The CASUAL COMMUTER Riding With You On Your Way To Work

    by Vicky Semones

    Share a fascinating ride with The CASUAL COMMUTER and catch entertaining glimpses of San Francisco Bay Area commuters being themselves.

    Available through XLIBRIS PUBLICATIONS (click book cover)

    Also available at:


    March 2023
    M T W T F S S
  • Pages


Casual Commuter Launched at A Great Good Place

Casual Commuter Launched at A Great Good Place

The Autumn night  clung to the day’s  warmth under  moist clouds colored by the setting sun.  Montclair streets were busy again, since the  reversal of the parking meter fees from 8PM to 6PM.  Cindie and I enjoyed a light dinner at Metro, then joined the book- browsers at A GREAT GOOD PLACE FOR BOOKS, to  meet  and greet,  prior to my book launch.  After the gracious owner, Kathleen Caldwell  introduced me, I offered our guests an overview of Cindie’s and my casual carpool marketing escapades; the genesis of my book and what it represents for me, creatively.  I read excerpts from  the Introduction of  ‘The CASUAL COMMUTER’  and  then a progression of four stories, from serious to funny.  After, guests shared their own experiences with casual carpooling. And then the really cool part – book signing!  Thank you each and every one for participating.  It will always be one of my fondest memories!  Cindie and I continued the celebration over  Boston  cream pie and merlot.   What a delicious evening!!!


Albany Casual Carpool

Cindie at Albany Carpool

Cindie at Albany Carpool

Vicky at Albany Carpool
Vicky at Albany Carpool

Our last morning marketing at the 19 Casual Carpool stops in the East Bay. We’re in  Albany on a cold and windy, over-cast Autumn day.  No official sign marks the Casual Carpool along Pierce Street (south of Central Ave), which  parallels  Highway 80.  Cars and people line up facing one another at the beginning of the red curb marking near this empty news stand across from Pacific East Mall.  Its a long walk from condos about two blocks away. The curbside is debris-strewn and  unprotected from the unrelenting freeway noise and gushing wind.  Double layers of jackets barely keep us warm from 7:20 to 9AM, then we’re off to IHOP for a hearty breakfast.  #176 flyers.  

MacArthur and High Street ~ Oakland

MacArthur & High Street

MacArthur & High Street

In the Laurel District, near the Laurel Bookstore. This stop use to be  on  High St.,  next to a bus stop and quick on-ramp to 580. Carpoolers say there’s a dramatic drop in drivers at the new location in front of the Laurel Foot Clinic, because its not convenient (drivers have to circle the long block) and its dangerous  (virtually no space between awaiting cars and traffic).  Two final riders and no cars in sight: the woman runs for the last bus around the corner;  and the man, reading Neale Donald Walsch ‘Conversations with God’ gets philosophical, saying we are enslaved by our fears, and faith keeps our options open.  He agrees with my comment that time is an illusion.  Just then, a car pulls up with one empty space just for him.  Two attempts at flyer-ing over two days totally 1& 1/2 hours for #116 total flyers.

Fruitvale and Montana ~ Oakland

Montana & Flagg

Montana & Flagg

Mopntana & Flagg ~ Park 'n Ride

Montana & Flagg ~ Park 'n Ride






 Nicely situated under two shade trees, across from the Park and Ride lot under the overpass at Flagg Street.  Grab the morning newspaper at the newsstand; catch a free ride to The City; then do some shopping at Farmer Joe’s for dinner tonight. Most  drivers begin roll down their windows well in advance of our approach to give them a flyer.  7:30 – 9:30AM, 227 flyers.

Emeryville ~ Christie and 64th

Emeryville ~ Christie & 64th

Emeryville ~ Christie & 64th

How convenient for the residents of the condos at 6363 Christie:  the Casual Carpool, the Transbay bus, and BART Shopper  all line up along Christie, and the Public Market is just cross this little park!

A man visiting  from  Sacramento casts a sideways look at the carpool lineup, saying he’s never seen anything so…strange!  A young woman reads the flyer, pokes her head out of a waiting car window to ask if I’m the author – she’s thrilled and wants my autograph – imagine.   Two women we met at Powell & Commodore yesterday again walk by, saying they take that walk daily – burrr.  The carpool lineup is relaxed: cars tend not to pull up to the discrete carpool sign, and passengers tend to board from their place in line.  A pleasant 7:30-9:00AM effort; #188 flyers.

Lakeshore and Grand, Oakland

 Lakeshore & Grand, Oakland

Under the overpass at Lake Port between Lakeshore & Grand Ave.,   we stand for nearly two and a half hours in the cool, dank  shadows,  keeping pace with the swift flow of cars and  passengers.  It’ s like observing an overactive   slinky, as the separate lines of cars and awaiting passengers expand  and compress with the quick flow of this busy spot near the Walden Pond Bookstore.  From 7:15A – 9:40A, #502 flyers!  We earned a satisfying breakfast at the Lakeshore Cafe.

Webster and Santa Clara, Alameda

Webster & Santa Clara, Alameda

Webster & Santa Clara, Alameda

The early-Autumn sky offers a clouded, soft-blue backdrop  for a flight of silhouetted birds as we stand on the cold, shaded sidewalk in front of  Tillie’s – closed for want of repairs – and across from the Trans Pacific National Bank. 

Carpool riders line up facing cars approaching along Santa Clara, and sometimes intermingle with furtive bus riders, who mill about the corner, hedging their spot in lines for the next bus to arrive at the intersection from either street.

How thoughtful of Alameda to provide raised platforms with low steps and bright handrails for  passengers to board the high-riding buses.

Seeking hot coffee and a deep  breakfast after our 7:15Am – 9:00AM stint in the chill morning air, we are directed back  to Jim’s Coffee Shop at the other end of Alameda.  We handed out 175 flyers.

Claremont and College Avenues ~ Oakland

Claremont & College Avenues

Claremont & College Avenues

The width of Claremont Avenue seems to even out the rush of cars in front of the Safeway at this intersection where five streets meet as we enter the Rockridge District. A brisk morning breeze is softened by the view of this pink building. Our flyers are accepted with interest and pleasant smiles.  Our entreaties are met with very few, yet polite refusals.  Lots of casual chatter and openness. Drivers easily accept third riders as the morning grows late. Media contacts from this stop! Near Diesel and Mrs. Dalloway’s Bookstores.  A Claremont Diner breakfast after our 7:15A – 9:00A stint and 172 flyers handed out.

Moraga Casual Carpool

Yesterday, we met Linda J., a former Mayor of Moraga, at the Lafayette Casual Carpool.  She mentioned that, thanks primarily to Dwynne F.,  Moraga  just obtained and posted its carpool sign – at the bus stop on the north side of Moraga Way, just west of School Street.  Linda has asked media to come to the Moraga stop tomorrow, and thought my book would be good publicity for the carpool.  Yes, as it happens, Moraga is the only other Contra Costa stop we plan to go to.  Sounds like a plan!

This morning, I pick up a late-night voicemail from Linda with no return phone number, that media will be arriving at 7AM and she’ll try to keep them there until our normal start time of  7:30AM.   Well, okay, we don’t want to miss an opportunity for media exposure!  So, Cindie and I make it out the door at 6:45AM, with no breakfast. 

When we arrive at the barren corner lot behind the bus stop/carpool, at 7:10AM, four people milling about, including two riders (one from Australia, carrying a tennis racket); and Linda and Dwynne.  No one looks like a reporter. This isn’t looking so good!

Lots of hopeful conversation and several unanswered voicemails from Linda to the reporter; and no carpoolers in sight.  As the last morning bus from Moraga heads out to S.F. at 7:30AM, Linda tells us that the best time to catch the 50 or so carpoolers from Moraga is 6:00AM -7:30AM.  Bummer!

Well, this just confirms that we’ll catch other Contra Costa carpoolers as they pick up rides at Beale Street in San Francisco for the commute home.  Sounds like a plan!  

We make our way through the busy back roads of Moraga for a much-needed hearty breakfast at Mimi’s in Lafayette. Yum!