For the past four decades, SFBC singers Judy Stone and Laurie Olsen have driven to SFBC rehearsals in a carpool. For Yi Liu-Polczynski, Louis Lao and Jane English, their carpool is only a few years old. Both carpools started by happenstance at choir rehearsal. What started as a way to get into the car-pool lane on the Bay Bridge has become an intertwined and essential part of the Tuesday choir experience. Carpooling nourishes a social connection that makes SFBC even more special for these singers.
Judy and Laurie independently stated that their carpool creates a unique and bonding experience every Tuesday. Over 40 years, births, aging parents, deaths, divorces, job challenges and more were all part of the drive. “It was an intimate and consistent time to check in on each other.” “No subject was off-limits.” When asked why they kept it up for so long, Judy commented, “you’ve committed to the carpool so you have to show up even if you are tired after a long day. The drive/talk nourished you and made it easier to transition to the joy of singing at rehearsal.”
Yi, Louis and Jane stated many of the same things, and also added that their carpool was a safe space to talk about challenging family illnesses. This group specifically spoke about the “supportive environment and ability to get to know people more deeply” as a happy advantage of carpooling. Jane mentioned she learned about China and Hong Kong from the personal perspectives of Yi and Louis.
On the practical side, who drove each week along with money for tolls and gas have been handled informally in both these carpools. For one singer, the company is key: “you are always walking into choir with someone, and for a shy person, that is a big help.”
When asked how each has kept up with the Tuesday routine, none of the 5 interviewed has yet been able to re-create the intimacy of the carpool drive into a pandemic routine. Judy and Laurie have gotten together for a backyard lunch. Yi and Louis have started to sing over Zoom in recent weeks.
Judy, Laurie, Yi, Louis and Jane stated they cannot wait for live rehearsals to start again so they can drive over the Bay Bridge with their carpool companions.