed like a decent price to pay for saving time, money and my sanity -when the alternative is negotiating public transport.
I hopped into the car and was greeted by Gio, 2 Napolitanos and a Bergamasco. After the initial awkward ‘hellos’ we settled into our seats and were off. I hadn’t really thought before how weird and unusal this situation was. I mean, there I was in a stranger’s car with another 3 randoms. It sounds like the start of an American-teen-roadtrip movie…
“They left as strangers and arrived as friends…”
It wasn’t like we were sitting on a train or a plane where you could hide under a pair of headphones or shield yourself with a book (e-book). We were stuck with each other for the remainder of the journey and it would be rude to pretend that the others didn’t exist. Wouldn’t it?
I was (fortunately) in the front seat and chatted to Gio (a 23 year old from Pompei studying Engineering). He told me he does this journey quite a lot, going to meet his girlfriend, often giving people a lift with Bla Bla Car. I asked him about the passengers he’s had. “One girl talked the whole time about her plans for the wedding, I’m sure she almost thought about inviting me by the time she got out of the car”.
The others listened politely or maybe just politely ingnored us, but after a few more kilometres we warmed up and chatted here and there, mostly about using Bla Bla car, neutral territory I guess. This being the first time using BBC I couldn’t really comment but it was interesting hearing the others’ experiences. I must admit I didn’t catch everything – 3 southerners and a Bergamasco weren’t the easiest to follow. One of the Napolitanos answered the phone and started speaking in dilect of which I understood – niente.
I can’t really say that converation flowed. After all, we were all complete strangers and not all eager to become best friends. At the time I found it a bit frustrating that after a while conversation seemed to stagnate. I wracked my brain trying to find mutual conversation topics – but often forced conversation is worse than no conversation.
At the end of the day we met as strangers and left as strangers. It wasn’t a hollywood movie where we said goodbye, hugged each other and wiped away the tears after a 2 hour therapy session. I did’t ‘get to know’ these people, we didn’t swap numbers or add each other on Facebook. We were people who passed some time together in company rather than sitting alone, ignoring the world with our eyes glued to a piece of plastic.
And that was just fine.
N.B. I read this article a few days ago and thought it was quite funny and linked in fairly well.
Painting by Eleonora Milani