Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Sometimes I'm just not in the mood to have strangers in my car. Maybe I want to blast my music or sing along. Yeah, you're not the only one who does that. Maybe I'm in a bad mood and don't want to be friendly to strangers. So occasionally I'll skip out on slugging and try the normal lanes. But I almost immediately regret it when I get far enough on the ramp to 395 that I can see the traffic. Damn it, Anna. Couldn't just do your normal routine, had to risk it.

I don't think I have the patience to work anywhere in northern Virginia where slugging isn't an option and the only choice is to crawl to work. Music couldn't even save my sanity if that were the case.

Also--the man who rode in my car this morning smelled like potpourri. I wanted to ask how he managed to do that.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Shout Out to my Coworkers

I talk about slugging at work a lot. Partially because they're the first people I see after my morning slug experience when I just have to tell someone my stories, and partially because of the reaction I got from most of them when I first mentioned it. Most of them had never heard of it, and when I explained how it works, they were somewhat baffled that people would get into cars with strangers like that. But now a couple of them just think it's hilarious how much I love to talk about slugging. And my one coworker, E, loves the idea of slugging in general, I think. 

She told her husband that I had slugs in my car one morning, and his reply was, "Ew, did she leave her windows open when it rained?" I honestly wasn't surprised because before I'd heard about slugging, I'd probably have thought something similar. 

One of my coworkers, B, told me that I got in her head so much that one afternoon she went and tried to pick slugs up at the Pentagon because she lives in Springfield, too. Now she picks up slugs every afternoon. Her first experience wasn't a great first impression, though. She came to me the next day complaining because she took three riders and the two in the back knew each other and talked the whole way home. So loud that she couldn't hear her radio. I had to laugh because that has never happened to me, and of course it happened to her on her debut slugging trip. I made sure to tell her that that is a rare occurrence, and she should have just turned up her radio or something. Slugs aren't supposed to talk unless the driver talks, per the Slugging Etiquette/Rules, but on a rare occasion I've ridden with slugs who knew each other as well and they'll talk to each other anyways. 

While we were having this discussion another coworker came in and said that, oh yes, he'd tried slugging before. The one time he tried it he said that he had someone tell him to change his radio station while he was jamming to Twista. Hilarious image, first of all, but I had to laugh at him, too. I play country music every afternoon and no one's ever "told" me to change my radio station or turn it down. That's another one of the rules of etiquette that slugs are supposed to follow. It's not their car, they can't tell you what to play. I told him he should have just said no, or turned it down a little. I try to keep my music down to a certain level, but I'm not going to put on boring WTOP radio because it makes me want to fall asleep.

I told B she should give it another try because it's really beneficial and most riders aren't like the first ones she had, and now she picks up slugs every afternoon, I believe.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sometimes I Just Can't Stop Laughing

Uncontrollable laughter. Sometimes it happens randomly and I laugh at something that probably isn't that funny for approximately 20 minutes. It almost always happens when I'm with my siblings, to the point where other people can't understand us. And sometimes it happens when I'm overtired and delirious. 

My close friends in high school, or the ones that had any 5th period class with me (for some reason I was always delirious in 5th period) have a lot of experience with my uncontrollable laughter. My best friend in 8th grade came to the beach with me and experienced one of my most outrageous giggle fits and probably has a better memory about why I was laughing than I do. I have no idea why, but at the time I couldn't stop laughing.
Anyways, I'm sure other people occasionally...maybe not as often as me...laugh uncontrollably randomly. But it gets more awkward when I have an urge to laugh uncontrollably while I'm slugging, in a car full of quiet strangers (most of the time). It's only happened a couple of times, I swear.

1. I was reading Tina Fey's autobiography and I forgot where I was. I tried to look out the window away from the book, like that was going to stop me from remembering what I'd just read.

2. I couldn't help but fell asleep in the backseat one day, when I didn't have a book to read and I was really tired (I swear it only happened a few times), and it happened to be on a day when we packed 5 people into a sedan because the line was long and the driver was generous. I woke up in a jerk, after having a dream that I was falling. And not one person looked over at me, but when I realized where I was and what had just happened I started cracking up, and then trying to stifle my laugh.  (Puglisi siblings know the noise I make when I'm trying to stifle my laughs. It was rough.) I think it was almost funnier that no one even flinched.

As a driver the urge usually comes when I look in the backseat and see two grown men passed out with their heads leaning back and mouths open, or snoring, and I'll just about lose it. (People will snore--rarely, but they will-- and that's when everyone else in the car usually looks around and kind of chuckles.) I'm like their mommy dropping them off at the kiss-and-ride at school. It cracks me up. I drive "grown-ups" to work. I don't know why that's funnier than driving slugs that are my age. I guess because some of them are literally my friends' parents? And probably because about half of the people I drive are serious men who go to the Pentagon and do important things, I'm assuming. I don't know how else to explain it, it makes me laugh.

What sparked this whole post idea in my mind was the man that got into my car this morning. He was one of the Army dudes going to the Pentagon, and he got in my car and had a bag or briefcase of some sort he wanted to put down. My sweater that I had worn the day before was in the backseat in the middle, and he looked at it and said, "Do you mind if I move your child's sweater?" without a hesitation. I held back the laugh, and told him no problem. I didn't even bother to correct him because, honestly, I'm 5 feet tall it probably did look like a child's sweater. But it cracked me up. I should have rolled with it and been like, "Oh I forgot that she left that in here." My child's sweater. If I were my Grandma, it would have actually been from the kid's department because she could fit into their clothes and would shop there. It was a sweater from New York and Company, why did he assume it was a child's. It just seemed so funny.
What I'd imagine a child's sweater would look like. 
Ok-not really but it was the best I could find.
Maybe you had to be there. Had to share it anyways. My child's sweater. Too good.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Sneaky Slug and the Mystery Lot

I was picking up slugs at the Pentagon this afternoon, and I already had one lady in my back seat who was going to RV so I told the next man that approached my window where we were headed. He then asked, "Old Keene Mill?" which I took as needing clarification as to where the slug lot I mentioned was--perhaps he didn't know the name of the lot he went to? So I said yep, and he got in the car. Two minutes later as we were getting on the HOV lane he said, "Actually, I get out a little bit earlier on Old Keene Mill road at Daventry."

Little background here. Daventry is a completely separate slug lot, much farther down Old Keene Mill closer to 395 than Rolling Valley. Oh, and basically nobody goes there. Especially in the afternoon from the Pentagon. I rarely see riders asking for a ride to Daventry in the afternoon at the Pentagon, but when I do see them they're always desperate and often end up getting dropped off in some random location.

Map of the Parkway with a star where the Sydenstricker Lot is located.
I looked at him and said, "Umm..I take the Parkway exit, I don't go down Old Keene Mill." He then proceeded to say, "Well that's why I said OKM for clarification." We resolved the situation by him offering to have me let him out on the side of the Parkway. "We both win!" He says. Oh yes, we both win. I now have to pull over, on the shoulder of the Parkway to let you out because you sneaked your way into my car without telling me where you were really going. Win, win, pal. 

You're probably thinking, why didn't I just go down Old Keene Mill, instead? 1. OKM traffic is seriously insane. So many traffic lights and I don't think any of them are synced. One time I sat at the first traffic light after exiting 395 for 10 minutes. In that time, I can be all the way down the Parkway and at the slug lot. So yeah, I just stick with the Parkway.

By taking the Parkway I can also drop slugs off at either the Rolling Valley or Sydenstricker lot, because Sydenstricker is right off the Parkway, and it's just faster to get to Rolling Valley that way. So when people walk up to my car at the Pentagon, I tell them I can go to either, or if there's a line of people when I show up I'll ask where the first two people in line are going because it's really kind of sporadic as to which lot has more drivers on a given day. (RV is actually a little bit out of the way because of a light I have to sit at exiting the lot, and it's a couple streets past my house, but I feel their pain having been an RV slug before...)

Back to the real story. 2. Even if I had conceded and gone down OKM so as to drop him off on my way, it's still hard to pull over where Daventry is and get back into traffic because you kind of just pull over into a compact bus lane. So it's somewhat rude to jump into someone's car without letting them know you aren't actually going to the slug lot that they mentioned. Work that stuff out before you get in the car. Sneaky, sneaky Daventry-man. And 3. I had a softball game to get to so I couldn't really spare the time to go out of my normal way, since I was already a little behind schedule, too.

As soon as he got out of the car, the lady in the back seat (who happened to ride with me in the morning, as well--I always find it humorous when that happens) and I vented about how that had been not only rude by dangerous to ask me to do that. Then she said, "Well, remember him for next time so you don't pick him up." Done and Done. Good bye, Mr. Sneaky Daventry Slug.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Slugging Statistics

I was trying to find a picture of an ad that I saw on the side of a Metro bus for slugging (Sidenote: I think that's hilarious. They're supporting a different form of commuting that's free and doesn't benefit them? I couldn't find a picture of it so I'll have to do some scouring on the road if traffic is bad one day) and I came across this slugging thread: http://www.city-data.com/forum/northern-virginia/855393-have-you-tried-slugging-do-you-3.html.

This is the excerpt that I found interesting:

"Total persons using the HOV lanes are 52,600 in the 6:30-9:30 a.m. time frame. In comparison, Metrorail carried 41,300 passengers across the cordon and VRE carried 4,310 passengers. The remaining roadways to the core area carry 87,280 people in 80,000 autos and 4,400 bus passengers during the 6:30-9:30 a.m. time period.

The Shirley Highway HOV facility is the best example in the region of a successful HOV operation. From 6:30-9:30 a.m. in 2002, the two HOV lanes carried a total of 31,650 people in 8,635 vehicles, compared to the four conventional lanes which carried 23,510 people in 21,310 vehicles. The Blue and Yellow lines of the Metrorail service in this corridor carried 16,700 people in the same time period.

That's an average of 3.7 people per vehicle in the HOV lanes, and 1.1 people per vehicle in the regular lanes."
 In summary, in 2002 the two HOV lanes stats from 6:30-9:30am on I-395 (Shirley Highway) were as follows:
HOV: 31,650 people in 8,635 vehicles
Regular lanes: 23,510 people in 21,310 vehicles.
That would be why the regular 395 lanes are usually so much more packed than the HOV lanes. Captain Obvious? Maybe. Still an interesting stat. And I'm not really a big stat person. My number of strike-outs in college was too far above what I'd have liked for me to be one. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Slugging Success

Since I've gotten my route down, slugging has been working even better for me. It only takes me about 4-5 minutes to get to the Pentagon in the afternoon leaving Crystal City to pick up slugs, and that's just because of stoplights and the traffic cops at the Pentagon. Then it usually takes me about 15-20 minutes to get back to the slug lot once I pick up slugs. I'm usually only on the HOV lanes for about 6-8 minutes. Sometimes it seems longer because of the distance I'm covering in that short time, but typically I am going 60-70 mph on the HOV lanes (it's ok, Dad, even though I know you aren't reading this, the speed limit is 65).

Seemed fitting.
Once I exit the HOV lane, it only takes about 10 minutes to get back to the slug lot because I take the Parkway instead of Old Keene Mill Road. OKM road in the afternoon is seriously painful. The Parkway doesn't get bad until right after the exit that I take to drop off slugs, so it goes much more quickly than OKM. I feel like I have inside info knowing this, because I think about 90% of the slug drivers going to Rolling Valley lot take OKM road in the afternoon. If you suggest this to the riders, they are usually more than happy about it, and is another way to achieve "prototype slug driver" status.

A couple days ago, I hit every light, picked up slugs immediately at the Pentagon, and traffic was great on the HOV lane. I think it took me maybe 22 minutes to get home. It was heavenly. That used to be the amount of time it took me to walk down to the slug line in DC. Seriously, sometimes it's the little things that get you through the day.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Prototype Slug Driver

My older brother (check out his awesome blog here) commented on one of my blog posts asking if any of my passengers had complained about my "erratic use of the gas and brake pedals yet." Good one, brother. 

But then I started thinking about it and I used to hate slugging with drivers who would speed up in traffic just to slam on their brake .8 seconds later, or change lanes like it was their job only to get nowhere further than the car next to them originally. There were lots of other more quirky traits that made it annoying to ride with certain people, and I would kind of sigh when I saw their car pull up for me to get into.

So when I picked up slugs for the first few times, I was pretty paranoid. Ok I won't lie, I still am pretty paranoid about my driving when I pick up slugs. It makes you really conscious of all the little bumps you can feel in your car, and exactly how hard you're pressing on the gas or when you let up on the gas, and so forth. I basically want to be the best driver they've ever ridden with. Not only in terms of driving ability, but cool-ness, if you will. Yes, I'm basically 16 years old and I want to be the cool driver that everyone likes!

I always ask the riders if they're too hot or too cold to let me know, try to be polite, keep my music at a normal level, or I'll ask where the first people in line in the afternoon are going because I will go to either slug lot in Springfield and I want to be fair. I also secretly pray that my passengers like country music because then I really have an in as the cool driver. It makes me feel somewhat lame when I realize how much I want to be liked by these strangers, but I do. I guess just because I always had my favorite drivers and who doesn't want to be liked?