my coworker assumes I’ll always give her a ride home, I’m being singled out for being tardy, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. My coworker assumes I’ll always give her a ride home

This may seem like a petty complaint, but it is something I end up stewing over every week. I have been at my current position for a little over three months. I was able to get my foot in the door thanks to “Amanda.” I love my job and love my coworkers.

Before I started, Amanda always took the bus home, or got a ride with Suzanne. The three of us all live in the same area, fairly close to each other. Amanda and Suzanne work until 4 pm (earlier start time than me) and I am here until 5 pm. Well, for the past month and a half, Amanda now stays until 5 pm and just leaves with me. It’s always assumed that I will give her a ride, since she lives so close. The thing is, I have to pick up my two children from daycare by a certain time. Giving Amanda a ride home daily erases the 5-minute window I have to stop at the store to grab milk and it can make me cut it very close for time if the weather is bad. Plus, the ride home was my one quiet time of the day, where I could crank up my music, not have to talk to anyone and could decompress. It is really starting to annoy me. Amanda has never once offered gas money or asked if I mind driving her. She lives literally 2 blocks from me, but it’s really affecting my routine.

How do I deal with this? I like Amanda a lot, and I am grateful for her help getting my new job, but I don’t want to feel obligated to be someone’s chauffeur.

You deal with it by speaking up! It’s not at all fair to Amanda to be stewing about this and not letting her know. The daycare cut-off time gives you a really easy explanation, too: “I’ve been cutting it too close with the daycare pick-up, so I need to stop dropping you off in the evenings.” If you didn’t have the easy out of daycare, you could instead attribute it to errand-running or other commitments, or even just needing to decompress before getting home to family.

2. I’m being singled out for being tardy

I have been at my current job for three years. I have been talked to about my tardiness twice since I have begun, and the second time I was confronted about this topic I was almost let go.

The kicker is, everyone else I work with is tardy on a weekly basis. Specifically, one woman I work very closely with comes in almost everyday at 8 a.m. when her shift starts at 7:30. Yet, she gets to leave at the same time as I do every day. Nine times out of ten, I am working a half hour extra a day while we are both getting paid for 40 hours a week. This woman has been here for a couple years longer than I have. She never has an excuse (along with everyone else I work with) as to why she is late. It’s either “slept in” or “was late leaving the house,” which is not a valid excuse.

I am upset by the way I am being singled out and I am at a loss at how to handle this situation. I have not been in trouble for any other reason while being employed here.

Unless you have reason to believe that you’re being treated differently because of your race, religion, or some other protected category, there’s really nothing to be done here. (If that were the case, you’d have a discrimination claim, but otherwise, the law allows your employer to treat different people differently.)

Pointing out to your manager that other people are habitually late too just isn’t a good response to a valid complaint about your work habits. What you’re being told is that you need to be at work on time. Maybe other people don’t because their jobs are different, or maybe they’re cut more slack because they make different contributions than you, or because they worked out a different arrangement with their boss. Or sure, maybe you’re being treated unfairly and held to a different standard than everyone else. But none of that changes the situation here, which is that you’re being told you need to be more reliably on time. And that’s not an unreasonable requirement, and it’s one you’re likely to find at a lot of jobs. Why not make the whole situation a non-issue by just showing up to work on time?

3. When should I tell my staff I’m leaving my job?

I work in higher education doing direct advising work with students and I supervise a few paid programs. I enjoy the students I supervise and we have a very good working relationship.

I recently found out that I’ll be leaving my job over the summer and I’m not sure when the best time to tell them is. My supervisor effectively has 5 months notice that I’ll be leaving and is very supportive, but as a supervisor I want to talk to my students about me leaving without it being a jarring transition for them in the fall.

There isn’t a plan yet to recruit for my position (although I’m sure there will be someone for the fall). There have been a few rocky moments with our program this year and I want to be as supportive as possible in helping them think about next year (and know that things will be ok! For many of them this is their first job and management turnover is confusing and scary). Do you have any advice on how/when to tell them that I’m leaving?

Tell them now. There’s no reason not to, and if you delay, you risk them hearing it from someone else and wondering what’s going on (as well as wondering what else they might be out of the loop on). You can say that you’re committed to ensuring a smooth transition, that there will be plenty of time to find someone great for the role, and that you’ll keep them posted as things play out. If anyone seems particularly anxious, you can talk to them about how this is a normal part of work life, employers are set up to deal with it, and no one is irreplaceable (or shouldn’t be).

4. How should I tell my great manager I’m leaving?

I’m actually in a good place. I think I’m about to be offered a new job that comes with a big pay bump, good benefits and increased responsibility.

Within the last nine months I was assigned a new boss at my current job. She is wonderful – supportive, fair, smart – more like a mentor, actually. She is a world of difference from the awful boss I endured for years before her. Our workplace is experiencing a lot of change (new leadership, layoffs) and she has asked me several times for assurance that I am not looking to leave. I believe she will try to promote me within this calendar year. She told me I am one of only four people on her “essential” list – those who absolutely must remain on her staff in the face of reorganization.

That being said, the new job still has it all over any possible promotion my current boss would be able to offer me. If I get offered the new job, I will take it. What do I say to my lovely mentor-boss to let her know that I appreciate all she’s done for me? My leaving will be a huge burden for her and the rest of the team. Not to mention she may be hurt that I am leaving despite her advocacy.

By the way, I was not lying when I told my boss I wasn’t looking to leave my current position. This new opportunity came directly from a friend who encouraged me to apply, and the interview process has been breathtakingly fast (from application to final interview, three weeks in total). At the time when I assured my boss I wasn’t going to leave, this job wasn’t even on the horizon. It’s like breaking up with a kind, sweet boyfriend to date a bad boy – “You did all the right things but I’m leaving you anyway, chump.”

“I wasn’t lying when I told you I wasn’t looking to leave. This fell in my lap and it was too good to pass up. You have been absolutely wonderful to work for, and I’m so grateful to have been to work with you.”

5. My phone was out of commission and I’m worried employers might have tried to contact me

I’m currently job searching and applied to a bunch of jobs in early February. However, soon after that, my phone was out of commission and shipped off to be repaired. When I got it back like two weeks later, nothing was saved – no texts, pictures, or voicemails. And I’m concerned that some of the companies might have tried to contact me, since it’s the regular time frame to hear things back. Of course, I have no idea if they did or didn’t. I looked at some of your old postings and they all seem to say “don’t be crazy and contact companies” and/or “you missed your boat.”

Just to hear it again, it’s not a good idea to send an email to a company, right?

Well, it’s highly unlikely that a company would have texted you about an interview; they would have either called or emailed. I’m assuming you were able to get emails some other way, so we’re just talking about missed voicemails. Is there any way to contact your phone company and find out about missed voicemails during that time?

If not, there’s nothing wrong with emailing the places you’re worried could have contacted you during that time and saying something like, “My phone was unexpectedly away for service the last two weeks, and while I don’t know if you tried to contact me during that time, I’m interested enough in this job that I wouldn’t want to miss it if you did. If you didn’t attempt to get in touch, please ignore this message — but otherwise, I’d be eager to talk with you now.”

{ 356 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous*

    #1 Why wouldn’t she assume you’ll give her a ride home? You do it everyday, and never tell her you don’t want to. She isn’t a mind reader.

    1. Saturn9*

      Especially if it’s going something like this:

      Amanda: “Do you mind if I get a ride home with you tonight?”
      OP: “… Sure.”
      Amanda: “Are you sure you don’t mind?”
      OP: “… Of course not.”
      Amanda: “Thanks!” :D
      OP *fume fume fume*

      1. Laufey*

        Except the OP specifically says in her letter that Amanda never asks if the OP minds. So I doubt the conversation goes that way.

        1. Natalie*

          Unless Amanda is carjacking the LW or stowing away in the trunk, there’s some interaction about this where the LW is either assenting or declining.

          1. Laufey*

            It could just be Amanda showing up at OP’s office saying “Time to go?” That’s much harder to decline that an actual conversation where Amanda asks. If the OP declines at that point, the OP becomes the dragon for leaving Amanda stuck at work with no ride.

    2. Jax*

      OP #1 is asking for help finding the words to say that. Ditching a coworker who keeps using you for a ride isn’t the easiest mine field to navigate.

      1. Anonymous*

        I would just start letting Amanda sit in the car at daycare, at the store, while I gas up. If getting Amanda home first becomes the last priority, Amanda might find another way home.

        1. TheSnarkyB*

          This is a really passive-aggressive way to deal with this situation. I think that’s inadvisable (especially given how yesterday’s passive-aggressive OP came across to all of us)

          1. Anonymous*

            I suppose I should have been more specific. I would announce that day care’s closing and my family needs milk so there’s a few stops to make before we get back to our own neighborhood. I don’t think that’s passive-aggressive, it’s prioritizing OP’s own family first.

          2. aebhel*

            I don’t think that’s passive-aggressive. If I’m giving someone a ride home and I also have a limited time-frame to run essential errands, sorry, but I’m going to run those errands and they can wait.

            I’d be polite about it, but I’m not a taxi service, and if someone objects to the conditions of their free ride home, that’s their problem, not mine.

            Of course, that’s assuming that the OP is okay with giving Amanda a ride as long as she can get her errands done. If not, she should just say so.

            1. Elizabeth*

              I only disagree because it’d be breaking a pattern that’s been established, and it doesn’t seem fair to me to do that without warning. If the OP says to Amanda in advance, “Hey, I can only keep giving you rides if you don’t mind coming along to the daycare and the grocery store,” that’s totally fine. But if suddenly the OP just *does* that one day, that’s weird. And if she does it to discourage Amanda from taking rides instead of just saying something, then yes, that’s passive aggressive.

              It sounds like the OP would really like her alone time back, though, so I wouldn’t recommend going this route – it sounds like having Amanda along on her errands isn’t what she wants.

            2. books*

              I think OP implied that she also wanted the alone time that the commute provided. Giving a coworker a ride home should absolutely not interfere with your daycare window though.

            3. Anon*

              Agreed with Elizabeth. Although being forward about the whole situation would be most effective, for certain personalities it is hard to find the heart to say the right words (speaking from experience, I am like this). The less-direct method to get Amanda to stop asking for rides on her own without her necessarily being turned down might or might not get the result you want. You could tell Amanda that due to family obligations and timing, you will no longer be able to make getting her home your top priority and she might have to expect running by a store, getting gas, picking up kids at daycare, etc. Unfortunately what this might lead to is being asked every day “ride today?” which is probably not what OP wants either. If the OP declines enough, Amanda will probably eventually stop asking, but it seems like while the option is on the table she is likely going to want to use it whenever possible since the backup option is less desirable for her. One risk of the less-direct approach is that Amanda might actually not mind the errands and such, so you now have the situation of having her around all the time or having to backtrack and say, “well, really I just can’t give you rides after all.” Or like above, having to have an excuse prepared every day. And honestly, suddenly getting excuse after excuse would not be very hard to see through, so you might as well tell her up front and eliminate any possible ill-will from Amanda if she feels like she is getting snubbed.

        2. Noelle*

          That was what I was going to suggest too. I don’t think it’s passive aggressive if you tell a coworker, “Hey, I have to run some errands/pick my kids up before I can drop you off. Is that a problem?”

          Except it sounds like maybe the real issue is that OP doesn’t want to give this person a ride at all. In which case, I don’t think the day care excuse will work because Amanda might just say she’s fine with taking a day care detour before being dropped off.

          1. A Bug!*

            I agree.

            It’s not passive-aggressive just to announce the change from Option A to Option B, if Option B is acceptable to the OP. The coworker’s not really entitled to make any demands given the circumstances.

            But it is passive-aggressive to announce a change from Option A to Option B with the unspoken expectation that the coworker will prefer Option C to Option B and will choose C voluntarily.

    3. Laura*

      Something similar happened to me – but I was in the ride getting position. Coworker asked me if I wanted a ride, because I live two blocks away. I actually preferred taking the bus, because i wasn’t close to this coworker, and the bus was my time to decompress. She seemed very insistent, so I said sure, because it’s only a 10 minute drive. Then everyday for the next two weeks, she’d ask me if I wanted a ride home. I didn’t expect it, and never would have asked her, so I said yes. Then after those 2 weeks I kind of just assumed she’d give me a ride home unless she said otherwise, as she had initiated it. Found out a few months later she was really resentful about it . I was mortified and kept apologizing, even though she never told me she no longer wanted to give me a ride, I said once or twice she didn’t have to do it and I didn’t mind taking the bus. So I’d say don’t get mad about it until you actually tell her.

  2. Oh... Employment!*

    With #2, I can’t tell if she was confronted each time for being *regularly* tardy, or if it was a one off thing, and she was confronted right away. Things do happen periodically that the OP may not be able to control, so it might be that she shows up to work on time 99% of the time, but has two situations in the past 3 years, which may have been out of her control.

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      I suspect that OP was confronted twice about a regular problem rather than was called out the two times she was late, simply because I find it hard to imagine someone almost being let go for being late (unless OP is leaving out some key information like “was supposed to set up the conference room for a new business pitch, and due to her tardiness the clients arrived and the conference room was a mess”).

      If this is the case: OP, you don’t know your coworker hasn’t gotten the same stern talking-to that you have, and even if she hasn’t and you are being held to a different standard…what Alison said.

      1. Alex*

        One place I worked at “allowed” (never told me otherwise) me to be a few minutes late everyday. I had been habitually coming in about 5 minutes late for over a year and assumed it wasn’t an issue because I’d never been told otherwise, but then one day nearly two years after I’d started working there, I was presented with all of my tardies for the duration of my employment and told I was on a final warning, and even a single minute late in the next 6 months would cause termination of my employment. That was tough!!

        1. some1*

          Something similar happened to a friend of mine, and then he was let go because he was late because he got in a car accident on the way to work! Everyone was okay but it’s a completely understandable excuse.

        2. Laura*

          Something similar happened to me – I was told that being late was no big deal, and everyone else was from 5-30 minutes late, so I started doing it too, and got a talking to.

          Also early in my first professional job, I kind of figured since no one ever came on time, I didn’t have to either. Which is wrong, but an understandable assumption of someone new

      2. Oh... Employment!*

        Perhaps, but some places have crazy tardy policies. My friend got in trouble at work for being 3 minutes late ONCE in a snowstorm.

        1. De Minimis*

          Had a former employer where this was really bad. If you were late at all they dinged you on attendance as if you’d called in sick for the entire day, so many people got to where if they were going to be late they would just call in sick…”Gonna be late, burn ’em for 8.”

    2. Yes I AM a librarian*

      I have an employee who is 5 to 20 to 40 minutes late at least 3 days a week. I can’t get my day started until she was at her desk- (departmental assistant) I often have to pass work to her then run off to a meeting or teach a class.
      I even changed her hours to begin a 1/2 hour later to accommodate her “not being a morning person” She was still 5 to 10 to 40 minutes late. I switched her hours back.

      The everyone else doesn’t arrive on time excuse really steamed me. How is THAT relevant.
      Written up repeatedly. With the backing of HR this is part of progressive discipline.

      The employee still does not think arriving late is a problem because she is willing to stay later. (we do not “need” her later)

      List of excuses
      My cat turned off my alarm
      The bus was late
      The bus didn’t come on time
      There was traffic
      There was construction
      It was cold
      My boyfriend turned off the alarm
      I couldn’t sleep last night
      I didn’t think you needed me this morning
      I didn’t think I had to be here at that time
      I was here, you just didn’t see me
      I fell asleep on the bus and missed my stop
      The bus caught on fire.
      The bus didn’t stop at my bus stop.
      I lost my bus pass
      I slept through the alarm
      Everyone else comes in late and doesn’t get dinged for it
      No one cared before you arrived (I became her manager 16 months ago)
      You didn’t say I had to come in at a certain time.

      You didn’t say I had to check in when I arrive (yes I did)

      I’m rarely tardy. And when I am I always call. (she thinks calling to say she is going to be twenty minutes late makes it all okay)

      And I never leave early. I never shut down my computer before the shift end. (okay then)

      1. Natalie*

        “My boyfriend turned off the alarm”

        Ugh, my ex actually did this to me, TWICE, when I was a receptionist and thus really needed to be on time. We actually changed our whole sleeping set up because of it.

      2. Vancouver Reader*

        Can I have her job? I like to be at work at least 15-30 minutes before I actually have to start because being late stresses the heck out of me.

      1. LisaLyn*

        I’ve heard it used in workplace situations, but the times I have were in relation to government jobs. Maybe it’s part of the vocabulary there.

        1. majigail*

          It’s on our official write up forms, but when we talk about it, I just use the term being late for work.

      2. Heather*

        I am currently working at a call center (this will be my last week thankfully as I just accepted a full time job) and there is an attendance policy where we are allowed to have 8 attendance points every 36 shifts with no punishment. Absences are 2 points and tardies are 1 point. Even if we are 1 minute late or return from break 1 minute late, we are considered tardy and earn 1 point. I feel like I am being babysat sometimes, but when nearly everyone who works there is a college student maybe something like this is a necessity. It blows my mind that people need to be babied like this in order to show up for work regularly. It actually seems to make me consider showing up for work less often considering I know that it doesn’t matter if I don’t show only a few times, whereas if there is no attendance policy in place and we are expected to show up for every shift scheduled, I will unless there is an emergency situation.

      3. Tris Prior*

        My boyfriend’s company uses it all the time. It’s even used in the attendance line item on his performance reviews. I agree it sounds juvenile!

    1. ConstructionHR*

      We use the “tardy” term (interchangeably with “late”), but that may have something to do with the overall educational level of our workforce.

  3. Anonymous*

    #2 Why is it completely irrelevant that other people are held to a different standard? I understand that some people have different jobs and situations that result in different treatment. That being said, lets assume all things are equal, its bad management to enforce rules against some but not others. It makes expectations confusing for employees and can lead to a lot of frustration. I personally follow rules and show up on time, but its really irritating to see someone in your same position refusing to follow the rules with no consequences. I don’t think it would be appropriate for the OP to bring up other people’s tardiness. But I can sympathize with the OP’s frustration.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yes, it’s absolutely irritating, and if her manager was the one writing in for advice, I’d point out that it’s not a reasonable way to do things (unless there’s more context that we don’t know about). But she’s the one asking for advice, and in her shoes, there’s really no reasonable way to argue that you should be allowed to be chronically late for work just because other people are, if your manager is telling you not to be.

      1. LAI*

        I totally get that you can’t say “but Susie is late, why can’t I be late too?” But is there perhaps a more diplomatic way to bring up the discrepancy? For example, could the OP say something like “I apologize for being late and it won’t happen again. I think I must have picked up some miscues about our work culture here. Is it really important that everyone be on time every day? Or is there a specific reason that it was a problem for me on these particular days?”(said in a tone of genuine concern and wanting to understand/solve the problem). If I were the OP and I were on time more frequently than my coworkers, I think I would need to have a better understanding of why it was so important for me specifically to never be late – otherwise, my frustration would just grow every day when I’m the first one in to the office and no one else is even there to know how early I was…

        1. Chriama*

          I think that may have worked after the first warning, but a second warning means the OP is on thin ice and their only option is to shape up or ship out. This is a standard that they’re being held to, and it’s not an unreasonable one. You don’t know the conversations your coworker has had with your boss. It may very well be totally unfair. But unless you can prove illegal discrimination (and accept all the implications of bringing a lawsuit against your employer), you put up with it or leave. None of those options is to keep disobeying a direct instruction and end up fired for cause.

        2. Gilby*

          But the bottom line is………the OP shouldn’t ” be late. ”

          I would never go up to my boss and say….. ” When is it OK for me to be late ” Or ” Do I have to be on-time”.

          Unless I am told my hours are flex, unless I am told flat out….. ” Our hours are flex, 8:00 – 8:15 is fine…. ” or ” Get your 40 hours in how ever you want between 7 – 5 and get your stuff done ” , I will be at work at the time I have told.

          Yes it is frustrating to see to see others coming in late but like Alison said, as the OP, that is not her business.

          Now, you can ask if the office can have flex hours. That might solve some issues. But you can’t ask if it is OK to be late.

          1. neverjaunty*

            Of course the OP shouldn’t be late; the problem is that what is “late” at OP’s work appears to vary depending on who is actually showing up “late”. Given the reference to shift work, I’m eduguessing that this is retail and OP simply has a crappy boss who selectively enforces the rules. There’s not much OP can do about that other than keep showing up on time and finding a new job.

      2. TheSnarkyB*

        It’s funny that people are responding to this in this manner. I feel like I’m reading a lot of comments where people interject their own anecdotes about workplace unfairness, but in these examples you’re all using for comparison, you’re on time and other people are late, and that’s where it’s not fair. IMHO, that’s much more reasonable than what the OP is actually saying.
        You’re in a position where you’re trying to elevate the performance/behavior of other staff to your level, not arguing for everyone’s bad workplace behavior.
        OP would be in a much stronger position if she weren’t arguing for everyone to be able to misbehave like her, but rather arguing for everyone to be on time like her.

      3. BethRA*

        Is it totally out of line to ask for clarification, though? Not argue the point, but ask if there’s some other issue so the OP isn’t festering. Maybe the positions aren’t really the same, maybe there are other performance issues that are playing a role here – there are lots of places where people don’t notice or care when you clock in so long as your work is getting done.

        1. Marcy*

          Personally, I don’t think the OP should ask. I have one employee who misses a lot of work. The others make snide remarks about it to me. I can’t explain to them why she is out so much without consequences, she asked me not to. Her newborn has some serious medical issues and she has FMLA paperwork documenting it. It is none of her coworkers business and if they were in the same situation, I would treat them the same way. The OP doesn’t know why he/she is being treated differently and he/she doesn’t need to know why. He/she has been told to be on time and it really doesn’t matter what someone else may be doing.

    2. NomadTX*

      In addition to what AAM said, I think its just a no-win situation for the OP to bring it up to management. For one, its presumptuous because she doesn’t know for a fact the others have not been spoken to. Also, if the unfair treatment is deliberate, bringing it the forefront with a manager who is already mistreating you serves no purpose… unless of course it is building into a bigger conversation about the management mistreating you. But since they’ve threatened termination already, not really a good idea. The only thing to do is just show up on time and/or look for other work if the unfair treatment is egregious enough to them.

      1. Jessa*

        And it may not be mistreatment. Other worker could have an agreement, or a reasonable accommodation or any other thing (takes less lunch or something, or takes calls after hours from the boss,) that makes the time they come in no business of the OP.

      2. Chriama*

        I agree that it’s a lose-lose situation. Either it’s deliberate and boss isn’t going to change, or boss notices your lateness more than coworker’s because they like you less for whatever reason. In that case they likely won’t realize they’re being unfair and will resent the implication. Or coworker has an accommodation that isn’t really your business and boss will be annoyed that you’re questioning their judgement / ability to manage. A very rare scenario is that boss doesn’t realize they’re being unfair but they are reasonable and once it’s pointed out they make an effort to hold everyone to the same standard. But really, what are the odds of that? If this is a deal breaker (and that wouldn’t be an unreasonable conclusion) then leave the job on your own terms. Don’t let them be justified in kicking you to the curb.

      3. Celeste*

        I think think OP#2 is not a fantastic employee. First because he is being singled out; you don’t threaten to terminate people you want to keep. Second because he thinks whining about disparate treatment is the answer to his problem. I wonder what other issues he might be having on the job. OP, decide if you want to stay there, or not.

        1. some1*

          Yeah, I hate to say it, but I can definitely see the manager using the attendance thing as an excuse, because it’s very concrete.

    3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      It’s an immature mindset, does you no favors. “But, Mom, a-l-l-l-l-l the other kids are doing it!”

      In the case of unclear standards, it’s logical to say “I thought this was acceptable because it seems to be the norm here.”

      Since the standards have been made clear, what the other employees are doing has no bearing on the OPs situation.

      Having an immature mindset is a career killer.

      1. Persephone*

        And bad management kills companies. Favoring one employee over another builds resentment. Why are we supposed to act like a team until it comes to rules? When I don’t why so and so is allowed to be late, I wonder why can’t I?
        Transparency builds trust.

        1. Judy*

          Yet the one that is tardy more might have accommodations like physical therapy appointments or something, and is just saying that they overslept because it is none of anyone’s business.

          1. Colette*

            Or have a condition that requires sleep medication that sometimes makes them oversleep, or have a job where it doesn’t matter as much as the OP’s job, or not have meetings scheduled early whereas the OP does, or work with clients in a different part of the world, or ….

            If the situations are equal (same job, no medical conditions, etc.) and the OP is being treated differently (which we don’t know, because the coworker wouldn’t necessarily share that they have been spoken to as well), that’s not fair – but it’s also not something the OP can do anything about, unless there is illegal discrimination. Life isn’t always fair.

        2. Graciosa*

          I think treating people with fundamental fairness is very important, but that doesn’t always mean treating people exactly the same. It may be that Great Performer is allowed to be late this morning because she worked until the wee small hours closing Big Deal.

          I once read an anecdote of a manager who was asked why Superstar was allowed to come in late; the manager’s response was along the lines of “As long as Superstar keeps performing this way, he can come in whenever he wants.”

          Managing for performance includes setting clear expectations and giving clear feedback. Enforcing arbitrary rules unnecessarily in pursuit of – well, perfect enforcement? is not one of my goals as a manager. My goals are focused around getting the work done.

          In this case, there is nothing in the original question to indicate whether other people who are late to work at the OP’s work place are also receiving warnings or discipline on the one hand, or are fantastic performers who earned a little leeway on the other. And I do recognize that perceived unfairness is a managerial issue (unlike clearly telling people what they need to do to earn some perks).

          However, I did want to make the point that treating people fairly does not mean everyone is treated exactly the same – properly managing performance does require treating people differently.

          1. AB Normal*

            In my last job, I would leave around 3, 3:30pm, and sometimes noticed that some of my less experienced colleagues (in the same role, but at a different level of experience) would resent it, since they apparently didn’t have authorization from our boss to leave early.

            But the fact is, they had work to do (that in many cases I had helped them with), while my work had been finished and already had created a huge backlog to the developers in charge of implementing my designs. Because I was 10x more productive than they were, my manager made it very clear that I could come and go as I pleased (of course I was always on time for any meetings, and since the rest of the time I worked independently, my absence never affected anyone).

            Keeping me in the office when all my work had been done ahead of the deadlines, and I was tired after many hours solving complex problems that none of my colleagues were able to, would have been stupid and only cause me to go look for another job. I wouldn’t want to “pretend to work” between 3-5, just for the sake of appearances, and fortunately my manager was smart enough not to require that.

            The fact that a few colleagues (I noticed it was always the low performers) resented it made no difference for my manager, because he’d rather keep me than them… Skilled colleagues might stay longer but would always say goodbye in a cheerful manner when I happened to leave before them, since they knew they could leave once they had finished their portion of the work as well.

        3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          There are a zillion things that good management can’t, won’t or shouldn’t be disclosing to the group as a whole.

          What I’m saying is that this:

          Why are we supposed to act like a team until it comes to rules? When I don’t why so and so is allowed to be late, I wonder why can’t I?

          is low level employee thinking. The mindset will kill career growth. It might win you a battle but it will lose you the war.

      2. Meg Murry*

        Yes, there is nothing that annoys me more than listening to a coworker complain for 15 minutes about another coworker who is 15 minutes late or leaves 15 minutes early. Congratulations, now you’ve both wasted 15 minutes of company time!

        OP – life is not fair. Work is not fair. For all you know, your coworkers are also in trouble for being late. Or maybe not, because maybe they crank out twice as much work as anyone else in half the time. Or maybe they are terrible employees but are the nephew of the CEO and the boss is stuck with them. Any way you look at it, work is not fair and never will be. All you can do is work your hardest (and smartest!) and do what is asked of you – but I promise, whining about everyone else is the best way to make enemies and kill your career.

        1. some1*

          Or it could be that someone higher up than the LW’s boss needed the LW’s help with something and she wasn’t there.

          My boss personally doesn’t seem to mind if I come in at 7:56 or 8:06. But if someone needed me right at 8:06 to put out a fire, and came and told her I wasn’t in yet, I would guarantee she’d be talking to me about it.

        2. Annie*

          …and this is why, when I was downsized four years ago, I didn’t really want to return to the workplace.

          Political BS, favoritism, arbitrary decision-making…I feel your pain, OP #2.

          I can see why some folks want early retirement!

      3. Anonicorn*

        Exactly. Pointing out that other people are also in the wrong still doesn’t make you right.

        1. Yes I AM a librarian*

          Fairness …consistency

          As the only departmental assistant she had to be on time to answer phones and field requests during our open hours.

          She was comparing her union assistant position to the professionals who , yes came and went as they pleased.

          And its not about being fair- there may have been accommodations that she rightfully is not privy to.

          Her position as defined by her job description, rate of pay and her supervisor’s judgement stated the need to be on time to start the day.

          Also- what I said was Professor Umbrage, Professor Minerva McGonagall and I are all at our desks by 7:30 am as scheduled. What Professor Snape does in his department is his business.
          Mrs. Norris, you need to arrive ready to work on time.

          And I continue to document.

    4. Katie the Fed*

      So, I had a situation where I had a talk with an employee about not wearing jeans. It took two rounds of talking to her but she finally got it. But she did rightfully point out that another team member was in jeans too, and I honestly hadn’t noticed because they were colored denim and didn’t jump out at me as jeans.
      But she handled it well. She said “ok, I will stop wearing jeans. But, I think you should also be aware that there is another person on the team today who is also wearing them. I’m not going to name names, but I just think these policies should be consistent.”
      I really didn’t mind how she pointed it out, because it needed to be pointed out. Sometimes there can be one person on the team who gets more attention than others, usually because of a pattern of behavior (which we were having with her). So I was paying extra attention to her and missed that another person was doing the same thing.

    5. WM*

      It’s definitely frustrating when it appears others are not being held to the same standards. While it might be happening, it also might not be. We simply don’t know of out colleagues are being reprimanded for lateness, bad behavior, or poor performance. We shouldn’t be told by a shared manager if Sue & Sally are in trouble this week, or if Joe was “late again” and so on. It’s none of our business and it would be inappropriate for a shared manager to divulge that information. Along those lines – even if Sue and Sally swear they’ve never gotten “in trouble” let me remind that they can choose not tell you the truth. They might be embarrassed or simply do not want to share that information. It kind of reminds me of grade school/middle school when you’re friend says, “I’m not studying for this test, it’s stupid!” and you agree. Then test day arrives and you didn’t study and you get a C. Friend gets an A+… hmm, sounds like somebody did study! Not exactly the same… but a coworker claiming they’ve never been in trouble like you are, makes me wonder if it’s really true or not!

    6. Anon*

      Here’s some insight coming from someone who got picked on in a team full of late arrivers. Situation was that a new boss came in (pretty laid back office environment with no real time commitments other than scheduled meetings) and changed workday from flex to fixed, so the “late” cutoff moved up 2 hours. Most of the team, including myself, were now coming in late due to school/family obligations. I was about 10-20 minutes late on occasion and several people would usually trickle in after me with several repeat offenders coming in up to 45 min late every day. I was repeatedly (couple times a month) getting talked to about it by the boss casually in passing with humor-disguised comments and getting it on my review every year. When asked, none of the other common late arrivers said the boss had even mentioned it to them, much less hounded them or gave a bad review. I was figuring it was a favoritism thing or some other “club” I wasn’t in. Honestly, I didn’t really try to change because my reason for being late was non-negotiable and I was willing to walk over it, but all the nagging suddenly stopped. I believe it was merely because my office got moved. I had previously been the closest team member to the boss, and I think it boiled down to the fact that I was just the only one he happened to notice coming in late. I thought I would throw this out, because like it’s pointed out here a lot, sometimes you just really can’t read much into a situation without being able to read someone’s mind. It might be a simple issue like the boss just notices you in particular for no logical reason, with no business rationale or ill-intent (other than being unfair).

  4. NomadTX*

    #1 Just wanted to say I really feel for you in this situation. Getting home without a car can easily take twice as long with twice the hassle. Knowing you can save someone that trouble but would rather not make the sacrifice is tough. Would it actually make it better or be worth it if she was paying for gas everyday? In that case, maybe bring it up to her.

    1. Dan*

      That’s an empathetic way of looking at it. The cynic in me says, “Why do I have to make the car payment, pay for the gas, new tires, oils changes, and insurance, while you get to enjoy spending your money on other things? On top of that, I also have to make a time sacrifice and receive no benefit.”

      Presumably the other person had a workable arrangement prior to OP getting hired, so OP shouldn’t have to feel too guilty.

      1. NomadTX*

        I’m guessing one issue might be that she doesn’t really ‘like Amanda a lot’, which would make sense considering she’s never offered to pay for gas. I would call someone I like a lot a friend. And I wouldn’t hesitate to make this kind of small sacrifice for a friend, and I’m sure most would agree (though some expenses contribution would be a given by a friend).

        1. Ann Furthermore*

          The OP’s concerns about daycare pick up are perfectly valid. Many places charge by the minute for being late, and some places will even call Child Protective Services after a certain amount of time passes, even if it’s in the middle of the blizzard if the century and it’s obvious that the weather is what’s delaying parents.

          You need a cushion for daycare pick up to avoid that from happening. If giving Amanda a ride is costing the OP $5 for every minute she’s late picking up her kids, then it’s much more than a small sacrifice.

            1. Celeste*

              They really need to enforce timeliness, or their staff will have to stay and not be able to get home to their own kids, dinner prep, etc. Every daycare provider, even ones who work from home, makes you sign a contract because they know how people like to do errands or maybe even go to happy hour when their kid is with a sitter. Unfortunately there are people who will shirk their responsibilities if given a chance; it applies as much to people who pay out of pocket as it does people who are using welfare to attend school or work. You can’t blame the sitters for not wanting to be taken advantage of.

              1. Anonymous*

                Being one minute late is hardly shirking responsibilities.

                (Things like this make me glad I’m not a parent!)

                1. KellyK*

                  If people were only ever a minute late, though, it wouldn’t be a problem. I agree that ideally, they would have a ten- or fifteen-minute cushion before they start charging extra and would plan it into their staffing and their rates. *But* if you know when you sign the agreement that 5:00 PM means 5:00, not 5:02, it doesn’t seem appropriate to complain about how unfair it is.

                2. Judy*

                  It’s not necessarily one minute late. Most daycares in my area are open from (6 -6:30 -7) am to (5:30-6-6:30) pm. We currently drop our kids off at one about 7am, they are taken to school at 7:30 for 7:50 school start, and are picked up at school at 2:30. We pick them up at the daycare usually around 5. If you choose a daycare that has an end time near your work end time, you can have issues.

                  Our previous daycare had hours that started at 7am. It’s not unusual (weekly) for me to have 6:30am or 7am conference calls. The days my husband was traveling, these were impossible to do. We originally thought my husband’s job wouldn’t involve much travel. When it turned out it would, we found another daycare.

                3. Elsajeni*

                  Yeah, it seems harsh, but… you have to set the cutoff somewhere. If you said, “Okay, you can be 15 minutes late without consequence, but we start charging at 5:16,” then you haven’t really become more lenient with “late” pickups; you’ve just changed the official pickup time from 5:00 to 5:15.

                  It reminds me a bit of when I worked at a fabric store — if a leftover piece of fabric was less than a yard, we could sell it at a discounted price. If it was exactly a yard, we couldn’t. People would complain, argue with us, wheedle — “Come on, it’s only an extra inch!” Right, but if I give you the exactly-a-yard piece at the remnant discount, then the person with a yard-and-one-inch piece behind you will say, “Come on, it’s only an extra inch! You did it for her!” Where the line is set is arbitrary, but you do have to hold that arbitrary line and not let people logic their way out of it, or else the daycare people have no recourse when someone turns up two hours late to pick up their kid and the fabric store is losing money on 4-yard “remnants.”

                4. Anonymous*

                  One minute late is rarely one minute late. It is actually 1 minute past the last possible minute. Which can create a lot of issues including not having enough staff to watch the children, different regulations on how many people are required to be on staff watching them, if they are even allowed to be open. Some places have to have special licensing to stay open late. Your one minute could cause your day care provider to lose their license, their business, their home.

                5. Ann Furthermore*

                  KellyK is right — it’s not a matter of just being a minute or 2 late. Those super-strict policies are there because of the clueless nitwits out there that would pick up their kids 30, 60, or more minutes late every day if that rule wasn’t in place.

                  I really feel for single parents who have to handle this stuff by themselves every single day. We’ve got our daughter in a daycare center run out of a private home. The hours end at 5:30, because the provider has her own kids and family to take care of in the evenings. I wish she were open later, but I understand why she is so protective of her time with her family. Plus, she is so good at what she does, and my daughter loves her so much, that we make it work. My husband (the compulsively punctual guy I mention in another post) finishes work earlier than I do, so he usually picks her up with plenty of time to spare. Sometimes he needs me to do it, and I know I need to be out the door by no later than 5:10 to get there on time. And if I can’t do it, then my mother-in-law can do it. She lives with us so it’s no big deal for her. So I’m so thankful that we’ve always got a few options available to us. If it was all on me, every single day, it would really stress me out.

                  We’ve gotten to be friends with our daycare lady and her husband, so I know that if, once in a while, we were late due to traffic or something else, she would probably let us slide. And that’s not because we’re friends, but because we’ve never been late in all the time we’ve been using her, so it would not be a matter of us being inconsiderate or selfish, it would be due to an extenuating circumstance. The bigger daycare centers are much stricter about that — it’s usually a zero tolerance policy.

                6. Hooptie*

                  But it is really easy for one minute to become two, two to become five, five to become ten. If I had a daycare business I definitely would start charging at the 1 minute late point.

            2. Judy*

              All 3 places my kids have been over the last 10 years have that rule, after closing $x/minute. And if you’re late 3 times in 6 months, you’re out.

              Otherwise, as someone else said, some people will push the timeline later and later. And when the last kid leaves, the workers still have to clean the room. When the kids are older, they can join rooms as the numbers of kids decrease. But in my state, you can’t have more than a 14 month age gap in a room at a daycare until they are 4 years old.

              1. Xay*

                Every day care/after school care program that my son has been in has the same policy. It’s challenging sometimes and some places have been more lax about enforcement than others, but having a strict policy is completely understandable from that business’s point of view.

              2. JM*

                The reason there is a per minute charge after the center closes is because they are only legally insured until their close time. If they close at 6:30 and you’re late, the child gets hurt at 6:35, insurance won’t cover it. These leads to all kinds of legal issues with parents suing and whatnot.

                Also, most places require you to call even if their policy is to charge and most centers will call you after 30 minutes to make sure everything is okay. As per child services in certain states, they can call child services after one hour of scheduled pick up time with no contact. Do most centers do this? No, but they can.

            3. Anne*

              I think the have to be really harsh in order to avoid people using it as a late service. There’s a study on this that comes up a lot in pop/beginner economics stuff: when parents weren’t charged for late pick-up, they were just very occasionally late and only by a few minutes, because they felt a social/moral obligation to not inconvenience the daycare workers. But when there was a set price for late pick-up, people started using it as a service, because hey, they were paying for it, and there wouldn’t be a price for it if the workers didn’t expect it to happen, right?

              I’m not surprised some places have resorted to harsh measures.

              1. Ann Furthermore*

                One time, I was 20 minutes late to pick up my daughter at the daycare we used to use, run out of a private home. It was so mortifying, but a complete accident. For years, my husband would have dinner with my stepdaughter every Wednesday night, so I was in the habit of doing the pickup on those days. Then they switched to Tuesday nights, and I completely forgot. I got home on that first Tuesday night, drove up to the house, wondered why my husband wasn’t home yet, and then it dawned on me. Crap. I rushed over there, but I was still 20 minutes late.

                And even worse, it was the start of 4th of July weekend, and she and her family had plans to go out of town. So there they all were, waiting for me to show up, so they could get on their way. Ugh. I was so embarrassed.

                I felt so bad that over the weekend I made them cupcakes and took them over there the following Monday when I dropped my daughter off, and begged the lady to not kick me out of her daycare. She laughed and thanked me, and I apologized again for being so late, and explained what had happened. And I was never late again.

                1. Audrey*

                  A Tuesday was the start of the 4th of July weekend? I wish I could have a weekend like that!

            4. Gilby*

              Annon –
              Yes, my friend has to pay by the min if she is late after 6 pm , I believe ( can’t remember the timeframe) picking up her little one.

        2. Chinook*

          Even if it was a friend who was assuming I would drive them every night and they never offered any compensation, I would eventually start questioning the friendship. Such an obligation means you can’t change your plans after work (a perk of driving). And even driving a little out of my way is costing me money while saving her money. But, the only way to solve the problem is to speak up.

          1. Colette*

            Agreed. I actually lost a friend after I told her I’d stop driving her, and it was totally worth it. Having a car is expensive – at the time, it was around $7000/year for me. I pay that for my convenience, not for anyone else’s.

            The thing is, I’m happy to give rides to people who appreciate them and need them. Assuming it’s fine is the opposite of appreciating the ride, and transportation to/from work on an average day (assuming no transit strikes or disruptions) is something that she’s responsible for – it’s not a sudden emergency situation.

        3. KellyK*

          I think that’s an odd assumption. She’s given a perfectly clear and valid reason for not wanting to do it—it makes her cut it too close for daycare and prevents her ever being able to run quick errands right after work. (And if her kids are in daycare, rather than in school, running those errands in the evenings or on the weekends *with them* is likely to be a huge hassle.)

          You seem to be looking at it from the position that she owes her coworker a ride home, rather than the position that it’s a nice thing to do but one she isn’t obligated to.

          1. Mena*

            She really doesn’t owe any explanation for not wanting to be her taxi every day. It isn’t working for her, period.

        4. Jamie*

          I would call someone I like a lot a friend. And I wouldn’t hesitate to make this kind of small sacrifice for a friend, and I’m sure most would agree (though some expenses contribution would be a given by a friend).

          I don’t think that’s fair. I have plenty of friends I like very much and would be happy to give them rides on occasion – but no one I want to drive every day and I am positive they’d feel the same about me.

          Just because you like someone doesn’t mean you want to be obligated to be their daily transportation. For some of us the car is the only part of the day we’re alone – it’s needed decompression time and it’s personal time.

          When someone else is dependent on you for a ride 100% of the time there will be days you’ll need to stay late and (although shouldn’t) feel some pressure for inconveniencing them. Or when you’re running late, you have the guilt of making them late, too. Or if your boss cuts you loose early on occasion you can’t just go – have to check in with her and make sure she can get home. Or if you’re sick or have permission to go in late you have to makes calls to the person who relies on you.

          There is nothing wrong with an arrangement where both parties benefit. The driver likes the company, or likes the gas money, or whatever. But adults should be able to get themselves to and from work without relying on the good nature and kindness of their co-workers. And saying that most people would be happy to do this for a friend – I don’t agree with that, ime. Most people more than happy to help someone out in a pinch, sure, but to be someone’s daily driver? I wouldn’t want anyone with whom I worked dependent on me like that.

          The OP should be direct – for sure – but it doesn’t make her a bad friend for not wanting to sign up to be a long term chauffeur.

    2. Persephone*

      They got you a job- can they get that job taken away? Make your life miserable? She may have calculated your car and proximity before putting in a word for you. Tit for tat. It’s often foolish to think we get something for nothing. Id ask for gas $$ and suck it up.

      1. Sunflower*

        Maybe Amanda thought that getting OP hired would be a nice perk because she would have a ride home from work, but I highly doubt Amanda would get her fired or the company would allow that. If she would then there is something seriously wrong wit the company and Amanda herself.

    3. TL*

      Yeah, how long it takes you to get home or how much of a hassle it is, is really none of my concern.

      I am happy to offer rides – when it’s really late, when I feel like talking to you on the ride home, or when I feel like it’s the safest option by a large margin. If you ask for a ride, I may say yes. But it is not my job or responsibility to make sure you get home conveniently and I certainly don’t feel bad if you have to take the bus home.

      And once people start assuming I’ll drive them, I generally stop giving any rides. I didn’t get my car and license so other people could have more convenient lives.

      1. Lynn Whitehat*


        For some reason, this is an area of life where people REALLY like to take advantage. You’ve got to be really firm in setting boundaries around giving rides to people without cars, or they’ll turn you into an unpaid, always-on-call taxi service.

        1. TL*

          I think people who don’t drive have no clue how much of a hassle it can be.

          After all, they just get in the car and it goes – that’s pretty darn easy. I’ve notice my friends who have cars are much more respectful of sharing rides/exchanging driving responsibilities.

          1. Hooptie*

            This is true. I grew up on a dairy farm, and we had Amish neighbors. They asked for rides A LOT (and to use the phone A LOT, or for my dad to pull some piece of equipment out of the mud A LOT).

            I don’t think the idea of what a hassle and expense it could be ever crossed their minds. It wasn’t that we didn’t want to be neighborly; they just expected us to drop whatever we were doing to take them to town whenever they wanted to go. The Amish are wonderful people in general but they do have a totally different concept of ‘manners’ than the English.

  5. Chocolate Teapot*

    5. In my experience, I may have received a missed call, then an email saying something like “We tried to contact you, but your phone seemed to be out of order. Please get in touch to discuss an appointment time”.

    1. VictoriaHR*

      Agreed. When I’ve left a voicemail for a candidate, I typically follow up with an email as well. If OP #5 is solely dependent on his/her phone to check emails, I suggest getting an inexpensive tablet or laptop computer for checking emails regularly, just in case.

  6. not op #1*

    \What if Amanda responds with “I’ll just go with you to pick up the kids from daycare, then home!”?

        1. fposte*

          “Great! It’s always helpful to have somebody change Li’l Bob’s diaper before I drive off.”

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          That’s when you go to “no, I’m sorry, I can’t.” You’ve given a reason (which many people are more comfortable doing than going straight to “I can’t”) and if she doesn’t accept it at that point, she’s being rude.

    1. Artemesia*

      Never give detailed reasons because that is the first step in a negotiation and ends up with Moocher happily riding along to your shopping, errands, day care pick up etc. Start with I can’t do it and the most detail is ‘it conflicts with some things I need to do right after work; I wouldn’t be heading home’ and then stop talking.

      1. neverjaunty*

        But we don’t know that Amanda is a ‘moocher’. She lives two blocks from the OP so it may not occur to her to pay for gas, etc. since it’s not out of OP’s way, and of course she has no idea that she’s messing up anyone’s daycare schedule or alone time. Now, if she pouts AFTER being told she can’t get a ride anymore…

        1. Chriama*

          I agree that Amanda probably hasn’t even thought about gas money. She’s 2 blocks away! If OPTIONAL was getting mileage compensation from an employer that would work out to less thank a dollar a day. Are you really begrudging her something like $10 a month, or are there other issues at play?

          1. KellyK*

            As I understand it, the general etiquette for gas money is half the cost of the trip itself, not just the portion that’s out of your way. The person who’s only paying for half the gas, and not the car payment or the maintenance, is still getting the better end of that deal.

            1. fposte*

              I’m really startled by how many people aren’t familiar with that. It’s kind of like saying “I won’t offer anything for sleeping on your couch for a month, because you already had the couch.”

              1. Aunt Vixen*

                OMG exactly. I used to drive to work and often gave a lift home to a co-worker who lived a block and a half away and was a friend before we were co-workers – but (a) she always asked when she needed a lift if I hadn’t offered, (b) she always took no for an answer, and (c) when I said “Can you throw a little gas money my way once in a while”, she totally did.

                And on two occasions in my younger days when I had to crash with friends for several weeks between leases, I wrote each person in the apartment a check for a share of the rent while I was there.

              2. Chriama*

                I have never heard this etiquette. Is that really true? That seems unreasonable to me. The person with the car uses it for all sorts of things that don’t invole you and they’re happy to pay for it. If you get a ride, you compensate them for doing something out of their normal routine. Why would I pay you for the part of the trip to work you’d make regardless of my presence. Same with the couch thing. Either I’m a renter and you charge me appropriately, or I’m a friend and you’re doing me a favour. Granted, a good friend would show their appreciation in some way like helping with laundry or cooking dinner, but I don’t understand the ettiqutte of informal payment. Either charge me or don’t, but don’t expect me to know what the appropriate amount to “chip in” is. I don’t like ambiguity when it comes to money.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Because if it’s more than the occasional favor, you’re encroaching on their ability to have solitude / spontaneously vary their routine / and the other benefits of car ownership. So you offer to chip in as an expression of thanks for that.

                2. aebhel*

                  If it only happened once in a while, sure. But if you’re essentially using someone as a taxi service, it’s stopped being an occasional friendly favor and started being a service. If I was giving someone a ride home EVERY DAY, even if it was on my way, that would mean I couldn’t decide to take an hour-long detour to the bookstore, stop and pick up groceries, headbang wildly to stupid music, etc. It’s not just the extra drive-time; it’s the inconvenience.

                  Add that to the fact that this isn’t a good friend; it is a friendly coworker and one who is, intentionally or not, taking advantage.

                3. Chriama*

                  Then it’s not “gas money”, it’s cab fare. That may be a semantic correction, but it really changes my perspective on things. I have low ambiguity tolerance and trouble with certain social cuess. I totally believe in reciprocity, but I hate unwritten rules. I would be really sad to know that a friend was fuming at me because I wasn’t chipping in cab fare. If you want it, just tell me!

                4. fposte*

                  I think it’s good for people to use their words, but it’s the responsibility of the person *receiving* the favor to make it as pleasant as possible for the one doing it. That means it’s on the passenger to initiate the offer to pay, not just to wait until somebody asked. The worst you’ll get is waved off.

                  There’s also a benefit allotment thing here. If you’re giving me a ride, that’s made it a lot easier for me, while making it somewhat more difficult for you–you now have to make sure the car is clean enough, you’ll have somebody messing with the seat settings, you can’t do errands on the way, etc. It’s fair to redivide the benefits a little so that it’s not one person getting a sweet deal and another doing extra work.

                5. Jamie*

                  Why would I pay you for the part of the trip to work you’d make regardless of my presence.

                  Why should you get a free ride to work when drivers have to pay for their transportation?

                  I don’t understand the logic – you’re not a package on the backseat – you’re a person getting the benefit of a ride to work. Because someone would absorb the cost anyway means you found the only truly free transportation? (besides walking.)

                  We make dinner every night. 99% of the time there is more than enough for a couple more people. By that logic the neighbor guy can invite himself in, sit down, and help himself. We would have made dinner anyway, and there was plenty…that doesn’t mean someone can just come in and hook him self up like a parasite and eat what we weren’t going to.

                  You can’t just intrude on other people’s personal lives and spaces without at least understanding and appreciating that you’re inserting yourself into their routine. Even those who don’t mind, and there are many times people don’t, doesn’t mean they want to pay the full cost of getting you to work.

                  A one-0ff favor is totally different. If I give someone a lift because their car is in the shop and they have or would do the same for me it could be somewhat insulting to offer to pay for gas for one trip. That’s just a favor – but if it’s a routine it’s not a favor and anything unbalanced where one party gets all the benefit will lead to resentment at some point most of the time.

            2. neverjaunty*

              That’s certainly a “general etiquette” for things like road trips, but a lot of people don’t think of it that way for trips-you-were-going-to-make-anyway, or think that the “general etiquette” is some other reciprocity. Especially if they’re not people who drive much. The bigger problem is that OP isn’t talking about OP’s expectations.

              1. fposte*

                It’s the general etiquette for favors in general, though. The fact that some people haven’t thought this through to how it works for getting rides doesn’t change that fact–it’s what’s considered polite when you’re the recipient of a favor. I can understand that it can take people a while to learn it, but it’s going to be a good thing for them to learn.

                Maybe it’s something about cars that misleads people. If you got a brand new computer and I used it every day but only when you weren’t using it, rather than buying one of my own, it wouldn’t cost you anything. If your roommate brought in another roommate who didn’t contribute to your rent, you wouldn’t have less money then either. Judging by advice columns, that latter situation is pretty common, and people aren’t okay with it :-).

          2. Colette*

            The presumption that it’s fine for the OP to give her a ride and the fact that it takes away the OP’s time to stop for something on the way home is probably a bigger issue than the financial impact.

          3. fposte*

            I’m with KellyK–Amanda’s blown it. If you’re getting the benefit, you chip in for the costs, even if you just live next door. And she shouldn’t wait to be asked, but the OP should also have said something.

            1. Colette*

              Yeah, I agree. Otherwise the person who is going out of their way for you pays exactly what they’d pay if they didn’t give you a ride (while having to deal with the inconvenience) and you pay nothing. That’s not OK.

          4. Anne*

            I agree that she probably hasn’t thought about gas money, either. If I lived that close to a co-worker and they often gave me rides home I would probably try to do a couple nice things for them sometimes (birthday present, morning coffees?) but it wouldn’t occur to me to work out gas money and pay them that unless I was asked.

            1. AnotherAlison*

              Normally, neighbors would have been driving to work separately. It WOULD occur to them to pay for gas because they were paying for it themselves. It’s not about the fact that the OP was going the same route anyway; it’s about the fact that Amanda would have had to pay for a way to get to work before.

              1. Judy*

                Normally if there’s a car pool arrangement, either one person pays, or they alternate.

                There’s a group of 4 people I work with that commutes a significant distance for here, maybe 1.5 hour. We’re engineers. They’ve got a spreadsheet to track who has ridden and who has driven, with the intent that each person should drive approximately 1/4 of the time.

            2. Jamie*

              (birthday present, morning coffees?)

              It would never occur to me that this would be in lieu of a ride. The coffee I’d refuse because I’m picky, but the birthday gift would actually really annoy me because it would obligate me to get one for you.

              1. TL*

                If you, say, had a starbucks habit and they started picking up your normal order whenever you stopped by – I think most people would be okay with that.

                1. Sunnie Dee*

                  No. Buying coffee would not cut it. I can’t believe how many people don’t get this. Unless you are specifically invited … “Hey, would you like a ride home tonight?” or “Let me give you a ride home from work every night indefinitely for free” … you need to offer to pay someone who is giving you a ride. Or pay in kind. Like splitting the driving duties or doing another useful favor. Especially if you are taking advantage of their good nature and just showing up expecting a ride. Every day. Sure, OP needs to speak up, but it is a shame that she has to do that. If you have offered to pay your share and the driver refuses payment then, yes, it would be very nice to treat them to coffee or some sort of treat once in a while. But if you have not been specifically invited to be a non-paying passenger you are a mooch unless you offer some sort of compensation.

              2. Anne*

                I can understand that. I was more trying to suggest “small, nice things to say thanks every once in a while” than giving those as specific things – of course if I was actually doing someone small favors or getting them a bit of a treat I would inform that based on what I knew about them.

                But, regardless, reading the thread here it does make a lot of sense that people would be expected to chip in gas money for this even if they lived just two blocks away. I guess having lived in cities where work is pretty much walking distance, I’m very much out of touch with the etiquette of carpooling and rides.

          5. Artemesia*

            The reason people pay thousands a year to have a car is for their personal convenience. Being locked into someone else’s needs and schedule, not being able to just do something serendipitously, not having the privacy that having your own car gives you are all sacrifices. Having to drive someone every dang day is a real PITA. And the idea that she thus owes her moocher the ride is kind of outrageous.

            In this circumstance most civilized people would insist on paying for gas. That she just assumes she has a new private chauffeur service is kind of outrageous. And the OP’s response and feelings are totally typical of what most people feel in this circumstance.

            1. neverjaunty*

              “New private chauffeur service”? Isn’t this exactly the problem – that OP hasn’t said a word but is seething over what she assumes OP must be thinking? I mean, I don’t see Amanda demanding that OP change OP’s work schedule, or drive Amanda to the grocery store, or whatever. Amanda used to ride with Suzanne and started riding with OP, and OP apparently hasn’t said a thing about ‘hey, I can’t do this every day’ or ‘sure, let’s split the gas!’.
              Sure, a lot of people would assume they should pay for gas. A lot of other people wouldn’t because OP is driving to work anyway so there isn’t any extra cost – or, if they are used to public transit like Amanda seems to be, they might not know this etiquette.

              1. some1*

                I also think it’s telling that, if I read the letter correctly, Amanda is sticking around an extra hour at work for the ride. She might think she’s already accomadating the LW’s schedule.

              2. Colette*

                I agree the OP needs to say something – but Amanda is not blameless here. No one should assume someone else will take care of something for them, whether it’s giving them a ride, picking up a coffee/lunch, etc. It’s especially nervy to expect someone to take care of something for you that you can’t reciprocate.

              3. Sunnie Dee*

                There IS extra cost. To her privacy and convenience. And the liability involved in case something happens while driving Amanda… etc…

        2. dahllaz*

          I disagree. To not offer to chip in on expenses is mooching. Whether she lives two blocks or two doors down, it’s extremely rude to not at least offer some sort of payment for someone giving you a ride, let alone doing so regularly.

    2. Ella*

      “I’m afraid that won’t be possible”. Said in a friendly manner, you don’t need to give any other reason. If she asks why again, simply repeat.

      1. Jen RO*

        I don’t really see a way to say that without appearing rude… these two coworkers seem pretty close, and in such a relationship I would expect my work-friend to give me a reason, not just a “no”.

        1. Yup*

          People aren’t obligated to give reasons for declining favors. I’d consider it rude if a friend pushed me for an explanation after I’d politely told them no with an “I’m afraid that won’t be possible.”

        2. Chriama*

          If you were that close to a coworker, I think you could explain that when you offered the first few times you didn’t realize it was going to be a standing arrangement. You don’t mind occasionally helping out if other plans fell through and there’s a blizzard, but you aren’t comfortable doing it on a daily basis.

          If you aren’t friends, however, it’s awkward to be so candid with them. In that case I would offer a reason like “I like having the flexibility to sometimes run errands after work”.

          I know Captain Awkward says no is a complete sentence, but the stonewalling tactic is very undiplomatic, and I’d only use it when you aren’t interested in preserving a friendly relationship. Good for abusive family members, not great for clueless coworkers.

        3. Jamie*

          I wouldn’t push a friend on that, just because a lot of people don’t want to lie and aren’t comfortable being totally open with everything.

          Let’s say the second I get in my car after work and I go hands free with my phone and spend the entire drive home engaged in romantic conversation with my husband…after being apart all day it’s a heated conversation about our love and as yet unfulfilled passion.

          I don’t want to tell people that’s why I can’t drive them home. It’s personal.

          (It’s also a highly fictional analogy since if I did that to my husband his first question would be to ask what I wanted for dinner, because he wouldn’t be listening, and then once he realized what I was up to he’d ask about any recent blows to the head I’ve suffered and tell me to keep my mind on the traffic before I wreck the car.)

          Although I do agree I’d never be able to pull it off without feeling and probably sounding rude. I know I shouldn’t have to, but I’ll pull out the vague excuse before the solo no. Oh, I wish I could – I just can’t today – I need to get home by [insert time which suits my needs.] They don’t need to know that the reason I need to get home by that time is to avoid telling them I don’t feeling like doing a favor.

      1. some1*

        I agree, because it sounds like the LW just doesn’t want to drive Amanda no matter what. She doesn’t want Amanda to ask/expect rides if day care was closed or something, either.

    3. ETF*

      Actually, that’s a viable option if #1 doesn’t mind taking this lady home, but is worried about picking up her kids on time. Unless she just wants an excuse to stop taking her home.

    4. Laura*

      I wonder if just telling Amanda she can’t anymore will be the end of it? I mean she’s never told her before, just fumed silently? I’m hoping Amanda is an otherwise reasonable person who didn’t realize how much trouble it is for the OP because she’s never been told.

  7. Dan*


    AAM, you get a lot of questions along these lines: “Somebody is doing something that is bothering me. What should I do?” Or even worse, “I’m doing a favor for somebody and don’t like doing it. What should I do?”

    When you post these questions, you really could answer it with two words, and two words only: “Tell them.” I do find it bizarre that people would take the times to write into an advice columnist but are so afraid to just speak up and say something.

    1. Saturn9*

      Because most people who write into an advice column aren’t really asking for advice. They’re asking to have their opinions validated and to be told that it’s okay to try to attempt to change something they don’t like.

      1. M.C*

        I am the OP for question one. I was not looking for anything I said to be validated. I am honestly very uncomfortable with the situation I am in. Amanda is a VERY nice woman and I like her a lot. I really do. However, I am a very private person in that I like and cherish my alone time. With three kids, the car is my only alone time. I crank up the metal on the stereo and try and clear my head during the ride home. I don’t want to spend that time discussing work, co-workers, etc. I have three kids to deal with and my me time is now gone.

        For clarification, there is no asking for a ride from me. She just gets up and comes out the door with me. Admittedly, I do not do well in awkward situations. I love coming to Alison’s site and her advice (and commenter advice) is usually pretty solid, so I thought I would ask for help.

        1. Michele*

          Why don’t you just tell her the truth. What you say in your first paragraph response is completely valid and any half way decent person should completely understand. If she doesn’t well that is her problem not yours.

    2. NomadTX*

      In defense of the questions-askers, sometimes the advice is ‘let it go’ or some variation on that, and not just ‘tell them’. Additionally, what looks like ‘seeking validation’ is also seeking advice on alternative courses of action.

    3. LAI*

      I think some non-confrontational people might also be hoping that there’s some secret answer they haven’t thought of that allows them to get out of the situation without having to do anything…

    4. LisaLyn*

      Well, I also think, though, that Alison has a particular gift for phrasing and getting advice on just HOW to say something is really valuable.

      1. Del*

        I think this is really the core of a lot of it. Sometimes you know what the course of action is that you really need to take, but having someone else — especially someone like Alison, who is very good at offering ways to phrase things matter-of-factly but without offense — talk it through can make the steps seem clearer and probably less intimidating.

        “I need to have a conversation with my coworker which I anticipate may upset her or make her angry at me. Please give me advice on how to have this conversation” is the subtext I read in a lot of these questions.

      2. Sunflower*

        Exactly. A lot of people know they have to say something but don’t know how to say it without things being misinterpreted.

        So much of life isn’t about what you say but how you say it. When I read these situations I think ‘Wow I have no idea how I would convey that to someone’ and then I read Alison’s suggested response and it’s pretty much always really good and something I would have never thought of on my own.

      3. Nonprofit Office Manager*

        So true. Alison’s gift with phrasing is a big reason as to why I read this blog. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve copied down something she’s said. I know there are a lot of “how to have difficult conversations at work” books on the market, but if Alison wrote one, I’d buy it in a heartbeat. I know it would blow all others out of the water.

    5. Amy B.*

      +1. Many work and personal conflicts can be solved by just being honest, up-front, and talking it out.

    6. Anonicorn*

      Sometimes it’s difficult to see a solution, even such a simple one, when you’re so deep inside the issue. It can be beneficial (and cathartic) to have an objective, professional person address that issue.

    7. Katie the Fed*

      This seems intuitive for people who have no problem setting boundaries and being assertive. Not all us are naturally like that, for lots of reasons (raised to be people-pleasers, etc). It’s a learned skill for many of us to learn how to set boundaries politely and calmly, and it can be really scary the first few times we do it. So a little help in learning how to do it is never a bad thing.

      1. fposte*

        I think that’s where the repetition can be an advantage–it’s a lot easier to be able to follow the lesson when you’ve heard it several times.

      2. Leslie Yep*

        Excellent point. I think this is part of what’s behind a lot of the “is this legal?!?!” questions too — you can sort of lose sight of the fact that if something is bothering you, you can actually just tell people that it’s bothering you. It doesn’t have to be objectively wrong, a clear breach of etiquette, or legally suspect for you to say that you don’t like it.

        And the other side of that coin is: you do need to learn to stick up for your needs in these situations, rather than relying on social mores or rules or the law to do this work for you. (Obviously sometimes it really is illegal, though!) It’s a challenging practice to break out of!

      3. Anon For This*

        “This seems intuitive for people who have no problem setting boundaries and being assertive. Not all us are naturally like that, for lots of reasons (raised to be people-pleasers, etc).”

        Yes! And also some of us were raised in dysfunctional, emotionally abusive homes where personal boundaries were non-existent and you were chastized for not agreeing with the family’s point of view.

  8. Artemesia*

    #3 I think you over estimate how much people care when advisors or others move on. I have worked in college environments and watched this close up many times. Let people know and make sure any students you are directly advising are switched to someone else gracefully. This happens all the time and a beloved advisor is missed — but for about a week and a half. It is gracious to let everyone know so these transitions are easier.

    #1 This is always difficult. Been there, done that. What I did is schedule something I had to do before work that precluded me picking the mooching rider up. And then I just didn’t let it happen again once a new pattern had been set. So I would let your co-worker know that you can’t be her regular ride cushioning it with some activities and errands that you have to do with your child right after work. Then don’t let it start up again. If you give an occasional ride, don’t be available the next few days if she asks again.

    Don’t just say that you can’t drop her off first but have to get to day care, because she is likely to say ‘oh I’ll ride along then’ — and you don’t want that. So make it, I can’t do it rather than detailing reasons she can counter or agree to accompany you on. (I imagine worse than dropping her off would be her intruding in to your shopping, day care pick up and so forth.)

    1. OP 3*

      It would definitely be easier if it was just advising, I completely know what you mean. I do have a few advisees and I’m less worried about them.

      My concern is that I supervise about 50 student in a job where I am essentially the only person in charge (which creates ongoing quality problems for the program, but thats another issue). There was some pretty rocky turnover a few years ago and it still has a big impact on the student workers who were with the program at the time, so I’m just trying to cover my bases.

      Btw, thanks aam! I’ve been thinking that’s the way to go but for some reason haven’t been able to do it.

  9. Dan*


    “I recently found out that I’ll be leaving my job over the summer…”

    Why the strange passivity in your statement? Your phrasing suggests that you’re getting laid off or otherwise leaving your job because of circumstances beyond your control. I was a bit surprised to continue reading and discover this was actually a voluntary decision on your part.

    1. OP 3*

      Fair enough – my fiance got a job in another city and we’re moving together, so I don’t have anything to go to yet but I am definitely leaving!

      1. LisaLyn*

        Hey, and Dan picked up on that, ha ha. Good luck in your job search in the new city! I know moving is stressful, but it can also be a really positive experience. Sometimes in the long run, but still. :)

      2. Dan*

        Can I ask you something, and I apologize if this comes across as stupid, ignorant, insensitive, or any combination of the above? Is this a decision that *you* have made and are comfortable with?

        I think AAM had a post in the past where the LW’s husband actually resigned for her or something like that, and she gave her a mini-lecture that pretty much said that sending in that resignation letter violates all kinds of societal norms, and it wasn’t surprising that the employer was wondering if the person is in an abusive relationship.

        If you would have said, “I’m quitting my job and moving to a new town with my fiance” I wouldn’t have thought twice about it. But the passivity makes me wonder how much of this is your choice vs his.

        1. OP 3*

          If anything I’d say that’s quite sensitive! I totally remember that post and the comment section too, definitely scary and concerning.

          No, in this case we’re very much a team and made the decision together. I think I tend to have a more passive voice when I write in general. It’s a good career move for her and gives me the chance to make a career change I’ve been wanting for a long time, in part because we’ll have a much more stable financial situation than we do now. A better way to phrase the first sentence might have been that I recently found out I’ll be able to leave my job in August thanks to a great offer for my fiance in a new city.

          1. Anonymous*

            Sorry to be a nitpick but if you are engaged to a female, that would be a fiancée. Fiancé (with one “e”) generally refers to a man. I only bring it up in this particular context because I wonder if Dan would have been concerned knowing that your partner is a woman.

            1. Dan*

              I didn’t pick up on the gender connotation with “fiance” vs “fiancee”. I just picked up on the passivity in the OP’s phrasing.

              As to whether the gender of the other person (or the OP for that matter) makes a difference, I’m bothered by people who don’t, can’t, or won’t take responsibility for themselves or set boundaries, no matter what.

              And as was pointed out to me way upstream, many people write in here because they have trouble setting boundaries, and need a little help or support :)

  10. Dan*


    Kudos to you for leaving for something that’s much better for you while knowing that it’s going to be hard on your old boss. I’m glad you’re looking out for yourself.

    1. Chriama*

      Was I the only one put off by the boss’s “essential list” statement? It was like she was saying “you’re on of my favourites”. I feel like the boss could let OP know how much she values their work without making it seem like it’s a competition. If the organization is undergoing great upheaval she should have a candid conversation about how she wants to keep OP, let her know about the promotion she’s trying to get for them, ask what would make her comfortable, etc.

      Maybe I’m just taking it out of context and proportion but the way OP feels almost guilty about leaving in light of the manager’s comment makes me unhappy. Good on you for pursuing the new job anyway, especially if layoffs are still ongoing. A manager’s best intentions may not be enough to save a doomed department.

      1. Sunflower*

        Yea I kind of thought that too. Maybe the manager is new to management? Sounds like she was trying to tell OP ‘I know there are some uncertain changes going on here but I want to do everything I can to make sure your job isn’t at risk and you are happy. What can I do?’

        Sounds the answer from OP would have been nothing anyway. Once place I worked at, there were layoffs going on and people were miserable from constant fear of being let go- it was not a pleasant place to be and I got out asap. Good for OP for doing whats best for her though

        1. some1*

          +1. If the manager was told by HER boss she needed to lay the LW off for some reason, she’d have to do it, no matter how essential she considers the LW to be.

          1. Dan*

            Yup, I got laid off in a similar scenario. My boss went to the mat for me and still couldn’t avoid it.

            I’d hate to think the OP would he passing up better opportunities out of loyalty to the boss.

            This is the opposite of the kid who wrote in over the weekend asking for advice on how to search for a “short term” job during a “temporary” layoff, with no return-to-work date specified.

  11. Dan*


    I’m confused… doesn’t your voicemail service have an external phone number you can call to get your messages? While my stuff is integrated quite nicely, when I’m overseas or whatever, I can call a specific phone number, punch in my # and password, and get my messages.

    1. Jessa*

      This, as far as I know until I actually pick up the message, the voicemail is stored at the phone company side, not on my phone. You should still be able to get voicemail even if you don’t have the phone with you.

      I can call my cell voicemail from my house phone and vice versa. The only difference is I have to know the PIN for the voicemail. Because I don’t have the instant verification of having called from the line in question.

      It’s actually faster to call the house voicemail from my cell because I’ve programmed it in with all the stops, and press 1s and things. So I only have to hit one button instead of dialling.

    2. Saturn9*

      Good point. You can clear the voicemail counter on your phone but it doesn’t actually delete the voicemail messages from where they’re externally stored.

      (OP #5: Check your voicemail. I’ve cleared my counter before and discovered messages days later that I hadn’t realized I’d missed.)

    3. Jen RO*

      I don’t get something, it might be an US-specific thing. If you send your phone in for repairs, wouldn’t you take the SIM out and just put it in a loaned phone? Did the OP not have an extra phone? And if you put your SIM in a new phone, wouldn’t you be able to access all your messages?

        1. Jen RO*

          Mind: blown. So what happens when you have to send your phone for repairs? Or when it breaks? Or when you buy a new phone? I’m reading about the differences between US and Europe telecommunications and it sounds like two different planets.

          1. Cat*

            These days, you usually sync your phone with your computer then transfer all the data over to the new phone. I think some people still have phones with sim cards though.

            1. Jen RO*

              What I don’t get is how the phone communicates with the network. Is that data included in the sync you’re talking about? I can sync all my phone stuff (contacts, messages etc), but without a SIM it still won’t work as a phone.

              (This is fascinating.)

              1. Cat*

                That I definitely do not know! It just works. I’ve always assumed the little magical phone owls carry messages back and forth or something.

              2. Judy*

                In the US, when you purchase a phone (with a contract through a carrier), they take the phone and connect it to a pc, and load the identification information that I assume is on a sim card into the phone. I think it comes about because we pay relatively smaller amounts for the phone and large amounts for the monthly service. They want to keep the phone under their control.

                My most recent Verizon phone has a sim card. But they warned me that I couldn’t switch it to another phone, it was just a “fake” sim card. It’s a global (quad band) phone, and I’d bet I could use a sim card from somewhere else in it.

                1. fposte*

                  Right. I think for that reasons prepaid phones are still much more SIM card oriented–mine have always been, anyway.

          2. Marcy*

            It is two different planets. I lived in Europe for awhile and I prefer the way the phones work there. For one, in the country I was in anyway, only the person making the call was charged minutes. The person receiving the call was not. Here, both parties are charged. They do have plans now with unlimited minutes or the ability to have a list of people you could call without being charged. That helps. The second thing I liked was that I could have several phones and just stick the SIM card in the one I wanted to use that day and go. No “activating” it or having to take it in to be swapped out.

      1. L McD*

        In my experience, a lot of phones no longer have SIM cards. Also not everyone has extra phones just lying around.

        Regardless, though, the voicemail is almost certainly stored remotely and OP should still be able to access it. It’s associated with your account/phone number, not with your particular phone, in every situation I’ve encountered.

      2. Zahra*

        Some networks do work on a GSM-style network and their phones do have SIMs (like the iPhone with AT&T), but other networks still work on CDMA-style networks, which do not need SIMs. When you get a new phone, you can either: transfer the new data if your phone synced with your computer (smartphones, mostly) or manually enter the data to your new phone (feature (or dumb) phones, mostly). The good thing is, without a SIM card, you still have access to the data on your old phone, assuming you can still turn it on.

        1. Arbynka*

          I have a SIM card smartphone. (T-Mobile) It is synced to my computer, I have my data backed up. It was same with my other SIM phones. I travel back to Europe a bunch so having a SIM card phone is an extreme convenience . You just switch SIM cards as needed. I currently have three, for US, general Europe and world area and back for CZ. I had CDMA phone at first but I like GSM so much better. More freedom and as I said more convenience for me. Oh, and I do have very cheap, small back up phone (not a smartphone), cheapest they had, so if anything happens to my regular phone, I won’t be without one.

    4. OP #5*

      Unfortunately, my phone was so old I had to upgrade. The way voicemails were stored on the first phone is very different from the way voicemails are stored/ accessed on the second phone. The company said that from now on, it shouldn’t be an issue if I have to get phone repairs or an upgrade.

      1. Judy*

        I’ve had cell phones since 1997. All of my cell phones have had the VM stored at the company, you could access them from any phone even with the cell phone turned off.

      2. fposte*

        I’m with Judy–I think you can get at that period’s voice mails, because they’re stored on your service, not your phone.

      3. Dan*

        Ha. My phone is approaching 8 years old, so I carefully chose my words. I didn’t want my technology ignorance to show!

        On my ancient phone, my messages are most certainly stored NOT on my phone.

  12. Confused*

    I think what’s not being addressed is your feeling that you’re obligated to give Amanda a ride because she helped you get your foot in the door at the new job. It’s wonderful that you want to repay her somehow but consider doing so professionally by recommending her for a job opening you hear about or letting her use you as a reference…something along those lines.

    Also, consider letting her know you will not give her a ride ahead of time (don’t wait until the end of day, or even day of) so she can be ready to take the bus (sneakers, proper change, etc.)

    1. Chriama*

      Good point about feeling a subtle obligation because of the job. But reciprocity in relationships is not so easy to calculate. You can appreciate what she did and return the favour in ways other than becoming her indentured chauffeur for life.

      I think you feel taken advantage of becuase you never discussed the arrangement ahead of time and now it’s like a routine you didn’t sign up for. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are other issues, like she makes you feel like you can’t leave work late or makes “jokes” about the arrangement that rub you the wrong way. However, there are very few interpersonal conflicts that can’t be addressed with a frank conversation. Let her know that you won’t be able to give her a regular ride anymore (reasons are optional. Other commenters have given good examples so take your pick depending on your relationship and how you think she’s likely to take it).

  13. Anna*

    Or she could ask Amanda if she had anything against being dropped off last, after picking up the kids, buying milk, running errands etc.

  14. coffeedevil*

    For OP#1, I would strongly suggest, to be fair to Amanda, that you give decent warning – “after next week, I won’t be able to give you a lift home any more” rather than just drop her, leaving her suddenly worried she did something to upset you and risk the work relationship turning sour or awkward.
    – I personally would have provided gas money even though you live so close, but since she causes almost no more mileage, I would try to forget that aspect.

    1. fposte*

      You don’t pay gas money because you’re making somebody drive extra, you pay gas money because you’re enjoying the benefit of something somebody else is covering the cost for.

  15. en pointe*

    Related to #1

    Does anyone have any thoughts on the etiquette concerns if it’s the other way around – i.e. it’s a coworker who really wants to give you a lift? I have a 45 minute walk each way (don’t have a car), which I don’t mind and was prepared for when I took the job. However, one of my coworkers takes issue with this (mainly citing safety concerns in the evening). I initially declined two or three times, but she was quite insistent and it’s on her way, so I now ride with her.

    I do appreciate it and am polite – say thank you after each trip, am never late, take cues from her as to desired conversation levels each time, thank her for letting me know on the occasions she tells me she can’t, etc. But am I in the wrong by not offering to pay for gas?

    Not sure how relevant it is as far as etiquette is concerned, but she is quite well-off, while I am a student. I’ve never offered money, as it was her idea and I’m happy to walk, but I can definitely budget creatively and send something her way, if I am indeed being rude?

    1. Jen RO*

      In my opinion, if she insisted and she doesn’t go out of her way to drop you off, you don’t owe her anything.

      Then again, I’ve been told that I let people take advantage of me. If I were in OP’s shoes, I wouldn’t even think of asking the coworker money for wear and tear and gas, because I’d be driving the same amount even if I were alone. (A “thank you” gift card or box of candy would be nice, though.)

    2. Chriama*

      Whoa no way. Other people don’t get to impose financial burdens on you. She insisted on giving you a ride, so unless this is a plot to scam gas money off the new guy she has no reasonable expectation of compensation. Ok, that’s not the most diplomatic answer. You have 2 choices:
      1) If you like getting rides and want her to continue, find a way to offer a token compensation, like 20-40 bucks a month.
      2) If you don’t really care about the ride and would rather not pay for a service you didn’t ask for, make a point of refusing her rides more often — like twice a week or more. Something like “it’s a nice day and I’m trying to build some exercise into my routine” or “I want to stop by the library/grocery store/museum” will let her know that you are really ok with walking and weren’t refusing out of politeness.
      Either way, you could also get her a Christmas or birthday card and small gift (like coffee shop gift card) as thanks.

      1. en pointe*

        Thanks for your responses.

        I see where you guys are coming from, and I particularly like the idea of just a thank you card and small gift around the holidays. I think that could be a nice way to show my appreciation.

    3. Lizabeth*

      I would offer to pay something for gas and if she declines it, so be it. Plus winter is slowly going away and it’s stay lighter later so you’ll be able to start walking home and it’s still light enough out. I bet her main concern was that it was dark out when you walked home.

    4. Sunflower*

      I think if she 1. insisted and 2. knows you are a student, she does not expect you to pay and probably just wants to do you a favor. When I was in college, people offered to help out a lot or family members bought me things and said ‘don’t worry about it, you’re a poor college kid’.

      Maybe at Christmas time just make her a card and say thanks. I don’t think anything more is expected

    5. Colette*

      If she’s the one insisting (and if you make it clear that you’re happy to walk), I don’t think you owe her anything.

    6. ETF*

      Woah, 45 minutes is a long way to walk both ways through all sorts of weather. Your coworker is super sweet.

      1. Anonymous*


        En WANTS to do the 45 minute walk. En’s coworker is demanding this En change because the coworker doesn’t feel safe. That’s not sweet, that’s absurd and demanding.

        1. ETF*

          Um, ok then. You’re entitled to your skewed perspective on human kindness. I think her coworker is just trying to be nice. OP doesn’t have to accept a ride if she doesn’t want to, but clearly she has been doing so.

          1. Colette*

            I actually agree with Anonymous – insisting that someone change their mode of transportation so that you’ll feel better (i.e. “it’s not safe”, “it’s too far to walk”) is demanding and presumptuous. Offering a ride is a lovely gesture, but insisting is not.

            1. some1*

              Yup, it’s infantilizing, and could be sexist if EP’s a woman and wouldn’t care if a man was walking. EP’s coworker is assuming she knows better than her what is safe for her and what isn’t.

              1. ETF*

                Do I really have to explain this? People are different. Various people have gregarious, outgoing, and insistent personalities. Others are more reserved, shy, and willing to bend to the will of others. Some have a better grasp on emotional intelligence than others. I’m sure the coworker is one of those folks who doesn’t easily take a hint easily. But that does not mean her offer of a ride is unkind. If she is too insistent, OP should tell her so. “You keep asking me if I want a ride, but my answer is and always will be, ‘no.'” It’s nice of you to ask, but I prefer to make my own arrangements for getting to work, and I’m set in my ways. Please don’t ask me the same question again.”

                What is infantile is OPs inability to say no.

                Also, as far as the “it could be sexist” argument, don’t even go there. Period. No such intent is evidenced by what we know about the coworker, so don’t go throwing that word around. Given the number of times that word is injected into conversations on this board, it is actually infuriating to see it throw into this conversation.

                Also, perhaps you don’t know this, but women walking alone are more vulnerable than men. Women are physically weaker than men. You can bristle about that as long as you want. It is true.

                1. Colette*

                  Harassing someone (for example, insisting on giving them a ride even though they have declined several times) is not OK, and it is certainly not kind. That’s not a personality issue, it’s just basic rudeness. Offering is not unkind, refusing to take no for an answer is.

                  And yes, deciding that someone needs a ride because they are a woman is sexist.

                2. ETF*

                  If the OP thinks her coworker is rude, she can say something about it if she wants to. Like I said before, not everyone has the same level of emotional intelligence. It is likely the coworker does not know she is being rude, and will not realize it until someone says something to her.

                  No suggestion of sexism was made by OP, but you can’t resist bringing it up, can you. Like a doll that repeats the same phrase over and over. No reason to bring it up, but you do anyway. Who is pulling your string.

                3. JM*

                  I agree that saying she was harassing her is going too far. I’m picturing the situation as someone who is older offering a college student a ride because they want them to be safe. Maybe she’s being “parental,” maybe she knows that route is unsafe, or maybe she just wants to help her out.

                  The woman is being kind, give her a box of chocolate or something you know she likes if you want. I think it’s safe to assume that she probably won’t take money from you.

                4. Colette*

                  I don’t mean harassment in the legal sense – but if you continue to insist on something that someone has already turned down multiple times, you are harassing them. It doesn’t matter whether that comes from a good place, it’s not their responsibility to make you feel good, or to stop you from worrying about them, or in any other way to be responsible for your feelings.

                  It’s OK to offer and, if that offer is turned down, to say “the offer’s open, let me know if you change your mind”. It’s not OK to keep harping on it, and it’s not en pointe’s responsiblity to find the right way to say no so that it sticks.

                5. en pointe*

                  I wish I had been a bit clearer. To be perfectly honest, I don’t particularly WANT to walk (I’m saving up for a car but it’s slow going), but I am happy to do it, and that was my plan when I started this job.

                  So I do really appreciate her generosity. I think she is coming from a good place – she’s concerned about safety, as it’s a bushy area and there have been sexual assaults through here in the last few years. She’s definitely being kind, albeit rather forcefully so.

                6. Colette*

                  If you value the fact that she’s willing to drive you, then offering to pay for gas (and, if she’s not willing to accept it, getting her a gift she’ll appreciate) is a nice gesture.

              2. Dan*

                I’m a 260 lb 6’1″ male who has traveled all over the world. Personal safety generally isn’t the first thing on my mind. I’m not ignorant or cavalier, it’s just that where I travel, I’m far more likely to get ripped off or pick pocketed.

                My female friends tell me that they tend to pay more attention to physical safety.

                What’s the difference between being sexist and legitimate concern?

                1. Colette*

                  For starters, anytime you make a decision about someone else’s safety, you’re assuming they can’t properly judge the risks and their capability to handle them. If they’re your 5 year old child, that’s appropriate. If they’re another adult, it’s not.

                  Deciding what risks they can take based on their gender (and nothing more) is sexist. The woman in question might be a black belt who feels capable of handling the risks, while the hypothetical man in this situation might be someone who’s 95 pounds and hates conflicts.

                  But in both cases, they’re adults and can handle their own transportation.

                2. some1*

                  What Colette said. Not to mention, women are more likely to be assaulted by their partners than a stranger. Should I only be allowed to date men I can physically overpower?

          2. Anonymous*

            Go back and reread this from the perspective of someone demanding to get a ride and tell me that it is nice still.

            “However, one of my coworkers takes issue with this (mainly citing safety concerns in the evening). I initially declined two or three times, but she was quite insistent and it’s on her way, so I now she rides with me.”

            How is that nice?

          3. dahllaz*

            If the coworker would have taken the initial no (multiple nos for that matter)for an anwer it would have been sweet. But coworker kept insisting, so now it’s not sweet but demanding and obnoxious.

        2. Anonymous*

          I walk to work and I’m pretty sure I would have gotten the same response on my first day if I had said that I swam the river on my way in. Some people who are used to driving just can’t imagine walking that much and genuinely assume walkers must be suffering. I think of their attempts to give me a ride as just due to our different preferences, not an attempt to force me to change my life, just as my polite declination only means that I enjoy walking and isn’t a personal rejection.

    7. Anonymous*

      Always always say no. People on this board and others have shown that no matter what the ride givers get upset but don’t say anything about it. Just say, “Thank you, I prefer the walk.”

      Just look at the comments here that are vitriolic about anyone ever accepting a ride.

      1. Colette*

        I don’t see any comments that are vitriolic about anyone ever accepting a ride.

        I do see a lot of frustration about people who expect a ride and don’t understand that it is an imposition.

        1. Anonymous*

          You might not, but as someone without a car I read these comments and it reminds me to never ever accept a ride with someone who isn’t family, and even then to always demand to pay for gas, and only after 3-4 times declining. I’d rather walk 5 miles than get a ride from someone every single time because of the attitude of car owners.

          But so many people don’t say no, and then get upset because they say yes and someone thinks that means yes. The OP here doesn’t say they’ve ever said no but they are still upset. That’s not sensible at all.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            That’s not really an accurate interpretation of what people are saying here. You could decide that you won’t be the person who looks at others as your regular transportation plan or assumes others will drive you more than as an occasional favor, and that would take care of whole concern.

            1. Anonymous*

              But even if you do that you still have people who say “yes” or even offer rides and then fume about the people accepting.

              Always saying no is the only response that will avoid the issue of the people who send you letters saying, I’ve got someone who wants a ride every day. And then you responding with something along the lines of “Say no.”

              1. Colette*

                I think the onus is always on the person who is the recipient of a favor (in this case, the person getting a ride) to ask for the favor, check in regularly about whether it’s still OK and be prepared to make other arrangements if it doesn’t work out for the person doing the favor (without complaints, snide comments, or “jokes”). It’s also important that they look for ways to reciprocate – not necessarily in kind, but by helping the other person whenever and however they can.

                The problems arise when someone assumes that because it was OK once, it’s not a problem to do it every day, or when they use guilt or passive aggressive comments to try to manipulate the other person into doing what they want.

          2. fposte*

            I was someone without a car for years, and now I’m someone with a car, and it mostly hasn’t been a problem either way. I think you’re seeing this as more fraught than it needs to be. Anybody who can negotiate a bar evening with friends can handle civilized ride-sharing.

            But you can’t assume without invitation that it’s fine to make your friend/colleague always drive you around or cover your tab. That doesn’t seem that complicated a rule to me.

      2. aebhel*

        I don’t get upset about an occasional thing, but offering to drive someone home once is not the same thing as offering to become their personal chauffeur, and I’d be pretty annoyed if they assumed it was.

        I’ve spent a lot of my life NOT having a car, and in areas where bus service is imperfect to say the least. I still managed to get by without resorting to sturm und drang about the evilness of car owners.

      3. JC*

        I understand where you’re coming from, but I don’t agree. I don’t have a car and have spent most of my adult life without one. On one hand, I DO assume that if someone is giving me a ride it is nearly always an imposition on them. Even if they offered. So I act accordingly. I ask for rides sparingly and make it clear that it is ok for them to say no if I ask. I don’t pester if someone is noncommittal when I ask. I always jump in and pay for gas and tolls on a longer trip. I’ve never had someone give me regular short trips (like in the OP’s post), but if they did I’d also offer gas. Since I live in a city with robust carsharing and can afford to do so, I always assume that my default will be paying to rent a car rather than have someone drive me, even though I really hate driving. It’s expensive in the short term but a hell of a lot cheaper than owning a car, and car owners are paying for the convenience of being able to come and go as they please.

        That said, though, if someone offers to give me a ride once, or *offers* to give me a ride regularly and is explicit that it is a standing invitation (which is not the same as the OP’s story), I wouldn’t doubt their sincerity. Sometimes people genuinely like to be helpful, and/or sometimes it isn’t an imposition! The key is not overstepping your bounds and not assuming someone wants to drive you when they have not explicitly offered. In the OP’s case, the ride every day wasn’t explicitly offered.

    8. Laura*

      I have been in that exact situation – a coworker has been very insistent on giving me a lift even though I said no thanks, i’m fine. I guess she didn’t believe anyone could be fine with a 40 minute bus ride on a reliable bus, even though I’m so used to it

      1. en pointe*

        Ha, yes I tried to explain exactly this! My university is two buses and a train ride away, so traveling without a car is something I’m definitely used to.

  16. Ann Furthermore*

    #2: There’s no way to use another person’s tardiness as a way to justify your own without sounding whiny and immature. You don’t know for sure that your other co-worker has not been talked to about her own issues with being on time. All you know for sure is that you’ve been told twice to be on time. And it is the only thing in this situation that you can control.

    My husband is compulsively punctual. When we were dating, and he said he’d pick me up at 7:00, the doorbell would ring at 6:59. Dealing with my family, who views stated start times as a rough guideline, drives him nuts.

    He runs a small business, and all his employees who have been there awhile know this. His younger brother works for him, and pulled a new guy aside after a couple weeks who was getting into the habit of showing up a couple minutes late each day, but otherwise doing a good job. He told him that he was doing well, but he absolutely had to be there by 7 each morning, because that’s when the workday starts. Not 7:01, not 7:03, but 7:00. He told him that is my husband’s biggest pet peeve and if he didn’t address it, it wouldn’t matter how great a job he was doing, he wouldn’t last. The guy straightened up pretty quickly.

    I think he’s a bit too wound up about it, but he’s the boss where he works and can make the rules.

    1. Jen RO*

      My boyfriend is the same, and my family (me included) see an invite at 5 PM as “come any time between 4.45 and 5.30”. He still hasn’t learned that they will never be there at 5.00.

      1. Mena*

        An invitation for 5 is not an invitation for 4.45 – arriving early is just as rude as arriving late.

        1. Aunt Vixen*

          It depends on local norms. I had a housemate once who had lived in enough places that she had learned to ask “What does 6pm mean here?” There are places where if you’re invited for dinner at 6pm, it is rude to show up on the dot of 6pm because your hosts are expecting to sit down to eat at 6 and now you’ve made them wait the whole meal. I repeat: there are places where doing the only thing you have identified as not-rude is, in fact, rude.

          When I was in England, written invitations were given as “6pm for 6:30”, which nicely let you know which time was soft and which was firm and how much social trouble you’d be in if you waltzed in at 6:28, in time to sit down at the table but having missed all the pre-dinner mingling with the important host.

          1. Loose Seal*

            That English method is so wonderful! I like how it takes the stress off what time to actually show up. I received a wedding invite once (in the US) that said, for the time: “Please arrive no later than 4:45 pm to be in place for the bride’s arrival at 5:00 pm.” Or something to that effect. I liked that a lot because when I was planning my wedding, I read in the etiquette books that the start time on the invite is the time the bride enters so, to be polite, you should be in your seat well before that. And I had never known that before! It made me cringe to think I’d been showing up too late because I didn’t know that etiquette before. Long, rambling story to say that I think invitations should state what time one should be present and not have to have people rely on unspoken customs to figure out what +/- they need to do to that time.

            1. Mints*

              That’s a really cool custom I’ve never heard of, and I wish that was more popular!

    2. David*

      “My husband is compulsively punctual. When we were dating, and he said he’d pick me up at 7:00, the doorbell would ring at 6:59. Dealing with my family, who views stated start times as a rough guideline, drives him nuts.”

      Until I read the rest of your comment, I thought you might be my wife!

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        Ha! We’ve been together almost 11 years. In that time, I’ve gotten better about being punctual, and he’s loosened up a little bit about punctuality regarding social stuff, except for things like movies when you have to be someplace at a specific time.

        My family has gotten better too, because I did explain to them that it really drives him nuts when people are late. Just recently, we had them all over for a small birthday gathering when my daughter turned 5, and he was shocked and impressed that the doorbell rang at exactly 1:00, which is when I’d told them to be there.

        1. KJR*

          You will not see my husband late for ANY sporting event…he is always early for those. BUT, Sunday mornings I am practically pushing his butt out the door to get to church on time…cracks me up!! I guess we could call it “selective punctuality?”

        2. David*

          My wife was always running behind, largely because her family is the same way. This became a big issue around holidays, because my family was always waiting around for us to get things started. So I finally said that while we have to be to my family’s house on time, we could be as late as she wanted to her family’s events.

          The other thing I discovered was that my wife has almost no internal clock or concept of time. I asked her what time it was one day but told her she couldn’t look at the clock. I could probably answer that by being 15 minutes off in either direction. She was off by hours! Once I explained to her that depending on her (non-existent) internal clock might someday mean our daughter would be waiting after school for over an hour wondering when Mom was going to pick her up, she started paying attention to the time a lot more.

          1. Ann Furthermore*

            “This became a big issue around holidays, because my family was always waiting around for us to get things started.”

            And if I had not seen your previous comment, I might have thought you were my husband. Ha ha!! We always host Thanksgiving, and my family being so lax about when to arrive used to irk the hell out of my husband. It still bugs him, but like I said, he’s loosened up about it a little bit, and my family has started making more of an effort to be on time.

          2. Dan*

            My ex is my ex for that among many reasons. It didn’t matter what the event, social or “scheduled” she was always late. I can’t remember a single time that I made a restaurant reservation (and I always made restaurant reservations for places that accepted them) that I had to call and move it by at least an hour.

            At a certain point, it moves from quirky to rude and disrespectful.

            1. Loose Seal*

              One of the symptoms of dyscalculia is the inability to internalize time passing. So people with dyscalculia will arrive either super early or super late. If we didn’t live in an age where I could set numerous alarms (and I do — it can take five separate alarms to get me out of the house in the morning, otherwise I’d linger too long over coffee, etc., without knowing it), this would be me. [Not that your ex-wife has dyscalculia. I don’t know, she could just be a garden-variety jerk. But when I meet someone like this, I’m always assessing to see if they truly can’t help it or if they are so self-involved they can’t be bothered with being punctual. If it’s the former, they get more slack from me and I might call them ahead of the meeting to make sure they were heading that way. If it’s the latter, they would probably be my ex, too.]

          3. Jamie*

            So I finally said that while we have to be to my family’s house on time, we could be as late as she wanted to her family’s events.

            Reverse the genders and this is us. I come from a land where times are definite and it’s better to circle the block 100 times than show up early. And if you’re late you had better call and the story should be spectacular because it’s just rude.

            I have since learned that many lovely, wonderful people consider times approximations. It’s not right or wrong, good or bad (although if it were my way would be both right and good) it’s just different and being judgy just causes a lot of uncomfortable car rides both there and home.

          4. Cath@VWXYNot?*

            I have one brother-in-law who always gets told a start time an hour earlier than the one everyone else is given. He still sometimes shows up last. At least we’ve learned to put him in charge of dessert, rather than appies…

    3. BCW*

      I guess you could also call me “compulsively punctual”, although I don’t think showing up somewhere at an agreed upon time should make me the compulsive one. I prefer I’m on time and others are compulsively late.

      1. Judy*

        See, my family is “compulsively early”. If you say be there at 5, they’ll be there between 4:45 and 4:55.

        My husband is much more loose with time. He didn’t get why I was wondering where my parents were when they were not there 5 minutes before they said they would be.

        1. Ann Furthermore*

          My father was always very punctual too. When I was a kid, we lived in the Middle East for a few years, and my dad worked with many Arab people. He would set a meeting for say 2:00, and people would show up any time between 1:45 and 3:00. It was driving him crazy.

          Then my mom explained to him that in a nomadic culture where, historically, the standard practice was to say, “I’ll see you at the well in the spring,” the concept of time and punctuality is completely different. It still grated on him, but he was at least able to see the other point of view and not get so worked up about it.

          1. the gold digger*

            Yes! I worked in South America with indigenous women, a subculture within another culture. The Chileans would show up pretty close to on time, but the women I worked with would be one to two hours late.

            I read a great line in a Tony Hillerman novel – that for someone with a German background, 10:00 a.m. means 9:55 a.m., but for a Navajo or Hopi, it means, “While the sun is still in the sky.”

        2. the gold digger*

          I told my dad’s cousin, an old Wisconsin guy, to come over to my house for lunch at about 1 or 1:30. “That will give me time to get home from the gym, take a shower, and get things ready,” I said.

          The doorbell rang at 12:30. I was still in the shower.

          I have since learned I have to be very firm with Wisconsinites: “Do not come before 8:00 a.m.!”

          And I say this as someone who is never late. But LHM, please do not show up at my house 30 minutes before I expect you.

        3. MGHL*

          AGH! People who arrive early are the worst. My husband and I have a group of friends (10+ couples) that whenever anyone hosts anything we all have to tell this one couple that it starts 15 minutes later than it actually does or SPECIFICALLY say something like ‘arrive any time AFTER 7 pm.’
          I made the mistake one of the first few times we hosted that dinner party of saying ‘7 pm’ and they arrived at 6:45. At 6:45, I was in the process of getting dressed, fixing dinner, and cleaning up the house all at once. No, please do not come when I’m half naked, and no I don’t want your help setting up or to ‘catch up’ before the group arrives. We can go to lunch at a later date, or ‘catch up’ while everyone else is there.
          Sorry if this is EXTREMELY rude of me or anything, but this one couple has really ruined ‘punctuality’ in my opinion. If I arrive to someone’s home early, I will sit in my car and catch up on email for a minute or two before going in. Arriving at a meeting place like a restaurant or park or something, is different but please don’t arrive to my home before I ask you to.

  17. Lulu G*

    I do sympathise with #2.
    I have a coworker who arrives late everyday. Even though he’s made arrangements with management and does put in the hours (just later in the day), there is something intrinsically grating about working with someone who comes in 2 hours after everyone else for no other reason than being a night owl. However, there is no good way to bring these things up without looking petty, especially considering the LW has been reprimanded for lateness more than once.

    1. BCW*

      But why is that grating if you are working the same number of hours? If you would prefer coming in late, have you asked about it? It just seems weird to be mad simply because of an arrangement. Its like people getting mad that others can work from home when they never bother to ask if they could do the same.

      1. KellyK*


        Plus, if he’s a night owl, he’s likely to do his best work with a slightly offset shift. Would you rather have him come in when you do, but end up doing some of his work because he’s only semi-coherent for those couple hours and doesn’t get as much accomplished?

        If it’s an arrangement you actually want, then ask about it.

      2. Lulu G*

        Well to be honest, the most irritating part of it is that he’s not completely consistent. If coworkers or upper management happen to ask me when he’ll be in, my answer is a polite “I’m not completely sure but I can let him know you were trying to touch base with him” – which sounds a lot better than “sometime between 10 and 11, I think, maybe”. And any planning has to almost write off the entire morning if we need him there. It just feels unprofessional to me, both in terms of him not having a schedule that can be relied on during business hours and how many people expect me to know anything just because I work in the next cubicle.

        1. KellyK*

          Okay, that actually does affect you. That’s a reasonable thing to be annoyed by. (It’s not unprofessional, though, I don’t think.) Maybe ask your boss how to deal with the questions you’re getting and the scheduling issues? (Even if someone does have an offset schedule, it’s reasonable to want to know if they’ll be in at 10 on a given day so you can plan a meeting.)

        2. Jax*

          I sympathize with you. My co-worker made special arrangements to start work an hour later to get her kids off to school.

          That’s cool–except she’s not consistent with it. I never know if she’s going to decide to start work at 7 am (it happens often) or if she won’t be in until 9. She decides if she can come in early, on time, or late based on whatever is happening at home that morning.

          I’m expected to be here at 8 am no matter what’s going on with my kids, car, personal life, etc. and I really struggle with the unfairness of this set up. Why can’t I set my own hours during the school year? I’m a mom too! (I was denied when I asked, and I wonder if it’s because I stated it as an “I’d like to” rather than “I have to”.)

          I have to give myself a heavy dose of, “You accepted the job as 8-5 and were fine with it. Stop looking at what other people are doing and getting jealous.” But it grates on me that I can’t wake up and decide, “Meh. I’ll go in late today.”

  18. RobM*

    I have to say I feel much like your husband on this subject.

    I don’t mind in the slightest that people might have different start and finish times. And actually, I accept that no matter how well you plan things sometimes happen.

    But people who routinely turn up a couple of minutes late to work or to a meeting or whatever – not because of a problem but just because that’s how they roll – drive me nuts. This might partially down to working shift patterns early in my career in an environment where you ended up staying late if the person who took over from you was late…

    1. Jen RO*

      I’m the exact opposite: as long as the job doesn’t require you to be there at x o’clock exactly (receptionist, shift work), I find it baffling that people care about 5 or 10 or even 30 minutes. Why should my boss care as long as I get my job done and I don’t inconvenience anyone?

      (Being late to a *meeting* is a different beast. You do inconvenience the people who are waiting for you.)

      1. RobM*

        Depends on the kind of work you’re doing, I guess, Jen. I work in an IT team where the 1st line people all work as a team, sharing workload. If one of them is habitually late they’re therefore being disrespectful and inconveniencing the others.

        I’m lucky enough these days to have moved beyond that myself but due to having been in that environment in the past, especially in a shift worker situation, I’m still somewhat attuned to it.

        1. Jen RO*

          Well, then that’s a situation where this doesn’t work. Or rather, a situation where the person who gets to work late should also stay later.

        2. Jen RO*

          So yes, I agree with you. The nature of my job is that I work alone 90% of the time, so my start/end times don’t inconvenience anyone. Of course, even in my job there were days when we were told “everyone needs to be here by 9.30 because it’s release day and we need to get started early in case something unexpected happens”.

          1. Jamie*

            I agree with this. My solo work is a little less than Jen’s, but I need to be here and available during the middle of the work day. What I do on either end is mine to worry about regarding how I will be most productive.

            I understand shift work and reception, etc – when you absolutely need to be in at a certain time to take over for others or open the office or whatever. But other than that, even if you are working with others I don’t get how you can really be 5 minutes late for a lot of jobs. If I’m waiting on something from Steve if he gets in at 8:05 it’s not going to throw my day off. And who watches the clock exactly when they leave? If I plan to leave at 5:30 I’m not going to drop everything when the big hand hits the 6 – I’m going to finish up and get to a clean breaking point…so it may be 5:25 or 5:35…:45…or I get off on a roll with no one else here and it’s 9:00 before I am closing up.

            It seems to me punishing people for being a few minutes “late” on the front end (unless it makes sense) is just going to make them really conscious of not giving an extra minute on the back end. And maybe 10 minutes at the end of the day that Steve put in is why my numbers were sitting in my email when I got in. Rather than him stopping 10 minutes shy and having to regroup and take longer to finish in the morning.

            As mentioned though – meetings are inviolable. If you’re late for a meeting that can’t start without you you’d better be mortified and better be really, really sorry.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        That’s how I feel about it too (although I’m habitually tardy to almost everything, unless it’s in the late afternoon or evening). If I’m late, I make it up at lunchtime or stay later. My coworkers have such erratic hours because of travel and time zones that everyone is pretty loose about it. I sometimes get emails that came in at 7 or 8 pm the night before, or 5 am that day.

        But when I have to go to a meeting or cover for someone, I’m always early. Otherwise it triggers my anxiety and I can’t even concentrate if I’m not watching the clock.

    2. anon*

      Honestly, people who habitually show up a few minutes late are trying to arrive on time. If they were trying to get there early, they would get there on time. How do I know? I’m one of them. Just not quite why I do this or how to change after so many years.

      It seems like there are only two groups of people in the world- those who are always early and those who are always late. I’ve been trying to get into the former group for years, but I don’t know how. I am a night owl, perhaps that’s the problem.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Mine is part of my LD; I have trouble judging how much time has passed when I’m doing something. But also it’s pure forgetfulness–where did I put my keys, etc. I can’t seem to get my mornings together even when I lay stuff out the night before. I NEED TO DO THIS. I’m working on it.

        Plus I have the world’s dumbest commute even though it’s not very long.

      2. Anon*

        I cured myself (rather, was cured) of chronic lateness after spending time on a study abroad where everything happened 10 minutes earlier than the stated time. So if you rolled up to dinner 15 minutes later than the stated time, all the french fries were gone and you were eating plain grilled zucchini (and only plain grilled zucchini) for dinner. If you were 5 minutes late for what time they told you to meet up with the group to catch the ferry, the horn was blowing and they were pulling up the gangplank. I think I was cured after about 5-7 days, and the effects held strong for YEARS.

  19. KC*

    OP #4 —

    Thank you for writing in about this! I may be facing a similar situation coming up very soon, and I completely understand how you feel. The best of luck to you with this other company. Congratulations for doing what’s right for you and your career, rather than giving in to the squickiness that the thought of leaving people in a bind leaves you with.

  20. Amelia*

    Ugh, I feel you, LW #2. The man on our three-person team gets to come in 45 minutes to an hour late, take an hour lunch and leave at the time he would’ve left if he’d started on time with no comment from management.

    I got dinged in my annual review for the one day I was late, because I’d been in a car accident.

    1. Lizabeth*

      Double ugh…one time and dinged for it in your annual review??? I feel for you! I wasn’t dinged for being late but rather for being “on the phone too much” when in fact I was the closest one to the phone in that department and would answer it when the supervisor was away from his desk (big room with drafting tables; one phone). The phone was always for someone else.

      1. Amelia*

        It’s annoying/aggravating for sure to be the one who gets called out. However, like other commenters have pointed out: it’s petty to to “tattle” about something that I suppose is relatively insignificant and does nothing to make you look good.

    2. Us, Too*

      The good news about your situation: You know you work for total jerks. Some folks take years to discover this. At least you know where you stand there.

    3. Laura*

      Sounds like where I used to work . My coworker was 30-45 minutes late every single day, she never stayed any later, and I was maybe 15 minutes late once a week – which normally wouldn’t happen, but after 3 months of her being 45 minutes late every day, I stopped worrying about being on time. She got a talking to as well, but it was treated as the exact same as what I was doing even though she was far later, and every single day.

  21. Del*

    #1 – It’s a hard conversation, but it’s an important one! Give her a heads-up ahead of time, as people have suggested – “After next week, I’m not going to be able to give you rides anymore” – and just stick with it. You don’t have to give her an elaborate justification, although the relationship between the two of you might make something along the lines of “I’ve got some after-work commitments I don’t want to mess with, it just won’t work out.” But this is an important conversation to have, and you should feel absolutely justified in having it. Just because she lives close to you doesn’t mean she’s entitled to rides from you.

    #2 – You don’t know what’s going on with your other coworker. It may be that she’s on intermittent FMLA or something along those lines — something that your boss would be absolutely justified in not discussing with you. All you can do is look to your own performance. I agree that, knowing only what you know now, it looks unfair — but the expectation of being on time to work is not unreasonable.

  22. Ali*

    #1, please tell her that you can’t give her rides anymore. I don’t drive, but am trying to (I failed my test a few months back because you can’t pass in my state without knowing how to parallel park, and I bombed it on my first attempt. But never mind.) and I swear I have lost friendships because of it. One girl was my best friend for five years, never made it known that she needed gas money or that she couldn’t drive me anymore if it was an imposition on her. Another would be OK with driving, then one day she claimed she didn’t want to drive in my hometown about 45 minutes from her at night. But when she wanted to go to bars with my now ex-best friend, she sure had no problem driving to that area. I no longer speak to either of these girls because I considered them liars. I gave gas money when common sense called, like a longer road trip, but none asked for it on a basis outside that.

    Trust me, just talk to her. It may not be fair to you, but I know from experience it’s not fair to just leave me hanging and stop speaking to me.

    1. fposte*

      Okay, I’m declaring this now, since judging by several posts the message doesn’t seem to have gotten out. People who get rides should *volunteer* gas money–you don’t wait to be asked, you don’t withhold if you live nearby.

      1. some1*

        I agree, but I think there’s some gray area here. In the original letter, I agree that Amanda should have asked the LW and offered gas money. The LW is helping Amanda get to work.

        I think in purely social situations it’s easier to not realize the driver wants you to offer gas money. If you invited a friend who has her own car to go with you to the mall, and you offered to pick her up because you WANT to ride with her, would you expect your friend to offer gas $? (Assuming the mall is a reasonable distance away.)

        1. fposte*

          A one-time social? No. A regular practice? It’s always polite to offer–the friend can always decline.

          Covering the friend’s lunch while you’re out is often a fine way to reciprocate in a social sense, too.

        2. TL*

          I would expect my friend to offer to pick something up for me – a meal or a drink – if it was a regular thing.

          Unless – and this was how it happened in college – other people had offered to drive and I declined their offers since they were all terrifyingly bad drivers. In which case, I’m choosing to drive for most social events and no repayment is needed.

      2. the gold digger*

        If I were regularly driving someone, I would be annoyed if she didn’t offer some kind of reciprocation. But I laughed when a friend wanted to give me money to drive her to the auto mechanic to get her car. “This is what friends do for each other,” I said.

      3. Sunnie Dee*


        Yes! If you are getting a ride on a regular basis you should OFFER to pay. Why is the onus on the person who is doing you a favor to speak up?? Especially if they did not specifically invite you. They may refuse payment but you should definitely offer.

    2. Graciosa*

      You consider them liars? I can’t speak for your friend, but I am perfectly capable of not wanting to drive someone to a town 45 minutes away (does that mean 1 1/2 hours round trip?) one night and wanting to go there for an outing on some other occasion.

      This person did exactly what you recommended and talked to you – but you wrote her off as a liar and stopped speaking to her. I’m actually in favor of honest communication, but the recipient has to be open to hearing the message. Stating a desire to do something other than what you wanted her to do really isn’t that much of a crime.

      1. some1*

        I think Ali is saying she felt lied to because she assumed her first friend was cool with driving for free for five years, and the second friend because she didn’t want to drive 45 minutes to Ali’s town no matter what.

        I’m not saying Ali’s friends *were* lying, just that’s how I read why Ali feels that way.

    3. Ann O'Nemity*

      Why should your friend have to ask for gas money? Shouldn’t you be offering it? My common sense tells me that the ride moocher should always contribute gas money, even when it’s a shorter trip or not out of the way.

      In high school, a neighbor asked me for a daily ride to and from school. I asked for $10 a week for gas. She argued that it wasn’t far out of my way. So I told her that I was happy to continue driving myself, and I wished her luck in finding alternate transportation for less than $10/week. Heck, the city bus was more expensive than that!

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        I have a friend who doesn’t drive. Aside from road trips, I’d never take gas money from her (not that she offers it, sigh), but what makes me crazy is the assumption that I’ll drive her. And, yeah, that means that sometimes I don’t invite her to things because I don’t want to drive and I know her assumption is that I will. If we both started with the assumption that she could get herself there, and I could jump in with an offer, our friendship would be much more relaxed.

      2. Collarbone High*

        Offering gas money isn’t necessarily common sense if you grew up in a family or culture where that didn’t happen.

        I grew up in a small, very poor rural area, and it wasn’t uncommon for people to ask for rides because their car broke down and they couldn’t afford repairs, or it wouldn’t start because the damn wind chill was -30, or their family had only one car and their spouse took the car to work. I never saw gas money change hands; giving someone a ride was considered the Christian and charitable thing to do. Now when I visit my parents, I’ll refill the tank if I borrow their car, and they’re baffled every time. “Why did you do that?” They just don’t think it’s necessary.

        It wasn’t until I moved to a city (and started reading advice columns) that I discovered that other people expected gas money if the driver isn’t going out of their way.

        1. TL*

          I think it’s different in a rural culture because nearly everyone can drive/has a car.

          So, yeah, I’ll call Jane to come pick me up if my car breaks down, but I’ll also go get her the time her tire blows out 30 miles from her house. And I may not offer to pay for the trips to the movie theater, but I’ll offer to drive next time we want to go to the mall or something.

          It’s not really unpaid favors if it’s expected to even out in the end.

          1. doreen*

            I don’t actually think it’s a matter of rural or city so much as it’s the general lack of reciprocation. I live in a city and would never expect someone to give me gas money if I picked them up when their car broke down , or if we took turns driving. I think it looks like a rural/city issue simply becasue there are many more people in the city who don’t have cars. I don’t think the rural people would react any differently if they encounter people like a friend of my husband’s – a non driver who expects rides all the time but won’t so much as buy the driver a hotdog at the baseball game.

        2. aebhel*

          I grew up in the same kind of area, tbh, and I think a big part of the difference is the reciprocity. You do for others as they would do for you, and that sort of thing.

        3. Ann O'Nemity*

          Eh, it seems different when it’s a once in awhile thing, or some other kind of reciprocal exchange. You give me a ride today, I’ll watch your kids next week, etc.

          In my situation, I worked to afford my car while my neighbor didn’t have a car because she didn’t want to work. She was asking for 10 rides a week with no reciprocity whatsoever.

          1. fposte*

            Right. Reciprocity is fine. What’s a problem is regularly sharing somebody else’s benefits and assuming you’re entitled to do so without ever trying to defray the burden.

      3. Jamie*

        In high school, a neighbor asked me for a daily ride to and from school. I asked for $10 a week for gas. She argued that it wasn’t far out of my way. So I told her that I was happy to continue driving myself, and I wished her luck in finding alternate transportation for less than $10/week. Heck, the city bus was more expensive than that!

        I do not get this. My daughter’s first year of college her bff drove her every day. Lives 5 houses down and had the same start/end time and my daughter always got her own ride home if she had to stay. I insisted on giving her $ for a tank of gas a week – which was WAY more than even the whole commute was, much less my daughter’s share. I was just grateful for the convenience and figured the friend had to worry about car stuff so the least we could do was cover gas to/from school.

        She still complains how she has to pay for her own gas now that they go to different schools. :)

        A lot of this stuff is about money, a lot is about it being a pretty big favor and having that appreciated and acknowledged in a overt way.

        1. fposte*

          Yes, even if you take money out of the equation, it’s a basic social rule that you don’t get to enjoy all the benefits while sticking somebody else with all the responsibility.

    4. Katie the Fed*

      Wow, you dumped them as friends because they didn’t want to drive you around anymore? That’s kind of sad, no?
      It’s really a pain to drive people around. I have a friend who doesn’t have a car – she can afford it but she doesn’t want the responsibility and she asks me to drive when we go places, occasionally asks for rides, things like that. It grates on me a little bit, to be honest, but she’s a good enough friend and I don’t think she’s intentionally taking advantage, so I let it slide.

      1. Dan*

        Yeah… my first thought on reading the comment was that the socially acceptable thing to do to get out of doing people favors is to tell some white lies. Apparently the OP is miffed that she realized that they were actually lies, and not taken as the social correctness that they actually are.

        This commenter might be the first person I’ve ever met where “F that, I ain’t doin’ it no mo'” would be the preferred response.

      2. Jamie*

        I knew someone who deliberately didn’t drive because environmentalism was her “religion” (her words) and she didn’t believe in owning a car and contributing to whatever horrors cars unleash.

        But she had zero problem assuming co-workers were obligated to drive her to and from work so we could “do our part.” And she had no shame about informing people on the way home that she had to stop for groceries…as that was the only way she could shop and it’s hard on the bus.

        I opted out of that at the speed of light, but the nicer co-workers kept doing it while resenting the heck out of it. She’s occasionally take the bus when it was sunny and temperate – but we get about 4 days a year like that here. I will never forget the “it’s raining/snowing/cold who gets to drive me home?!” in the sing song voice.

        Some people are oblivious. And no, not a dime for gas ever and rarely a thank you. It was seen as an entitlement car owners owe the non-drivers to help the environment. Not sure why her car would have killed the earth but she had no issue riding in others?

    5. Jamie*

      (I failed my test a few months back because you can’t pass in my state without knowing how to parallel park, and I bombed it on my first attempt. But never mind.)

      Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth that’s why I flunked my first one, too! (that and I didn’t signal when pulling out of an angled spot in a parking lot. I’ve still never seen anyone do that – I think she was making stuff up.)

      My next test was the nicest older man so when it got to the parallel parking question I started to cry and he gave me a tissue and told me not to worry about it – just checked the box.

      That doesn’t work any more since all of mine had to do it. It’s freaking hard, I still can’t parallel park. Never came up until I worked in the city and then I just learned not to offer to pick up lunch until a parking lot was verified first. Back to being not an issue.

      Anyway – I agree with fposte about never waiting to be asked – just offer – but wanted to commiserate about the parking thing. It’s hard, but you’ll get it. Cemeteries are a great place to practice – just use little chalk lines for other cars and not the actual vehicles of mourners. They’ve been through enough.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        “I didn’t signal when pulling out of an angled spot in a parking lot.”

        I agree – this sounds made up. I thought the reverse lights were the only “signal” needed when reversing out of a spot. (I do agree with using a turn signal when reversing INTO a spot.)

        1. fposte*

          Oh, interesting; I was taught to signal when pulling out of angled spaces, but I’m not finding that in law. (On the other hand, the New Jersey rules of the road says that drivers backing out of an angled parking space should honk their horns first? The hell?)

      2. Mints*

        Haha crying worked?!
        My tactic and several of my friends, was that when they said “please parallel park” we said okay and drove until we found a nice spot big enough for a semi truck and “parallel parked” that way

        1. Marcy*

          I was lucky and didn’t have to resort to crying or large spots. It was raining and the traffic lights in the area all went out. The instructor just had me drive around the parking lot and there were no parallel parking spaces so I didn’t have to do it at all. I haven’t parallel parked since and that was decades ago! I’m a good driver otherwise, though. Not even a speeding ticket in all this time (now I’ll get one tomorrow just for saying that).

    6. Vancouver Reader*

      When I carpooled to work, we always had a fee worked out beforehand. Whether my house was on the way for the driver or not was not the point, the point was that I needed a way to get to work, and the driver provided me a better way to get there than by bus.

      Even now, when I go out with a friend, since she’s always driving (and she really doesn’t mind doing so) I will reciprocate by picking up lunch or whatever. I never assume that someone is fine with driving me for free just because they’ve done it in the past.

  23. Mena*

    #1: She is putting you in a tough spot but you need to speak up. “I can’t be a regular ride home for you everyday. I have other obligations.”

    Purposefully vague – don’t get sucked into explaining too much. A pushy person will try to take apart your explanantions: “oh, I don’t mind waiting while you run into the market.” Better to not offer explanation.

    And you’ve become her regular ride home because you give her a ride home everyday. You get to enjoy your few minutes of your own time before picking up the kids and focusing on them until bedtime.

  24. Nodumbunny*

    #1 you could make it considerably less convenient for her if you started stopping for milk and picking up from daycare *before* you take her home. (I can’t believe I’m suggesting this because woah, passive aggressive!)

    1. fposte*

      There’s a thread on Gawker’s Thatz Not Okay right now about giving people a ride home, and I’ve been imagining how many miles out of the way I could take some of the obnoxious people being talked about.

    2. BadPlanning*

      Don’t worry, I was thinking the same thing! The free ride might not be so great after a stop at the gas station, the grocery store and acquiring children. I was a little confused about the timeline. Does the OP normally drive home first and then go to daycare? Or is it that she normally has time to go to the store and then daycare and now that time is to take the coworker home. And then goes to daycare. Because that no longer seems like a “ride on the way home” to me.

      1. M.C*

        I am the OP. I leave work, now drop Amanda and then continue on to the daycare. When I wasn’t giving a ride to her, I had time to stop quick for milk or gas on the way to daycare. Now I don’t.

  25. Sunflower*

    #2- In addition to just showing up on time, maybe you should consider looking for a new job. I used to work at a job where I had to be in on the dot and it was difficult for me and lead to a ton of anxiety on my part(I’m an anxious person by nature). Even if I was on track for being on time or early, I would panic that something would happen and cause me to be late. It sounds like you might want a job where it’s okay to come in not exactly on the dot. I have a job like that now and I’m actually usually earlier than later.

    Also, being treated differently than others sucks. I was told going into my job that I would be able to work from home about couple days a month. Turns out, for my dept, working from home is deeply frowned upon but other depts do it no problem. The depts are different but company president thinks our dept is too important and needs to be here. That’s fine, he’s entitled to that- his company, his rules- but I’m also entitled to look elsewhere for a job that satisfies my needs more.

  26. Char*

    #4. If you think that you are going to a new company no matter what, then perhaps you can prepare a resignation letter and explain your situation to your manager when you tender. If you will stay at your current company if anything changes (e.g. promotion or pay-rise), then you can raise this out to your manager and tell her that you’re considering moving to other company because they offer higher pay (for example) and would love to stay if there is a possibility for high pay-rise etc.

  27. Char*

    #1. I think for you it isn’t really about gas money and want to have alone time after work right? I think the best way is to tell her directly, she’d probably be cool with it since it’s a small matter. Perhaps she might just think you’re just being inconsiderate because you will be going the same direction, but she probably will get over it overtime. Or, suggest offering a morning ride instead if you’d like.

  28. David*

    #2: I considered commenting on this when I first read this post earlier this morning, then didn’t. After a cup of coffee and handling a few tasks, it kept bugging, so here I am, back again.

    Someone who reports to me used to be late nearly every day (4 out of 5 days a week). At first it was a couple of minutes, then 10 minutes and eventually half an hour. When she was here, she did more quality work than most other people and got more done in less time. Nevertheless, when she arrived late, she always looked rushed, flustered and an absolute mess.

    I’m the last person to think that butts in seats is an accurate measure of an employee’s value, but the reality was that she was leaving an impression on others (that didn’t report to me) that she was disorganized and didn’t take her job seriously. Those folks didn’t know a thing about the high quality work she did otherwise, but they did see a person who had a reputation of always being to work late. Now, she wasn’t the only one consistently tardy, but she was the only one who reported to me. When I confronted her about her tardiness she had a slurry of excuses, not least of which was that she wasn’t the only one. I responded with:

    1) I don’t care about other people. I care about you.
    2) You shouldn’t care about other people. Their tardiness should also be seen as a problem, not justification for your tardiness.
    3) The easiest thing you’ll do all day at work is get here on time. If you can’t handle that, the perception is that you can’t handle other, more difficult, responsibilities. I know that’s not true, but you, and only you, can change that perception among others by being to work on time.
    4) I have higher standards for you because I know you’re capable of achieving them and do not want something as simple as getting to work on time to be a barrier to your success or reputation, right or wrong.

    She started showing up on time nearly every day and stopped worrying about what others were doing. The result is that she’s now judged by the quality of work she does because nobody’s even thinking about her tardiness.

    Again, I don’t think that showing up on time is the best way to measure an employee. But the reality of my office culture is that people do look at that. I couldn’t change that, but I could change her, and it all worked out well.

    So, OP#2, get to work on time, stop worrying about others, stop coming up with ways to excuse being late and stop giving others a reason to ignore what otherwise might be considered good work.

    1. Dan*

      I’m glad you’re getting the results you’re asking for, but there’s one thing I might ask of you: Drop the hire standards BS unless you’re giving her a bigger paycheck or she’s first in line for the next promotion.

      I’ve heard it all of my life, and have started to resent it if I don’t get anything for it.

      1. Judy*

        My biggest pet peeve about our performance reviews is that they always seem to take the “Meets Expectations” to be about me, and their expectations about me, rather than the job, and the expectations they have for people in this job.

        Now I might not be as good as they tell me. But don’t then tell me I’m great, can’t think of a thing to change, and follow up with “Meets Expectations” because we expect YOU to do this well.

        I’m a lead, and I was so frustrated the other year about feedback I gave for one of my team members, he did such a great job that year on a project that was global in scope. After his review with his manager, he mentioned that he had received a “Meets Expectations” because he did what they thought he could.

        Our bonus and raise structure is tied to our performance level.

      2. David*

        I’m not in a position to directly give her a bigger paycheck. However, I am in a position to assign her work and give her the necessary exposure (to shine) to people who will sign off on that raise.

        Furthermore, I hold her (and my other reports) to higher standards relative to the standards other managers might hold their people to. My inability to guaranty more money for my reports isn’t going to result in me letting my team slack, show up for work late or deliver low-quality results simply because another manager might do that and then still rate the entire team as “exceeds expectations” because his or her standards are so low.

        Sorry to hear it’s been BS for you in the past, but YMMV.

    2. Aunt Vixen*

      When I was at my first job, I had just a hell of a time getting out of bed and in to work on time. It was awful. It turns out I had some unresolved health issues, but at the time all I or anyone I worked for could tell was that I was draggy as all get-out in the morning. I was expected to work a 7.5-hour day, 9-5:30 with an hour off the clock for lunch, and nobody could really count on my being ready to do any work until 9:30, statistically speaking.

      Finally my boss and I agreed that even on days when I was at work at 9am, the hour between 4:30 and 5:30 was a way more productive time for me than the hour between 9:00 and 10:00, and agreed (in writing – this is key!) that I would work my 7.5 hours from 10-6 with half an hour off the clock for lunch.

      And wouldn’t you know, when my start time was 10am, unless there was a serious problem with the train, I was always early.

  29. Leah*

    #5 get Google voice. Depending on your carrier, they can generally attach it directly to your number. You can get an email with the voicemail and a transcription of the message. The transcription quality varies a lot with the speaker and quality of the phone connection but you get an idea of what was said. You can also have different voice mail greetings for different numbers, which can be useful on the job hunt (e.g. a more professional voice mail message for certain numbers or unknown numbers) or use a computer to redirect phone calls to another number during certain hours.

  30. BadPlanning*

    On #OP 2, is it possible that management has some other concern that they’re addressing incorrectly by being sticklers on arrival time? Like when people write letters here and include several details when the real issue is straight up job performance (not the number of restroom breaks or coffee refills).

    1. Katie the Fed*

      Yeah, I’d look out for this too. I’m more likely to pay attention to something like tardiness when you’re already on my shit list.

  31. JMegan*

    #1: Plus, the ride home was my one quiet time of the day, where I could crank up my music, not have to talk to anyone and could decompress.

    I also have a full-time job and two kids that have to be picked up from day care by a certain time, so I know how you feel! I’ve found the most effective explanation to be the truth – those twenty minutes (or whatever) are literally the only alone time I get in a day. Most people are really understanding when I spell it out like that.

    My guess is that Amanda doesn’t have kids? In which case she may not understand how important it is to squeeze in that twenty minutes of down time! I agree with the others – just talk to her, with whatever explanation you choose, and tell her you can’t do it any more after next week.

    Good luck!

  32. Elizabeth West*

    At one old job, we had a coworker who got a DUI and had to bum a ride to work every day for a while. He had a friend drop him off and pick him up, but then he would mooch rides to lunch with people. He would say, “Hey, you going out to lunch today? Where you going?” and you could just see people cringe. But they always took him.

    One of them complained to me one time, and I told them to tell him sorry, they can’t do it. Or bring your lunch and tell him you’re not going out (he never brought a lunch himself, not ever). They kept taking him, though, so I stopped feeling sorry for them.

    He never did it to me because I wrote on my lunch hour and never left the building. Everyone was relieved when he finally got his license back.

  33. Coworker*

    So, I’m not totally sure, but I might be the person OP #2 is talking about. I only believe this because my coworker is always questioning me on my hours, and I give vague answers because it’s for something I’d rather not tell her. She also is late, every day (well, up until a couple weeks ago, when it’s was made very clear to her that she would have serious consequences if she continues). By late, I don’t mean 8:00 AM late, I mean like 9:30 AM late (unless it was a day the supervisor would be in), and reguarly leave a half an hour early.
    So, in the weird chance that this is about me, I do put in my 40 hours in a schedule arranged with me and the supervisor. My reasons for being late are legit, as the supervisor has allowed me to flex my hours, but I’d rather not explain the reason. I do get my 40 hours in each week.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      From my experience, there’s a good chance this happens in just about every office in the country. It’s a really common issue.

      1. Coworker*

        True. There are just a lot of similarities. The work starting times, the fact that she’s been in trouble twice (including almost losing her job a few weeks ago), the amount of time in the job, the fact that she’s constantly trying to get an excuse from me and I intentionally give her a lame answer ;)

        So, hopefully it is just a coincidence…

  34. books*

    #4 I recently did something similar, although I no longer really enjoyed my job, my coworkers were great. I did end up taking something that fell in my lap and was with a known competitor and it actually felt like it was probably an easier break than had I been looking.

  35. AnonAdmin*

    #1, it’s become a habit for you and Amanda that you now want to break, so IMHO you need to address both those pieces with Amanda. How about
    “Hey Amanda, I know we’ve gotten into this routine with me giving you a lift home, but the thing is, I’ve figured out that I really need that 20 minutes by myself in my car, or I turn in to a crabby mess with my family. So I’m sorry, and I know this is probably a surprise, but I’m not going to be able to be your regular ride home anymore.”

    #2, some of the people I manage have similar “But why can’t I do X when that other person does X???” issues. Alison’s advice is (as usual) dead-on. YOU are the one who’s been spoken to, and you don’t know if there are reasons why the supervisor isn’t taking issue with the other workers’ tardiness. So focus on changing your own behavior to match your supervisor’s expectations for YOU.
    tl;dr – Eyes on your own paper.

  36. mel*

    #1. Crank up the music with her in the car. Go to the store and let her wait. Pick up the kids before dropping her off.

    After a while, she’ll probably figure out she’ll save time taking the bus.

  37. 2weeksarehard*

    Op #4 – I was in the EXACT same situation about 2 weeks ago (tomorrow is my last day of my “2 weeks’ notice” period.

    My manager is lovely. She is new to the company – coming on last May – and I had a horrible manager before her. Not only is she a wonderful manager, but we’ve developed a great friendship as well – she attended my wedding, we hang out after work on occasion, I know her children. She is good at toeing that line though, of course.

    I am relocating as my husband graduates from his graduate program in 2 months. We’d discussed the possibility of me working remotely, and I’d made it clear I wouldn’t be considering it if I was still not a ‘manager’ level (though I quickly progressed from Analyst to Senior Analyst in just 9 months, with the next level being Manager). I didn’t expect a promotion to happen very quickly, but apparently she worked very hard and was able to get me a promotion to the manager level in January – just 7 months after my last one. About a week after I got, and accepted, the promotion, my dream job in the city I’m moving to fell into my lap. I really mean – FELL. A friend of a friend has the same role in a different territory and posted about it on Facebook, and the friend shared my LinkedIn profile. I practically had the position before I interviewed, it happened so quickly.
    I hemmed and hawwed about it, because the position does require me to work remotely for a bit before my husband graduates in May. However, in the end, I did accept. I dreaded giving my manager the notice, but when it came down to it – she was so EXCITED for me. She said she would do the same exact thing in my position. She has been so gracious and understanding – we’re already interviewing for my replacement – even though this obviously leaves the team kind of in the lurch (I am the only person at the company who knows how to do what I do, we’re small-ish).
    Anyway, so glad you are going for it. But, if your manager really is a manager-mentor as you think she is she will be very gracious about it, as mine was. Keep up with her because that’s a good relationship to continue!

  38. Been there too!*

    My sister and I car pooled 5 days a week to Annapolis, and I had to drop my sister off first then continue on to my work location. AND on occasion I had to work on Saturdays. THEN, the place of business did a car pool thing and learned that we could drive miles out of our way on the way to Annapolis and pick up one very lazy very young girl who was always, ALWAYS late to the end of her drive way. THEY put pressure upon us so much that we started picking up this young person. AND tolerated, just barely, her tardiness, being asleep in the back seat morning and night and never ever phoned us when she was not going to work causing us to wait and wait and wait. So we finally out and told her and her mother that we could not keep being late because of her and that it was costing us more money to drive out of our way to pick her up and drop her off. THEN this darn place did it again with another always late young woman who lived in another far away location. WE had to put an end to all of this and just said no. PERIOD. So, just grow a set of brass lady balls and tell this one that she has to be on time, and your schedule comes first and you will not wait – or – just tell her flat out in a polite voice (and do not cave in) that your schedule has changed and that you can no longer accommodate her with a ride. Offer no excuses, offer no explanations – none are needed. You just have to give yourself your ‘freedom’ back. If she takes it ‘the wrong way’, nasty, or beligerant, or starts to press you then go to your HR or management. You need to take care of yourself first and foremost. Good Luck – and no pity party either.

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