Last Thursday, on her first night working CARPOOL operations, freshman Valerie Milligan actually thought she was going to drive instead of navigate.
“I thought that, since I have insurance and a driver’s license, I would be exactly as likely to drive as my partner,” said Milligan. “But I just felt bad since he really, really wanted to drive tonight. I think he said something about not having a woman’s talent for multitasking.”
CARPOOL is a student organization at Texas A&M dedicated to providing safe, free, nonjudgmental rides to anyone in the Bryan-College Station area. Each car is staffed by two volunteers, one male and one female, and the jobs of “navigator” and “driver” are divided between them. Volunteers regularly report their excitement to be the first point of human contact for their partner, who often appears to have never interacted with another person. The driver talks to patrons and focuses on the road, while the navigator writes a short paragraph during every ride, takes song requests, uses the GPS to give directions, and fills out receipts in addition to making conversation with the patrons.
“Women are actually better evolved for tasks like navigating,” said Jacob Barnes, a junior in CARPOOL. “They were gatherers back in the caveman days, so their eyes are better suited for writing in the dark. Sometimes staring at the lime-green paper makes my tummy hurt, but it doesn’t affect women as much since they’re adapted to handle morning sickness.”
“I just think men are better drivers,” said one CARPOOL patron, who chose to remain anonymous. “I don’t have to be politically correct since I’m drunk.”
“I don’t mind always being the navigator,” said CARPOOL sophomore Hannah Kilgore. “At first I was kind of upset because I love to drive, but now I really do see that we couldn’t operate without women taking all of the responsibility for rides. Men and women naturally have totally different strengths, but we’re definitely equals. Being given so much responsibility just shows that. The future is female!”