I don’t want to drive my coworker to work events

A reader writes:

A coworker just asked me to give him rides to several offsite events that we both work on in the next month. The coworker has a car, but usually bikes to work. This person is at the same level as my boss and works closely with him. However, the coworker is not in charge of me and is not part of my group.

I reluctantly gave the coworker rides last year, mainly because my predecessor had already agreed to it. However, I’d really rather not this time. Being a taxi service is not in my job description (though the events are). The events are first thing in the morning and it’s 20-30 minutes out of my way to pick the coworker up beforehand. Plus, I get very nervous having anyone else in my car.

Is it reasonable to decline this request? Is there a tactful way to do so?

Sure, especially since he has his own car. If he didn’t have a car, you’d still be entitled to decline, but it would be a nice favor to do for someone, especially since it sounds like it’s only a few days. But if he has a car and just doesn’t want to drive, and instead is asking you to drive 20-30 minutes out of your way in the morning, you can decline without any guilt.

Just say something like this: “I’m sorry, but I need to be at home until 8:30, so I can’t leave early to pick you up.” (And that’s the truth, even if all that’s keeping you there is your desire to get your usual amount of sleep.)

Some people will go with white lies in this situation (“I need to drop my spouse off in the morning, in the opposite direction”), but I’d just not get specific about why you can’t do it.

Now, all of that said, are there political ramifications to this in your office? In a normal office, there wouldn’t be. But you’ll have to decide if your office is normal in that regard or not.

As for what’s reasonable, though? It’s certainly reasonable to decline, and reasonable people wouldn’t take issue with that.

You can read an update to this post here.

{ 138 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous

    It sounds like this thing is just a few times once every year? Although I agree with AA that OP shouldn’t have to give this co-worker rides…. however, since “This person is at the same level as my boss and works closely with him. OP probably should. It could work in OP’s favor down the road, especially if the predecessor who OP mentioned also gave them rides was promoted. Sure it’s perfectly reasonable to decline but if OP’s boss is ever in the position to promote he’s likely to consult with the people he works closely with. I’d rather that co-worker remember me as being the team player who went the extra mile than the person who declined him a car pool. If it was in fact just a few times one month out of the year I would just bite the bullet.

    However reasonable the decline “I have to be home until 8:30” would be without further questioning, I wonder if it would still seem a bit like a lie without further explanation due to being able to give rides before. If you had no spouse or children to blame it on, you would be kind of stuck. Of course circumstances change but if I was the co-worker I would probably expect some sort of explanation just out of curiosity of the changing circumstances (although I probably wouldn’t ask for a ride in the first place unless we were carpooling from work).

    1. bob

      I don’t think the coworker wants to carpool just to carpool, I think he is just a cheapskate and doesn’t want to put gas in his own car.

      Making the OP drive 20-30 minutes out of the way to “carpool” is out of line and defeats the purpose of carpooling in the first place.

    2. Vicki

      Depending where you live, 20-30 minutes could be anywhere from 3 miles to 20 miles. It’s one thing to be “the team player who went the extra mile”. It’s quite another to be the shmuck who went the extra 20.

  2. JamieG

    I wonder, would it be possible to arrange sharing the driving responsibilities (as in him driving to some events, you others)? Especially since he has a car, it’s pretty annoying (or it would be to me) for him to ask/expect you to go half an hour out of your way without offering/being willing to do the same. That is to say, I can understand if you wouldn’t want him to give you a ride, but it would annoy me (in your case) mostly that he didn’t offer to switch off.

  3. Cat

    From the requester’s perspective, could it be that because he is so used to biking/walking as his commute, that he is now less comfortable as a driver, and that therefore he is leery of finding his way to a new site (bonus “oh no” points if nasty highways are required) for a one-off situation?

    (er, this may be me in the future, if I ever move out of the city…)

    If this is part of the reason, I would be SO grateful to whoever agreed to drive me that I would definitely mention the good deed to others in the office, and make it worth the while of the OP.

    1. Mike C.

      This is a rather silly thing to be afraid of. Especially if they are used to dodging cars from atop a bicycle!

      1. Anonymous

        As someone who doesn’t drive much I can attest that while it may be silly , it’s common among frequent drivers.

      2. Jeb-Ray Gumpeater

        Not silly at all. Those of us who drive regularly usually take for granted the skill set required and we even forget that we’re taking our lives (and those of our passengers) into our hands when we drive. However, infrequent drivers are all too aware of the the dangers and how easy it is to make a mistake and cause yourself and others financial and physical harm.

        That said, I love driving. I’m usually the guy volunteering to drive others around. And as others said above, this could be a great networking opportunity with someone at least one level above the OP in the organization.

      3. AdAgencyChick

        It’s not silly — as someone who has lived in NYC for 10 years, I am bloody well TERRIFIED of driving now that I haven’t had to do it in so long — but it really shouldn’t be the OP’s problem, either.

        OP, any chance you can ask this guy to meet you at your home, so that at least there’s no skin off your nose to help him?

    2. Natalie

      That really hasn’t been my experience as someone who primarily walks, bikes, or takes public transportation. I think I’m actually a more observant driver since I started driving less – as a non-driver, you see bad car behavior so much more clearly.

      I’d say it’s more likely that the co-worker is trying to live “car lite” (reducing single occupant trips as much as possible) and didn’t think the OP would mind.

      1. Laura L

        Same here. I don’t own a car and rarely drive as part of my daily life. But, when I do, it comes back to me pretty quickly. It’s kind of like riding a bike-once you learn, you don’t forget it.

        At any rate, I don’t think not feeling comfortable is a good reason for the coworker to make the OP go out of his way to pick him up.

        1. Natalie

          “At any rate, I don’t think not feeling comfortable is a good reason for the coworker to make the OP go out of his way to pick him up.”

          Certainly. Nor is the co-workers desire to reduce car usage a reason to compel the OP’s participation. The co-worker doesn’t really seem to get that they’re imposing. I could see this working much better if the co-worker had suggest that s/he could pick up the OP, or offered money for gas or bagels or something.

  4. Deirdre

    Why not suggest that he drive that 30 minutes to a mutually agreed upon location and pick him up there?

    By indicating that you don’t have that extra time to drive out of your way, you can say that you would be happy to carpool if he can meet you somewhere NOT out for your way.

    You get your point across and he can decide if he is willing to meet you half way.

  5. M-C

    I agree it seems a bit overly unfriendly on OP’s part not to do it. Not to mention un-ecological, which may be a big part of the requester’s motivation, especially if he’s a regular biker.
    I don’t think it’d be untoward to ask the requester to trade off driving duties on the various days. I’d also suggest asking him to bike/drive to your house and meet you there. All depending on the various sensible permutations of triangular locations of course. Call it “car pool” instead of “giving a ride” and you’ll both have better thoughts about it and establish a better basis for negotiation.

    1. Esra

      I agree that if he’s coming at it from a carpooling-for-the-environment angle, he should offer to drive OP some days as well. Without that trade off, it’s not a cool request.

    2. class factotum

      The OP has no obligation whatsover to give this guy a ride. None. And he also has no obligation to support the biker’s ecological agenda.

      The only reason I see for OP to do as the biker asked is that it might be politically wise.

      1. Kou

        Absolutely. I mean– would you ask someone you’re not close to at your workplace to drive you places just because? Would you ask them to drive 30 minutes out of their way to give you a ride somewhere when it’s not actually necessary? I really doubt you would.

      2. Vicki

        Any “ecological agenda” is outweighed by that extra 20-30 minutes on the part of the OP. The bicyclist isn;t driving (plus) but the OP is driving more than usual (minus) so at best it’s a wash.

    3. TL

      Also, driving 20-30 minutes out of his way probably won’t actually have an environmental benefit (that’s a 40-60 minute increase of time in car overall and it’s probably just the same if they both drive)

      1. Elizabeth

        Yes, that was what I thought. Unless these are events that are multiple hours away, or the coworker drives something with the milage of a bus, there won’t really be any fuel savings overall.

      2. Laura L

        This. Was just going to reply to this. It’s either the same environmental impact or has more of one, depending on how long it takes to get to the place from each of their homes.

  6. Heather

    Wow. If the OP doesn’t want to do it he/she doesn’t have to do it. When did declining a request like this become such a hot potato?

    1. Aja

      I agree with you and I also think that if people learned how to say “no”, this blog would lose about 70% of the questions that come in. That’s not a slam on the poster — I see so many of the questions that get posted here are some variation of:
      “I was asked to do something I don’t want to do, how do I deal with ?”

      I don’t know if it’s an age thing (I’m over 40 – old and mean!) or a personality thing (I’m pretty plain-spoken and direct) but when someone asks me to do something I don’t want to do, I say “no”. And I think/hope I say “no” in a way that is appropriate and respectful and pleasant — I don’t just bark “NO!” at people — but if I don’t want to do it, it’s a “no”.

      A lot of what I see AAM doing is helping people figure out ways to say “no” and it does make me wonder why that seems to be difficult for people.

      In this case, I would have said no to the first request and used a white lie excuse along the lines of what AAM requested and I agree that’s a good way to go. And my opinion is that someone asking a more junior-level person at work to do a personal favor for them is inappropriate because some people are going to feel obligated to help you because of your position in the company and that’s crappy.

      Asking someone at work you are friendly with for the occasional ride because a) they live close to you and b) you had a car in the shop would be different. This person doesn’t live close and they do have a car.

      1. Anonymous

        I think a lot of people are afraid to say no because there are so many factors that go into your job overall that you can’t control. You said “no” once to the boss and maybe they took it the wrong way and now you have to open the mail as punishment and your worklife is miserable.
        My boss used to ask me to work last minute over time. I said no once (despite pulling 14 hour shifts Monday-Friday and working on Saturdays regularly for over 2 years) and she always declined me from leaving early when it was dead slow from then on. Once I had a baby I could blame it on him, but I still could never leave early.

      2. Jeb-Ray Gumpeater

        “…And my opinion is that someone asking a more junior-level person at work to do a personal favor for them is inappropriate because some people are going to feel obligated to help you because of your position in the company and that’s crappy.

        Asking someone at work you are friendly with for the occasional ride because a) they live close to you and b) you had a car in the shop would be different. This person doesn’t live close and they do have a car.”

        I was thinking this too. Thanks for saying it more clearly than I could have

    2. K.

      Co-sign. Further, I don’t own a car (city-dweller – I bike, walk, use public transportation, and ZipCar when I need to) and I would feel terrible if I asked someone to take me somewhere and found out s/he’d driven half an hour out of their way to do so. That’s not an insignificant amount of time and gas is $4 a gallon. The guy has his own car; if he doesn’t want to drive it, he’s an adult and can figure something else out. The OP shouldn’t put it that baldly, of course, but saying no is not unreasonable.

            1. Jamie

              I’ve never worked anywhere where they would for short distances which are similar to what you’d drive to work.

              (She does mention that the event is closer to her home than her work is.)

              I don’t get reimbursed for the 35 miles I drive to work everyday so it wouldn’t occur to me to put in for reimbursement if I had to drive a similar distance to and from an event in lieu of work. If I were driving much further – sure.

    3. Patti

      Exactly… even if you said yes before, you still have the right to say no. With or without a good excuse/explanation. “Sorry, I can’t do it this time.” End of story. Sheesh.

  7. Danielle

    Maybe this is just me coming from the place of a poor person where every drop of gas is accounted for, but I think the request is unreasonable on the part of the co-worker!

    You’re asking someone to go 20-30 minutes out of their way to pick you up when you have a car? Really? Ask somebody where I’m from that question and you’ll either get a resounding “Hell no”, or “You got me on some gas money?” That’s kind of a douche-y thing to ask your co-worker, especially if it may be some sort of “test” to see what kind of person you are, or to factor in when speaking to the boss about you. (I’m not saying this is the case here, but you never know.)

    I’m not a mean person. I’ve given co-workers rides to and from work many times, but I’m not gonna go THAT much out of my way. Plus, it can create resentment and awkwardness at work if the person giving the rides doesn’t speak up if they’re feeling used.

    As for the question at hand, I’d use Alison’s advice to decline, or either only say you can do it if he’ll meet you at your house or at work.

    1. Ellie H.

      No kidding – this seems really unreasonable to me. Especially because he HAS a car! Nobody is saving any gas if the LW has to drive that far out of his way to pick up the coworker, so the environmental reason vanishes. If he’s that committed to the environment, he can bike to the offsite events too . . .

    2. Elizabeth West

      Exactly what I was thinking. Nowhere in this does the OP say if he offered to help out with gas. If she has to go out of her way to pick him up, that’s costing her.

      Maybe she could say “Sure, but I’ll need a little help with fuel costs. Gas has gone up so much these days, and your house is a bit out of the way.” Or some variant thereof. I would not THINK of accepting rides without at least offering to help with gas, which I did when coworkers helped me when my car was in the shop. They declined, but I thought it was at least polite to offer.

  8. Phyllis

    20-30 minutes out of someone’s way is a fairly major commitment in both time and cost of gas. Plus, I have a problem with higher-ups putting workers on the spot for requests like these. I think the OP is justified in turning the request down, and my response would be “Sorry, I won’t be able to do that.”, said politley but firmly. Any additional explanation only opens the door for the asker to further attempt to negotiate.

    1. Jamie

      Like Phyllis, I also have a problem with those with higher level positions asking for this kind of favor. Because their rank is factored into the decision in a way it’s just not wih a peer.

      1. Long Time Admin

        Also, the price of gas is not as large a consideration to them as it is to us lower-tier workers.

        True story: I worked one year at the home office of the world’s largest retailer (longest damn year of my life). During a dept. meeting one day, the manager and the director were laughing at how many people would go to W—– for gas to save 3 cents a gallon with their discounts. The other admin and I were furious, and we told them that with every gas price increase, we have to take money out of our monthly budgets from something else to cover the increase. We have a hard enough time paying our electric bills, and saving 3 cents/gallon, using coupons, buying the loss leaders, all of this, helps us to find enough money every month. Then we shut up, and surprisingly, suffered no repercussions for being outspoken.

        The OP’s coworker doesn’t have a clue that his request is unreasonable. I think the OP should take Alison’s suggestion. Of course, if this is once or twice a year, it might be politically smart to drive the guy.

  9. Recruiter

    It sounds like the problem is not the gas, or the time, but just a preference to travel solo. Which, in my opinion, is still valid. Especially since the co-worker has a car, I think it is valid to just say no. Say it nicely, but still. I would say, in a kind tone, “Oh, sorry, I’m not able to. I have a commitment immediately after and am not heading back in your direction.” The next time he asks, say you have to stay home til the last second. Eventually he will stop asking!

    1. CM

      I don’t know why finding a different reason every day would be better than what AAM suggests. Unless her advice does not apply to the OP (it would be the case if the event starts much later than normal work, thus raising the question why the OP can leave at a certain time every day to go to work, but not leave at the same time in the event days).

      Regardless, trying to come up with a different excuse every day is not something I’d recommend, as it’ll quickly become apparent that they are just excuses.

      1. A Bug!

        Yeah, there’s a lot to be said for a firm, clear “no” in a case like this. To say “Sorry, but today I can’t” means “Next time you want a ride, circumstances may be different, so ask then.” It’s basically an invitation to the other person to keep asking.

        If there’s one thing I wish everybody would suddenly “get”, it’s that it’s okay to say no to people when they ask you to do things for them. That’s why they have to ask, because it’s not a foregone conclusion. And if they treat it like it is, then they’re the assholes, not you.

        1. Camellia

          And offering an ‘excuse’ or ‘reason’ often only leads to the person asking for the favor to try to ‘help you’ resolve or circumvent the aforesaid ‘excuse’ or ‘reason’ so you can do what they want you to do.

          Give a SMALL smile and say, “Sorry, I can’t.” Then be prepared to fend off attempts to find out why you can’t so they can help you find a way to do it anyway. I usually just say, “Nope, can’t.” and then, if they persist, discover an urgent need to go see a co-worker about something urgent.

  10. Jamie

    There is nothing wrong with saying no – and I understand not wanting to drive someone else. I value my solitary commute and I wouldn’t be thrilled about giving that up.

    However, if it could be politically helpful to spend this time wih someone who may be able to help your career, that’s something to consider.

    At least he asked rather than just assuming someone would drive him. I’ve worked with people who didn’t own a car/drive and no one would ask if someone would drive, but who got to drive them. Not just to offsites but home or to the train station – often. I think it’s great that people take public transportation or walk/bike to work – but that shouldn’t (and too often does) come with the assumption that its the co-workers obligation to provide a ride when a car is needed.

    Are you getting gas and mileage comped for going offsite? Just curious if this will be costing you any additional gas money.

    1. Kou

      I worked with someone like this earlier this year, actually. He’d constantly try to make plans with people and then ask “Ok, who’s driving me?” He didn’t own his own car, he shared one, and he seemed to feel that trying to make sure the car would be available when he wanted it was too much work compared to getting rides from everyone else.

    2. Elizabeth West

      Grr, one person I worked with lost his license for a DUI. He was always bumming rides to lunch with people, rather than just bringing a damn sandwich. You could see people ducking out the back at lunchtime so they didn’t have to drive him anywhere. Apparently he never helped with gas, and just always assumed they would take him! He never asked me, because I always ate at work, heh heh.

  11. LK

    My boss does this to me all the time, whenever our office has an event during the workday, I drive him there & back (even though he has a company car). It’s kind of annoying but the trips are usually 10 mins or less each way so it’s not a big deal. The difference here is that my events occur within the work day, so no one is asking me to give up personal time (and if you’re a night owl like me, an extra 30 minutes in the morning is ALOT of time). Just because your predecessor agreed to the arrangement doesn’t mean that your coworker is entitled to rides from whoever is in your job, forever and ever!

    1. Joey

      Think of the opportunity you have that your coworkers don’t. It’s undivided attention and an opportunity to enhance your professional relationship.

      1. LK

        Normally I would think that, but 1) we don’t get along very well and 2) I’m his admin. assistant so it’s not really a professional advantage.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          It actually can be a professional advantage (as an admin too) to build closer relationships to people above you. But you’re certainly not obligated to do that.

      2. twentymilehike

        Think of the opportunity you have that your coworkers don’t. It’s undivided attention and an opportunity to enhance your professional relationship.

        I had to laugh at this after I thought about how “pleasant” I am first thing in the morning. If it’s before 8 am, doing so would probably do the opposite of enhancing my professional relationship.

        Some people really need that “me” time they get alone in the car first thing in the morning–especially after years of doing it, you can really get used to it! If you have family at home and you work in an office full of people, that time can become very valuable to your psyche. For me, it’s thirty minutes I spend listening to the news or a radio show or music, and getting my wheels spinning.

        1. Jamie

          This.

          My husband and I work within a couple miles of each other – about 35 miles from home. On the occasions where one of the cars in in the shop we carpool. I hate it. I love him, I love spending time with him – but I really feel the lack of that solitude all day and this is with the person on the planet with whom I’m most comfortable.

          For me it’s a chance to get focused on the day ahead, have some downtime, just be in my own head and other people in the car, even if they aren’t talking, get in the way of that.

          1. twentymilehike

            My husband and I work within a couple miles of each other – about 35 miles from home

            Oh dear lord, I am SO CHEAP that I would suffer through it to save gas money. Although, I’m not used to seeing my husband before work and just thinking about it and our wildly different morning routines gives me anxiety … *sigh*

            This makes me SO HAPPY that my husband rides a motorcycle to work. In fact, this definately gives me the grand idea to strongly encourage the OP to buy a motorcycle with a solo seat. “Oh, you need a ride? I’m sorry, but my car’s in the shop and I can’t take a passenger on my motorcycle.” I purposely rode my motorcycle for two weeks while my car was “in the shop” to avoid having to loan out an book. I know, I know … this is ridiculous.

            1. Jamie

              It would actually be unworkable as a regular thing. He is a cop and his hours are much earlier than mine – so when we have to do it I’m at work by 5:30 am. He also gets off much earlier and I can’t always control how my day going – so if I have fires to put out I can’t just bail and he ends up sitting and waiting for me sometimes for a couple of hours.

              It ends up making it a much longer day for both of us.

              Besides, he’s the much better cook and as he gets home hours earlier than I do, so he does dinner during the week. He loves to cook so we both miss that when he spends his dinner prep time waiting in the car outside my office :).

          2. Jeb-Ray Gumpeater

            Ugh. My ex-wife and I did the carpool thing for a while. I REALLY missed my alone time. I made the mistake of telling her about it and she got all bent out of shape. I guess it’s no wonder why it didn’t work out :-/

          3. Karen

            Agree! Husband and I both work downtown and take the same public transportation to work, but I really hate riding in with him. I need that 20 mins to read my book. I was honest about it when we first lived together and I think was hurt at first, but now he gets it and we spend time together after work.

      3. Patti

        Maybe… but in my case, at least, my morning commute is not a time that would result in “enhancing” the relationship. I am NOT a morning person, and I need that drive time to get my head right before I get to the office. I would feel very uncomfortable having to share that time with another person. Probably seems like a silly reason to others, but it is what it is.

  12. Anonymous

    When did declining to drive an extra 60 minutes become rude? If he was on the way, yeah it’s kind of rude. 10 minutes out? ehhh… but 20+ minutes. that’s ridiculous. He shouldn’t have asked.

  13. Eric

    Saying “No, I won’t be able to do that.” is the easy part. If he is a reasonable person, he will let it go. If he is not a reasonable person and pushes the envelope, then it becomes hard.

    1. DL

      I’m the OP:

      It’s 20-30 min total additional. My home is closer to the event than it is to work.

      15 min from home to event, then 15 min to work after.

      OR

      20-30 min from home to work (for pickup), then 15 min to event, then 15 min back after.

  14. Cody C

    Maybe the previous employee lived closer and the exec is not aware of the extra time/miles you have to go to accommodate this request. I bet if you just said something like I know you and the person previously in this position had an arrangement for her/him to pick you up for these events. I tried to make a similar accommodation last year however due to circumstances outside my control I will be unable to continue this. Then go make your boss aware so if there is any future blackball attempt you can head it off.

    1. Jeb-Ray Gumpeater

      “…Then go make your boss aware so if there is any future blackball attempt you can head it off.”

      This is a great idea

  15. NewReader

    This is a mixed bag of stuff. Is there going to be fall out from saying no?
    Is the hitchhiker obnoxious?

    Personally, I would probably do it. BUT I would ask for help with gas without batting an eye. If the person requesting a ride was- uhhh- wayyy too much personality- no, I would not do it.

    I am a firm believer there are opportunities in everything. I bet there are opportunities here.

    Yes, you do have the right to say no. And he has the responsibility to respond in an adult-like manner. What everyone has said here is true.
    In the end, you have to respond with an answer that allows you to look him square in the eye and allows you to feel comfortable inside yourself. Anything less is going to make an awkward conversation. Remember he had the audacity to ask- so you can respond on the same candid level. You can say no. He opened that door first.
    I have said no to some requests at work. It was in times where my concerns were weightier and therefore, trumped the requests.

  16. Seal

    If the coworker lived in your neighborhood or on your regular route to work, it’s really not that unreasonable of a request. But asking a coworker – particularly one who is at a lower level in the office – to regularly go that far out of their way to pick you up is just plain rude. Just say no.

    Have you talked to your boss about this?

  17. some1

    Is it possible that the co-worker lost his driver’s license because of a DWI or something? Not that I’m saying that’s the LW’s problem.

  18. Malissa

    My first thought is wondering if the company pays the employee for mileage to these events. If the answer is yes, then the request isn’t unreasonable. Just add the extra mileage to the expense report and move on. If no, then it’s a disruption to the OP’s schedule and pocket book, they have every right to decline. A simple explanation of the facts that it’s out of the way and gas costs $4 a gallon should be enough.

    1. Anon

      Yeah, that was my thought. It’s taken for granted at my workplace that when we go to out-of-office events, people will car pool.* But it’s considered perfectly acceptable to ask the non-driver to meet you at the nearest Metro stop to your place, mileage is reimbursed, and the time you’re driving is on-the-clock.

      * But, we live in DC where nobody normally drives to work and the traffic is horrible, so that probably factors into the workplace culture there.

    2. Ellie H.

      Hmm . . . I didn’t think of that, at all. Now it makes more sense. The time commitment is still pretty irritating though. There are many legitimate reasons (unfortunately, mostly involving children, which may or may not be present in this situation) to have to be at home until a certain time.

  19. Kate

    I think the request was unreasonable. Furthermore, if the coworker requesting a ride is concerned about the environment, suggest that s/he pick you up! The attitude that “it’s no big deal” may well change if they are the chauffeur rather than the rider.

  20. DL

    This is the original poster.

    Answering questions posed:

    – I don’t think coworker could have any impact on my career (due to the type of organization).
    – My predecessor took a job in another organization.
    – Coworker is asking because of his green agenda, but is not making any offer to offset my gas.
    – My predecessor taxied people to every event (twice a week for 4 months). Last year I sent instructions to everyone to meet me at the event and this coworker is the only who did not agree. I’ll have to drive him 4 times.
    – The biggest issues for me have always been that 1) these events already require me to get up an hour early and coworker is asking for another 20-30min on top of that, and 2) I strongly prefer to drive solo

    The update:
    Before I had a chance to politely decline, he asked me about it in the middle of a conference room with 10+ other coworkers listening. At this point, I told him it was out of my way, but I might be able to do it if it is an absolute necessity. He immediately asked what time I’d be picking him up. I now even more annoyed that he used a public setting to get me to agree.

    1. Jubilance

      But you didn’t HAVE to agree. You could have said “could we disucss this privately after the meeting?” and then done so.

      If you really don’t want to go out of your way to drive him & he’s making no effort to compensate you in any way, not even offering you a coffee as a thank you, say no. That is your right.

    2. Jamie

      I am angry on your behalf right now, and I don’t even know you.

      The manner of asking and his response to your answer is outrageous.

      I worked with someone who had the same agenda and would tell anyone who listened that they opted not to own a car because being green was her religion (not paraphrasing – and that was one of the milder statements.)

      This person had no problems cheerfully asking who would get to drive her home or to the train station when the weather was less than perfect, or needed to stop for groceries, and their contribution to off-site carpooling was “I’m fun!”

      Yeah – not so fun…and I’ve never been able to fill my gas tank with fun anyway. I’ve tried – my car prefers unleaded if I expect it to move.

      I am all for people living their lives by the power of their convictions – but those convictions are never in play when it’s someone else who has to incur the cost and inconvenience.

      Talk about not good politically – people started avoiding her in the hour before work ended to not get trapped. Then had a higher up take up the cause and start arranging rides for them whenever it was raining, cold, windy, or snowy. It’s Chicago – it’s almost always rainy, cold, windy, or snowy. People don’t live here for the perfect weather…they move to San Diego for that.

      1. K.

        Stop for groceries? What what? It seriously would not occur to me to ask someone to stop so I could do my grocery shopping – that is precisely what I have a ZipCar membership for. My God. What a jerky mooch.

    3. Kelly L.

      Coworker is asking because of his green agenda, but is not making any offer to offset my gas.

      This always amuses me. I know several people who constantly boast of not having a car because it’s So Bad for the Environment, and then bum rides everywhere. It’s not the “not having a car” that makes them annoying, it’s being sanctimonious about it and then acting entitled to a ride in everyone else’s car.

      1. Aja

        Oh my god, this guy sounds like a piece of work! “My plan to save the environment is to make other people come and fetch me in THEIR cars”.

      2. twentymilehike

        I know several people who constantly boast of not having a car because it’s So Bad for the Environment, and then bum rides everywhere.

        Yes, because the environment cares who owns and pays for the car that goes from A to B regardless. It irks me how they think not owning/paying for the transportation absovles (did I spell that right?) them of any environmental footprint.

    4. Tara B.

      I’d be annoyed, too, and would feel completely justified in shutting down my little taxi service. Yanno, I can’t even call it a “taxi service” because taxi drivers do get compensated for their time, wear and tear on their vehicles and gasoline.

      He can go be “green” on someone else’s time and money. There is no reason for you to follow in your predecessor’s footsteps on this one thing.

    5. K.

      At this point, I told him it was out of my way, but I might be able to do it if it is an absolute necessity. He immediately asked what time I’d be picking him up.
      A-ha. In my experience, saying “No, but maybe,” leaves way too much room for people to jump on an opportunity – as this guy did. Learning to say a firm but polite no was a really valuable lesson for me. “I’m afraid I won’t be able to” – and then say no more. If there’s still room to wiggle out of this, I’d go back to him and say “I’m afraid I won’t be able to drive you.” Just because your predecessor hauled people all over creation doesn’t mean you have to.

        1. Kimmie Sue

          Do not give in! Stay strong. AAM is so correct on this one. Next, start hoping that this manager doesn’t get promoted over you. His style comes off as a bully. If he uses a public forum for a personal request/direction…just think how he might be as a manager (or your manager’s manager). Eek. Totally feel for the OP here! Good luck.

    6. Heather

      It shouldn’t matter if other people are there. If you don’t want to do it say no. Or if you feel really pressured to do it tell him you want $20 (or whatever amount) for gas and you won’t be showing up at his house until you get paid. The only reason he did that when other people were around is to put you on the spot. People would recognize what a jerk he is being if you say what the difficulties this poses to you.

      I understand as I hate driving with other people in the car too. it makes me really nervous.

    7. Pamela G

      I would either speak to him or send him an email and say something along the lines of, “When you spoke to me about getting a lift to the event in the meeting the other day, I was put on the spot a little and said I might be able to do it if it is an absolute necessity. Unfortunately after looking at my schedule for that week, it’s not going to be possible for me to give you a lift after all, so I’m afraid you’ll have to make other arrangements. Sorry about the confusion!” or something similarly friendly but firm. If he pushes back, I’d be more direct and say “Don’t you have a car?”
      If you really feel that you can’t get out of giving him a lift, I’d say “I can only give you a lift if you make your own way to my house by X o’clock so we can get there on time, as it’s not possible for me to drive the extra 30 minutes to your house and still make it on time.”
      Don’t let him bully you! Especially since you said you don’t think he could have an impact on your career…

      1. Esra

        This is great advice. I mean, OP said might, that’s not a yes. And even if they were cool having someone in the car, it’s generally polite for the person getting a ride to go somewhere convenient for pick up.

    8. Malissa

      My response to anybody who puts me on the spot in a public setting is to always decline what ever it is. That’s the only way to shut down that kind of behavior. I do not respond to guilt, power trips or peer pressure.

    9. Kou

      Oh nooo no no no. Your circumstances of changed, you can’t pick him up, sorry. If he tries to do it in front of people to shame you, HE’S the one who’s going to look like a wad. If he tries that again, highlight how much time it would take you (time that you don’t have) and basically just air out how unreasonable his request is. If he’s smart, he’ll back down. If he’s not, he’ll just look ridiculous.

    10. AdAgencyChick

      Ooh, ouch, OP.

      Can you go back to him privately and say that you don’t mind driving from your place, but you weren’t planning to start your day that early so he’ll need to meet you at your home? If he’s feeling all eco-righteous, he can bike his presumptuous ass over.

  21. Kate

    Also, the argument that driving the coworker could pay off career-wise down the line may not be accurate. You might be perceived as the person who will do anything to help and get stuck in that position.

  22. Kate

    Coworker is a jerk. I’d use a strongeer word, but I’m polite. I would absolutely refuse to drive him. Document everything and if I ended up up having to drive him, I would make the ride a living hell. Buy him a morning coffee and doughnut, then cough on the doughnut.

  23. DL

    Trust me, I usually have no problem saying no. Generally my boss wouldn’t take issue with that. But this is boss’ mild-mannered friend, who no one would ever describe as a bully (ironic given the comments here).

    This part of why asking me in front of people worked to coworker’s advantage – I didn’t want to come across as the disagreeable/bully type. It also comes into play that coworker does not have a work parking permit (though he could get some of the daily permits given to green commuters, it might be a hassle).

    1. Natalie

      Saying no politely and firmly is not being disagreeable!

      This is actually why I think it’s crucial to say no to things right away, instead of letting them bother you and later saying no. When you wait, that irritation or anger builds up and it’s a lot harder to sound polite when you decline. Then you can come across as disagreeable, but because of the emotion behind the action rather than the action itself.

      1. Anonymous

        So true! I’ve never thought about it this way, but this is the heart of it. It’s so much more difficult not to sound defensive or irritated once you’ve overthought it and allowed it to bother you instead of nipping it in the bud in the beginning.

    2. Elizabeth West

      HIS transportation hassle is not your problem. And it’s not you that is coming off badly here, trust me.

      Tell him no, sorry, but you should not have agreed because you just can’t.

    3. Liz T

      And don’t feel like you have to make the saying no sound a big deal. It was such a relief when I realized I could just tell people what was what, casually and reasonably–that I didn’t have to say, “Is it okay if I get there at 5?” when I meant “I can be there at 5.” Or some such.

  24. Wilton Businessman

    If he’s on your way anyway, it doesn’t cost you anything in terms of time. It’s a few times a year and it doesn’t hurt to be nice. In this case I’d make the effort to pick him up.

    Twenty minutes out of your way is way out of the bounds of inconvenient.

    1. Esra

      Depending on whether OP means 20-30 minutes round trip, or 20-30 minutes just to get to his place to pick him up, that’s an extra hour or two of driving. I’d argue that’s pretty inconvenient, and presumptuous of the asker.

  25. AnotherAlison

    I’m not sure it’s relevant here, but my company has a policy about NOT using personal vehicles for business use. This generally applies to out of town travel, such as the oft-made 3-hr drive to our HQ, that we’re expected to rent a car for. However, you could make a case that by chauffeuring coworkers to work events, you’re doing business and you/the company are not properly insured for that. It’s a different situation than when you and a coworker are going to lunch. If you and The Boss are in an accident, is the company liable? Are you liable if The Boss was hurt in the accident? Does workman’s comp come into play? I’m in no way qualified to answer those questions, but I do think there are more concerns to be considered than simply whether it’s convenient for you.

    1. DL

      I will admit that the mornings that I have to pick him up, I count my workday as starting the moment I leave the house. I leave work early those days accordingly.

      I don’t know of any vehicle policy that applies, though there could be one.

        1. DL

          True.

          Here’s my plan:
          I already agreed for Monday (my own fault). I’m going to send an email about Monday plans, and at the same time request that thereafter he find transport.

          1. Anonymous

            OK, I am done reading this thread. Emailing your request??? What part of every other post have you not been listening to!!

            Get a spine.

              1. Liz T

                I think it’s the “request” part that’s the problem. Don’t request; inform.

                (Politely of course, but simply.)

  26. Anonymous

    OP, I would hold firm and tell your co-worker that you can’t do it after all.

    As for me personally, I don’t play these political work games. If someone is going to try and pull rank to force me to do things that are not part of my job then that office culture is not for me and it’s time to find a new job.

  27. Ask a Manager Post author

    I was just thinking about how the OP said that this person is not normally a bully and is actually mild-mannered, and it made me think of someone in my family who I could see doing this same thing — not realizing that it’s impolite or an imposition, and just being kind of clueless about it. OP, if that’s the type you’re dealing with, hints won’t work, so you’ve just got to go with a very direct “No, I can’t do it.”

      1. Hope

        I’m always torn between whether this type of person is really clueless or just passive-aggressive. My previous boss was like this. I generally drove when we traveled together (with mileage reimbursed). The one time she offered to drive on a trip, she asked me if I wanted to drive to her house (1/2 hour away) and leave my car in her driveway so she didn’t have to drive to my house. When I pointed out that my house was on our route, she offered to meet me at a commuter lot 2 miles from my house. I mean seriously…clueless, lazy, or passive-aggressive?

  28. MH

    Can you play the angle that your car insurance would be invalidated by carrying him? Otherwise although you may get out of doing it now, but he’ll ask again next year.

    (BTW I’d love to pay $4 a gallon for gas, it’s double that where I am.)

  29. Anonymous for now

    There’s a book I found very helpful in recognizing & responding to manipulative behaviors – especially from “nice” people. The author is really good at pointing out the steps that folks take and the consequences of going along. Eg, in your case above, I’d expect that acquiescing in this case sets you up to say yes consistently.

    The book covers issues of personal violence, too, so it has a title which reflects that, but for me the second half is something that has practical daily value. I like to preface the recommendation this way because of the title and the graphic descriptions of violence in the first half. The book is THE GIFT OF FEAR by Gavin DeBecker. Available in many public libraries.

    It’s so good that I always look for copies in used book sales to have on hand to offer to people trying to negotiate this kind of situation, AND to people who have staff or friends they see struggling with this to the boss/friend’s consternation.

    Depending on your relationship with your boss, you may want to describe the situation, point out that this person is asking you for four hours of your time & gas (4 round trips) and that you’ll be letting him know that you won’t be doing this for him. I’d tell the boss simply as a heads-up, so that s/he knows before the buddy mentions that you’ve turned him down or reneged on the public agreement.

    You do need to turn him down. The sooner the better.

    Best wishes.

  30. mh_76

    if the colleague didn’t have a car or family’s only car was in use by a family member
    and OP were going to the same meeting
    and it wouldn’t be more than 10 mins (in each direction) out of OP’s way to pick up & drop off the colleague
    Maybe. Maybe.

    I don’t own a car (can’t afford one) and appreciate every ride that I am able to snag -but- I don’t want anyone going more than 10 minutes out of their way to pick me up / drop me off (and if they do, then it’s their choice I say thank you…actually, I say that anyway…every time). I often have to go out of my way to get to a pick-up location that is convenient for the driver. If I decide to go carpool-canvassing in a neighboring Swing State, I will even offer to do some of the driving because that state is more rural than the one I’m in and driving to/from & in between addresses will probably be a lot of driving for one person.

  31. Moo

    I SO get where you’re coming from. I have an obnoxious coworker who doesn’t drive, takes the free bus everywhere, but frequently asks for rides home. It’s out of the way for me and it wouldn’t normally be a big deal but 1) she is super obnoxious and entitled and 2) she does it ALL THE TIME. Once she even asked me for a ride home from the airport (30 minutes away) at 11 at night on a Sunday!! Are you kidding me?! She has had other coworkers bring her “medicine” (which ended up being NyQuil! we all thought it must be a prescription or something for a violent illness, the way she made it sound, but it apparently wasn’t…)

    She has decided to latch on to another coworker for her rides in the morning because they live in the same neighborhood. I would freak out if she had the audacity to ask me for a ride to work every day; this person is not a friend of mine, conversing with her is literally painful, and I enjoy my morning and evening commutes ALONE blasting music and unwinding.

    Whew, sorry for that vent!!

    Anyway, I agree; don’t make up excuses, just say no if you can’t or don’t want to. It’s not like this person is goigng to be left high and dry.

  32. Blinx

    If he really wants to be green, then HE should trade in his car for an eco-car, and offer rides to 3 of his coworkers.

    I’m all for performing an occasional favor, but when they are consistently one sided, it’s no longer a favor but an expectation. I had a friend who always asked for rides. I finally learned to say no. I really don’t like being tethered to someone else’s time schedule. I like to have freedom to do errands before and after an event, and to leave it whenever I choose.

    1. DL

      Resolution: Asking coworker (via email) to find alternate transportation after Monday worked. Coworker has now agreed to drive himself.

      Thanks to everyone who offered helpful suggestions. I’ll look into the recommended book.

  33. Jess

    I can relate to this post because I’ve been the gal asking for a ride. I take public transportation to work and rarely drive, and I have become very uncomfortable with/fearful of driving. Until a few months ago I did have a car but still would ask coworkers to drive me to the occasional work event. I would offer to take public transit to as close to the driver’s house as I could get, and would back out at the first sign of leeriness on the coworker’s part, but I’m sure that there have been coworkers who have driven me to events when they would have rather not.

    If a coworker said anything to me that hinted at this being an inconvenience to them, I think I’d get the message and not ask or drive myself after I asked.

    But trust me, for people who rarely drive, driving can become a real fear! When I did have a car, my husband would almost always drive when we went somewhere together—so even though I had a car I really did only drive it a few times a year.

      1. Jamie

        I don’t think that’s fair – this is an entirely different situation than mooching. She clearly stated that she takes public transportation as close to the driver’s house as possible. She’s minimizing the inconvenience to the best of her ability and she’s clued into their reaction and trying not to bother people who are leery of doing it.

        Personally, I would have no problem offering someone like her a ride.

        As far as the offering of gas money – that’s a real ymmv thing. I understand it’s an issue for a lot of people – but there are people to whom I’d offer gas money and those I wouldn’t. If the people driving her aren’t going out of their way they aren’t using any more gas than they would driving themselves. Besides – her offsite events could have travel comped by the company so it wouldn’t be worth a mention.

        I would personally be very uncomfortable being offered gas money in this circumstance. When the person getting the ride clearly outranks and out earned the driver – and the company isn’t paying – it’s polite to offer.

  34. Elise

    Is there a gas station between where you are picking him up and the event itself? Stop for gas. When you pull up to the pump, tell him you are short on cash and ask for gas funds. Get at least $10 (as you have already driven him plenty without reimbursement.

  35. Cassie

    My suggestion would have been to ask to be compensated for time and gas/mileage. I don’t believe you can be reimbursed for your regular commute, but mileage portion from the normal work site (where I believe the OP said was the pick up place) to the event site is a business reimbursable expense.

    The extra 20-30 mins would count as worked time, and the cost of driving from normal work site to the event site could be reimbursed. So the cost would have been an extra hour worked that day, plus mileage roundtrip from normal work site to event site.

    That’s assuming you had a persistent higher-up challenge you on “why” you couldn’t pick him up. (Otherwise, like everyone else, I would just suggest saying “sorry, I can’t”.).

  36. Anonymous

    I realize this matter has been resolved, but I’d like to add my 2 cents about something that’s pretty important.

    Some people mentioned coworkers who lost their licenses because of DUIs. I used to drive people everywhere because they appreciated it. I can tolerate most people and was fine even going an hour out of my way.

    One guy w/a DUI spread the word to a few friends & I became their designated driver to work, bars, the supermarket, with the perk of getting included in some great parties. And when 1 customer kept showing up to my workplace to creep on me, these guys stepped up on my behalf. But… I learned that people who get DUIs, esp. if they have gotten them repeatedly, sometimes also do other things, like drugs.

    I don’t give rides to ANYONE anymore after learning that at least 1 of these guys was “holding” during the rides. Had he been caught in my car while I was driving, according to the laws of my state, I would have been guilty too & gotten 15 years!

    Not worth it.

  37. GenericGen

    I have dealt with people like this, both at work and out of the work environment. There seems to be a small but growing subset of people who think nothing of making requests/demands that are clearly meant to take advantage. I have been asked to loan money, co-sign loans, take in homeless “friends”, etc. And I have said no to all.

    On a frugality forum recently, someone said that, in her opinion, it was strange – not that more and more people are making unreasonable requests – but that the people being asked are afraid of offending the asker. I have to agree with this. I realized many years ago that the moocher-type person spends a considerable amount of time honing their requests, going over possible objections and how to overcome those objections, much as a commission only salesman will. We must do the same in our answer.

    The way I deal with people like this is “Sorry, I can’t help you with that.” Most user-types will try emotional arguments and this cuts to the chase. Like others have said, qualifying your answer with a “maybe next time” will only encourage them to try again.

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