how can I get out of chauffeuring my coworker everywhere?

A reader writes:

I am hoping for some advice on how to politely get out of a carpool arrangement with my coworker. She discovered that she lives just a few minutes away from me and asked if we could start carpooling to work together because she and her boyfriend share a car. She gives me about $2 gas money per day, but I don’t need the money and I’ve realized that I would rather just drive by myself.

An additional issue is that she sometimes asks me if I can drive her to her therapist and other doctor’s appointments or errands during my lunch hour, about once or twice per week.

We have also hung out a few times, so now she views us as friends and I think she will be hurt if I say I’d rather drive alone or “just don’t want to” take her to her appointments during lunch. Other people have told me it is certainly my right to end this carpool and I understand that. But what I am looking for is a way to do this politely that is not unnecessarily hurtful to her. I can’t just say that I “can’t do it” because she knows I go straight to work in the mornings, and that I go home after work most nights. She lives close enough that she could easily bust me if I tried to tell some kind of lie about going somewhere else in the evenings. She also knows that I generally just get food or go shopping during my lunch hours and should theoretically be available to drive her to appointments.

I tend to get into these types of situations frequently — where I understand that something is “my right” to stop doing it or to say no, but it just seems selfish when it’s basically my preference vs. someone else’s very good reason/hardship for needing me to do it. Plus these situations tend to happen when I am in the early stages of friendship with someone — “friends” enough that they will be hurt that I don’t eagerly want to help them, but early enough that the truth is I actually don’t have this burning desire to do whatever it is they’re asking for. I’m fine with one-time favors, even big ones, but it’s these ongoing commitment type favors I end to chafe at.

Am I being selfish? Is there a graceful way out of this?

You’re not being selfish. It’s actually a pretty big imposition to be expected to drive someone to and from work every day. Maybe you want to be able to change your plans at the last minute without being beholden to someone else (or even just without having to reach her in the morning if you’re going to be late that day). Maybe you just want that time to yourself to think or unwind. Maybe you want to be able to call in sick in the morning without having to make sure you reach her too, and having to worry about alerting her in time that she doesn’t end up being late.

And using your lunch hour to take her to doctor’s appointments — well, of course you want to be able to use your lunch hour to eat and relax or shop or however you feel like spending that time, not to chauffeur someone around.

As always with this kind of situation, you have two basic options to extract yourself: you can come up with a cover story, or you can tell a kindly-stated version of the truth.

Potential cover stories:

* You have a new commitment that requires you to be at home and logged onto your computer at a specific time (volunteer work, online game, standing call with your niece, etc.) and you’ve been cutting it too close.

* Your schedule is becoming more unpredictable — you’re going to run errands/go to the gym/swing by the mall/visit a friend more often after work and/or come in early/go to the gym before work, and so you need to stop giving her rides. (You don’t need to say you’re doing it every day, so if she notices your car at home, that’s the explanation.) If she asks if you can still drive her on the days you’re not going those things, you’d say, “I’m going to be playing it by ear enough that I don’t think it’ll work. Sorry!” (And if she still pushes at that point, she’s being rude and you can say, “I really can’t — it’s the sort of thing that I decide at the last minute.”)

* A vague “my schedule is getting weird starting Monday so I won’t be able to drive you after that.” Or “stuff is changing with my schedule, so I’m not going to be able to drive you to and from work anymore.” If she asks what’s changing, you could keep it vague – “ugh, just a bunch of increased obligations that are squeezing my day more than I want.”

Coming up with a cover story might feel icky, since you’re telling her something that isn’t true. But sometimes this option allows you to get the outcome you want with a minimum of hard feelings and awkwardness on both sides. And she’s not going to suffer any harm by hearing “I have a new online book club” instead of “I just don’t feel like driving you.” It’s often better for a relationship to say “I can’t do favor X for you because of Reason” rather than “I won’t do favor X for you, period.” That can be especially true with work relationships, where you may not want to risk any weirdness or tension that could impact your job.

But a kindly-stated version of the truth is always worth considering, and it tends to be a feasible option more often than people think it is. In this case, it could sound like this:

* “I’m sorry about this, but I’m not going to be able to give you rides anymore after this week. I’ve realized that I function better when I have some time alone in the car to think at the start and the end of the day.”

* Or the vaguer option: “I’m not going to be able to keep driving you to and from work after Monday so wanted to let you know in time for you to make other plans.” Then if pressed about why: “I’m finding it makes it hard for me to do things before or after work without planning it ahead of time.”

Then there’s the lunch stuff. For those, it might be easier to just field those as they come up, since presumably she doesn’t have daily doctor’s appointments. When she asks for a ride at lunch, it’s fine to say, “Sorry, I can’t – I have plans for lunch today.” (It’s okay if those plans are to relax or to shop or to walk to your favorite taco source or whatever they might be.)

On the broader issue, though, all of these options are reasonable. Go with the one that feels kindest to you (and the one that you’ll actually be able to bring yourself to say, if you tend to resist this kind of conversation).

{ 617 comments… read them below }

  1. Rogue*

    Alison, you are a master of words. These are great suggestions that should allow the OP to gracefully bow out of this obligation and not hurt her co-worker’s feelings.

    1. NASA*


      Can there be a category called “Master of Words” :) or at least “What to Say”?


    OP, I feel you. I am sorry you are in a sticky spot. My vote is for a kind, soft version of the truth rather than a vague cover story – even if the cover story is less messy.

    1. lisa*

      I’d agree, even though telling the truth may feel awkward. If your co-worker thinks it’s fair to ask you to drive her to and from work and regular appointments during the day (which it really isn’t!), then she might see your cover story as a sign that she can re-negotiate the same arrangement later. “So, when you’re done with your class, can you start carpooling again?” “What days does your online book club meet? You could drive me other days.” “Oh, you can go to the taco truck after you drop me off at my appointment!” etc. Then you’d just feel more stressed because you’d need to maintain your cover story over time.

      1. N/A*

        Yes! And those hypothetical questions just annoyed me a bit lol. I would hate to have to provide the details of my comings and goings just to get out of the situation.

        I vote for nicely but directly shutting it down.

      2. Aphrodite*

        Agree. Stick with the truth. It will be like pulling a bandaid off–do it quick and it’s over. Do it s -l-o-w-l-y and it’s worse.

        Don’t give excuses, don’t dream of reasons or stories. Those will only come back to haunt you (“but just today …). Be polite but be firm, very firm: “I am sorry but I cannot drive you anywhere or at any time.” If she’s a good person she will understand and won’t ask again If she’s not, then just repeat it until she’s bored of asking. Do not JADE (justify/argue/defend/explain). That doesn’t do either party any good. It only prolongs the agony for you and increases the potential for hurt to her.

        1. rory*

          Right, that makes it more of a negotiation. You don’t want to negotiate a *different* arrangement, you want *no arrangement*. Rip that bandaid off, it’s better in the long term.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I think the JADE stuff is for when you’re dealing with known difficult personalities who will argue and push. With others, it can just come across as rude. (Same for “no is a complete sentence.”) With reasonable people, a brief explanation often helps preserve the relationship.

          1. Aphrodite*

            True, but the fact that the co-worker is asking her to do her extra favors at lunch signals (at least to me) that she is a difficult personality who WILL push. And push. I think that most of us feel the OP’s best bet (in terms of success) is to give her a gentle but firm, and firmly stated, no without making up a story or giving a reason. That’s what I mean by JADE. Do you see it differently? If so, how? I’d be very interested.

              1. TychaBrahe*

                JADE comes to us from areas of toxic relationships. It is supposed to have started in the 12 Step programs, but it quickly found a home anywhere terms like “gaslighting” are used.

                The idea is not that you should never do these things. Especially, as you pointed out, Explain. If I have a problem meeting a commitment to a friend I have no problem saying, “I can’t be there. Work ran late,” or, “I’ve had a hard week, and I’m exhausted,” or “I had an unexpected expense and zeroed out my fun money for the week.” My friend will understand.

                But to people who take advantage of others in relationships—and a coworker who asks the person driving her to work to regularly spend their her hour taking her to therapy is a user—any of these behaviors is an opening to try to negotiate. As you pointed out, if the OP says she wants to go to the gym before or after work, her coworker might ask if she can catch a ride on non-gym days, resulting in the need for a “play it by ear” caveat. This is the problem with Justifying. Even if the OP actually were planning to go to the gym before work and a prayer group after work, she doesn’t need to tell the coworker that. All she needs to say is, “This isn’t working for me anymore.”

                The other things is, very few people are accidental users. Most users are very skilled at getting what they want from people with no reciprocation. That is where, “‘No,’ is a complete sentence comes in.” I can guarantee that when the OP says she needs to stop driving her coworker the coworker will come up with half a dozen suggestions for how it could be made to work. The OP needs to be firm in her No.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Yeah, I get all that — I just find the JADE advice and the “no is complete sentence” stuff to be out of place in relationships that aren’t toxic. You will usually get better results by starting out assuming people are reasonable and thus being warm (i.e., giving a brief explanation rather than just “no”). If they show themselves to be otherwise, then sure, this stuff can apply at that point. But I’d never suggest someone begin there.

                2. Karen D*

                  I think you can be firm while still providing a good explanation. I agree with Alison, the hard-core JADE approach is over-prescribed in online advising, and doesn’t allow for enough civility — or honesty! — in everyday interaction.

                  The thing is, I also agree with you! “This is not working for me any more” IS an explanation, and it’s an explanation that does “cut the cord” pretty neatly in terms of the “but-but-buts.”

                  In OP’s place I’d probably say something like “I do enjoy the time we spend together, but I feel like I’ve lost control of my own life, and right now that’s something that’s really important to me.” I probably (and I know many people would see this as inadvisable) would also say “I want to you to call on me if you are ever in a real jam, but I can’t be your primary source of transportation during the weekday, and that’s where we are right now.”

                3. Free Meerkats (formerly Gene)*

                  Little drives me up the wall more than the never-ending justification and explaining when a simple yes or no answers the question I asked.

                  Me: Can you do X?

                  Other person: I could but Y and Z and A on alternate Tuesdays, but only if it didn’t rain on Monday, then M.

                  Me: So, no?

                4. Noobtastic*

                  I agree with Allison that you can give her a chance to be a reasonable person, here. Give her the softer, “This isn’t really working for me, because I just want more time by myself, morning and evening, and at lunchtime, to be by myself and decompress, and with this carpool arrangement, I have no more time for myself. I need to take care of my own needs, here.”

                  If she accepts, she’s reasonable. If not, and she tries to negotiate or say, “But you can do this after you do that for meeeee,” then you know to move on to No is a complete sentence.

                  Another thing to consider: If co-worker’s need is truly real, and you actually do like her somewhat (if you don’t like her a little bit, OP, why are you bothering starting a friendship?), OP could, perhaps, say, “This every day grind is wearing me down. Perhaps we could set a limit of one carpool day per week, and one errand day per week?” If co-worker can get several people to get on board with sharing out the help, she can get the help she needs, and it won’t be a big burden on any one of them, and thus, it won’t become a big toxic, slowly eating away at the person until they explode, mess. Of course, arranging that should be on co-worker’s shoulders (although is it’s beyond co-worker’s current abilities, you could possibly recruit some one-off help in the form of someone who maybe can’t offer ride help, but can offer organizational help), and thus make it a group effort to help the co-worker. This is actually an opportunity for some REAL team-building (as opposed to those ridiculous team building exercises and classes that companies pay good money to waste their time at). However, I say this with the caveat that the co-worker needs to have a real, honest-to-goodness need, and not just be a user, and the co-worker needs to come up with a plan to eventually get a more permanent, and more independent, solution. Also, they have to be willing to open up and be honest and probably pretty humble, about their personal situation, requiring that help, and frankly, that is really rather rare.

                  OP, it is perfectly reasonable for you to feel tired of being this co-worker’s single transportation care-giver, especially if there is no end-date in sight. Ask any long-term caregiver, and they’ll tell you, it sucks if you’re the only one, and even more if you don’t actually love the person, and a whole lot if you started out with a small commitment (just to and from work) and have it expand (so far it’s your lunch hours, once or twice a week, but watch it grow!), with no end in sight. Just as a medical care-giver needs a break and limits, so do you. You may very well be dealing with a person who could become your besets friend who ever friended, and who has a real need, and your basic humanity cries out to help. However, you need to take care of your own needs first, or you will eventually collapse, and then you can’t help anybody, at all.

                  So, a truthful evaluation of the situation is in order here. Is the need true? Does the “friend” pay back in other ways (not just $2 a day for gas, but in other friendship currency)? Is the co-worker seeking a more independent solution? How much of your helping this person springs from guilt, and how much much from actually caring about and wanting to help this person?

                  Once you know where you truly stand, go with truth in your response. Don’t make excuses, and don’t lie. Know your limits, anywhere from “this has to stop completely,” to “I can do X amount and no more,” and enforce them. And don’t feel guilty for enforcing those limits, even if they are “stopping completely,” because you’ve already done a lot, and really, you do not OWE this person anything beyond basic courtesy and kindness. It’s great to go above and beyond, but recognize that it IS above and beyond, and don’t feel guilty if that above and beyond turns out to be higher and further than you can actually manage without damaging yourself.

                  Good luck!

            1. Optimistic Prime*

              I don’t think asking for favors automatically means difficult personality. There are some people who lack boundaries or assume friendship more quickly than others who aren’t necessarily difficult people. Simply saying “I won’t be driving you to and from work anymore” can come off as very abrupt and brusque. She should at least *try* to soften it a little first, if possible.

              1. JB (not in Houston)*

                Yeah, if you’re an Ask person, then asking for favors doesn’t necessarily = difficult. It can mean that you just assume the other person will have no problem saying no if they mind.

                1. Noobtastic*

                  Ah, yes, the “Just Ask” personality. “I can’t get it at all, if I never ask, so I’m going to make it a practice to just ask when I need/want something, and hope they say yes. If they have a problem with it, they’ll say no.” And the JA never has a problem saying no, to other people, either.

                  JAs are often confused with Users, because users also ask all the time, and have no problem saying no to other people. So, how do you tell the difference between a JA and a User? Simply tell them No.

                  A JA will hear the No, and say, “OK. Thanks, anyway,” and move along.
                  A User will either not hear the NO, at all, or else will fight it, tooth and nail. “But whyyyyyy? Don’t you love meeeeee? What have I done to deserve this?!”

                  Early in a relationship is a good time to administer this test. IF co-worker is a JA, OP can become friends. If co-worker is a user, OP will know to cut co-worker off and never look back.

              2. Squeeble*

                Yeah, I can’t imagine just abruptly saying to this person, “I’m not going to drive you anymore,” and when she says, “Oh, how come?” refusing to explain.

                1. Turtle Candle*

                  I think that’s true of a lot of people. I think that for a lot of people, if they have to choose between a frank “I am not going to do this for you anymore, no explanation, I’m just not” and driving her around for the rest of ever, would… drive her around for the rest of ever. I would probably fall in that category; I don’t think I could do the flat unexplained no unless our relationship was already in the toilet and I felt like I didn’t have much to lose there. So there’s some utility in providing advice that people will actually follow because it’s not fundamentally inconceivable to them.

          2. Turtle Candle*

            I’ve been thinking about this a lot, because I see “No is a complete sentence” in a lot of advice columns (it’s used heavily by commenters at Captain Awkward, for instance), and I have had the growing sense that it’s just not that simple.

            For one thing, saying a bald “no” is sufficiently unusual that I think that a lot of people, if given the choice between going along with a thing they don’t want and saying a bald “no,” will do the thing they don’t want. This is probably more true of women than men, but I don’t think exclusively so; my father is a 70something white man with a military background and even he goes through the “gee but I can’t” dance a lot, and reserves a hard “no” for serious situations with no alternative. I think it’s useful to acknowledge that, because advice that is effective but that nobody will take because it pushes them too far outside their comfort zone is not terribly helpful.

            The other thing is that a bald “no” has a social cost because, again, it’s socially non-normative for the vast majority of people in communities I’ve lived in in the US (and I’ve lived all over the US). If you are dealing with a toxic or abusive person, it is probably worthwhile to pay that social cost. (Because the alternate cost is higher.) But if the relationship is generally okay except for whatever this one thing is, it may very well not be worthwhile to pay that social cost. If a casual friend called me up to see if I wanted to go watch Wonder Woman, I’d say “Oh, that sounds like fun, but I had a long week and I want to just veg out, so I’ll pass. Have fun!” I could say “No, I do not want to see Wonder Woman with you” with no softening or explanation, but I’d pay a cost in the effect on that relationship. If a coworker asked for my help on a project, I’d say, “I wish I could help, but I’m under a tight deadline–sorry!” I could just say “No,” but I’d pay a social cost with that coworker and probably also with whoever else witnessed the interaction. And so on and so on. Even if coworker bugs me every week, I’m probably going to keep deflecting with “Sorry, my job is taking up all my time right now!” rather than “No, I will not now or ever do that for you.” Because the social cost of deflecting is lower than the social cost of the flat no.

            Sometimes when I read advice I feel like it’s coming from like, one universe to the left, where you can say a flat no without backlash. I mean, as I said, sometimes the backlash is worth it–if someone is abusive or toxic. But maaaaaaany people will get it if you keep going, “Gosh I’m just too busy!” and stop asking, and then you don’t have to pay that cost at all, and that’s… helpful? I think? Because the cost can be quite steep, especially if you get a rep as the Grouchy Unhelpful One.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Great points here.

              OP, you can start out with the softer forms of NO and if that does not work, then you can give the firm NO. A bit of advice I have used is to match what is coming at me. If someone asks a question, then that is a question that you can give a soft no to and probably be okay. But demands, whining and so on, needs a firmer no.

            2. Hedgehog*

              I just want to say that this is really insightful, and it helps me out my finger on what has bugged me about the ubiquity of the ‘NIACS’ advice.

            3. Lissa*

              Yes yes yes! All of this! I think this has happened because recently there’s been an uptick in communities and advice that particularly focuses around dealing with Difficult/Toxic people, which is great! It fights against common wisdom about always having to be nice, preserving relationships (especially with family) above all else, etc. But, I think spending too long reading them can make people start to see *every* situation or relationship as needing that type of hard-line advice. I feel the same way about the advice to cut people off completely – I think we’ve probably done at least one thing that, if seen through a certain lens, would be “cut off worthy” according to many in these communities. It’s a reaction to the cultural idea that you *never* cut off a relative, and only a friend if it’s super dire, but it can be extreme and not helpful in real situations. I just don’t think it’s giving in or being weak to soften language, or give people second chances, or offer an explanation.

              1. VioletEMT*

                Right. By the time people write to Captain Awkward, they’re often to the point of dealing with an unreasonable person. They need to see that a hard No is justified in those situation. They need permission to cut ties and prioritize their safety/sanity/happiness/comfort over “civility.” “Reasons are for reasonable people” is a mantra that works for me. Here, the LW has the opportunity to determine if her neighbor is an inadvertent or strategic boundary pusher. Something like “I find I need more flexibility in the mornings and during lunch and after work” is a soft no that’s is fairly hard to get around. If she tests it or pushes, then we’re closer to NIACS territory.

            4. paul*

              I agree in general, I just wonder about this specific case due to some of what OP said downthread.

              But yeah, online (and holy cow certain reddit boards) are very quick to just assume that social graces aren’t relevant.

            5. You're a kitty!*

              I read a book called ‘Watching the English’ by Kate Fox, an ethnographer, and she pointed out that in the UK, we just don’t use the simple, hard, flat ‘no’ – pretty much ever. All our no’s are soft no’s, often following that sort of ‘I’m sorry, I’d love to, but…’ formula – and (most) people are so good at picking up on it, they know you’re saying a ‘no’ within the first couple of words, just from awkward-grimace facial expressions and apologetic tone of voice.

              Because of that, hard no’s are mostly used when soft no’s have been (repeatedly) ignored, or when people are angry, and so they feel like an escalation; quite hostile and aggressive.

              Other academics have proved, again and again, that the idea that soft no’s aren’t obvious enough is a myth – and it’s a classist, gendered, racially-biased and ageist myth, too. People are perfectly capable of understanding a soft, hinted ‘no’ from, say, a white male CEO, but will negotiate and override and argue against the exact same soft ‘no’ from a junior employee, women, etc. Also, a white male CEO is more likely to be ‘allowed’ to use a hard no, where women would be penalised for ‘being rude’.

              1. Amey*

                This is true but such a cultural thing that it can be quite frustrating. I work as an adviser to new immigrants to the UK – in my line of work, their English is usually pretty good but still a second language. The usual British practice of saying things like ‘I’m sorry, I don’t think that will be possible’ (an incredibly clear no here) is hugely unhelpful because to many of my clients that sounds like there’s room for negotiation. I find it much better to say ‘No, that isn’t possible, and here’s some context as to why.’ Adding an explanation takes so much less time in the long run and preserves the relationship. In most settings, I’m all for using explanations – and with friends ‘I just don’t feel up to it’ should be okay – no ‘I have this very specific alternative plan that makes this impossible.’ I’ve found that if I start doing this, suddenly my friends start to feel comfortable doing the same thing and it just makes communication so much easier.

              2. Elfie*

                I love that book! She’s so accurate with her observations! *Now heads off to re-read*

              3. FiveWheels*

                Very much agreed, and as a Brit I don’t experience the Ask Person thing at all. It’s just Not Done to ask something expecting “no” to be a possibility. People tend to ask only when they’re reasonably sure they’ll get a yes.

                When someone asks for something unreasonable, generally that signal they expect a no – it signals they have unreasonable expectations.

            6. Statler von Waldorf*

              If you don’t care about building relationships with people, the backlash of the hard no doesn’t exist. Of course, you will pay for being a misanthrope in other ways, and Turtle Candle’s point about the cost being quite steep is completely accurate.

            7. Julia*

              This is so insightful!

              I have been taking advice columns a bit too seriously lately (I tend to internalize things I’m told unless they’re very obviously, egregiously wrong) and found that people give out extreme advice very freely as long as they don’t have to follow through themselves.

          3. Annie*

            I agree with you, Alison – a brief explanation can help preserve this relationship with her friend and coworker. A “No” with no explanation after it will probably make the coworker/friend wonder what she did wrong and strain the relationship unnecessarily.

        3. Magenta Sky*

          This. Definitely. And if it takes more than one polite conversation, then you are more concerned with her feelings that she is with yours. Which makes you a good person who lets people take advantage. Ultimately, the solution is to not be so reluctant to say no. (This will likely take a lot of practice, but it’s the way to go.)

      3. Artemesia*

        This. People who are users — and someone who not only expects a ride every day but also demands rides to appointments during the day is a user — know they are at some level and cultivate obtuseness to bully others into continuing to serve them. If she responds to the graceful wording and doesn’t push, great. But if she pushes, then you will probably have to be more straightforward about it.

        1. Annie*

          Well, she’s not a complete user because she’s paying $2/day, which comes out to $10/week and $40/month. She doesn’t know that the letter writer is not OK with this arrangement anymore unless she tells her.

          1. Zombii*

            This! I’ve never made enough money to own my own car, I’ve always been part of a rideshare arrangement when public transit wasn’t an option and I’ve always insisted on giving the driver money for gas, etc. I’m borderline horrified to think about all the people I’ve potentially inconvenienced over my lifetime if just saying “no” wasn’t an option like I always assumed it to be.

    2. AdAgencyChick*

      Completely agree. Lots of people, when given a reason for not being able to help them any more, will try to argue you out of that reason. I strongly suspect that someone who, when given an inch, asks for a mile (because it’s a REALLY nice thing to agree to take a coworker to work EVERY DAY, and she wants you to chauffeur her at lunchtime too?!), is going to be one of those people.

      1. Hills to Die on*

        That’s it. She’s either selfish or socially unaware. Tell the truth and you will be doing her a kindness, and saving yourself the hassle of revisiting the in-arrangement over and over.

    3. Marillenbaum*

      Agreed. If it helps for developing scripts, may I recommend the podcast Radical Candor? There’s a book of the same name, but it’s all about the ways people can navigate thorny work situations that allow you to set a boundary whilst respecting the relationship.

    4. Abby*

      I don’t love untrue cover stories. In the end, it can make you feel more uncomfortable. We are often so reluctant to just calmly and directly but not unkindly say the truth and Alison has provided some excellents scripts. I would just go with one of those.

    5. Former Retail Manager*

      Just another vote for the truth option. If you don’t think enough of someone to be truthful with them to their face, then that is a whole other issue. You are both adults and there is no unusual power dynamic at play here. No reason not to be honest. I’ve personally had “friends” try to bow out of attending events, etc. with some weak excuses. I saw right through it and so will your co-worker. Just be honest and kind. If she reacts badly, then that’s on her. Your desire to leave this arrangement is entirely understandable and you’ve been very generous thus far. Nothing to feel guilty about.

    6. Amy*

      Agreed. Tell her something like, “It’s been great getting to know you better, and I really appreciate that this carpooling thing has let us do that. But now that we’ve been trying it for a while, I’m finding that it’s just not working well for me. Let’s plan to end carpooling after this week, and stick to doing fun things together.” If she asks why, tell her the truth: Maybe you need the quiet alone time to gear up for/unwind from the work day, maybe you miss having the flexibility to run errands on your way home, whatever.

      It’s not rude to be gently honest. Most people will understand that friendship doesn’t mean you do everything they want you to do, and will respect your boundaries with no problem. The remainder aren’t worth hanging onto anyways, in my opinion; someone who can’t take a gentle no on something like carpooling isn’t going to respect other boundaries either, and you deserve to have your needs respected in your friendships. So go forth and be honest with your friends (even early-stage friends) about what you will and won’t do. It’ll lead to better friendships all around.

      1. PaperTowel*

        This! And I think it’s worth noting if she considers the OP a friend, she should respect even a simple ‘I can’t do this any longer’: a ‘sorry I can’t do this any more because it’s better for my wellbeing to have quiet time while getting to end from work’ is not something any true friend would push back against or have issue with unless they’re not a friend at all.

        At worst she may be a little upset if she thinks it’s something she’s done, which is why I advocate for gently telling the truth. It’s not her, you just can’t have your schedule taking into account somebody else every day anymore because you need that downtime and freedom.

      2. CBH*

        +1 Amy. I like your wording. In addition to your observation if someone is going to take offense to this scenario solution then one must question if it’s really a friendship at all.

        To me it seems like the friend has a problem; only 1 car between her and her significant other. OP offers to drive, trying to help with one aspect of the problem but friend thinks it’s a solution for everything. I can totally see how OP is annoyed and frustrated.

        Secondly, it’s not really carpooling – in my opinion. In carpooling you are splitting everything basically sharing all costs and responsibilities getting to the destination. OP is doing all the driving, in addition I’m sure the $2 compensation is not covering all expenses. In addition to gas, there is wear and tear on the car (even if OP is not going out of her way), and there is the extra time to stop and pick up friend.

        Friend has overstepped OPs kindness. She has an issue, 1 car for 2 people in her personal life. SHE needs to find the solution – uber, public transportation, using OP only to/from work (if OP is ok with this), taxi – but all in all OP should not be put out for doing a favor for someone.

        Again Amy, love the wording – on par with Alison / Ask a Manager worthy.

      3. Shortie*

        Amy, this is a fantastic response. It sounds like the OP wants to maintain the friendship, and if she really would enjoy doing other fun things at other times, then it’s perfect. I use this type of response–I rarely provide reasons anymore since it’s burned me too many times (even with close friends and family), but I immediately follow the “I can’t” with an offer of something different so the person knows that I do care about them and the “no” is about me, not them. It also immediately changes the conversation so we aren’t delving into the reasons why I can’t, but we are making specific plans to spend time together in a different way. I wish it had not taken me 38 years on this planet to figure this out.

    7. Coldbrewinacup*

      Yes. The truth is best, because then you don’t have to worry about remembering your fake cover story. Kindly and gently, of course, but it is your right to do what you wish and you are under no obligation to chauffeur someone around during YOUR lunch break.

      Best of luck.

  3. league*

    OP, one option that might help a bit, if you’re willing, is to let her take your car on the lunchtime trips. Of course this assumes that you’re comfortable with that, that your insurance covers it, and that wherever you were planning to go yourself is walkable.

    I’m suggesting this because it might help to ameliorate your guilt about ending the carpooling, not because I think you owe her anything….

    1. Justme*

      I would strongly advise against that. Then the OP becomes the person who will lend their car, and I can see that the coworker would take advantage of that.

      1. Seal*

        Agreed. I made the mistake of letting a friend borrow my car in college and she wound up totally taking advantage of it. In the end, I wound up having to make up a story about my brother needing to borrow it to get my friend off my back.

      2. Stranger than fiction*

        Ha, yes. I did this when I lived in the college dorms freshman year. Many of my dormmates had come from out of state without a car, so I was like “sure no prob, I keep the keys right there “. It was fine for a month or two and then one week, I never knew where my car was when I needed it! (This was before mobile phones). I just happened to get a part time job so it was an easy out.

    2. AnotherAlison*

      Ack, no! I realize you’re just trying to be helpful with the suggestion, but this person is described as barely a friend. Not exactly the type of person I’d loan my car to.

      To me, the OP’s coworker sounds like an entitled cheapskate with blurry boundaries ($2/day per gas?). Good luck ever proving that she was the one who dinged your door, and even more luck would be needed to get her to cover the repair I imagine.

      1. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

        I’d also not lend this person my car, but cheapskate is a little harsh. This will vary depending on gas price and type of car, but I get 30 miles to the gallon and gas is only $2.15/gallon here right now. That’s going to completely cover the commute for a lot of people.

        1. Hotstreak*

          If you only cover gas, sure. There are a lot of other running costs like tires, brakes, other periodic maintenance, and declining value of the vehicle that also need to be taken in to account. Cost per mile on the low end for an old reliable car might be $0.25, up to $1.00 or so for new cars. OP, if you charged a more appropriate rate for your services would you feel better about continuing them? Assuming you wouldn’t drive her on lunches anymore, unless she did something kind like bought you food that day?

          1. Anonymous for this*

            Those are fixed costs that OP would be incurring even if she had no carpool arrangement, not marginal costs.

            1. oranges & lemons*

              Yeah, but if I were getting daily rides from a coworker (or anyone) I would be inclined to contribute more, in recognition of the hassle of coming to pick me up. It doesn’t really seem fair that someone else should be have to subsidize my commute while I don’t have to deal with the cost and hassle of taking transit, getting a second car, etc.

            2. Hotstreak*

              OP doesn’t need to set her price at the marginal rate though, she can expect a fair split where the passenger contributes half of the total cost of transportation. She’s still being generous by not considering the drain on her time. All I’m suggesting is that if she were to take these things in to consideration when setting her price, and receive adequate compensation for things like driving her coworker around on lunch, she may continue the arrangement. The passenger still gets a fair deal, and doesn’t have to lay out cash for a new car or taxi rides all over town.

            3. fposte*

              But with most payments, some of your cost would go to overhead, whether you’re hiring an Uber or renting office space; there’s no reason for this arrangement to be based only on direct costs.

              1. Optimistic Prime*

                The arrangement wasn’t a pay per ride arrangement, though. It’s set up like “my friend is driving me to work every day and I am being generous by offering her some gas money,” at least from the other person’s perspective. If the OP wants to charge the cost of gas + overhead and make this transactional they’re free to do that, but it doesn’t make the coworker a “cheapskate” for not covering overhead.

                1. Hotstreak*

                  They’re both getting to work, with one of them paying maybe 20% of the cost (the gas) and the other paying 80% of the cost (the car, the maintenance, everything) AND performing the task of driving the vehicle. So of course OP is upset, she’s getting the bad end of the deal financially and she’s not being treated particularly well.

                  To counter your point, the passenger perspectives should be “it costs the driver $10 round trip per day and it would cost me $10 per day if I bought a car. A fair split would be for both of us to pay $5 per day, so I’ll pay the driver my $5 even though that’s more than her immediate daily cost, and she’ll pay hers by covering the cost of the vehicle and paying for fill ups. On top of that I am appreciative of her doing all of the driving so I will occasionally do something like treat her to coffee or a meal as a token of my thanks, and I certainly will not abuse her kindness by asking her to drive me all over town on her lunch on a regular basis”. But that would be asking a lot of the passenger, I suppose..

          2. Colette*

            I’d be careful about charging more than it actually costs, though – insurance companies can be picky about whether you are using the vehicle commercially.

            1. Soon to be former fed*

              OP wasn’t charging anything, the co-worker offered. Giving a coworker a ride to work with you is hardly a commercial activity, and how would the insurance company know anyway?

              1. Colette*

                It is if you make money on it. That’s pretty much the definition of commercial.

                And they likely wouldn’t find out unless she’s in an accident with the coworker in the car – at which point they could decide she’s not covered.

        2. Elizabeth H.*

          Yeah honestly $2/day isn’t cheapskate, if we assume paying for parking isn’t an issue. If it were me it would more than pay for the gas for my daily commute, or pay for about 2/3 if calculating the federal mileage reimbursement rate.

      2. JulieBulie*

        I did a double-take at the $2/day for gas. I wondered if this was one of those “from the archives” letters – from the 1980s.

        Then again, my commute is longer than most. I can’t imagine a $2 commute, but maybe that’s reasonable.

        1. fposte*

          I pay about $20 monthly for gas. I’d make out like a bandit with this co-worker’s contribution :-).

          1. AnotherAlison*

            I guess my issue is that if it’s that close, the coworker could possibly take advantage of other ways to get to work that people without a car have to use (bike, walk, Uber, public transportation). If it’s farther, they’re not really covering their costs.

            Just in gas, I pay about $4/day. I live 12 miles from work and have a 17 mpg car. I suppose $2 is fair if you said we split gas, but I don’t really like that because I’m also providing the service and covering all the ancillary costs. I know riders may look at it as if the driver would have those costs anyway, but they don’t always look at the savings they are benefitting from by not having their own car.

            Now, if you’re getting into a 40-mile one-way commute, $2 is not a fair share, but I’d be more willing to take the coworker since other options to get to work are limited at that distance.

            1. fposte*

              I think that’s the view of a fellow Guesser :-). To an Asker, one of those options is getting a ride with the OP, and it’s easier than the bus and the OP says it’s fine, so why not?

              But yeah, I’m totally with you on perennial passengers sometimes not getting the full extent of resources they’re asking to benefit from.

            2. Optimistic Prime*

              Yes, but you’re positing this as if you’re doing work for pay. From the coworker’s perspective, this is my friend who is picking me up on her way to work and we’re riding together. I have actual friends who live on my way to work and while them kicking in gas would be expected, I wouldn’t expect them to cover my costs of having a car – much less expect to profit from the arrangement. People who arrange carpools don’t typically expect to make money off of them.

              1. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

                I think I’m with you on this. The way I read it is that it’s costing OP absolutely nothing extra – i.e. the coworker is completely on the way. For a friend or someone who needed a temporary ride situation, I wouldn’t even accept money. And for a daily ride, just splitting the cost of gas would be nice since it’s an expense I’d have regardless. I’m already coming out ahead since I have the cost whether they pitch in or not.

                This still isn’t to say that the OP shouldn’t say she doesn’t want to do it. My morning commute is my only quiet time. I wouldn’t want someone else in my car all the time and I definitely would not be running someone to their errands on my lunch.

                1. JB (not in Houston)*

                  I think of the money as compensating for intangibles–things like Alison mentioned in her answer of how you lose the ability to change plans at the last minute, having to notify her of any last-minute changes, etc. So while it might not be costing the OP _money_, it’s costing her something.

            3. Chicken*

              Eh, if it’s say 5 miles away then $2 a day would more than cover gas, but be too far to walk. There are lots of places where taking public transit 5 miles takes an hour and two buses but it’s a a 15 minute drive, and it might not be a particularly safe bus ride.

              I mean, I wouldn’t be ok driving a coworker and I am totally on OP’s side here, but it’s very possible that $2 a day is more than fair and the coworker doesn’t have any other easy for her transportation options.

          2. mrs__peel*

            Same here! I have a teeny compact car and a short commute– I go through maybe 5 gallons a week.

          3. Jadelyn*

            That’s amazing…I spend about $40 in gas per week. And I’m on the low end, as I’ve got a relatively short commute. My mom commutes longer distances and she buys 2-3 full tanks a week, plus toll for the bridges, for about a total of almost $100 a week in transportation cost for work.

        2. blackcat*

          I have a hybrid that gets roughly 40mpg city driving (more downhill, less uphill). My husband is about to start a new job where he’ll drive it to work, and it’s 6 miles each way (suburban driving). With $3ish per gallon (it’s a bit less), that’s less than $1/day in gas money.

          My car gets used so little now that insurance + registration + taxes + tolls are more than what we spend on gas for the year, including a few road trips per year. So the true cost of driving the car is significantly more than the gas used, but still, it’s not that much.

      3. Soon to be former fed*

        Contributing what you would otherwise pay for public transportation is fair, especially since you are getting door to door service that is inconvenient for the driver no matter how close the co-worker lives. If no public transportation is available, maybe some portion of a car rental rate would be appropriate.

        Two dollars a day? Nope. I paid $10 a week back in the late seventies for a ride to a suburban complex. I didn’t have a car or access to one, and I really appreciated the help. In my case, the co-worker needed the money, do it was win-win.

    3. PM Jesper Berg*

      “OP, one option that might help a bit, if you’re willing, is to let her take your car on the lunchtime trips.”
      This would be the wrong approach. It allows the co-worker to extend her tentatcles *deeper* into OP’s life, when OP is trying to do the opposite (gently extirpate co-worker from OP’s life). OP’s car is OP’s car, not a shared vehicle available at will for the co-worker’s transportation. If the co-worker can’t manage her lunchtime appointments without OP, she needs to get her own car.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Yeah, I agree. I had a college housemate who I let borrow my car once. Several weeks later, I came home, my car was missing, and I was convinced it had been stolen. Nope, my roommate used my emergency key to get into my locked room (this sounds weird, but it was a feature of this specific kind of college housing), taken my keys, and lent the car to a completely different person. She did this without permission, and after my housemates vehemently tried to talk her out of it. The icing out that came next was Elsa-level.

        Lending the car out is going to invite the coworker to keep encroaching on OP’s life and to “normalize” the idea that she’s entitled to OP’s car or having OP as her chauffeur.

          1. rory*

            Yeah. “Knowing who took it” doesn’t cancel out “done without permission or consent”. I mean, sure, they brought it back, but… they still stole it in the first place. (And did they reimburse gas/wear and tear? Then they basically stole the money for that stuff from you.)

        1. Jadelyn*

          My jaw literally dropped. I might have actually filed a freaking police report on that person, tbh. You use emergency access to my private space to take my keys to my car, take my car, and loan it to someone else? Yeah, I may know you, but you’ve still just stolen my car, even if you did intend to give it back. And no god nor power could protect you if that person damaged my car in any way.

          1. BookishMiss*

            Yeah, I can just hear the Jack Sparrow logic. It’s not stealing – it’s borrowing without permission and with every intent of returning it to you.
            Who even does that.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yeah, I am wondering what happened to that car. I remember my husband and I went down to one car for a while to save up for another second car. We figured it was OUR problem that we had one car and we did not ask other people for rides. It never occurred to us to ask someone else, as it was our problem. We looked at numerous solutions and one of the solutions was my husband biked more. He loved bicycling anyway so this fit into our overall plan.

        2. Zombii*

          If coworker and/or boyfriend have less-than-predictable scheduling (shift work, retail/food service/call center hours, etc) or their schedules don’t line up, this isn’t a viable solution—but then that speaks more to the necessity of coworker getting her own car, not to OP continuing to drive her.

      2. N/A*

        Then there is the insurance element. OP would be responsible if the coworker caused an accident or damaged the car.

        1. WPH*

          Someone hit my bumper in a car they had borrowed from someone else. There was no damage so I didn’t pursue it but I do wonder now if the driver ever told that person what they had done.

          1. JanetM*

            I was involved in an accident with someone driving a borrowed truck. The truck owner’s insurance covered it (and I imagine the truck owner had words with the friend; on the other hand, it’s the truck owner’s fault that the tires were bald and the truck hydroplaned through the intersection).

          2. Shelby Drink the Juice*

            I was in an accident back in 2000 when a woman ran a red light. She was driving her boyfriend’s car, and hit the back of a large passenger van and then t-boned me. It was her insurance that we dealt with.

            1. Car*

              I was in an accident where the at fault driver was driving a borrowed car. Traffic had stopped on the expressway so we stopped. Driver was looking at her phone instead of the road & slammed into us & pushed us into the next car. The loaned car’s insurance paid for all 3 cars (& it had to be over $25,000 total claim based on the damage to the car I was in/weeks of rental car, etc). She wanted to put it through her insurance but it had to go through the car’s insurance. And it had to result in a rate increase for the at fault car owner.

              Would never loan my car to someone not in my immediate family

        2. CityMouse*

          I really don’t like lending my car for this reason. There is an additional risk to it.

    4. Elizabeth H.*

      I came down here to suggest this. It sounds like a) the OP isn’t annoyed or upset with the coworker in any way except for this one sticky issue b) the coworker is able to drive, bc she and her boyfriend share a car. Some people are ok lending cars, and I don’t think it’s insane to lend your car on occasion if you trust the person’s driving. The issue is if they do it enough to become a more than occasional driver in the case of an accident and insurance issue.

      It sounds like perhaps OP and the coworker each other don’t know each other well enough to get to car lending status, but I could be wrong. I realize that it doesn’t cohere with the generally cautious vibe of the comments section but some people really would be ok with it. I would be ok with certain of my coworkers driving my car. In my first job, my supervisor actually would lend me her car to do errands on lunch break (it was a pretty casual/friendly office vibe). That happened multiple times.

      1. blackcat*

        I wouldn’t do this for insurance reasons. My insurance covers significantly less if the car is being driven by someone who is not on the policy.

        1. Bea*

          But she’s a licensed driver who should have her own insurance that may cover her no matter which vehicle she’s using. Mine does that but I’m the person who gets the top insurance because I drive everywhere and have driven friends cars because they loath driving themselves whereas I don’t care one way or another…so I’d never be able to stay happy if I shared my car with my spouse o.o

          1. k*

            Insurance laws vary by state, but where I live insurance follows the car, not the driver. Meaning that no matter who is driving the car, or what insurance they have, it’s the car’s policy that is going to apply. I worked in insurance for a number of years and can’t tell you how many people were shocked to learn that.

            1. Collarbone High*

              My mom caused an accident while driving my car home from the hospital where I was having surgery. Because I was able to prove I was literally on the operating table, under general anesthesia, when it happened, my insurance company and hers worked out an agreement where her policy paid, but otherwise I was told it would been me who was liable, since it was my car.

          2. Temperance*

            Actually, LW could still get sued if her coworker causes an accident. We had a case in my office where someone’s friend STOLE her car (after being allowed to use it with permission), drove drunk, and caused a lot of damage. The car owner was also sued. So, don’t ever do this.

    5. OwnedByTheCat*

      I’ve become someone who Never Lends Their Car to Anyone. I used to lend it to a few friends who were in similar situations (have to pick up a friend at the airport, etc) and ended up feeling so taken advantage of! One woman asked to borrow it for a day to pick up a friend from the airport and show her around town. I didn’t use it to get to work so I was fine with the arrangement. Until I realized she’d kept the car overnight WITHOUT ASKING OR TELLING ME.

      I can only imagine the stress of having someone like this coworker, who is already clearly not great with boundaries, treating the car like “our” car and assuming she can use it whenever the OP isn’t using it.

      1. Justme*

        There’s one person who has car driving privileges for my car, and that’s my mom. Random person from work? Heck no.

        1. CityMouse*

          Yeah my car is the most valuable thing I own. Replacing it would be difficult and burdensome and even if insurance totally covered an accident, there would be a lag and costs even for a repair. I am much more willing to give someone a ride than to let them just take my car.

      2. many bells down*

        I let a guy I was dating in college take my car once. He came back hours later than we’d agreed on, which meant I had to cancel plans, and my spare tire was blown out in a straight line across the entire width of the tread. Like someone had slashed it ACROSS the tread. The tire looked like a Q. To this day I don’t know what happened.

      3. Jadelyn*

        Side benefit of owning a stick shift – fewer and fewer people are even *able* to drive my car, so it makes a great excuse, because like you I Do Not Loan My Car Ever. I have *one* friend who I would trust behind the wheel of my car, and even then I’d be twitchy as hell about it. There would have to be some extreme level of need before I’d say yes to even that one friend.

      4. sheworkshardforthemoney*

        I never lend my car because it turns into “You let Fergus borrow your car, why can’t I?” Also, my insurance is at a record low rate for me and I’m not doing anything to make it go up.

      5. Happy Lurker*

        My car is my haven…no one borrows it. I get twitchy when my spouse drives it.
        I really don’t like to car pool too much.
        In the past I have had to get out of all carpool situations. “This isn’t working for me” for a short term carpool and “I am not going that way today” for occasional (but turning into daily) carpool people were my go to phrases.

    6. mrs__peel*

      Maybe it’s just me, but I would *NEVER, ever* lend my car to anyone, under any circumstances! Even setting aside the potential insurance issues, the idea just makes me incredibly uncomfortable.

      (I guess I might have felt slightly more okay with lending out my first car, which was an old Chevy I bought off a guy’s lawn for $1,000. At least I could afford to replace that now…)

      1. rory*

        IDK, I have a decade old car that’s extremely reliable, but I doubt would sell for much. So it’s not worth much in and of itself, but the cost to replace it is like 10x the worth of the car, if not more.

        (I got it new. Less than 10 people have ever driven it. We have had to replace the bumper 5 times, and it could probably stand to be replaced again. At this point, the bumper replacements all together might be more expensive than the car…)

        1. mrs__peel*

          Ha, my mom and I once had an ancient Toyota Corolla Tercel that had *at least* 200,000 miles on it when we gave it away. We saw it around town for years afterwards– it was still going, but the bumper had been replaced by a piece of wood. I think they decided it wasn’t worth buying real car parts for it!

    7. seejay*

      The only people that got to borrow my car in my life were family members, partners I was living with and friends that I would lay my life down for (and them for me). No way in Santa Clause’s holy pants would I lend a $20k+ machine to someone else that didn’t fit that category, especially someone that I was trying to extricate out of my life, this is a bad idea.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      Noooooooo. If coworker is not on OP’s insurance and she gets into an accident, that could cause all kinds of problems for the OP. No no no. I won’t even let anyone in my family drive my car, save my brother, who I would trust with my newborn, if I had one.

    9. Artemesia*

      This way lies madness. A really useful rule for life is ‘I never lend my car.’ Stray from that and plan someday to have a totaled car with a driver who won’t pay for the damage because ‘it wasn’t my fault.’ Never lend a car to anyone not a family member; think twice about family members other than your spouse.

      1. Jadelyn*

        Even my almost-spouse doesn’t drive my car. I mean, he doesn’t know how to drive stick, so it’s by necessity more than by choice, but even if he did know how I wouldn’t want him to.

      2. Jaydee*

        After all the cases I’ve seen of “my boyfriend lent my car to his buddy who got in an accident…” there are very few people I would allow to drive my car.
        – My husband
        – My father-in-law and mother-in-law, if necessary
        – Car repair people who need to drive it for repair-related reasons
        – Certain very close friends, but only in a circumstance where I am a passenger in the car but somehow unable to drive (injury, taking turns driving on a road trip, the unlikely event that I’m somehow too drunk to drive and one of them is sober).

    10. Not So NewReader*

      I would not loan my car to this person because she has already shown me that if I give her an inch she takes a yard. So, no car. OP wants to disentangle, I can’t see car loaning as disentangling.

      Once in a great while I do loan my car. I have been very fortunate not to have too many people ask, though.

    11. Temperance*

      Wow. Absolutely not. She can Uber, take a taxi, or Lyft. LW is extraordinarily kind, but she shouldn’t be taking on that liability because her colleague chooses to live in a one-car household!

    12. Tealeaves*

      Nooooo don’t do this! Then it becomes a negotiation of “I will offer you A if you agree to B” instead of a firmly communciated message of “this is out of the question now”.

      If she ever feels kind enough to lend her car, it cannot be in the same conversation. But I strongly recommend not lending it out in the near future or else it falls back to being emotional blackmail (“I always relied on you during lunch but you took that away from me *sadface*”). Nope nope nope.

  4. Sabine the Very Mean*

    I have found it rather easy to blame lots of these life weirdnesses on my insomnia. Basically, every action I take each day either increases or decreases my suffering. Having to interface with anyone besides my partner after work is not acceptable, unfortunately. I would use this excuse in my life.

    1. Marisol*

      I have the same problem (literally, insomnia) which is a subset of my broader problem of adhd, and I literally do not have the mindshare to devote to coordinate someone else’s car rides on a regular basis. It takes enough effort to get to work on time and run occasional errands at lunch. I would tell this person some version of, “you’re great, and I wish I could help you, but having to manage someone else’s car rides on a regular basis is too stressful for me. Sorry.”

      1. RabbitRabbit*

        This. I would plead something like “having to be responsible for driving someone else around really stresses me out, and I find I need the drive time (and lunch time) to decompress.”

    2. designbot*

      And a vague version of this is how I would wind up excusing myself. “I just didn’t realize when we started this that my drive time is really my only alone time in the whole day, and have discovered that is really important for keeping me sane. As much as I’ve enjoyed getting to know you a bit better ultimately that alone time is a necessity for me.”

      1. oldbiddy*

        As an introvert married to an extrovert, I would totally use this as my reason to stop carpooling.

  5. FlibertyG*

    I really, really learned a lot about myself by reading about “ask culture” (it doesn’t hurt to ask, and people can always say no if they want!) versus “guess culture” (I won’t ask if I know it’s going to create difficulties – unless it’s really, really important). I’m a hard core midwestern Guesser so when people ask me for favors I feel really obligated and terribly guilty if I can’t oblige. But lots of people shrug it off and think nothing of it – I’m putting more emphasis on the request than they are. For her to ask you to drive her to errands (!) makes me suspect she’s an Asker. Any Asker worth her salt has to understand that sometimes the answer will be No, and no hard feelings. Don’t let her push you around.

    1. fposte*

      Yes, I think this is a really helpful way to look at it. It’s one of those differences that can be hugely illuminating, because it can completely change the meaning of what somebody else is saying or doing.

        1. fposte*

          Heh. I have a link to that in moderation. Alison, feel free to delete it to avoid repetition if you wish.

    2. chocolate lover*

      That sounds interesting. Is there a particular book or source you’d recommend?

      1. Ev*

        This is the origin of the Ask Culture vs Guess Culture framework. You can find more discussion of the concept elsewhere on Metafilter as well.

    3. Observer*

      Yes, to this. I’m an Asker, but I also am generally comfortable with saying No. My Mother, otoh, is very much a guesser and the always thinks I’m probably imposing. The thing is that this is with my sisters and fortunately, we all can say no to each other without any problems.

      I’ve learned that when I’m dealing with a Guesser or someone who is likely to be one, I make it VERY clear that I’m totally ok with a No. And I try to avoid asking people who don’t know me well enough to take this seriously. Because even askers are not trying to impose. (They could be, but not necessarily by virtue of being askers.)

      1. FlibertyG*

        The worst is Askers who get offended at a No! Those people are just … jerks. Haha.

        1. Anon Anon*

          You’ve met my mother then?

          I’m a Guesser largely because I was raised by an Asker who would get offended when the answer was no.

      2. Elizabeth H.*

        My biggest issue (I’m a guesser) if I ask for something and get a no, I just feel so incredibly embarrassed and bad about it and it’s hard to shake. I ran into this a couple times with the person I was dating who is like a textbook epitome asker. We were trying to leave town and it was raining, and doing different errands and I had to return a bike rental a few blocks away – I asked him if he could pick me up there on his way home and thought it could save time, and he said no because we were in such a time crunch that it would be better for him to go home and finish packing than to go pick me up. I was completely mortified that I had asked and felt so foolish and couldn’t stop thinking about it. I actually explained the whole ask/guess thing to him which he was really interested by. There were a couple times it came up again as a point of friction, both when I misinterpreted something he had said as a firm “no” and acted accordingly which created confusion, and when he felt like I was being confusing/indecisive. It’s such a huge divide! I hate feeling so foolish when it rears its head.

    4. Yorick*

      I didn’t know about this before, but it is so true and helpful. I’m an Asker and I’m always confused when people say yes but then act resentful about it.

      1. FlibertyG*

        It is literally a whole different language! I moved to a large East Coast city and felt that everybody was extremely rude and presumptuous – and I’m sure they all thought I was a passive aggressive ninny. I learned to adapt, set better boundaries, and speak up for myself more. In my experience Guessing works well as long as we’re all Guessers – but Asking is probably better for a diverse group of strangers (like … a big city).

        1. fposte*

          And I think good workplace communications are more Ask than Guess–but I’m all Guess culture for private life.

        2. Turtle Candle*

          This is actually why I don’t love the term Guesser–a Guesser living in a Guess community isn’t guessing! They all know what’s being said! “Guess” is kind of a term from the POV of the community outsider. (I prefer Direct/Indirect, personally, because I think it’s clearer about what’s going on.)

          I had a coworker visiting from a remote office in a country that is much less direct than the US generally, and there was a major communication difficulty at first because she would say “Ah, that would be… very difficult” and assume that we knew it would mean “No,” and we didn’t. But the thing is, had she said the same thing in her country, nobody would be guessing–they all knew due to the shared cultural context that “That would be difficult” meant “No.” Nobody was doing any guessing until she came into a more direct culture, and the culture clash was the problem.

          1. Gloucesterina*

            I like your framing of Direct/Indirect! It also makes the Asker/Guesser model more context-based, as some folks have pointed out that they tend to Ask at work and Guess in other contexts.

            It also breaks down the argument that assholes tend to cluster in either the Ask or Guess camps. It seems more likely that assholery is fairly evenly distributed across the population, whatever communication style they primarily cultivate.

      2. KHB*

        As a fellow Asker, I’m even more confused by the people who passive-aggressively punish me for refusing “requests” that I never knew existed. Apparently they did the Guesser thing of trying to subtly feel out the answer from me, but I didn’t know the steps to that particular social dance, didn’t pick up on what they were doing, and didn’t respond correctly.

        People are so weird.

        1. JB (not in Houston)*

          At least when you know this is a thing, after a while you can get a feel for which a person tends to be, so you can be more aware and recognize what the guesser is getting at in either requesting something or responding to a request, and you can respond accordingly. But it’s frustrating until you know what’s going on.

          I’m an Asker with people I know really really well and am super comfortable with and a Guesser with everyone else, and until I had the language to articulate what was going on, I was confused by Askers when I was acting as a Guesser and frustrated with Guessers when I was being an Asker.

        2. FlibertyG*

          I will say that Guessing is probably harder, as it involves a lot of subtlety and implied meaning. I know many people loudly proclaim that Ask Culture is “right” (in fact the links above address this). Certainly I’ve realized it’s often kinder to say directly what you mean, when the other person isn’t getting it. To me, Guess culture comes naturally and feels thoughtful and considerate of others – but ymmv.

          1. JB (not in Houston)*

            Yes, and I don’t think Guessing is harder in all contexts. When you and the person you’re dealing with are both reasonably considerate and fluent in that particular language, it’s not hard. It gets hard when you don’t know the person well enough to know if you’re reading the other person correctly.

          2. Turtle Candle*

            Yeah, it does frustrate me when people go “but if we all just became Askers it would be so much easier!” It smacks of “my culture is right and you should adapt to it.” Which is annoying if you’re talking about subcultures within the US, but gets particularly painful when you realize that it can ultimately mean “people from other countries just need to all do it Our Way.”

          3. FiveWheels*

            Ask is only “better” if very literal spoken communication is better. Most (all?) cultures don’t have that situation.

            1. Bookworm*

              I have this with my partner was well. He’s British and grew up in a family where politely hinting was the M.O. for requests.

              1. Turtle Candle*

                It took me a very long time, as a Guesser, to realize that my partner did not hear “oh, the trash is getting full” as a request to take out the trash. To me that’s not even a hint, it’s perfectly clear. It took a while to navigate.

                1. nonegiven*

                  I’ll tie it shut and chuck it in his direction. He gets that hint and takes it out while I put in a new bag.

                  If I am not home, he will go days, letting trash pile up on the countertops, falling off the top of the trashcan into the cabinet behind and never consider taking it out.

                2. Sorcha*

                  Wow, I’d assume that if you were noticing that and commenting on it, you’d deal with it. It absolutely would not occur to me that you were expecting me to deal with it – that’s not even in “hint” territory to me, it’s just an observation. I wonder how many Guessers I have pissed off by not noticing their “hints”!

                3. Yorick*

                  I’m with Sorcha – that’s not at all a clear request. I wouldn’t even know it was ready to be taken out from that statement. It sounds like it could only be partially full but you’re surprised it’s so full already.

                4. Turtle Candle*

                  FWIW, this was in the context of taking out the trash being 100% his job; he would not have been expecting me to take it out because it was not my thing to do. (We have a fairly strict division of some chores where I simply will not do them because otherwise I end up in the sadly common women’s Second Shift situation. So taking out the trash is never my job. If I do chores when I notice them rather than according to a division of labor, I’ll do all the chores, and that’s not fair.)

                  But yeah, that’s what I mean. In the society I grew up in and with my college roommates, “Oh, the trash is getting full” is a crystal clear request for Person Whose Job It Is To Take Out Trash to do it soon please. To y’all it clearly isn’t. Both groups of people need to adjust to make things work in a pleasant and equitable way.

            2. Bea*

              Oh goodness, what a trip. Naturally I’m a guesser, then I learned quickly that my partner is an asker. So at first I was super stressed out and bummed because I thought he didn’t like me much, then I realized maybe if I asked he’d respond differently. Boom, night and day. I’m forever grateful I hopped out of my comfort zone to “test the waters” as an asker, it saved a lot of anxiety attacks after that!

    5. sunshyne84*

      I’m totally a guesser and hate asking for favors. I can’t believe she imposed herself on the op so much!

      1. Salamander*

        Ditto. I do my best not to ask favors from anyone unless I’m really in a jam and there’s no other way around it. Because asking someone else to do something I can do for myself feels like imposing.

        1. kewlm0m*

          This! I remember having a conversation with a very good friend about running back and forth between chauffeuring the kids and husband when we were down to one car. She was genuinely surprised that I didn’t ask her to help out. I told her that I would ask if it were impossible for me to do but not if it were merely inconvenient.

        2. FiveWheels*

          Yeah, because the person you’re asking has to either do the task which is an imposition, or expend energy to decline which is also an imposition.

        3. Anxa*


          My boyfriend is going on a family vacation. I’m planning on waking up at 4am to take the buses to work and walk along highways and other unpleasant paths to get to work that week.

          The idea of asking a coworker to pick me up at the bus stop is too daunting!

    6. Anon4This*

      I’m glad there’s actually a name for this and a basic school of thought around it! I (as an “Asker”) use this ALL THE TIME in negotiations for my job (on my company’s behalf) and for myself (when it comes to job offers, lowering cable bills, getting appliances fixed, etc.).
      Guessers (like my family members) are horrified that I’d have the audacity to ask for the things I do. My husband is always telling me “there’s no way you can ask for that!” or “no one would agree to that!”…but when it comes down to it, the gumption to ask is part of what’s made me successful in many aspects.
      I don’t really consider that anyone would agree to “terms of a deal” that didn’t work in their favor on some level though so I’m a little shocked to hear that the “Guessers” feel so put upon!

      1. FlibertyG*

        Haha as Fposte says, it works nicely in an office setting … in my personal relationships I find it exhausting if my partner is an Asker that can never adapt at all to my Guessing ways. (And vice versa I’m sure! Although I’ve learned to Ask better than others I’ve dated have learned to Guess).

        1. Jules the Third*

          That’s probably because there’s one way to be direct, and a million ways to be indirect. It’s a lot harder to read a Guess if you are not part of that specific culture.

          I was mostly Indirect through college, but when I saw how much easier Direct made conversations with diverse people, especially my spouse and corporate co-workers, I went full-on Direct. Cheerfully accepting a no is key.

          One way I navigate this is to make importance level explicit with people whose style I don’t know, as in, ‘If you’re not comfortable with this, just say no, that’s fine.’

        2. FiveWheels*

          Indirect/Guessing works in an office too, if the culture is right. The only time I asked for a substantial raise was after I got an offer an another company. I said “I don’t necessarily want to leave…” and that was clearly interpreted as “I want a raise.”

          It’s about plausible deniability and saving face. The recipient of a “hint” can use the ambiguity to give a “no” that doesn’t sound like an “F you”.

      2. Colorado*

        I’m an asker too and I always say, worst thing they can say is No. I have a good friend who is a Guesser and it drives me nuts! She does this dance of poor me, I need X but blah, blah, blah. Sometimes I bite and say “what exactly do you need?”. Sometimes I just let her wallow because I can’t stand the passive-aggressiveness.

        1. FlibertyG*

          I mean, to be fair, there are times when a request is so out-of-touch or off-base that it CAN hurt to ask, so the worst they can say is – you are being extremely inappropriate with this request, it has caused me to reevaluate our entire relationship. But, I don’t think this happens quite as often as Guessers think it does.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            I think asking and guessing are contextual. Asking seems to pay off at work and in business dealings. In personal dealings, people (or at least guessers) are more likely to be put out if the “ask” is disproportional to how close they consider the relationship to be. Like, if they consider you an acquaintance and your’re asking for favors that they consider in the close friend realm, they’re going to find you presumptuous.

            1. FlibertyG*

              +1 good way to put it. I do know some Askers who seem completely oblivious to this dynamic

            2. oldbiddy*

              I had a boss who was a hinter and a guesser. He got annoyed because he thought I was too direct about spelling out the case for promotion on my self-evaluation. I was sort of perplexed I assumed the performance evaluation was the time to talk about potential promotions.

              1. Jaune Desprez*

                This is the WORST in a boss. Seriously, I have to guess what it is you expect me to do?

                And how can it be good for their careers? Has anyone ever hinted their way to the top?

            3. Mallory Janis Ian*

              Similarly, if someone asks for a favor in a social context, and it’s a favor that I consider a level “up” from our current level of friendship (not outrageously disparate, but just one level up), I’ll think it means that they view me as a closer friend because they’re comfortable asking me. If I like them, I’ll get warm and fuzzy about it, and then when I find out that they’ll just ask anybody for anything, it makes me feel . . . slightly let down? I think there are some mixed signals between Askers and Guessers about what favors mean about your level of friendship, where over-asking e means either 1)that you view the relationship as closer or 2) that you may be a clod or a user.

              1. biobottt*

                I kind of feel that you’re conflating direct requests with frequent requests of many people. When I ask for favors, I ask in a direct fashion (which may lead you to consider me an Asker), but I only ask favors very rarely of people I’m very close to (which, it seems from your perspective, would make me a Guesser).

                How someone asks, who they ask, and how frequently they ask are all independent. It seems like you think if someone asks for favors directly, they must also ask for favors very frequently and of many people to whom they are not close. That’s just not always the case.

            4. paul*

              That’s a good way to phrase it I think.

              Like, if I just met you and you ask me to borrow my car/borrow a grand/run drugs for you or something…yeah, that does probably mean I’m dropping you like a hot potato. That ask is wildly inappropriate.

          2. Turtle Candle*

            Right. The classic extreme example is the guy at college parties who asks each woman in turn if they want to have sex, because “99 nos are worth it if I get one yes! Can’t hurt to ask!” Well, I mean, it can, because people might stop inviting you to parties at all. I had a vague acquaintance ask if he could live in my (one-bedroom) apartment for two months (and sleep on the couch, rent-free)–we didn’t know each other well, he needed crash space, “why not?” Well, the “why not?” was that I found the request so bizarre that not only did I say no, my perception of him permanently changed, and honestly, yeah, when his name came up in conversation I went “OMG that guy wanted to sleep on my couch for two months, can you believe it?”

            I think one of the big Ask vs. Guess dichotomies lies exactly in that. I am very slow to ask precisely because I am aware that there are worse consequences than “no.”

            1. Salamander*

              I think that Ask versus Guess also is a bit more than that. As a Guesser, I will not ask for something unless I absolutely cannot do it myself.

              While I do admire the directness of Askers, I find that many Askers tend to ask others to do favors when it’s more convenient for the Asker, without a lot of consideration as to how much the favor-granter would have to go out of the way to grant the request. I’m convinced that “Let me Google that for you” was created by someone who was exasperated by an overzealous Asker.

              1. Turtle Candle*

                Oh yes, absolutely. I have a harder time saying “no” because I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t really, really need something–so I assume that if I say “no” I am, in effect, seeing someone in a jam and refusing to help. If I find out later that they could have solved the problem themselves but found asking me somewhat easier, I’m inclined to feel… well… used, I guess. Manipulated, or taken for a patsy.

                I try to get over it because a lot of people ARE askers, and when they ask something it’s probably more like “asking for this favor is convenient” and not “this favor is a dire necessity.” But just as Guessing can skew too far towards “please read my mind,” Asking can skew too far towards, as you say, “bothering you is marginally easier than Googling, so why not?”

                (My theory for many years has been that the reason you see so many more “why can’t everyone just be an Asker and make everything simple?” arguments online than pro-Guess arguments is that the Askers are the ones who are comfortable saying “You should communicate my way,” and the Guessers are just quietly simmering but not saying anything outright because that would be an imposition…..)

                1. Elizabeth H.*

                  For what it’s worth, and I think this is kind of the heart of it, is that when you say “asking can skew too far towards ‘bothering you is marginally easier than Googling, so why not?'”
                  I think part of the heart of this dichotomy is that askers are not (or less) bothered by saying being asked something they want to say no to. I think guessers are defined by that they have an emotional cost (feeling guilty, worried that the other person will be hurt or offended by a ‘no’ answer, wanting to preserve a harmonious relationship) of saying no to something that askers just don’t understand, so they don’t perceive a request as “bothering” someone, just neutral.

                2. Oranges*

                  Yes. I get so annoyed when people go “Passive aggressive mid-westerners”. No, it’s because you don’t understand that we are an INDIRECT people (I blame a history of long winters cooped up with people). So you moved here and are breaking our social rules then look down on us for having rules you’re not used to.

                  If I moved to the coast or the south I would need to research their communication modes/models so I knew what each meant. I also hope I wouldn’t say “mine is better”. That’s the part that has me foaming at the mouth.

                  End Rant.

                3. Gazebo Slayer*

                  I’m very much a Guesser – I have a lot of trouble asking for favors OR saying no to them, and because of the latter I tend to consider Askers rude. I fear backlash for asking – like getting an offer withdrawn if I negotiate pay – and I can’t stand presumption, the “gumption” mentality, and salesy tactics. But I’m not shy about expressing my opinion on a lot of subjects (…as regular AAMers might know) – so I’m actually the sort of person who might make an “everyone should be Guessers” argument!

                  Also, I’m not Midwestern, for what it’s worth – I’ve spent nearly all my life in Massachusetts. I’m a weird combination of argumentative and ranty with modest and unwilling to impose or say no. Yay for being… half stereotypical?

              2. biobottt*

                I disagree that asking rather than hinting for favors always correlates with constant asking and flagrant disregard for how much of a burden the favor may be to others.

                I ask for favors explicitly, but only very rarely if I really could use the help, only of people I’m close to, and I always make it clear that I don’t want them to say yes if it’s inconvenient.

                I could also say that Guessers are constantly passively aggressively hinting at requests with no regard for how much of a burden their needs may be on others and no sense of how obtuse they’re being — and then sulking because no one understands what they want.

      3. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

        I think it’s more that I would never, ever ask for anything unless it was vital. So when you ask a guesser, they are looking at it from the view point of you must *need* whatever you are asking for, not that you are asking because it’s a nice-to-have.

        Also, out here in the midwest (or at least my part of it), people tend to jump in and help without being asked. If you have to ask, then you can bet they already decided that whatever you are wanting is something they can’t/won’t do and now you are making them say it (hence the guilt or grumpiness when they do it anyway).

        1. JB (not in Houston)*

          I think you’ve nailed it there, both paragraphs. To a Guesser, you are asking because this means a lot to you, so there’s added pressure not to say no.

          1. FlibertyG*

            Yep! Nailed it. A) You shouldn’t have to ask, as they should have anticipated your needs already and offered. B) If they didn’t offer, they likely anticipated your needs but already determined they can’t assist. Asking anyway would just be making them spell it out, which is rude. So (C) if you go ahead and ask anyway it must be an emergency in which you’ve anticipated their objection but are asking them to reevaluate in light of your urgent need.

            Sure, if you are an Asker it sounds silly written out like this but I swear many people live their entire lives under this framework – and it DOES WORK, when you all know each other and you all know the rules! It avoids social discomfort by anticipating friction and avoiding it.

    7. anna green*

      OMG I had never heard of this before, and it is seriously life changing! I am a total asker, but my mother and husband are definitely guessers, and this explains all of our fights so well. I didn’t know this was a thing! I am sending this to everyone! Thanks!

      1. Transitioning*

        I, too, never realized this was a known “thing”! I am an asker, and like many others have already stated, I am perfectly fine with a “No”. That is the risk you take when asking, but I’d rather be clear. As the adage goes, “Closed mouths don’t get fed.”

        I believe LW should definitely be honest in this situation. It will put the expectation on there for both parties, and (hopefully) avoid her co-worker revisiting this to “see if anything has changed”. If LW decides that she wants to extend the offer again, being honest will allow her to do so on her own terms.

        Sidenote: I have been able to figure out all of the acronyms that commenters use, except one — OP. Someone, please, what does this mean? It’s driving me crazy…like a personalized license plate I can’t figure out.

        1. FlibertyG*

          “Original poster.” It’s the online equivalent of “LW” for letter writer, as in this case – there’s no letter.

          1. Zombii*

            There is a letter. The letter was sent by email. “OP”/”Original poster” goes back to online forum days, so it’s always weird for me to see it used on blogs/comment sections/other things that are not forums.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I grew up around guessers. I got sick of the head games, “read my mind” or “use the exact wording I want you to use” and so on. I tend to be direct. However with people I don’t know very well, I try to build and “out” into the question, such as, “I am not sure if I am asking the right person…” or “Do you know anyone who would do x?”.

        The one good thing about growing up with guessers is that I can see when a person wants to ask for something but is not asking. In the longer run, growing up with guessers helped. But, gosh, that was exhausting trying to figure out the hidden meaning of everything.

        1. FlibertyG*

          Hehe this is so context dependent. I find it “exhausting” dealing with people that, to me, are boundary-pushing all day long; why can’t they be a little more thoughtful and anticipate how others feel? Why must I beat them over the head to stop them from trampling on me? Nobody’s wrong, it’s just a very different style of interaction.

  6. Detective Amy Santiago*

    I think the carpool issue and the lunch time appointment issues are two totally separate things. Plenty of people carpool to work with coworkers, especially if they have a lengthy commute or pay a lot for parking or whatever. It was very common at OldJob.

    The asking you to run her around on your lunch break is completely overstepping though.

    Alison’s scripts are really good here for both situations.

    1. paul*

      Yeah, the carpooling thing…it wouldn’t be selfish of you not to want it, but it wouldn’t be weird of her to ask about it either.

      The expecting you to drive her around on lunch on a routine basis though? What the hell? That’s just bizarre.

      1. Carpool hater*

        This kind of entitled behavior is very common among people who refuse to purchase their own cars.

        1. Karen*

          Can we just take a step back there on the word ‘refuse’?

          If her and her partner share a vehicle, they’ve already purchased a vehicle. Many households do not have the luxury of affording 2 separate vehicles. My parents recently had to give up their second car (even though both work and needed it) to afford to live.

          The entitled behavior is more of the result from getting what you want when you ask, which I have seen with my own husband when my parents let me borrow their car once (since we cannot afford a car, not because we refuse to buy one). He got the taste of it once and was brazen enough to always ask “Can’t we just take you parents car instead?” whereas I wouldn’t dare ask to use their vehicle again.

        2. Newby*

          That’s huge over-generalization. Plenty of people don’t have cars and don’t impose on others. I have never owned a car and I would never ask someone to drive me around during lunch. The problem here is one particular person, not everyone who doesn’t own a car.

          1. Carpool hater*

            If course it’s a generalization. (Life would not work without generalizations.) The question is whether it is a justified generalization (“justified” not meaning “it applies 100% of the time.”) In my view it is, although both our experiences are anecdotal. I suspect we’ll have to agree to disagree.

            1. Newby*

              It may depend on location too. I would say that most people I know don’t own cars, but I live in a city so a car is unnecessary and an expensive nuisance (finding parking or paying for an expensive lot, drivers sideswiping parked cars, frequent break-ins etc.).

        3. Bea*

          I think the problem is more people who refuse to find their way places without imposing on others. Public transit exists in most places in some fashion. I have seen so many people who are so put out by using the bus because it’s so “inconvenient” so they want someone to act as their personal assistant and shuttling them here and there (like the OP in this case). Ick.

          If you cannot afford another car, you find a way to live your life on that budget. Which means figuring out living arrangements that are within travel distance from work, etc. This person in the post was getting to work just fine but then found out OP was close by and thought “oh wow, brilliant idea, to make my husbands life easier, why don’t we carpool?” and then kept taking it in the wrong direction. Argh, ew.

        4. Temperance*

          I have run into the “I don’t have a car and you do therefore you MUST drive me around” types. They’re exhausting and awful. Like the people who just assume that you’ll give them a ride places because they don’t have a car and you live nearby or whatever.

    2. Purplesaurus*

      Totally agreed! And I prefer the “starting next Monday” script since that gives her a few days to work something else out. But the lunch errands can stop cold turkey, in my opinion.

    3. CityMouse*

      Adding my voice to this too. Asking OP to drive her to appointment is way, way too much and a really big inconvenience. I suspect OP would not be so unhappy with the carpool had coworker not done that.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Yeah, I think the co-worker over-reached the OP’s good graces when she asked for that.

      2. Lindsay J*

        Especially so frequently! I might be okay with doing that once every couple months. Once a week is way too much.

    4. anna green*

      Agreed! The lunch thing is absurd, of course OP doesn’t have to drive her coworker around during lunch break. Who would even think of that? The carpool thing is trickier because its more common and reasonable, but OP is absolutely ok to say she doesn’t want to do it anymore. Especially with someone who is willing to usurp her time like that.

      1. many bells down*

        The thing about the carpool is that you’re both going in the same general direction at the same time. The co-worker lives nearby, so it’s not a drive out of OP’s way. But lunchtime appointments are her going somewhere she had no plans to go, and nothing to do.

    5. LiveAndLetDie*

      This. Carpooling is an agreement to get to work and back. Asking OP to be her personal chauffeur outside of that is overstepping, even if you already have a carpool agreement. Just because she knows OP “only” gets food/shops on lunch does not mean she has the right to monopolize OP’s lunchtimes with her own errands. If she needs to get out of the office on lunch she needs to find her own way to do it (Uber, Lyft, traditional taxi, walking, whatever).

      And that’s not to say that OP can’t cancel the carpooling agreement for any reason, either — if OP doesn’t want to do it anymore, that’s reason enough to me!

      1. CityMouse*

        If I want to play Pokemon go and eat Cheetos during my lunch hour, that is my prerogative. A break is designed to decompress for a reason.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Absolutely. We had a guy at OldExjob who got a DUI and couldn’t drive for a while–he had someone drop him off at work, but then he always wanted to go out with people when they left at lunch, and he didn’t want to be arsed to make his own lunch to bring. He never asked me because I always brought my lunch and ate it in the break room while writing. If I had to go run an errand though, “Hey Liz, you going out to lunch?” I just did everything after work.

    6. Jake Peralta*

      This is what was bugging me – what’s the problem with carpooling? I used to carpool with a coworker – I didn’t have a car, so it was a 30 minute drive rather than a 2 hour subway/bus combo. That carpooler was a lifesaver, and we got to know each other pretty well on our commutes. But we also had boundaries: I was beholden to his work schedule, so if he was staying late one day, I could either stay late too or take the bus. And if he was headed someplace other than home, I had the option to be dropped somewhere along the way, or make my own way. I never asked him to run errands for me or drop me elsewhere, because we had picked a meet up location that didn’t require him to detour at all. And I never complained when he was late picking me up – it was still a ride.

      Having clear expectations made things work. There are also expectations in the Baltimore/DC region, where people hitch rides to work on a “slugline” – the passenger doesn’t initiate conversation (the driver can).

      Maybe setting some expectations would allow you both to continue saving gas, lowering your carbon footprint and not ruining your lunchbreaks. There are plenty of nonoffensive explanations, like, I’m a misanthrope before coffee so can we just listen to the radio on the morning drive? Or, No, I can’t take you places on my lunch break. I really need my breaks to myself. Or, Let’s only carpool on Tuesdays.

      Just suggestions, because traffic and the air would be better for EVERYONE if more people made carpooling work!

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Nothing wrong at all with carpooling when it’s what both parties want and both feel that they benefit from it. In the OP’s case, she didn’t seek out a carpool situation; she just did a favor for a coworker. She doesn’t feel that it is a mutually beneficial relationship. Granted, the coworker is paying gas money, but the OP values the ability to commute with no entanglements over an unsought-after carpool.

        I get it. I used to do a morning Couch to 5K with my kids in the mornings before school. A neighbor saw us doing it and wanted to join us. It didn’t seem like a big deal, since all she was doing was running with us around the neighborhood blocks that we were already running around. It just took some of the joy out of it for me, though. Instead of operating only on my household’s schedule, I had to take into consideration that if we were running a little late that she would be out there waiting. She was pleasant-enough company, but I did not enjoy that the element of friction that she added to my mornings.

      2. Temperance*

        Carpooling is fine, but as an introvert, I would hate to have to drive someone to and from work. I also don’t think that LW owes her colleague a ride places, just because colleague doesn’t have her own car.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        I used to carpool to school with a friend. Well, she was a nice person but we really did not know each other that great. Sometimes she had days where she felt sick. It was one of two reasons that was making her ill. She explained the two reasons. She simply said, “On days, I do not feel good we will listen to the radio instead of talking.” I appreciated her saying something beforehand so I knew it was not an issue with me personally.
        We alternated days. I drove every other day. Actions spoke louder than words. We each benefited from the set up. We even tried to keep our classes well timed so we did not have to wait for each other too long. I don’t think this would have worked if only one of us drove.
        OP, your set up is very lopsided. You’re putting A LOT into this and not getting some of value to YOU back. Plus you have no end in sight. My friend and I knew we would do this for two years of school and then move on. (It ended up being a year and a half that we did this.)

    7. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian*

      This is in general to all the comments about carpooling being normal and common:

      I don’t disagree, but I find a unilateral “this person always drives, always” set-up far less common than I’m inferring from the rest of you.
      A fair agreement would be all members of a carpool to drive at some point (frequency and balance would depend on the carpoolers and what they think works). Right?
      Is it really common for carpools to be only one person and their vehicle doing all the hauling while the others just chip in cash? So curious.
      Also, it would annoy me to no end to be the single driver in that case. I loathe driving, but I do it because it’s needful and more convenient.

      1. Carpool hater*

        None of this is extra hassle I need in my life. (“Who drives,” need to schedule everything far in advance, not having the luxury of sleeping 10 minutes late, need for phone trees in case something goes wrong, chatty co-workers, ubiquitous co-workers like the one OP describes, etc.)

        1. Rachael*

          I, too, am a carpool hater. I’ve been asked MANY a time to carpool and you know what my answer is? “I don’t carpool”. It is always surprising to me how many people become offended and argue with me. It’s not personal. I want to listen to my music as loud as I want and have my own schedule. If I’m late I don’t want the anxiety. If the other person is late I don’t want the resentment.

          Just because you live near me does not entitle you to a carpool buddy.

          I have coworker who has been asking me for two years to carpool. Every couple of months she makes a comment about how it would make sense. No. No carpooling.

          1. Lady Bug*

            Yes! My car is my private space for screeching along badly with metal and 80s classics, cranking up the heat when its 65, refusing to use a/c unless its 100 degrees (open windows!), talking to my family via Bluetooth and letting out streams of vulgarities at other drivers! But mostly its “my” decompression time. I don’t want to chat or have to make my car comfortable for someone else. But some people enjoy carpooling, its not inherently good or bad (except from an environmental perspective which could be better addresses by reliable public transportation).

            OP if carpooling is no longer working you can just tell your coworker that, but Allisons suggestions are great if you aren’t comfortable doing that.

          2. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian*

            Hear hear, carpool-haters!

            I tried carpooling once and got stuck with the labor of keeping everything organized and everyone connected and immediately nope’d back out.

            I don’t hate driving enough to give up the convenience it gives me to do what I want, when I want to.

    8. JKP*

      Even the carpooling doesn’t have to be all or none. The OP can draw the boundaries wherever they want, since they’re the one doing the favor. They could end the ride-giving completely, they could end the lunch time errands and continue carpooling, or they could offer to carpool only on specific days of the week (every M-W but not R/F, or whatever they feel like offering). The coworker should be grateful for any level of ride-giving, even if it’s just carpooling one day a week.

    9. Artemesia*

      this is not a carpool. a carpool is when several people take turns driving. This is a ride beggar. It is mitigated by the fact that she throws in a little gas money, but apparently that entitles her to cab service at lunch time. A carpool is a little community of mutual help; this is not that.

      1. Zombii*

        I was with you right up until you got so damn judge-y. I’ll assume you live somewhere where most people drive and those who don’t are interpreted as helpless/unstable/criminals*/eccentric.

        The arrangement when not everyone has a car so some people throw in cash is called “rideshare.” It’s more common where the age of workers skews young so not everyone can afford their own car (and/or where the pay is shit so not everyone can afford their own car). If done right, the driver volunteers and can call things off at any time. One of the places I worked had a formalized system to request this arrangement, due to the shit pay/everyone couldn’t afford to have cars.

        *Too many DUI’s = no more license. Where I live, this is the default assumption if someone says they “don’t drive,” unfortunately.

  7. Christy*

    I urge you to use a kind version of the truth! Setting this limit is 100% reasonable, and it’s fine and good for your coworker to hear someone set this limit. It’s not even worth the trouble of the lie! “Sorry, I wish I were the type of person who loved to carpool every day, but I’ve realized I really need the time to myself. I’ll make sure to say hi to you in the office so I don’t miss you too much though.”

    Telling the truth here is a favor to yourself. And I think it’s a favor to your coworker too.

    1. Anonymous 3*

      +1. This is by far my favorite response on this thread thus far. It’s direct, without making excuses, but it’s also kind.

      1. FlibertyG*

        +1 – and then be sure to be friendly and warm the next time you see her, so she knows you’re not secretly harboring bad feelings.

    2. sunshyne84*

      I agree. Just be honest and to the point. You won’t need to keep making excuses to further questions. You can’t let someone make themselves your responsibility.

    3. Emi.*

      I agree. Telling the truth, even vaguely, is the integrity-ous (integral?) thing to do, and also less likely to bite you in the butt later.

    4. Kalkin*

      Yep, I like this. I appreciate that a lot of people prefer to have a bit of a cover story, like Allison suggests, but it is incredibly freeing to practice telling the truth in a kind manner and owning it. If people don’t like it — well, you should always be considerate of others’ feelings, but you can’t be responsible for them.

    5. KTM*

      Yes I was coming here to say the same – go with 100% truth and I think it will help reduce your feelings of guilt over saying no. For me, I think about exactly why I don’t want to do something and then ‘nice-ify’ it.

      Me: “Lunch is the only downtime I have during the day and I don’t want to do something busy like running errands, especially for someone else”
      Nice-ify for coworker: “I do enjoy spending time with you but unfortunately lunch is really the time I need to use for mental downtime and regroup for the rest of the day, I hope you understand!”

  8. Myrin*

    I’m loving the very last bullet point, especially because of its second sentence. I’d say the “it’s becoming hard for me to plan for stuff before and after work” argument is actually in the same realm as all those “cover stories” but with the big advantage that it is always going to be true – many people are uncofmortable with even the vaguest cover stories because it’s “lying” and these stories are also presented as facts which the coworker could technically find out aren’t true; neither of these problems apply if you’re speaking in eventualities from the get-go, and I’m really liking that.

    1. k.k*

      I was going to vote for cover stories until I read that option. And if the coworker gives push back and asks for more details, “What kind of stuff? I’m sure we can plan around it”, then OP can borrow from the cover stories suggestions for examples, “Like stopping by the store, visiting my aunt, going to the gym…It’s things I tend to decide at the last minute so I can’t plan in advance.” It’s still true since OP might do those things at some point.

    2. always in email jail*

      I think this is totally reasonable and would be true for almost 100% of people. I wouldn’t want to have to basically drive all the way home to drop someone off THEN turn around to go to the grocery store, for example.

  9. Is it Friday Yet?*

    I really like Allison’s vaguer answer. I think it would help to mention you’ve found this schedule to be too rigid, and you’d like to have the flexibility back. If you want to leave an hour or two earlier than normal, and go work out, you’d like to be able to do that. Or if you’d like to end your day and run to the mall, you’d like to do that. I’d also include that you didn’t realize you’d miss having that time to yourself in the car.

  10. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP, your coworker isn’t really carpooling with you if you’re the only one who drives! It’s totally ok to withdraw from the agreement. I used to live 4 blocks from a coworker, and we carpooled the first week to see if it would be a sensible arrangement. It turns out it was not—we have totally different schedules and work-time preferences (I like to be in early, she burns the midnight oil). So we amicably decided to commute separately, and there was no drama and we were happy with it.

    With respect to driving her to appointments, etc…. well, Alison is more diplomatic than I am. I think she’s imposing a pretty significant set of burdens on you and kind of taking advantage of your generosity. She may not be trying to manipulate/use you, but that seems to be the practical effect. I wouldn’t even drive my best friends to all her appointments + work everyday. I’d be willing to help a close friend who needed assistance and couldn’t get there herself (e.g., because of a physical impairment, lack of access to transportation, undergoing surgery or chemo, being treated with anesthesia or eye dilation or something else that leaves her woozy or unable to drive), but I have never had a friend who would just expect me to do that for them on a regular basis without prior discussion. It sounds like your coworker has become the camel in the Aesop’s fable about a camel asking to put its nose in the tent, then its head, its body, etc., and finally kicking the tent occupant out entirely. She’s got half her body in your tent (car) now!

    What would she do if you weren’t there? Uber or find another way around, right? You didn’t sign up to be her personal driver, and it’s ok to do whatever you need to do to extract yourself from the current driving arrangement.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      OP, your coworker isn’t really carpooling with you if you’re the only one who drives!

      I disagree with this. I am a non-driver for medical reasons and I have had plenty of successful carpool arrangements with coworkers in the past where we split the costs of parking and gas.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        I agree that you can have a successful carpool arrangement without both carpoolers driving, but I think the rider has to consider costs beyond gas and parking, even if the driver would have those costs anyway. Besides the obvious property tax, insurance, maintenance, car purchase costs, what about the labor cost of driving you? Instead of mindlessly shuffling myself off to work, I’ve got to be timely and reliable. Now it’s a job.

        I think you can find arrangements that work, but I’m like the OP and like my “me” time. I think it’s a special person who is willing to do this for someone else.

        1. Clever Name*

          This. And if you’re someone who finds being with people draining (an introvert), having to be “on” during your commute can really take a toll on your mental health.

          1. Carpool hater*

            Forget introvert vs. extrovert. How about “I like hitting the snooze button a couple of times”?

          2. Jadelyn*

            This would be my problem. I’m an introvert and I LOVE driving. It’s my happy time. Sharing it with someone else would ruin it for me, and I rely so heavily on that island of peace and happiness to buffer me at the start and end of the workday that that would be disastrous.

            1. oranges & lemons*

              As someone with driving anxiety, I’m so envious! I wish I could look at driving as relaxing rather than stressful-to-terrifying.

              1. tiny temping teapot*

                That is exactly why I stopped driving altogether, don’t even a license now. I live in walking distance of my current job (and for the previous two) so when our one car in the household of 4 isn’t available for my mom to drive me to and from work, I just walk. Even when I was just too ugh to walk it, I always just get Uber. I would not feel comfortable asking any of my coworkers for a ride.

                1. Jadelyn*

                  I honestly can’t imagine having one car in a 4-person household. Until recently I lived in a 3-person household and we had 3 cars – each person had their own. Let me tell you, the arguments over who got the reserved parking could get ugly at times.

                  But, I just moved into my new house over the weekend, with a 2-car garage so I will always have my very own guaranteed parking spot, so all is well. :)

        2. Purplesaurus*

          Instead of mindlessly shuffling myself off to work, I’ve got to be timely and reliable. Now it’s a job.

          + One million to this. I gave my friend a ride to high school every day. I had to be up extra early to pick her up on time, meanwhile she slept late and groomed herself in my car on the way. It’s little things like that.

          1. Collarbone High*

            So much yes!

            I totally get the LW, because I had a similar situation in high school — locker partner lived down the street and didn’t have a car, so could I drive her? Of course I could! I’m a midwesterner, we do things like that, and it was a new school and I was trying to make friends so … sure!

            And then … the same “generosity creep” that’s happening in this letter cropped up. I could also give her sister a ride, right? And then it became their neighbor as well. And now I had to round up three people every morning and coax them all to finish getting ready, and help look for Michelle’s library book, and … “a job” is a good way to put it.

            The whole thing blew up the day they dawdled so much we pulled into the parking lot one minute before the bell, and they asked me to drop them off so they could get to class on time while I circled for a parking space. I lost my temper and refused to drive them anymore, they were offended, and the rest of the semester was really awkward.

            LW, resolve this now, before it gets to this point. Because her demands on your time are increasing, and you’re getting resentful, and it probably will.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              I had a coworker that lived a few blocks from me. She would bum rides fairly often. It worked out well for the boss because working down a person was NOT fun. One day we were late because of her. I said, “That won’t happen again, because I prefer to be on time.” Sure enough, a week later, she called at the last minute for a ride. I told her “No, because I can’t be late for work.” She never asked again. The boss asked where she was and I said, “I can’t be late for work.” He never asked again, either.

              Over the years, I have learned to say what I will and will not do up front before it comes to a crisis level. I was very surprised to see that most people accept whatever limits I have with grace. People are amazing given a chance.

              1. Tealeaves*

                I once shared a cabpool with some coworkers that lived nearby so that we could get to work a little earlier. We set a rule on timing: If you’re not ready to be picked up by xx time, we’re leaving without you.

            2. Howdy Do*

              Ug, I had a very similar deal in high school where I was the first of my friends with a car so I picked up two friends, not really located on the way to school, every morning and I had one super responsible friend who was always ready to go and another friend who was always running late. I am naturally a late-running, late sleeping person so the fact that I somehow got my ass up in enough time to compensate for her lateness really was a feat!

          2. Mallory Janis Ian*

            Yes! That’s what I was trying to express up- (or down-) thread about the neighbor who invited herself to join my morning runs with my kids. It turned it into something I needed to be timely and reliable for — like a job!

        3. Dust Bunny*

          I work with people and also live with people: My commute is often the only people-free time I get. If I had to socialize then, too, I might just drive us all into a bridge support. I wouldn’t mind sharing rides some of the time if any of my coworkers lived nearby, but I couldn’t do it every day, and there is no way I’d be running errands with them on a regular basis. (I have run errands for coworkers, but very, very, rarely. One got a flat tire and asked to be picked up at the tire shop two exits away from work; that kind of thing. But it was a one-off; she wasn’t asking this of me on a regular basis.)

    2. SJ*

      Yeah, I wouldn’t call it “carpooling” as much as I would “bumming rides all the time.”

      1. FlibertyG*

        The coworker does pay (although if OP is being literal about that $2, I’m not sure that’s a fair price when you take into account the insurance and wear and tear … depends on the mileage, compare to the Fed rate of .55/mile). Either way though, OP doesn’t want to do this anymore even if the coworker offered more.

      2. Optimistic Prime*

        If you have a mutual agreement that you’ll pick someone up every day and drive them to work, that’s still carpooling. You don’t have to trade off the driving for it to count as carpooling. Some people can’t drive for a variety of reasons, but that doesn’t mean that they are “bumming rides” off people.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I think OP got blindsided by the length of this commitment. And OP is not getting anything in return that is of value to her. I have a friend who rides to work with me probably 50% of the time. We both highly value our friendship. And at random times I get handed a big bowl of homemade soup or a bag of clothes to pick through or other things. While my friend seldom drives for me, I don’t feel that this is a lopsided deal at all. Most certainly, I would never say my friend bums rides from me.
          A person can need frequent rides and not be bumming. There’s more that goes into this.

    3. k.k*

      Yeah, the word carpool usually implies that both parties are contributing something. Even if the other person can’t drive, they still need to be doing something to balance out the cost and inconvenience to the other person. The coworker is not pulling her wait by just giving OP $2.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        This may just be arguing semantics, but I think there is a difference between “let’s carpool” and “we are a carpool.”

        The former is an invitation to trade off driving one another. This time, I drive. Next time, you drive.

        The latter is more of an observation of how many people are in a vehicle (handy for going into high-occupancy vehicle lanes on highways or bridges).

    4. Slow Gin Lizz*

      “What would she do if you weren’t there?” I was wondering this too. What did she do before she figured out she lived near OP and could get rides from her?

  11. Health Insurance Nerd*

    I agree with those voting for the soft version of the truth. You should do this for your own benefit because, if you lie, the stress of feeling obligated to drive her around will be replaced by the stress of having to maintain whatever story you told her.

  12. Cucumberzucchini*

    I really would er on the side of just telling her the truth in a nice way rather then trying to come up with a cover story. You’ve done something nice for her and already gone above and beyond. I would just say something during your next drive home, “I want to give you a head’s up that I’m not going to be able to do carpooling or lunch errand running for you anymore starting in one week. It’s just become too difficult to plan around it and I need to have some alone time in during my commute.” Just don’t make a big deal out of it and if she gets upset about it, well she’s the unreasonable one.

    1. NoMoreMrFixit*

      Truth is best. I was stuck in this situation once and tried a gentle fib. Only to have the boundary-ignoring person constantly asking me how the changes in my life were going and had I considered carpooling again. In the end I had to be blunt and just say no. Eventually I ended the friendship due to the constant one way favours constantly being requested. Be prepared for the person to nag/complain/over explain why this isn’t an inconvenience for you to give them a ride everywhere.

      1. Not my Circus, Not my Monkeys*

        I kept thinking what would Captain Awkward say as this person seems to be ignoring boundaries. I like the Asker/Guesser concept too and need to read up on that one. As a guesser myself, I don’t ask so that I don’t create the burden of saying no or feeling obligated, especially around childcare/babysitting.

        I agree with NoMoreMrFixit and would avoid the gentle fib too and not use the “I need time to myself” excuse though. Just let her know that it is becoming too much for you and let her know what you are willing to do, if anything. For example, T/TH and an occasional other day (when pouring rain so she doesn’t have to stand at the bus stop type of thing). Say it kindly and if she pushes back, just let her know it is causing you issues in your life and stand by whatever boundary you set.

    2. Rocketship*

      ” Just don’t make a big deal out of it and if she gets upset about it, well she’s the unreasonable one”

      YES. I was coming here to say exactly that.

      LW, think of it this way. If you were in her shoes, and she told you kindly and politely that this arrangement wasn’t feasible for her anymore…. how would you react?

      For instance, my reaction would be one of “Hey, no problem, I’ll figure something else out” with maybe a side of “Oh no, I hope I haven’t been inconveniencing you already!” depending on how much residual guilt I was experiencing that day.

      I can. not. imagine. a scenario in which my response would be “How dare you/ are you lying to me/ no you must continue doing this thing you don’t want to.” That is the reaction of someone who is deliberately using you and wants to pressure you into continuing to give them what they want, regardless of the cost to you. THAT is selfish.

      This part of your letter really stood out to me: “but it just seems selfish when it’s basically my preference vs. someone else’s very good reason/hardship for needing me to do it”

      Dear LW, they don’t need *you* to do it. They need *someone* to do it. That someone doesn’t have to be you every time. Just because you able to do favors for friends does not mean you are obligated to. Having boundaries does not make you selfish. Your needs (for quiet time, an uninterrupted lunch, your car to yourself, the ability to determine your own schedule) are just as important as hers, and continuing to ignore your needs will only strain and eventually break the friendship you two already have.

  13. AnotherAlison*

    The $2/day for gas is really rubbing me the wrong way. I don’t know the commute distance or mpg of the OP’s car, but this sounds like the coworker is paying for about half of the fuel expense on the commute, and none of the car maintenance or the cost of the investment. Great deal for the coworker, but this isn’t a bus service!

    If the commute is short enough that the coworker can cover her cost with $2/day for gas, sounds like she could getby with a 200,000 mile Craigslist car for $1000 and drive herself to work.

    1. Here we go again*

      While I agree that the coworker is taking advantage of the situation, I think being this upset over the $2/ day over gas money is uncalled for. At least she is paying SOMETHING…. there are so many people who would do this and never offer a dime. Presumably, this is something the OP and coworker agreed to.

      We also don’t know the coworker’s financial situation well enough to determine if she can afford $1,000 for the car. The issue is that the the coworker has taken the original agreement and expanded it and the OP wants out. I don’t think criticizing the coworker for anything else is constructive.

      1. Purplesaurus*

        Clearly OP was OK with the amount, but I would be insulted by and flatly decline a $2/day carpool offer.

      2. Malibu Stacey*

        Or some couples share a car because they only have one parking space and live somewhere where parking isn’t free.

        1. Anonygoose*

          I agree that this is a strong possibility – my husband and I share a car mostly for this very reason. However, if we determined that one or both of us couldn’t get to work without a car, we probably would have moved somewhere else. The OP is definitely taking advantage here but might not think of what an imposition it is. I have a coworker who lives around the corner from me, but I will walk, ride my bike, bus, or have my husband drop me off, unless it’s otherwise insanely inconvenient. In the last year, I’ve asked her for a ride like 3-5 times maximum (one way – and only when I had planned on walking but illness, hail, or crazy thunderstorms intervened). Although she offers all the time, I know that relying on her would be a mistake, as the OP has discovered!

        2. Not So NewReader*

          But the key part is “share”. The couple figures out how to make that one car work for the both of them. The coworker has decided that OP will solve her dilemma, and this is actually a question that the coworker and spouse need to work on together.

    2. Kyrielle*

      We also don’t know if the coworker would incur high costs owning a car due to parking fees where they live, parking fees at work, or both.

      Yes, OP has whatever parking fees OP has – but OP would have those whether coworker was in the car or not. OP would also have almost all the other costs, even if this coworker was never in the car. The $2 a day isn’t super-generous, but neither is it horrible, given that OP incurs the costs regardless.

      The real problem is that the coworker is happy with this situation but the OP would like their car and commute to themselves again – and has a reasonable right to ask for that, just because they want it.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        If the coworker would have high costs if she owned another car, then that should factor into what she pays the OP! She’s sharing the economic benefit, beyond just the cost of gas each day. That’s all I’m saying.

        (Agreed the real problem is the OP just wants to drive alone, but the OP also feels uncomfortable with telling the coworker no. My point about what the coworker is paying is just another reason to not feel bad about it–the coworker is getting a better deal than the OP in this arrangement.)

        1. Optimistic Prime*

          Why would the coworker pay the OP the hypothetical cost of owning a car she does not own?

          1. Hotstreak*

            Think of it this way. If I have a friend move in to my apartment with me, I don’t just charge them $50 for the increased utilities cost. I charge them a fair market rate for use of the apartment. To calculate that fair rate, I consider what it cost me to rent the apartment, what my friend would have to pay to rent their own apartment, and what others are charging for similar services. If she pays me $500 we are both benefiting financially from the arrangement. If she only pays me $50 they she is reaping all of the financial benefit, which is fundamentally unfair since we are in a joint venture and I am holding most of the risk.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            To give OP incentive to keep driving her indefinitely.
            To show recognition that giving her a ride every day for months or longer is an extra effort for OP and it’s rude to take extra effort for granted.
            To make sure OP feels that she has truly been thanked for her efforts.

            I am taking my friend shopping tomorrow. I don’t worry about it because I know if I have a sick dog or a broken furnace he will come running. It’s about the reciprocity. It’s about adding something to the other person’s life.

    3. Emi.*

      Since the coworker lives “a few minutes away” from the OP, $2/day for gas sounds totally reasonable, unless the OP is driving, like, a tank?

      1. AnotherAlison*

        You’re implying that the coworker only needs to cover the cost to get from the OP’s house to the coworker’s house? That doesn’t make sense to me. Then it’s a free chauffeur service, just because the OP was heading that direction anyway.

        1. Emi.*

          I mean, I do think that’s one totally valid way to figure this. At one extreme, the coworker should pay what it would cost to take a taxi; at the other extreme, she should only pay the marginal cost to the OP. Most carpooling arrangements find a spot somewhere in between there. Splitting costs 50/50 is a good in-between point, but $2 is also somewhere in the reasonable zone, financially, but OP wants out for non-financial reasons. (At least, that’s how I’m interpreting “I don’t need the money and I’ve realized that I would rather just drive by myself.”)

        2. AvonLady Barksdale*

          I think the issue is more that the OP is heading that direction anyway and that picking up the co-worker doesn’t add substantially to the trip. I don’t see a problem with the $2/day either. I’m actually pleasantly surprised that the co-worker pays anything at all, because most people I’ve met wouldn’t think to offer. I really don’t think the money or the minimal additional wear-and-tear is a concern here.

          1. PaperTowel*

            People wouldn’t think to offer? Really? Here in the uk it would be considered incredibly rude not to offer. The recipient may refuse but the offer would be made. Otherwise it’s just taking advantage. Even in close friendships for significant journeys there’s an offer of petrol money!

    4. paul*

      that really depends on the distance involved.

      If my next door neighbor and I car pooled to my office location…that’s about 2.5 miles each way to the office and they’re my neighbor. 2 or 3 bucks a day is pretty reasonable for that.

      If I had to drive across town to pick someone up, or even if the commute is a lot longer, more is reasonable.

      1. Turtle Candle*

        Yeah. We have a hybrid, and when my partner drove to work briefly this winter it was about a 4 mile drive. Even counting wear and tear, that would have been more than sufficient to cover expenses.

    5. Jake Peralta*

      I don’t really get why this is bugging people as a low number – we don’t have all the facts. We don’t know how far the drive is, so we don’t know how much mileage is going on. And why should a passenger pay wear and tear? Are they really doing that much damage to the passenger seat? Wouldn’t the world be a nicer place if we, I don’t know, helped each other out more and didn’t nickle and dime everything? If I’m driving this route every day, and I pick someone up along the way, and they help me pay for the gas, it’s a nice thing to do. And everyone is helped out by one fewer car on the road – and you might get to take advantage of the HOV lane, if that’s a thing where you are. I agree that it’s a bad idea to LEND someone your car, but if you’ve got all those empty seats, why not put one of them to good use, at least occasionally?

      1. paul*

        For one thing, this isn’t occasional..

        For another there’s a huge loss in flexibility here.

        For a third, gas isn’t the sole major expense of owning a car; if you’re carpooling to save money it makes sense to expect all participants want to spread that around somewhat equitably.

        Yeah, in an extremely short commute like mine, it’s probably an OK fee, but these super close commutes aren’t really the norm.

      2. Hrovitnir*

        Yeah, these threads are kind of odd. The OP does not want to keep driving her coworker. That is fine! More than fine! The headspace it takes to account for another person is a totally legit reason to not want to do it, and I wish the fact stuff like this is a kind of work would be more commonly acknowledged.

        But for carpooling/ridesharingin general there are a lot of people being really hardline. If I lived near my friend I used to work with and we started at the same time I would more than happily pick her up in exchange for half the petrol money. I love her company and know she is a conscientious person who wouldn’t screw me around in the morning. It just depends on the situation.

        1. Elsajeni*

          I agree! I personally would consider $2/day a totally reasonable payment for driving someone to and from work under certain circumstances — they live very near me or on my way, I find their company pleasant or at least non-annoying, having them in the car allows me to use a reliably-fast HOV lane, etc. Under other circumstances NO amount of money would be enough. There’s way too much variability to argue that what the coworker is paying is or isn’t an Objectively Fair Amount. But either way, it doesn’t matter, because the OP doesn’t want to drive her and specifically says it’s not about the money!

      3. Jessica*

        It’s really not just about the money. Its a lifestyle question. It’s like if someone were to argue, “Why can’t I just live in your house? I could pay a set fee for the square footage of my room and the difference in the cost of utilities. You’re paying for it anyway, so what difference does it make?” Because maybe I don’t want to live with you!

        A person’s car is frequently an extension of their home and their personality. It’s a private space, not a public one. Inviting someone into your private space takes consideration and a certain amount of rapport, and mutual respect and respect for the ownership of the space. If you’re a guest in someone’s home, you don’t just throw money at them and treat the place like it’s a hotel, because it’s not. You’re putting a burden on someone beyond the cost, you’re in their private space. They have not agreed to have their private space treated like a public one, they have agreed to let you *temporarily* enjoy the privilege of their private space like a co-owner would.

        So, someone who just throws $2 for gas and then expects to treat you and your car like a public space is really overstepping. They’re not hiring an Uber, and you have not agreed to perform in a fee-for-service capacity on an ongoing basis. They’re assuming co-ownership of a private space where that has decidedly NOT been agreed upon.

    6. Hannah*

      I was bothered by the $2 a day figure as well, because even if the gas was free, $10 a week is not enough money to motivate me to do anything. It’s a pathetically small sum to offer someone for their time.

      1. nonegiven*

        I got the impression OP would rather drive alone than have coworker pay the entire cost of the ride for both, including depreciation. OP said they don’t need the money.

    7. Pearly Girl*

      “Here is $10 per week. Pick me up and drop me off from work every day, and take me to all the lunchtime doctor appointments I have, regardless of whether you feel like it and what you prefer to do on your lunch hour.”

      NOPE. A pro chauffeur would be getting $35/trip +. Each way.

    8. Statler von Waldorf*

      I’m glad I’m not the only one that thinks $2 / day is insultingly low. Then again, my commute is 20 miles on gravel roads and then another 30 miles or so on the highway. I also drive a pickup, given that my town has potholes that could eat smaller cars. It costs me over a hundred bucks to fill it, and I fill it at least twice a month. Add insurance and maintenance, and I’m spending between four and five hundred a month total to operate my vehicle, and that’s after it’s been paid off. On the other hand, I don’t have another human within 5 miles of my home, so thankfully no one is asking me to carpool with them.

  14. Stellaaaaa*

    This is why there’s often so much weird vitriol directed toward people who don’t drive; almost everyone who drives has bad/annoying experiences with someone who doesn’t drive and milked the situation even though they convinced themselves they were playing fair. Like $2 for gas money? It’s not about the money. It’s about the very act of driving during rush hour and leaving early to pick up someone who can never return that specific favor, and not getting to enjoy your own lunch breaks in the way of your choosing. And if it WERE about the money, this woman is utilizing the perks of OP’s car about as often as most working people use their cars, but $2 a day doesn’t cover car insurance, payments, and regular maintenance.

    Don’t fall into that trap where you’re trying to avoid an unreasonable reaction from someone who isn’t reasonable. She’s the one who made this an unpleasant situation and you don’t need to work around her. Don’t be afraid to end a friendship with someone who isn’t actually your friend.

    1. Health Insurance Nerd*

      But in this case the coworker does drive, but she shares a car with her boyfriend. So she’s almost worse than a non-driver because she knows the cost of things like gas, insurance, maintenance, etc…

      1. Stellaaaaa*

        Yep, super annoying. And it’s not even like, “But I give her $2 a day for gas!” OP is helping her save a whole lot of money on cabs/ubers, and this person knows that.

        I also personally cringe at the idea of a woman trying to arrange this workaround to allow her boyfriend more freedom with the shared car. Can’t she take the car half the time? Why can’t he drive her? Why isn’t the boyfriend getting rides from coworkers? That’s not the point of this letter, but it would be a reason for why I wouldn’t help my coworker anymore. She can ask her life partner for access to the car she half-owns.

        1. Emi.*

          I don’t think that’s really called for. Maybe he lives farther away, in the opposite direction. Maybe she doesn’t like driving. Maybe she has better bus access (presumably she was getting to work somehow before she found out how close OP lives). There are tons of reasons why they might have this arrangement, and none of them are relevant. Deciding whether or not to give someone a ride based on how much you personally approve of her relationship arrangements is weirdly petty and judgmental.

          1. Stellaaaaa*

            People are allowed to have whatever reasons they want for not allowing other people into the expensive vehicles they own, and I think OP needs to hear this, since I feel like she worries that her reasons aren’t “good enough.” We can privately have whatever thoughts we want about people and their relationships, so long as we don’t stop outwardly treating them with basic human decency and respect. But I (and anyone else) can absolutely decline to give anyone a ride to work for any reason. My car, my time = my rules and my own reasons, even if my reasons are dumb. I’m not even telling OP that she should follow my line of thought, though I imagine she might be frustrated at being asked to fill in “car gaps” even though the coworker should reasonably have access to a car but somehow doesn’t.

            OP, you don’t need to have “justifiable” reasons for not wanting to drive your coworker anymore. You don’t even need reasons. Your decision isn’t up for debate. It is sufficient to simply not feel like driving her anymore.

            1. Not So NewReader*


              OP, you may or may not need to use this much conviction but at least KNOW it inside your head: “It’s okay to tell people no.”

          2. Dust Bunny*

            All of those are their problem, though, not the OP’s. If the OP didn’t exist or wasn’t available, they would have to solve them, by making other arrangements, by moving, by whatever means it took. If you start depending on people for rides/favors, you’ve involved them in that part of your life.

          3. Julia*

            Plus, maybe the one car they have between them is actually the boyfriend’s own car and they don’t share finances. Who knows?

        2. Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farms*

          Again, we don’t know all the details though. My husband and I co-own a car, but his job requires him to drive all day every day. Sometimes he can arrange it so he takes me to work, but most often I make other arrangements. Not saying that’s the case with them, but presumably there is a reason that makes sense to them. Still not saying she has to keep driving her coworker.

        3. Temperance*

          Totally with you on this. I’m assuming the LW is also a woman, and we’re always socialized to be pleasant, unassuming, etc.

    2. Lucy Honeychurch*

      :( All these comments are making me feel guilty. I don’t have a car, and recently a friend has been driving me home from our mutual hobby, since we live in the same neighborhood. (He doesn’t drive me all the way home, just to our mutual neighborhood.) Now I feel like I’ve unknowingly been a huge imposition on him, even though he made the initial offer and I always thank him profusely and have plans to give him a gift when the hobby ends for the season as a thank-you.

      I guess I just have to hope that he’s not like OP, and would let me know if he wanted to stop…

      1. Purplesaurus*

        I think your situation is different because (1) it’s a friend who (2) offered to do this for you, and (3) you aren’t stretching this favor unreasonably with other errands ad infinitum.

        1. Emi.*

          I agree with Purplesaurus, and I think a lot of these comments are too harsh on the coworker anyway. You sound like you’re fine!

          1. paul*

            Not sure why you think they’re too harsh on the coworker. Door to door rides to and from work every day, and once or twice a week shuttling them on a lunch break? That’s a gigantic imposition and coworker is, at best, monumentally short sighted to not realize that.

            Friends are different than coworkers, and it doesn’t sound like Lucy’s getting rides every week, let alone every day. They’re very different situations, and presumably the friendship as a whole has mutual reciprocity…

            1. Emi.*

              Oh, I definitely think the coworker is out of line, but I think it’s overmuch to say that she’s being deliberately manipulative and selfish. Although skimming back over the thread, I think there are fewer overly-harsh comments than I originally thought.

              1. Pearly Girl*

                Objectively, the coworker IS being manipulative and selfish. “Drive me wherever I need to go on your lunch hour”? Selfish, selfish, selfish.

            2. Carpool hater*

              Exactly. How does Lucy Honeychurch know what her friend *really* thinks? Maybe the friend enjoys her company in the context of things friends do normally, but still considers the ride-sharing an imposition, albeit not one significant enough to jeopardize ending the friendship. Maybe the friend is just very polite/dainty and won’t speak up. Maybe the friend really is happy to give Lucy rides.

              But at the very least, they need to have a frank conversation about this point, instead of assuming that the driver is content with the arrangement the way it is.

      2. Marisol*

        I wouldn’t worry so much about it. If you’ve checked with him to make sure it’s not an imposition and you don’t get the sense that he’s being weird about it, then surely you’re fine. It would be nice to offer gas money though.

        I think it’s quite possible that instead of being selfish, the person asking for the ride thinks the carpool situation is win-win, because the OP is getting her gas costs offset, which wouldn’t happen otherwise. And some people might like such an arrangement. I think it’s fine to ask, and it’s fine to say no, and I don’t think we have enough info to read too much into the friends motives.

        A coworker who lives near me carpooled with me a few times when his car was in the shop and I was happy to help. When he mentioned doing it regularly, I said, something like, “I need my commute times to be alone and de-stress from the day,” and he was like, “ok cool.” There was no drama on either end.

      3. Government Worker*

        Me, too. I had a job for several years where most days I took public transit because it was much cheaper and much more pleasant, but I drove in if I knew there was going to be an out-of-office meeting or some other need for me to have a car. But occasionally things would come up last minute, and a few of times over the years I borrowed a coworker’s car during the day. It was virtually always work-related (go get this thing signed, go pick up lunch for the team meeting, go to the store and buy supplies for that event) so they got reimbursed for mileage, and it wasn’t the same coworker every time. I also got rides to meetings when I could take transit on one end or we were going back to the office after – we would have carpooled anyway in many cases, but I didn’t really do my share.

        Aside from the expense, I became a grumpy and unhappy person if I drove to work too often, due to the particularly stressful highways involved, while my public transit commute included a very pleasant bike ride through a pretty college campus. Unexpected errands didn’t come up nearly often enough to justify driving in every day, and my coworkers never seemed bothered, but I hope they weren’t as resentful of it as some of the commenters in this thread!

      4. MuseumChick*

        I think you are in a totally different situation! But, it might be a nice gesture to go to him and say “Hey, I want you to know how much I appreciate you giving me a ride back to the neighborhood. I know it’s a little bit of an imposition so if you ever can’t or don’t want to give me a ride any reason just let me know, I will not be offended!”

      5. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I don’t think you should feel guilty, though I do suggest giving him some gas money or some other nice gesture before the end of the season.

      6. Optimistic Prime*

        Don’t feel guilty. Honestly, some of the comments are weirding me out. If I offered to drive a friend home from work or a shared hobby every day, 1) I would know what I was getting myself into, and 2) I would expect the friend to offer some gas money if they could but I certainly wouldn’t expect them to help me make my car payments or pay for maintenance. I’d be presumably incurring pretty much the same wear and tear on my car if I was not driving the coworker/friend.

        1. Marisol*

          I’m a little surprised at some of the intensity of the comments. I guess this is more of a hot-button issue than I would have guessed.

        2. Mallory Janis Ian*

          If you offered and it was a friend that you made the offer to, your situation would be different from the OP’s. She didn’t offer, and the coworker isn’t particularly a friend.

      7. Jake Peralta*

        Yeah, I also don’t have a car, and I’m shocked at all these reactions! If you’re not majorly inconveniencing someone – and I think there’s a lot to be said for clear communication. OP’s friend may think they’re happy to give them lunchtime rides and not be taking advantage of them – it’s just, like, something friends do for one another. And it’s also doing good to the general public to have one less car on the road! I live in a city and everyone in my neighborhood is better off since I don’t have a car – I’m not taking up a parking space. And as someone with asthma I wish people would drive less. Plus, there’s a lot of assumptions going on here – not everyone can AFFORD a car or a second car, not everyone can drive for medical reasons.

        1. Carpool hater*

          See, this is the kind of sanctimoniousness I really hate from non-drivers (*). “I’m doing so much good for the general public!” “I’m freeing up parking spaces for others.”

          You are doing this by imposing costs on someone else, i.e., creating a very focused negative externality at the same time you create a diffuse positive externality.

          And worse, you’re deliberately ignoring this imposition (“it’s just something friends do for one another”). No, it’s not. I would still be miffed if a friend whose company I enjoyed for other reasons expected me to drive them on various errands over lunch every day.

          (*) Excepting people who have a medical reason not to drive, of course.

          1. Lily*

            I cannot agree with this sentiment enough! If you are going to impose on others, at least have enough self respect to do it authentically and not hide behind sanctimonious nonsense!

        2. paul*

          man, no. Driving someone around every day is NOT something friends just do for each other. I wouldn’t drive a friend places on a daily basis even if they WERE medically unable to drive. Holy crap!

          You’re trying to paint this as something you’re doing for other people while expecting other people to shoulder extra inconvenience on your behalf. Stop. Your life choice or disability or financial situation does not entitle you to expect another perrson to be your taxi, and it doesn’t make people selfish for not wanting to shuttle your butt around.

        3. Temperance*

          It is “majorly inconveniencing” someone to make them responsible for transportation because you choose not to drive.

        4. Bagpuss*

          “And it’s also doing good to the general public to have one less car on the road! I live in a city and everyone in my neighborhood is better off since I don’t have a car – I’m not taking up a parking space”

          It might be doing good for the neighbourhood but it isn’t doing any good for the friends you expect to give you lifts. If your motive is to do good then that’s fine, you can make that choice, but it would involve making your own arrangements for transport, by walking / cycling / using public transport.

          The “friends do things for onbe another” is a separate issue. Of course friends do thing for one another, but in a healthy friendship, it’s a two way thing. Your friend may give you rides from time to time, and maybe you are the ‘go to’ person when they need help with DIY, or cat sitting, or whatever.

          Clear communication is great, but I also think that if you are the one on the receiving end of the favour, *particualrly* where it is a continuing or repeated favour, the onus is on you to think about whether the person doing is really happy to continue to do it. Since we are talking about giving rides here, that could include things such as periodically renewing your offer to contribute to gas/parking etc costs, making it easier for people to say no (e.g. ‘I’m planning to get the train / bus, unless you want company on the drive’ rather than’can you pick me up’) or even specially telling someone that you appreciate that it is a big favour and that you will be fine, and will understand, if they say no or would prefer not to give you a ride.
          Of course not everyone can afford a (second) car, but that doesn’t make it OK for them to expect others to sort out their travel needs.
          I suspect one reason there are so many strong reactions is because so many people have had bad experiences with entitled passengers.

      8. Artemesia*

        I think it is good to be sensitive to this. My husband can no longer drive because of his vision and I really don’t like to drive in the city although I do when I must. We have friends who volunteer to pick us up and drive us to various plays, concerts, dinners etc. I try to avoid this when it means them coming to get us and then doubling back to the event; they are generous but we don’t want to become the burdensome couple. So we use public transport most of the time and meet them at the venue and then are grateful for a ride home when weather dictates. We also host dinners and organize events that include them. If someone does a favor often then it is important to figure out how to return the favor in some other way — maybe tickets to something, or take him to dinner or something that makes his life easier.

      9. Mahkara*

        I don’t think you need to feel guilty. (Esp. if he’s making the exact same drive he’d otherwise make.) But as the regular driver in my group (I’m a city liver and have a TON of friends who don’t have cars and rely on me to drive 80-100% of the time), I think there are a few things you can do to make it seem less like you’re taking advantage…

        1) Offer to pay for gas and pay for all of it. (As noted above, gas is a pretty minor % of the cost of driving. So it always feels more than a bit annoying when I go on, say, a road trip, have my car trashed, and then am offered like $20 for a $60 gas bill as the person who accepted the ride glows about how generous they’re being.) He may say “no”, but it’s at least an offer.

        2) Do other stuff for the person that takes time/money. (i.e. make a nice dinner for them, or take them out for drinks periodically or something. I think your present idea is a nice touch.)

        I think the main thing is to just recognize that driving really is annoying for a lot of us (me included) and pretty expensive, so not something that should just be assumed.

      10. Temperance*

        I would thank him and make it as easy on him as possible. A friend of mine has really worn out her welcome with rides to and from our local sports team matches. We all have season tickets, and she just assumed that we’ll be driving her. It’s really annoying, actually, and has made me like her less. (We have to schedule around her because she has a different work schedule, caregiving needs, etc.)

        The fact that you don’t make him drop you off at home is actually a huge plus.

      11. Not So NewReader*

        I agree that this is not the same as OP’s setting.
        For one thing it’s finite. You go just to the hobby and you both know that the season will end.
        Next, this is two friends sharing something fun. It’s nice to have someone to go to a hobby with. And it’s nice to have someone who will talk about a hobby at length. Your conversation and sharing adds something to your friend’s life.
        Your friend WANTS to chat and visit. OP wants quiet time.

    3. LCL*

      It’s also about the aggravation of having to clean out the car more often than once a week. Doesn’t everybody keep spare reading glasses and sunglasses and old newspapers and the jacket you needed in the morning but don’t now and the sandals you brought to wear after work and the books you were going to drop off at your mom’s and extra baggies for walking the dog, on the passenger seat and floor of their car? I laugh when boyfriend says to pick up the garbage, if it was all garbage it would be easy. It’s not garbage, it’s a couple of kind bar wrappers, and the rest is stuff that has to be put away somewhere.

      1. Lady Bug*

        And 4 empty coffee cups, your grand baby’s toys, random receipts, breakfast food wrappers, and empty water bottles!

      2. nonegiven*

        That’s what my husband said, clean out my car.

        There is usually an empty bottle and a wrapper of some kind on the floor. Everything else is in there for a reason and won’t be going anywhere.

    4. Brogrammer*

      People who impose are gonna impose. If the mooching non-drivers of the world all suddenly started driving, it wouldn’t change their personalities. They’d just find another way to mooch.

  15. Clever Name*

    Ugh. What an unpleasant situation. Honestly, I feel like someone who thinks it’s okay to ask someone a huge favor like this on a routine basis knows on some level how big an imposition it is but relies on the social contract of “being nice” to basically force the other person to do it. You’re not the selfish one; she is.

    1. WPH*

      Yeah, if she previously shared a car with her boyfriend she knows (or should know) the cost of maintenance, time, gas (2 bucks gets you a gallon at best where I’m from) and she knows that 2 bucks isn’t enough and the inconvenience of giving a daily ride to someone who will not reciprocate is more than a monetary one. The ridesharing is bad enough but the expectation of chauffeuring during lunch is really, really over-the-top.

      OP- I vote for a kind version of the truth as lying might lead you to believe you’ve done something wrong/unfair and you haven’t. It’s your car/time/peace of mind do with it what you want.

    2. Jaguar*

      Leaving aside the lunch trips, carpooling is not a “huge favour” – it’s a thing coworkers commonly do when they’re both travelling from roughly the same place, as is happening in the letter. Calling carpooling “selfish” is really weird, to say the least. You can personally prefer the time being alone, but people who enter into a carpooling arrangement aren’t taking advantage of others for their own gain: they’re negotiating better ways of living together in a society.

        1. Jaguar*

          I don’t see how carpooling implies that and there are many situations that work out fine for everyone involved when one person is always the one driving (for instance, when a second party lives halfway between the driver and work, which probably describes most cases).

        2. Carpool hater*

          “Leaving aside the lunch trips, carpooling is not a “huge favour” – it’s a thing coworkers commonly do when they’re both travelling from roughly the same place, as is happening in the letter. ”

          Assuming they both banker’s hours. Which in today’s workplace (particularly in managerial positions) is increasingly uncommon. Otherwise, how do you know that someone won’t need to stay until 9pm?

      1. CityMouse*

        The a appointments are WAY beyond normal carpooling though. That is
        a HUGE favor. LW is regularly giving up her lunch break.

        1. Jaguar*

          Absolutely, the lunch trips are beyond the pale. I just want to object to the people vilifying people who aren’t the drivers in carpooling situations which seems deranged to me. I think it’s helpful for the OP to make a distinction between the two: carpooling is totally normal but something they’re under no obligation to do while the special lunch trips are an absurd imposition by the coworker.

          1. paul*

            I don’t think that’d be happening if the coworker was paying more than a fairly nominal fee (for most areas in most situations), and/or they weren’t expecting rides during lunches. She basically committed enough faux pas to get everyone to go right to BEC stage as far as car stuff went.

      2. kb*

        I wouldn’t call the coworker selfish for requesting to make the original arrangement they did. Presumably the LW agreed to the amount they would be paid, so until LW says something the coworker believes they are both satisfied with the arrangement.

        I would say the lunch break rides and their frequency put it over the edge, though. I wouldn’t ask that of one person unless I was making it up them in a big way and even then I would preface the question with “feel free to say no, but…” Best case scenario, I put her as an oblivious “might as well ask” type. Worst case, she’s a taker and this will only escalate unless firmly stopped.

      3. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Seriously this. Some of the comments here about carpooling are utterly baffling to me.

      4. Artemesia*

        A carpool is several people driving each other; it is a social contract. This is not a carpool, this is an imposition by one person who doesn’t want to drive on another person who does all the driving.

        1. Jaguar*

          It isn’t, though, unless you have some evidence that the majority of the time it’s people staggering who has the responsibility to drive. As mentioned above, in nearly all the cases of carpooling I know of (both being involved in them and knowing coworkers who do it), the people who carpool are all along the same route to work and the person furthest out on that route is who drives. For instance, if someone lives directly 5km west of work and someone else lives directly 10km west of work, it makes perfect sense for the 10km person to drive and it’s completely asinine for the 5km person to drive, since it triples their route (5km west and then the full 10km east).

          1. Ninja*

            I share rides to a meeting each fortnight; I’m en route to the location and a friend who lives further away often picks me up. But I give rides in return, even though they take me out of my way in order to reciprocate and to show that I don’t expect her to do all the driving. The extra distance is how I “pay” for my rides with her.

    3. Alice*

      Wow, I think this is going pretty far. Asking for a favor, even a huge favor, is not forcing someone to do it.
      And if a “guesser” agrees to do a huge favor that an “asker” wanted, and the “guesser” end up holding a grudge about the imposition — well, frustrating for all concerned but I wouldn’t say that the “guesser” had been nice…. I suppose it really is hard for askers and guessers to communicate indeed.

      1. paul*

        To me, there’s limits to the guesser/asker thing. I have a hard time articulating them, so this may be a bit muddled.

        I tend to be more towards the asking end of the spectrum myself. But even as an asker, you have to absolutely realize that some request–particularly repeated ones–are an imposition, and you have to realize that not everyone *is* an asker.

        1. FlibertyG*

          I think it’s a kindness if you’re an Asker to leave people a really easy out, recognizing that some people will feel obliged by your request. “I would understand completely if this is too inconvenient for you, but I was wondering …”

          1. JB (not in Houston)*

            Yep, I think that’s the key (and I think Paul is correct). I am definitely an Asker with my closest friends, but I always, always try to phrase it in a way that is clear that it’s truly not a big deal to me if they say no and that I’d rather they say no if they don’t want to.

            1. FlibertyG*

              This was the eye opening moment for me with my Asker friend (who had been driving me nuts): she was like, it’s not “nicer” to let me think that you don’t mind when actually you’re fuming with resentment! I would rather not have the favor if it upsets you this much – I could have asked someone else or changed my plan! I just figured I’d check with you first!

              To me, I didn’t see how she could be so oblivious as to not realize I was not thrilled to be doing these favors but it takes all kinds of people to make a world.

              1. Artemesia*

                I laughed at this. People who take and take and take and are surprised people don’t like to mooched from entirely bemuse me. Why would she think you are thrilled to do favor after favor after favor?

                1. Sue Wilson*

                  Because they assume that it will eventually be reciprocal because you will ASK them if you too need a big favor and that people will be honest about what they’re feeling and different people have difference tolerances for favors so it would OBVIOUSLY be necessary to let someone know where your personal ones are, etc. It’s not that hard to see why different cultural assumptions would come into play here.

                2. FlibertyG*

                  Yes, Sue Wilson is correct. A) If I minded, she expected me to be able to say so like an adult, so she was assuming I *really didn’t mind* and B) She was expecting I would Ask if I needed something, which I would never do unless there was an emergency (and then she would often say Oh Sorry I Can’t, assuming her No meant as little as my No “should” have hahaha). She really wasn’t wrong, it was just – an entirely different mode of communication and we couldn’t work it out for a while. Now we have adapted because I learned Ask culture and I say No openly when I don’t want to do something – she is still a pretty lousy Guesser though haha.

                3. biobottt*

                  Because merely asking for a favor is not taking. Also, asking for a favor does not preclude doing a favor in return at some later date. Why would you think either of these things?

        2. Turtle Candle*

          I do remember when an Asker friend of mine said, “Well, you could always just say no!” I was, I admit, fairly frustrated at that point, and said, “You could also always not ask!”

          “But that would be….”

          “Hard to remember? Inconvenient? Makes you feel weird and squidgy?”


          “Well, ditto.”

          It’s possible to work it out; we did. But it’s not as easy as “everybody just learn to communicate like an Asker.”

          1. Sue Wilson*

            I feel like comparing “remember where someone’s personal boundaries are for favors”, which isn’t explicit or laid out or necessarily context-less, so that it’s not necessarily the same boundary in every situation to “remember to say no” is a false comparison of effort. I’m not saying you can’t say “saying no” is an effort you don’t want. But let’s not pretend it’s the same effort.

            1. Turtle Candle*

              I’m honestly not sure how this kind of emotional effort could even be compared. My point wasn’t that it was equal–how could I possibly know? For some people, getting in the shower in the morning is legitimately more effort than they can manage–but that it’s important to recognize that saying “just do it my way! That way it will be easy (for me)!” is fundamentally self-serving. In both directions.

            2. paul*

              You’re pinning *all* the effort on one person and that isn’t cool.

              I tend towards ask due to my life experience but I feel like it’s important to modulate my ask to an extent; don’t ask for large favors just because, and spread them out among my social circle. Don’t ask for stuff at most interactions. Doing things like that’ll chap other askers eventually even.

  16. K*

    I’ve actually been on the opposite side of this and think that a gentle version of the truth is best. I have a really nice co-worker who would drop me off after work while she was picking up her wife, but it became too much of a hassle for her to keep up with so she very politely told me that it was too hard for her. There were zero hard feelings, I thanked her for all of the times she helped me, and we both continued to get along well. I’d say be kind but firm about your need for alone time and unless your coworker is totally unreasonable it’ll be a-ok.

  17. AnotherAlison*

    One more thing to consider–I have several coworkers who are spouses & drive separately. Just because you live in proximity to your coworker does not obligate you to drive her. It’s highly unusual these days for two people to have the same schedule regularly enough for this to work, even people in the same job and same house!

    Back in my grandma’s working years, she carpooled with a friend, but they took turns driving and both wanted to save money (and both benefitted). Your current arrangement is only a “win” for your coworker.

    1. Health Insurance Nerd*

      Yup, this. My husband and I work for the same company and never commute together. We’ve had people argue that it’s a waste of money to drive two cars in (and I don’t disagree), but he is up and in the office by 6:45am, and I just cannot get it together to be up and ready that early. Plus I don’t have the flexibility to leave at 3:30 like he does. And also, I like to nerd out to NPR in private.

      1. Emi.*

        It’s a *use of time and money to drive too cars in. It’s not a waste because you are getting something for it. (It may not be a good use, but that’s not their business.)

      2. Temperance*

        \I find it confusing when people feel so damn judgy about how others spend their money. I spent about $200/month on housekeeping and lawn services, and have no regrets.

    2. Friday*

      My spouse and I used to work next door to each other for years and we still drove separately. I started 1/2 hour earlier than him, and we both wanted the freedom of having our own cars at lunch and to be able to run errands on the way home.

    3. AlaskaKT*

      So much this. My husband and I used to work at the same place, same building and same hours and still didn’t carpool. I was often called upon to stay late, and he had a flexible lunch so would sometimes leave early. Driving two cars made more sense than having someone drive back to pick the other one up of something happened.

  18. N/A*

    * Or the vaguer option: “I’m not going to be able to keep driving you to and from work after Monday so wanted to let you know in time for you to make other plans.” Then if pressed about why: “I’m finding it makes it hard for me to do things before or after work without planning it ahead of time.”

    I like this one the best since it is honest and does not require you to consider or even maintain the possible details of a cover story.

    1. Wakeen's Duck Club*

      I think it was Mark Twain who said, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”

      We at Wakeen’s Duck Club believe honesty is always the best policy. If you can tell the truth, tell it! You’ll be glad you did (sorry for the cliche).

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I like it too.
      “I am finding that this is more than I am able to commit to.”
      OP, can even say, “I made a mistake in saying that I could do this. I have found that it’s more than I can do.”

  19. Wakeen's Duck Club*

    Definitely tell the truth, but also consider offering to drive them on a limited basis – maybe once a week?

    1. Clever Name*

      Why? The OP really has no obligation to continue doing this large favor for her coworker. I know from experience that doing something out of a feeling of guilt just makes you feel resentful.

      1. Pomona Sprout*

        Agreed. This coworker has already shown that when offered an inch, she’ll gladly take a mile. That being the case, it would be unwise to offer her even a centimeter.

      1. Jules the Third*

        She could do that because she wants some interaction, just not as much as she’s been getting. It doesn’t *have* to be all or none. It does have to be the OP setting her boundaries politely, firmly and consistently.

        My recommendation is
        1) Honest discussion
        2) Set a limit that is yours (x days/week (0/1/2); no lunch errands)

        hahahhaha – re: Direct / Indirect – as I was typing this comment, my husband started testing ringtones next to me (as part of IT support for me). I said, ‘that is loud’: no reaction. I said, ‘Could you turn that down?’ Instant, ‘oh, sorry,’ sound down.

        1. CM*

          Your comment made me realize that I am training my children to be Askers. I do not respond, and get annoyed, when they say, “I’m hungry” or make some other bald statement about their needs (within reason; “I’m bleeding” would get a reaction). But I will always respond to, “I’m hungry. Can I have a snack, please?”

          I like the responses here that are along the lines of, “I’ve realized this isn’t working for me.” I think it offers more of an explanation than “I’m not driving you anymore” and is more honest than the cover stories (even vague ones like, “Driving you makes it harder for me to do things before and after work”). 100% agree with the commenters saying that cover stories are very rarely a good idea — they invite skepticism and if the person is angry about the position you staked out, they can use your cover story as evidence that you are sneaky or have a personal problem with them.

  20. Nekussa*

    “She also knows that I generally just get food or go shopping during my lunch hours and should theoretically be available to drive her to appointments.”

    You say you’re “just” getting food or shopping, but those are not unimportant things! Your time is valuable and those tasks are necessary. You are unable to complete your own tasks if you are driving her around so it is a real issue.

    1. WPH*

      This. She thinks that her use of YOUR time is more valuable than your use of your time and she is wrong.

    2. FlibertyG*

      Haha the errands really pushed it over the edge for me. This coworker should have the self-awareness to know they were already getting a generous offer and not pushed it – do your errands on your own time!

    3. paul*

      no joke! I do chores on lunch, so in theory I’m available…but damnit I want to get my laundry and dishes done!

  21. Jessica*

    What about something like, “This was an okay arrangement in the short term, but I’ve found that it makes it harder for me to plan for things before or after work. Plus, if you have appointments and stuff over the lunch hour, then it seems clear that you need reliable transportation of your own.” After all, this person DOES have access to a car, she supposedly shares one with her boyfriend. If she’s gonna negotiate with anyone for a ride, it should be the person with whom she allegedly co-owns a vehicle. (Although considering the chutzpah required to ask someone you barely know to drive you all over, maybe she “shares” a car with her boyfriend the same way she “shares” one with OP.)

    But it’s not mean to tell someone they can’t use your stuff anymore. You don’t need to justify why you won’t reserve your resources for someone else’s use. “No thank you, I’m not comfortable with doing that,” is enough of an explanation.

  22. Sherry*

    These kinds of issues between car-owning and non-car-owning friends can be sticky. The car-owning friend is usually doing more “favours” than the non-car-owning friend. And in the OP’s case, they’re not even friends!

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      I don’t drive. I get buses. I definitely don’t expect people to ferry me about!

    2. FlibertyG*

      Haha I have had some tense friendship moments over the use of my car! I feel like such a jerk for not wanting to lend it but … it’s a huge investment of my money, and I don’t know what they think they’re going to do if they wreck it! (I live in a big city where many folks don’t drive and my friends cheerfully assure me that the best deal of all is to find a friend who drives!! Uhhh …).

      1. Marisol*

        I have never in my life asked to borrow a friend’s car and I didn’t even know that was something people commonly did. The few times I have driven someone else’s car out of necessity I’ve hated it–too much pressure because, indeed, what am I going to do if I get into an accident? It’s the car that’s insured, not the driver, so my friend will still be on the hook. Ugh, I congratulate you for NOT lending it.

        1. JeanB in NC*

          My insurance covers anyone who drives my car and I believe it also covers me driving another person’s car. I guess I just assumed all policies were like that.

          1. Marisol*

            Oh really? I must be making the same assumption, that all policies are like mine. Or maybe I am covered as a driver but failed to realize that…I guess I’ll have a look at my insurance policy now… (still though, even if I am personally liable for wrecking friend’s car, that’s a nerve-wracking thought to me…)

          2. CityMouse*

            It depends. My mom prefers to have a named person on her insurance driving (my youngest sister is still on the policy) because it is much safer to have someone named on the policy driving.

          3. FlibertyG*

            I don’t know if it does or not, which is part of my problem! And easiest for me to just say no – if THEY want to research my car insurance and call the company, maybe we can talk. Also what if the accident is their fault? Are they really going to repay me all the damage AND the increase to my future insurance?

          4. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

            A lot of policies will cover liability only if someone other than the insured person is driving the car and causes an accident — meaning that the insurance will pay for the other injured party’s damages, but it may not cover the damages of the insured. There are also deductibles to be paid even if the insurance covers it. The car owner now has a damaged vehicle (which may or may not be drivable), will need to spend money out of pocket to repair it (whether it’s the whole repair cost or just the deductible $500 – $1,000), potentially money for a rental while the car is being repaired, a car that is now worth less money, and most likely a higher insurance premium going forward. Unless the car borrower can cover ALL of that in cash, the car owner is going to be on the hook for some big expenses.

          5. Elizabeth West*

            I don’t know–I have full coverage on mine (because I can’t afford not to, even though I don’t have a car loan), but I have no idea if it covers someone else driving it. Now I want to check.

            1. Marisol*

              I kinda feel like I failed at adulting a little bit today, not knowing exactly what my policy covers…although I have a feeling that I did know at one point, but forgot…

          6. Not So NewReader*

            I know when I get a rental car I sign that I will not allow anyone else to drive the car. I can get a rental cheaper because of having my car in for repair so the rental is covered under my insurance as a temporary replacement vehicle.
            My husband, who was an insurance adjuster for a while said that I could borrow a friend’s vehicle and it would be covered under this same clause if I could prove my car was not available/not operating.

            Insurance companies will duke it out over who pays the bill. One company will pay upfront and then go after another insurance company for reimbursement.

        2. Amadeo*

          I don’t and never have asked to borrow anyone’s car but my parents’. I have had exactly one person beg me to allow them to use my truck, a coworker at a kennel job I had. They were unlicensed but also would not stop asking. I told them just this once, but the terms were that if something happened or they got pulled over by the local small town cop, my story was that they’d picked up my keys while I was back in the kennels and gone without my permission.

          This person was enough of a risk-taker that they agreed, but they also never asked me again. They made sure they had other arrangements to do SO or child pick-ups after that. My truck at that time was a little secondhand Ranger. It would never, ever happen now that I have my F150.

    3. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      This is so true. I’ve been trying to figure out why I’m reacting so strongly to this letter, and you helped me realize it’s because I’m actually reacting to frustration I’ve had in friendships with carless folks. It’s probably the primary reason I’m not close with my best high school friend.

      1. Stellaaaaa*

        It’s one of those “anecdotal experience is still data” things. Sure, not everyone who doesn’t drive is a presumptive jerk, but I’ve never met a single car-owner who hasn’t had at least one negative experience relating to driving someone else around. If you’re making the decision to not get your license or to not buy a car, it doesn’t count as problem-solving to say, “I’ll just mooch off of other people who have managed to fulfill certain components of being an independent adult in a country without a functioning public transportation system.” Obviously I am not talking about people who cannot drive for legitimate reasons or who have made positive arrangements with other people.

        1. kb*

          Yes! I think what makes a big difference in my judgement of a situation is if they truly cannot own a car for a legitimate reason and/or genuinely only needs a car 5 times a year or less vs. people who opt out of a car to save money/hassle with the expectation they can just mooch off someone more responsible than they are.

          1. kb*

            This is why Rory crashing with lane in the Gilmore Girls reboot bothered me so much. Like, Rory, Lane put a lot of her dreams on hold so she could work and put a roof over her kids’ heads– you do not get to just crash with her because you think you are too good for consistent, paying work at an online news outlet.

          2. Stellaaaaa*

            I think the issue is that the polite/reasonable non-drivers have already worked out a non-burdensome mode of getting around. They have accepted that saving money on not having a car necessitates that they spend money on cabs. If someone has the temerity to repeatedly ask you to spare them the cost of an Uber, that person is already on the rude side of the spectrum. There are very few polite people who think it’s acceptable to ask for so many favors to begin with.

            I’m reminded of my cousin contacting me for the first time in 2 years when he needed a ride to the hospital to visit a friend I didn’t know. I’m reminded of the acquaintance who had a DUI a few years ago and never got his license back because he prefers to continue drinking heavily with the justification that he’ll never have to drive, but who will avoid paying for an Uber in any way he can. These people in general aren’t positive elements in my life and they’re just draining overall so yeah, they get filtered into the “why I don’t make a habit of driving people around” file. So while these are just my experiences, I think they speak to an overall truth that considerate and kind people will not proactively ask for favors without understanding how much they’re asking of others. If you’re only texting me because you want to save $10 and don’t care that I’m the one busting my butt to make sure you arrive safely at home, you’re showing me exactly what you think of me and I don’t have to be nice about it.

          3. Dust Bunny*

            I had a friend who was a non-car-owner for environmental reasons, and harped a lot on how people shouldn’t drive, etc, but had no trouble asking me for rides. I was never available when she needed one . . .

            That said, I do not ever lend out my car. Maybe to my mom or my brother, but that’s it. My dad drives like a jerk, so I wouldn’t let him borrow it.

        2. JB (not in Houston)*

          *raises hand* I have never had a negative experience related to driving someone around. I have occasionally had people ask for rides when I didn’t want to give them one, but I just gave an excuse and said no.

          1. Jules the Third*

            Same here. I’ve given (and gotten) lots of rides in my mid-sized Southern town with mediocre bus transit. No one’s abused it. A lot is about the expectations – if you don’t have a vehicle in our town, it’s because you can’t have one for some reason. You could not survive through mooching.

        3. Treecat*

          I really feel for people who can’t drive for medical reasons because in the US we live in a society that is supremely car-focused. I am in a major west coast city and our public transportation is absolute trash. I have several friends with vision impairments, severe car-related anxiety or PTSD, or conditions like epilepsy that make driving REALLY risky. They really can’t drive, and are there affordable social service and/or transportation options available for these folks? LOL, nope.

            1. Anxa*

              Where I live you have to have documented disabilities to use Paratransit.

              And that’s a really huge barrier to clear for many people. Especially when there’s not a physical issue.

      2. Turtle Candle*

        Yyyyyyep. Have a friend who I otherwise love but who drives me completely mental with his entitlement to my car. (He can drive, he has a license, he used to own a car, but he doesn’t want the expense. He is employed ina lucrative career and has low expenses, so in his case, it’s not a matter of “can’t.”) Giving him a ride to places, okay. I can deal. It’s mildly inconvenient, but he’s a friend I can deal. But he complains that he has to leave work when I’m ready to go rather than he is, and then he’ll need to work extra hours tomorrow–and that I always want to get to events early (it’s true, I do) and he doesn’t and so he has to arrive when I want and then wait–and that if I have to drop him off for something early so I can do another errand that’s also inconvenient–and mild sulkiness if I drop him off at the train station so he can catch a ride home rather than driving ten minutes each way out of my way for the last leg–and on and on and on. And sometimes with a weird soupcon of moral superiority about Not Owning a Car.

        He’s otherwise a nice guy. I like him. But the car thing is…. wearying.

        1. Temperance*

          Seriously, I would just turn him down every time. It sounds like you’re getting nothing out of this arrangement.

          1. Turtle Candle*

            Well, except his friendship, which is valuable to me in many other ways when the car isn’t involved. It’s a fairly complicated cost/benefit analysis. (And no, he wouldn’t stop being my friend if I stopped taking him to things. But I would see him less often, so….)

      3. Temperance*

        Yep. I have a friend who has a car, but it’s not the best quality and is frequently broken down. She just expects rides from us. I don’t invite her many places because we have to take her and pick her up, and it’s damn annoying.

        1. PaperTowel*

          The entitlement from an ex couple friend set of mine was so strong that they once asked me to drive fifty miles to give them a life to the doctors surgery a twenty minute drive away from their house, which they could easily have gotten a bus or cab to and weren’t physically unable to do so, before driving fifty miles back home again. Granted, fifty miles is no big deal for me in terms of time and effort (though I need to factor in petrol costs), but the brazenness was unreal. They once tried to get me to cat sit their house for the weekend by phrasing it as an awesome offer I couldn’t turn down: ‘you can have full and exclusive use of our house for the weekend we’re away’ like… I have my own house and no reason to stay in that city. Words fail me. They never once came to visit me! Needless to say we are no longer friends.

          Another best friend of mine lives near them and had serious (terminal) health issues. I regularly drive the 100 mile round trip on a weekend afternoon just to drop in for a coffee and hang out or offer to do it to time with being able to take him to a hospital visit, he’s never once asked and when he asks what else I’m up to in my visit and I say I’m just going back home again he always said I shouldn’t have gone all that way to see him.

          He doesn’t expect, he appreciates it, has visited me when he’s been well enough. I will drop everything to be there for him as a result. The couple i mentioned, i got so sick of their mooching ways I cut them out a couple years ago and haven’t seen them since.

    4. blackcat*

      I loan out my car on occasion to exactly 1 highly trusted, non-car owning friend. She comes to my house (which is not convenient to her!) to pick up and drop off my car. When I am out of town, she stays at my house and takes care of the cat. She tends to plan big errands for my vacations.

      She also supplies me with baked goods and excessive thanks whenever she asks during a non-vacation time for me. The car is always returned with more gas than it had previously.

      A+ car-borrowing friend, gets car privileges whenever it is not disruptive to my plan. I have 1 such friend, and many carless friends who DO NOT GET MY CAR. They are good people, but have little awareness of the costs of maintaining a car. I think some of it is that we are relatively young (30ish), and many of my friends have been urban dwellers since college and used to use family cars as teenagers. My A+ friend comes from a working class background, and had to own/maintain/etc her own car where she lived initially post-college.

      I also have one friend who always wonders why I am not willing to drive with her to events further out in the suburbs (generally planned by a mutual friend who also owns a car). I live in the transition zone between urban and suburban. She lives in the urban core, like 4 miles away, and it can take 20-30 minutes to drive those 4 miles. If I drive into the city to pick her up and then out again, it can triple my time to an event. She does. not. get. it. She doesn’t even offer to deal with her own transit to/from my house (there is a bus! a highly convenient bus!).

      1. Marillenbaum*

        Your good car-friend sounds like a truly ace human being. I currently do not have a car, but I aspire to being this carless friend to my friends who have vehicles (I used to own a car, both in the suburbs and my current city). As for the other person–yikes! If you want to carpool with someone who has a car, you come to them; that’s the bare minimum. MAYBE they can give you a ride back to your place, or a conveniently-located public transit stop.

        1. blackcat*

          Yeah, one time I offered the subway stop that is ~1.5 miles away from my house and roughly on the way. She lives 3 blocks from a stop on the same line, and still asked me to come to her! If we didn’t have a good mutual friend (who I’ve been friends with for longer), I would drop her as a friend.

          Honestly, in the OPs situation, the woman asking to be taken on errands is behaving a lot like my friend! There *are* considerate ways to ask for a ride/carpool situation. Some people are clueless and ask for WAY more of your time than what is reasonable. It is not hard to not be that guy (or woman, as these cases are).

    5. PaperTowel*

      I had no idea car borrowing was such a thing! I’m in the U.K. and it would be a very rare and extreme situation for me or a friend to have cause or legal standing to use one another’s cars. For one thing, most people’s insurance is for their car so to borrow another person’s car would mean setting up a temporary one day insurance cover which wouldn’t be cheap and means you might as well get a rental. For another, some people DO have insurance that lets them drive any car legally but that doesn’t necessarily mean that in the case of an accident the original owners insurance premiums won’t increase and they won’t be severely put out if their car is totalled. When people just borrow someone else’s car on this thread is it legal and above board or just a casual ‘use it and hope I don’t crash’ deal?

  23. Ramona Flowers*

    Well yes, you are being ‘selfish’ in that you are wanting to prioritise your own wishes and look after yourself AND THAT IS FINE AND IMPORTANT AND OKAY TO DO!

    Where and when did you learn that it’s not? The wider stuff you mention may be something to work through with a therapist. Because it’s really important to give yourself permission to put yourself first sometimes!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Love this.

      At an extreme the rule is “Do not allow yourself to fall apart, so that others have to take care of you.”
      A dialed back version is “Invest in yourself routinely, do not allow yourself to be drained and drained by others or situations.”

      Don’t lose yourself in the process of “saving” others.

  24. Sarah*

    I think these are all awesome scripts! Something to consider is whether you’re okay with giving occasional rides if something comes up vs. if you really never want to offer rides at all. Either one is a totally fine option! But since you mentioned that you’re more okay with the one-off favors versus the on-going commitment, it’s just something to think about and potentially use in your answer. For example, you could say “I realized I’m more introverted than I thought and I really need that alone time on my drive right before and after work to recharge — it’s nothing personal! But if you ever have a scheduling emergency or something, let me know and I can see if it works that day.” But ultimately you don’t have to offer that if it feels like she’ll take advantage or otherwise it’s simply not something you’re interested in. Presumably this person was finding some way to get to work before you guys began carpooling, and will continue to do so after.

    The lunch thing will probably solve itself once the carpooling thing is fixed (since she’ll maybe now have a car with her at work to get to those appointments), but these sound even more annoying than the carpooling itself! At least carpooling arrangements with coworkers are a semi-standard thing that people do — and sometimes enjoy! — if it’s their personality to enjoy chatting during that time. But it’s quite another thing to expect your coworker to be a personal chauffeur — there’s not even a potential benefit to you (like gas money or a conversation partner), it’s just expecting you to be their on-call servant on an ongoing basis. This is not like a few times a year her car broke down and she’s asking for an occasional favor — using up your lunch break to drive her around 1-2 times a WEEK is a huge imposition. I think you’re perfectly in the clear here to just say that you really need your lunch to be a BREAK from the workday rather than extra work — again, if you’re up for it you could offer to help occasionally if there’s a real emergency, but say that the weekly schedule is really starting to burn you out. A reasonable friend would recognize that this is a HUGE ask and hopefully be a little embarrassed at how they’d been taking advantage.

    1. Sadsack*

      Yeah, usually with carpooling, people switch driving at intervals. But even if you were ok with rides to and from work, I can’t imagine having to haul someone around to doctors appointments, etc., over my lunch break. No way. It doesn’t matter if you gave nothing to do at lunch but sit and cruise AAM, that’s your time to spend how you want. You are not inconveniencing anyone by doing what you want.

      1. Sarah*

        Yeah, I actually don’t mind carpooling to/from work — a coworker and I sometimes do this when our schedules align, and although we trade off the driving, I wouldn’t mind doing most of it if it happened to work out that way. We’re friends outside of work and both prefer having someone to chat with versus driving alone — obviously that is not everyone’s personality, but I definitely feel like for some people the extra person in the car is a benefit rather than a burden! But there is absolutely no two-way street/mutual benefit with “drive me places you wouldn’t otherwise be going because I’ve judged your free time to be unimportant.”

      2. TootsNYC*

        One advantage of that sort of carpool arrangement is that everybody actually has their own car, and so you can bow out from riding one day, or even from driving, without messing someone up completely.

    2. Temperance*

      I’m an introvert, and I think that saying that you want to be alone to recharge will get some serious pushback from a pushy taker like this person.

      1. PaperTowel*

        Probably… no reason not to be honest with her if that is the reason though!

        I need my own time and space and regularly go off during work and training days alone for food or just to walk around alone rather than spend the one hour I get alone with the same people I’m spending eight hours of the day with. A couple people made comments to begin with about me being antisocial but I laughed it off and carried on doing my own thing, blissfully!

  25. TootsNYC*

    Also, some advice for our OP to use in the future:

    Maybe you need a rule. Like:
    -I never do recurring favors for anyone, ever.
    -I never do favors that might make someone (them OR me OR an observer OR my best friend) think they should pay me money (so, no carpooling, no driving someone in lieu of a taxi, no babysitting, etc.)
    -I never do favors for people I haven’t known for at least X time
    -I never do favors, esp. not recurring ones, for a coworkers (sort of like not friending colleagues on Facebook) or anyone else when the relationship would make it awkward to quit

    You don’t have to delineate these for someone else; they can be just your own rule. And then you can say, “No, I’m sorry, I can’t.”

    Another rule you might have for yourself is, “Let me think about it.” And then have a rule that says you need three days and you must call your slightly crabby friend/relative who can be counted on to look out for you, and ask her/him: “What would be the downside?”

    Build in some rules that protect you from that pressure. Because believe me, all of us (users and ordinary people alike) know that people feel pressured in the face of someone’s genuine need.

    (and their genuine need doesn’t mean YOU have to be the one to fix it)

    Also, another piece of advice (hey, I’m on a roll!): I want to expand on this from Cucumberzucchini, above:

    Just don’t make a big deal out of it and if she gets upset about it, well she’s the unreasonable one.

    Really play this as just an ordinary thing. Be blithely pleasant about it; if she complains, be slightly bemused (bewildered and amused). “I’m sorry if it’s inconvenient for you to stop–it’s getting inconvenient for me to keep going.” And “it’s just not working for me anymore.”

    (I do like the, “I need my alone time in the car.”)

    1. TootsNYC*

      Or, if you feel you personally get taken advantage of, maybe a rule that says,
      -“I don’t do favors for someone that I wouldn’t ask someone else for myself–in my current life, not hypothetically”
      -“I don’t do favors for people who haven’t already done a favor for me”
      -“I don’t do favors for someone unless they are someone *I* would ask to do the same thing for me.”

    2. Red Reader*

      I am many people’s crabby friend for just such an occasion. The number of conversations I’ve had that begin with “I need you to tell me why this is a bad idea” ….

    3. Not So NewReader*

      My fav is “Expect something in return.” Don’t give away your efforts, things, money without expecting something back.

      Keep the expectation flexible but do expect something. I mentioned upthread that my friend is going shopping with me tomorrow. We are doing basic household errands. I know I will get it back. If it’s not help with the furnace or the dog, then it will be help with the tractor. I know it’s coming back to me in a bit.

  26. Super Anon for This*

    OP, I have been in this situation too. I am a people pleaser and I tend to feel bad when I can’t give/be what people want, though not so much anymore.

    In light of that, my advice is to tell her the truth in a kind way and to change. Your entire life you are going to have people asking reasonable and unreasonable things of you. People asking you on dates, family asking you for money and asking inappropriate questions, friends borrowing things and asking for favors, coworkers dumping you with their tasks. Unless you want to spend your whole life doing these things, and feeling resentful, you have to learn, not only to say no quickly, calmly, and easily, but how not to feel guilty about it.

    The person doing the asking is the one “imposing” so to speak. You don’t owe anyone anything. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.

    I could remove every small pleasure, every magazine subscription, every unnecessary expense from life and donate it to charity. I am sure that giving my Netflix money to save the environment is a much better use for it, and it wouldn’t cause me undue suffering.

    But I don’t because I don’t owe anyone anything. I work hard for my money and I deserve some little joy in life. And whether that is $8 once a month or an hour a day alone in your car that is your choice.

    Your coworker has other coworkers they could get a ride from, family members, friends, public transportation, a taxi, a bike, a charity that provides rides, something. They managed before you and they will after you. Making their life easier vs. making your life worse is a no brainer. If this person was hanging from a cliff with only your hand keeping them from falling and you were complaining your wrist was getting sore my answer would be different.

    TL;DR You don’t owe anyone anything, and you shouldn’t feel like you have to make your life a little worse to make someone else’s a little bit better. Practice being assertive, look them in the eye and give the kind but truthful answer.

    1. TootsNYC*

      “Unless you want to spend your whole life doing these things, and feeling resentful, you have to learn, not only to say no quickly, calmly, and easily, but how not to feel guilty about it.”

      True dat!

      And this is a great practice opportunity!

    2. Jiffy*

      I am right there with you!!! Learning to say no can be difficult but extremely empowering.
      I have used “I’m so sorry, this just isn’t a good time for me” or “I’m so sorry, this just isn’t working out” to turn down offers of extra BS at work, cancel plans with friends and even break up with the cable company.

    3. FlibertyG*

      +1 consider this an excellent low stakes way to practice. No doesn’t getting easier over time.

    4. Anon today...and tomorrow*

      My daughter was 2 when she taught me the power of no. We were in a supermarket and she didn’t want to do something and she told me in the clearest way possible that she wasn’t going to comply. She started screaming NO over and over at the top of her lungs. Long story short: we left the supermarket.
      I told my friend this story later and she said that we should start acting like toddlers and say no to stuff we didn’t want to do. We decided to try it for 30 days just to see if we could get away with it. It worked. In that month we said no to things we didn’t want to do – just the word no. No explanation, no excuse, no apology. The first time for me was when a neighbor asked me to babysit her kids at 4am so she could get to an early morning shift. I didn’t want to do it. It was a lot of work! I said no. She asked if I had plans and I said no. She kind of blinked at me with surprise and said “just no?” I nodded and said, “Just no” and she found someone else to watch her kids. After the month my friend and I kept the practice going and it’s been glorious! Although there are people we still struggle to say no to (mom!) but we’re getting better!

      1. Bea*

        I’m side eyeing right now at the neighbor for the push-back when you said no, especially responding with “well do you have plans?”

        The response to “no” is “oh okay!” and you move on. And I’m a spoiled brat, my mom still doesn’t really say no to me but anyone who is not named My Mother, no just means that I need to find another plan for whatever I’m looking for, argh.

      2. Temperance*

        Wow. Your neighbor sucks, but you’re awesome. The only person I would ever help that early is my sister and her wonderful kids. Everyone else can kick rocks.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        This. People are amazing about accepting our limits. But we don’t realize that until we start saying what our limits are in our out-loud voice.

        My friend wants me to do A, B, C and D. I am better off telling my friend before we start that I will do A and D and I will do half of B but I will not do C.
        Say it right at the start. People care more about knowing our limits before hand than they actually care about what our limits are. Just let them know where things are at so they can plan accordingly.

  27. Aphrodite*

    It’s not selfish to want your car to yourself so you can drop that worry. Also, gas is only one of many costs of owning a car (insurance, maintenance, repairs, parking, etc.) so I don’t think someone offering help for gas is great. (My opinion is just that–mine.) Even though it doesn’t matter to you, your privacy does.

    I was once in the same situation. The co-worker, a very nice person, met me on my route so it was not out of my way at all. But after a few months I wanted OUT. I wanted my car for myself. After all, I was supporting it for my convenience and my convenience alone. Despite my determination it still took me a month to say anything. She was nice about the change but I did carry a bit of guilt around. For a day. Then I reveled in the freedom of having my car (and its responsibility) to myself again. I also never offering anyone a ride again.

    1. KR*

      I can agree with the feeling of wanting your car to yourself. My car is my sanctuary. It’s my baby. My safe space. Its one of the most valuable objects I own and I am very proud of it because it’s mine and I bought it myself, no cosigners or help with the payments. Even when my husband uses it (and no, he doesn’t have partial ownership and his name is not on the registration. :)) I get it back and I’m annoyed because he left stuff in it or didn’t leave the aux cord where I like it or something. OP, reclaim your car! It’s okay!

      1. random obs*

        If you’re in a community property state and acquired the car post-marriage, he does have partial ownership!

    2. swingbattabatta*

      Sometimes I just want to listen to my podcast without interruption. Sometimes I want to loudly sing along with the 90s pop music station. Sometimes, I just want silence. It would drive me crazy to spend every commute making idle chit chat or trying to find something to listen to that is mutually pleasing.

  28. Marisol*

    Another way you could approach the cover story is to come up with something private you have to do during your commute, such as talk to your therapist, talk to your (imaginary) friend who is grieving over a loss, or (what I personally do) practice your vocal exercises. I’m sure there are a few other activities that you do in your car (respectable activities I mean, ha ha) that require privacy.

  29. kb*

    I’ve had success saying I am an introvert in order to politely decline lunch invitations and things that I technically can attend (and the asker knows it) but just don’t want to. Even if you don’t identify as an introvert, having a technical term seems to “legitimize” your reasoning with other people and the book Quiet is popular enough that you probably won’t need to explain it.

    I’d probably say something along the lines of, “Hey, I don’t think carpooling is working for me anymore. You’ve been great, but I’m a major introvert and need a lot of alone time to function properly. I’ve noticed my work is starting to suffer. I can keep driving you for (whatever amount of time you think is reasonable for her to find a replacement, like a week), but I really can’t keep this up. I’m so sorry!”

    If you’re actually willing to be an occassional emergency ride for her (and you don’t have to be!), that’d be a nice thing to mention, but throw out an example of an emergency that sets the bar for emergencies very high or else she may try to keep you in her rotation.

    1. kb*

      And I am a pretty introverted person, but it’s also not something your coworker can dispute or disprove.
      Also, you shouldn’t feel bad because presumably she was able to get everywhere before you came into the picture, so she’ll be able to manage on her own once again.

  30. Anonymous Educator*

    * “I’m sorry about this, but I’m not going to be able to give you rides anymore after this week. I’ve realized that I function better when I have some time alone in the car to think at the start and the end of the day.”

    This is great, but you can also do a lighter version of this if you don’t mind giving her rides… just not rides all the time. You can just say you’re an introvert (assuming you are) and need a certain balance of alone time and with-people time, and so you can offer to drive her to work 2 days a week (or 3 days a week, if you’re willing).

  31. Contrarian Annie*

    What would she do (in practical terms) if her arrangement with you no longer existed for logistical reasons e.g. if you leave the job, are sick for more than a few days, start taking public transport or whatever?

    If you are ‘friends’ in some sense I would be inclined to tell some version of the truth — that you need your alone time in the mornings because [I’m an introvert and this is the only alone time I get; sometimes I like to roll out of bed late and don’t have a fixed schedule so I don’t start at a consistent time in the morning — etc]

    Could you give her a ride to therapist appointments (etc) during the day if you travelled to work separately? It may be that you can help her out for a couple but not all of the occasions she asks.

    1. Contrarian Annie*

      On the other hand, I have found white lies very effective even with friends, if you can pull them off convincingly and don’t have any moral issue with doing so. (The key to an effective white lie — or any lie come to think of it — is in the level of detail you speak with!)

  32. Jiffy*

    I agree that Alison’s advice is spot-on. I had a similar situation with a struggling coworker many years ago: young person, single mother, either didn’t have a car or couldn’t drive, lots of personal issues. I gave her a ride home once and she got the idea that because I passed by her exit on the highway on my way home from work, it was the easy and friendly thing for me to do all the time. WRONG! Especially when she started yelling me that she needed a ride, and I was already driving that way anyway.

    I don’t think any creative excuses or cover stories are needed here. I told this girl that, while I was happy to give her a ride now and then (I specified that “now and then” meant one ride home per month) and that otherwise it just wasn’t working out for me. Pressing for additional details would yield more of the same: “I’m really sorry, and I know I have given you rides in the past, but things change and I’m just not able to help you anymore.”
    Corny, but we must take care of ourselves before we can take care of anyone or anything else.

    1. PaperTowel*

      I went out of my way the other week to take a new coworker to the train station for her train when I bumped into her on the way out of an abnormally scheduled clinic and realised she was walking to the station and it’d be ten mins out of my way to take her, it was the first time I met her and she was under no illusions it was en route. As she got out of the car she actually said to me ‘is it okay if we do this every Wednesday?’ to which I was actually speechless… until I remembered words and told her truthfully that this was unlikely to happen again as I am very rarely in the place I was at the time she was finishing. So it was a one off.

      Honestly couldn’t believe the cheek of her to ask a new colleague to go out of their way driving her somewhere on a weekly basis. It really coloured my view of her and as a result when she’s messaged since (being overly friendly for someone I barely know) I’ve replied to the work content but nothing personal and given no default about my whereabouts.

      It says a serious lack of judgment to make that request, and I’m not ashamed of taking steps to avoid become friends with her as a result.

  33. Havarti*

    There was a person at work I didn’t know well who came to me one day with a sob story of how they didn’t have enough money to pay for their medication. Could I loan them $5? I hate being put on the spot like that but I agreed and the person (suprisingly!) paid it back the following week.

    But the week after that, they (not surprisingly) came back to me with another sob story and another request for money. This went on for a while because they did pay me back but one day, I finally had to tell them that I couldn’t keep giving them money because I had my own family to care for. Never saw or heard from them again after that. The money itself wasn’t the hardship. It was the way this person had decided I had become a reliable source of cash and all they had to do was cry at me for it. We were not even friends.

    Moral of the story is always impose limits on favors.

    I don’t think it would be wrong to say “Hey, when I originally agreed to drive together to work, I didn’t realize how much time I would be committing to it including taking you to your appointments and errands. I’m happy to have helped you out for a while but you need to make some other arrangements going forward.” If she complains she paid you (implying she was paying for a service), you say “Yes, I do appreciate you helping to cover the gas while we carpooled since I also took you to other places during the week. However, since we won’t be carpooling together, perhaps you can use that money for Uber or Lyft.”

    Remember: you do not owe her a ride. Your life is not bound by her schedule. She’s a grown woman with a boyfriend and the two of them can puzzle something out between them.

    1. Sadsack*

      Yeah, I really like your suggestion. Just be honest and remind her you were doing her a favor, too.

    2. Jessica*

      There does seem to be a certain type of personality who seems to think, “This person is willing to lend me time or money when I need it, so that means I have that much more time or money at my disposal!” Like you’re a human revolving line of credit. I’ve met one or two of those in my time as well.

    3. kitryan*

      For the near-stranger asking for a loan, I’d be tempted to say ” I wouldn’t want to risk damaging our close friendship”.
      Then when they say “What close friendship?”, you can reply, “if we don’t have a close friendship, why are you asking me for a loan?”

    4. LBK*

      Yeah, this is exactly how I would approach it: “I didn’t mind helping you out occasionally at first, but it seems like is evolving into a permanent arrangement. I think there might have been a misunderstanding when I offered to give you a ride, so sorry if I was misleading – I really just meant here and there if it’s an emergency. On a regular day I can’t drive you anymore, it’s not about the money or anything, I just can’t commit to being responsible for your transit any time you need to get somewhere.”

      I know people on here tend to object to apologizing things you shouldn’t have to apologize for but I think softening language is beneficial to the giver as much as the receiver, because it makes it easier to get out. A softer version that still says what you need to say is better than a direct version that you’re never able to bring yourself to use.

  34. Sadsack*

    “I’m not going to be able to keep driving you to and from work after Monday so wanted to let you know in time for you to make other plans.” Then if pressed about why: “I’m finding it makes it hard for me to do things before or after work without planning it ahead of time.”

    This seems like the best option that is vague without seeming like you are making stuff up. It is the truth, really. If she keeps pushing, just kind of look at her confused like, why do you keep asking?

    1. Marisol*

      I like this script because it doesn’t force you to name Specific Things you have to do. You’re sort of, reclaiming your right to live your life spontaneously.

    2. Nikki T*

      Actually, if she asks why, I’d just say “Oh…I don’t want to bore you….just letting you know before Monday”.

  35. Jessica*

    Part of the difficulty is in managing the expectations of people who have a pattern of relationship scope creep (both personally and professionally). We know people who ask for a favor this one time, and then one more time, and then suddenly you’re their ride to work and now they’re asking if you’ll drive them to their weekly appointments. Or people who really need you to take on this critical emergency project, and after you go above and beyond to get it done, suddenly now it’s an expectation that you’ll do this from now on. Like no, that was never part of the deal, I did it as a personal or professional favor for all of our benefit, but that doesn’t mean my time and money are now theirs to spend as they will.

    Maybe a personal 3-strike rule? Once is a favor and you’ll do it because you’re a nice person. Twice is negotiable, and comes with the caveat of, “I’m okay with doing it this time [or not], but if this is an ongoing need of yours, then we should have a conversation about how to solve that,” and the third time is, “It’s time to come up with a plan.”

    1. Havarti*

      I like the idea of a 3-strike rule. It’s something I really need to apply to my own life more often!

      1. fposte*

        I think it’s really helpful to impose some structure on a situation that stresses people out because of its lack of structure, so the rule is a great way to do that.

  36. Menacia*

    OP, I am curious, how did your coworker manage *before* you started being her go-to? I completely agree you need to shut this down. I’m nice, but I ain’t this nice and I crave my alone time way too much to have to be driving someone to/from work, as well as lunchtime appointments.

    1. nonegiven*

      This is what to say:

      “I’m nice, but I ain’t this nice and I crave my alone time way too much to have to be driving someone to/from work, as well as lunchtime appointments.”

  37. PandaGal*

    “Plus these situations tend to happen when I am in the early stages of friendship with someone”
    Maybe I’m reading more into this than I should be, but it sounds like this has happened more than once. It might not help this current situation, but in the future, I’d be more clear that you’re willing to do favors for others, but only as long as they’re occasional and don’t become the norm. In other words, once someone asks you do do the same thing for the second or third time within a brief period, it might be useful to say that you’ve noticed that their requests have become more frequent and that you had thought it was a one-time thing.

    1. Stellaaaaa*

      My mom is like this, and for her it’s part of a larger problem with codependency. She goes overboard with favors in the beginning to make people like her, but then she realizes too late that “normal” people just don’t dispense favors like she does, that when she does stuff like that, it makes others view her as someone who will always do that or always cover for other people. You become essential to others when you stop working so hard to prove that you’re necessary.

  38. Yetanotherjennifer*

    OP, I was in a similar situation once. I worked for a mom and pop company and when we got a new office manager- also the only other staff person in the office- who didn’t drive and lived near me, my boss suggested we carpool. I suppose I could have said no right then, but I was young and tended to do as I was told. I don’t recall getting any money for gas, but maybe I did. Anyway, it worked ok for at first, but after a while she was driving me crazy. Our personalities didn’t mesh and I realized I needed my alone time in the commute to process my day. I don’t remember what I said to get out of it and Alison’s scripts are definitely far superior than what I would have said. She accepted the change just fine and started taking the bus and I didn’t get any pushback from my boss. Our relationship, or more my ability to deal with her in good humor, improved once I got that space. I’m sharing this story to show you that taking back a favor can be done with good feelings on all sides and have positive consequences. It is perfectly reasonable for you to want your commute and lunch time to yourself.

  39. Anon today...and tomorrow*

    OP, have you checked out Captain Awkward’s blog? She’s got some great advice for how to set boundaries that have really worked for me and others!

    I really think that honesty is the best way to proceed here. She’s likely not going to be happy and it may strain your work friendship for a while, but I honestly don’t see her getting a lot of support if she starts trying to make you out to the bad guy in this.

    Assuming her friends are reasonable people I can see the conversation going like this:
    HER: I paid her $2 a day for gas but she said that she wanted her alone time on her commute. Can you believe that?
    THEM: Yes, that sounds reasonable. It sucks that you’re in a bind, but have you thought about getting your own car?
    HER: How am I supposed to get to therapy now? This is not fair.
    THEM: Well, it’s not really fair that you expected her to drive you to therapy during her lunch.
    HER: She said she didn’t mind
    THEM: Well, she’s told you differently now. It sucks, but it’s really not her job to drive you around.

    Good Luck OP! Keep us posted!

    1. AMT*

      I was thinking of Captain Akward, too — specifically, her recent post about how to say “no, I don’t want to” without making excuses, apologizing, or lying. Here it is:

      It sounded very harsh to me when I first read it, but on the second and third read, I think I’ll store it in my brain for when I need it. The idea that saying “no, period, and I don’t need a reason why” doesn’t break the social contract is very appealing to me.

      1. CM*

        It sounds very harsh to me too, and I disagree with her advice except in the extreme situation that somebody can’t understand that five “I’m busy”s in a row = “I don’t want to hang out with you.” If I ask somebody for coffee and they say “No thanks!” or “Pass on the coffee,” I’m going to feel harshly rejected. On the other hand, if they say, “Sorry, I can’t,” without proposing an alternative activity or day, I’ll shrug and figure they’re just not that into me.

  40. Observer*

    I had a few thoughts as I was reading this.

    Someone addressed one of the things I was thinking – you sound like a people pleaser. That’s really something you should work on, because otherwise you are going to be imposed upon a LOT, even by people who aren’t jerks and who don’t mean to impose.

    Beyond that, it’s worth considering the possibility that she figures she can ask, you can always say no, and it’s no big deal. Someone above mentioned the concept of “Asker” vs “Guesser”. If she’s an asker who is not a total jerk, then simply telling her nicely that you can’t do it should be fine.

    The mere fact that you don’t have specific plans for lunch doesn’t obligate you to spend your time doing something for any given person. Yes, nice people help others out, but there is nothing in your relationship that gives her the standing to expect that she “should” have access to your time and effort. Your time, energy and car are YOURS to use as you see fit as long as you are meeting your obligations and not doing anything illegal or immoral (which is not her business, in case it’s not clear.) In this case, the issue is even stronger since you actually DO have plans. Just because they are not official appointments doesn’t mean that they aren’t important. These are things you need to do. Why is taking care of yourself something that “should” automatically be waived for anything and anyone else?

    This issue relates to the people pleaser thing. You seem to have a greater sense of responsibility to others than to yourself. That’s a problem, and one that you will be happier for fixing.

    1. Havarti*

      “You seem to have a greater sense of responsibility to others than to yourself.”

      This is me to a fault. Someone somewhat older and wiser not too long ago said to me: “You have to step outside of yourself and become Havarti’s best friend. You have to advocate for her and take care of her. What would you want for her? If she was in a bad relationship, would you encourage her to stay or leave?” I honestly never thought of myself as someone worth taking care of. It’s like the whole putting your own oxygen mask on first but just in daily life as opposed to an emergency situation.

  41. ZVA*

    OP, these conversations are tough for me, so I empathize. But I want to encourage you to tell a kind version of the truth instead than a white lie. As others have pointed out, an excuse (especially if it’s untrue) leaves the door open for your coworker to try and revisit this down the road; if you’re honest, that’s much less likely to happen. It’s the difference between saying you’re busy when a guy asks you for drinks (thus all but guaranteeing he’ll ask you again later on) and politely but clearly stating that you’re not interested (yes, he might ask again, but it’s much less likely). I default to the former but I’ve been doing the latter lately—with success—and I feel much better & less anxious about these interactions as a result!

    1. FlibertyG*

      Yeah white lies are a double edged sword. I grew up using them for EVERYTHING but now I try to not to default to that option. I try to challenge myself to at least try the truth first. Along with that, I try not to react poorly when people are honest with me – and give them credit for honestly, knowing they could have lied to cover it up.

          1. FlibertyG*

            Hehe I think you could say something like, “Hmm, this one is not the most flattering I’ve seen on you – I really like the purple one better.” But maybe that’s why I’m not married :)

    2. Not So NewReader*

      The covert message behind the white lie is, “I don’t trust you to be able to handle the truth.”
      That’s a slam.

      1. FlibertyG*

        Exactly! It’s designed to avoid social awkwardness, which is fine, but it can come with a side of condescension.

  42. Kindling*

    If it might help, maybe you could do this in two stages. I feel like you have more concrete reasons for pushing back on the lunch excursions if you want to give more “real” excuses (you shouldn’t feel like you have to, but it sounds like we have similar senses of guilt). It also sounds like if she wasn’t expecting you to also ferry her around during lunch, you might be more okay with taking her in the morning, so you could see how that goes for a little while. Then if you’re still finding it annoying, you could use Alison’s methods to cut it off altogether. Just if it feels kinder to you to take a more gradual approacher – you certainly don’t need to feel obligated to do this longer than you already have.

  43. OP*

    Thank you Alison and commenters! This advice is great – I think the kind, vague version of the truth is what I will be most comfortable with.

    I noticed several comments about the $2 in gas money. This was an amount that we agreed on so that she would be covering half the cost of gas each day (it does, I calculated). I’m not really concerned with payment for wear/tear etc. As a side note, when she first proposed carpooling she brought up that she’d give me gas money. Then later when I tried to set the amount, she was disappointed that I didn’t want to do it “just for the company, because we’re friends.” That reaction is part of why I assume she will have hurt feelings over me ending the carpool.

    I know a commenter or two said this friendship won’t be any great loss, but I feel like I’ve ended so many new friendships lately by slowly ghosting to get out of doing recurring favors. I’m just ready for a better way to deal with things so that I can stop the favors while still letting the friendship develop a little bit longer and see if we are actually a good fit.

    TootsNYC: You recommended setting rules for myself, such as I don’t do recurring favors for anyone. I really like that rule – although you said I could potentially keep the rules to myself while telling someone I “can’t do” something. I definitely have a problem just saying a flat no. So I was wondering – what do you and other commenters think about actually telling people that I have this rule about recurring favors? Like, “I have XYZ rule, so I’d be happy to do this occasionally if you’re in a jam, but I won’t be able to give you a ride to work/book club/etc on a regular basis” or something like that. Does that seem rude or socially awkward? Or is that probably just fine?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      As a side note, when she first proposed carpooling she brought up that she’d give me gas money. Then later when I tried to set the amount, she was disappointed that I didn’t want to do it “just for the company, because we’re friends.”

      This is manipulative as hell. I can’t believe she said that, even half-jokingly.

      1. WPH*

        Yeah thousands of flags, thousands. I tend to offer my friends gas money more often than strangers because I care more for them not less.

        OP – Don’t mention your rules, you don’t have to as they are none of her business. There is nothing wrong with saying “I’d be happy to do this occasionally if you’re in a jam, but I won’t be able to give you a ride to work/book club/etc on a regular basis.” IF you are truly don’t mind. If you DO mind, there is nothing wrong with saying, “I’m sorry, I can’t.” And leaving it at that. TRUE friends respect boundaries and if she is your friend, she will respect yours.

      2. Purplesaurus*

        I literally recoiled from the screen when I read that. If she stops pursuing a friendship with you because of this, then that fully reflects on her on not you.

      3. CityMouse*

        Adding my own jaw drop to this. Nope nope nope. That is just horrible. I don’t think you’re losing anything pulling back from someone who says something like that.

      4. Anon16*

        I’m confused about the gas money thing. She initially offered to pay and then wanted to get out of it? Am I misreading?

        1. Myrin*

          No, I’m pretty sure you read it right. And I’m not surprised by this at all – I know several people who are like that. They’ll happily agree to something, all the while thinking to themselves that when the time comes, you’ll say “Oh, it’s no big deal, just leave it be!” and so they only have to appear to be on board with it initially.

          1. Anon16*

            Weird. That’s annoying. As far as I’m concerned, you’re only required to give her as much as consideration as she gives you. It’s not mean, it’s respectful for both of you. If someone is taking advantage of you (if it seems), it’s fine to say flat out no and be firm about it. In a weird way, she may not even realize she’s taking advantage of you or being inconsiderate. It may be helpful for you both. It’s not mean to be firm, and if she’s continuously taking advantage of your kindness, it may not be a friendship worth pursuing.

      5. paul*

        yeah, that just pushed me to BEC with her myself, and I’ve never met her!

        As far as friendships and favors and ghosting….if you’re trying to get away from being the person everyone can go to for anything yeah, some relationships are going to be severed. That seems OK to me. I’ve watched my wife work through that, and she’s got fewer “friends” but about the same number of real friends. She’s also not dropping her own stuff to salvage other people’s situations on a weekly basis. Overall she seems happier?

    2. Havarti*

      A lot of my friendships in the past seemed based on “what can Havarti do for me?” If you ghosting to get out of recurring favors and you’re not deriving any benefits from being with those people, those are not friendships and you’re better off without them.

      If she’s already disappointed about the money, don’t hesitate to get yourself out of this mess ASAP. It’s not going to get better with time. Burn that bridge if you have to and walk away like some action movie character while the massive fireball explodes behind you. Good luck!

    3. Colorado*

      I personally think that telling them the rule will come across as crass or rude. I would just say something like “I’d be happy to do that this time”, so it leaves room to say No next time or if you know the favor is reoccurring, just say No the first time.

    4. lawyer*

      I think you could actually just use the script you quote without the reference to the rule – “I can help you out in an emergency but can’t do this on a regular basis” is a TOTALLY fair thing to say!

    5. OP*

      As for what she would do if I stopped, and what she did before I started, I don’t know. I assume she and her boyfriend took turns dropping each other off at work early and then proceeding to their own office. Who knows. I’m sort of afraid to ask in case it turns into a sob story of something she used to do be able to do before but can’t anymore. Then I’ll feel even worse about stopping.

      I also see some people asking whether I’d be ok with the carpool if the lunchtime errands stopped, but no I’d still prefer to stop the whole thing. I’ve actually said no to the lunchtime things so far, while secretly feeling like a bad person. But I don’t really like the riding together part and I’m also getting sick of having to wait 5 minutes for her each morning outside her house even though I call her when I leave my house and tell her exactly when I’ll get there. And yes, I’ve mentioned this to her and she’s promised to get better but hasn’t. I understand that I’m not obligated to wait for anyone and that it would be my right to tell her that I’m going to leave from now on if she’s not there.. but when the moment comes it feels so cruel and uptight to leave someone stranded without a ride to work because they were a few minutes late. I’m the most strictly punctual of all my friends so I know that I’m a stickler and that most people are a little more casual with time. But the waiting still irks me lol

      1. Havarti*

        AND she’s always running late? Nope. Nope nope nope. It’s not cruel or uptight to want to drive away. Sometimes people don’t learn until they’ve been burned. This is a hot mess. Get out now!

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          Yeah, many times in the past I’ve offered (either as one-offs or on a semi-regular basis) to give people rides to work, and 99.9% of the time, these super grateful co-workers have been on time or early when I’ve showed up. Making you wait when you’re the one offering the ride is absolutely horrid.

      2. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Oof. Yeah. She is incredibly inconsiderate.

        You should never have to wait for her.

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, she is a very bad favor recipient. I would have moved ages ago to “I’m the school bus–I don’t alert you, and if you’re not at the end of the driveway I keep going.”

      3. Sarah*

        Wow. Given your updates I feel like this person just sounds like a user. I have been the person without a car in the past, and while I did sometimes ask for favors/rides (although never a regular carpool situation), I was always careful to do my best to not over-ask, to try and tell if the person was hesitant, make things as convenient as possible, return favors in a different non-car way, etc. and I can’t even imagine offering to pay for gas but then trying to flake out of our agreement! Honestly, it’s my guess that ending the carpool thing is going to be the end of this friendship, not because you’ve hurt this woman’s feelings but because she’s cultivated the “friendship” in order to take advantage of you.

        If this is a regular pattern, I wouldn’t announce a rule to people but rather be a little more hesitant with favors in general for people who aren’t yet actual friends — you want to invest in friendships with people who want the relationship because they LIKE you, not because you have a car/discount code/handyman skills/whatever. Another approach is to be a little more conscious of reciprocity. When someone is asking you for a favor, consider: Do I ever ask this person for favors? What’s their response when I do? Would I be comfortable asking for a similar favor to what they’re asking of me? Do they ever offer to do me favors? etc. If the answer is no, then just say “Sorry, I don’t think that will work!” and move on.

      4. Marisol*

        A five-minute wait is TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE in my book. That’s the difference between me dialing my boss into his morning call on time, and me being late and getting in trouble. NO WAY would I be ok with that. And while my situation may be a bit less forgiving that most, I think many people have a struggle in the morning to shower, get dressed, and get to work, such that 5 minutes would make a difference.

      5. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I’m more irritated with the waiting than the money thing, to be honest. (Though I’m less inclined to defend the money thing after reading about how she promised and then backed off.) Waiting for someone in a situation like that bugs the crap out of me– and I was just thinking today how I usually sit and wait, ready to go way too soon, when people tell me they’re on their way because I don’t want to inconvenience them.

        I had a roommate in college who totaled her car and assumed (!) that I would drive her to and from campus every day. She once made me wait for 20 minutes for her to get her stuff together, late at night, and got mad when I was pissed about it. That is such bs and you now have my permission to stop picking her up. :) In fact, I no longer think you need to come up with an explanation– “I’m tired of waiting for you/you being late”, said more diplomatically, is enough.

      6. Observer*

        Your instinct not to ask is spot on. Do NOT ask her what she did. This is NOT your problem. Don’t give her an opening to try to manipulate you into taking on the responsibility by asking what she did.

        I’m glad to hear you’ve been saying no to the lunch errands. Please try to stop feeling like a bad person – you really, really aren’t.

      7. Marisol*

        “but when the moment comes it feels so cruel and uptight to leave someone stranded without a ride to work because they were a few minutes late.”

        See now, my frame of this problem is that it’s a shame the *other person is too irresponsible to get HERSELF into work on time*. Life is cruel, circumstances are cruel, but *I* am not cruel. I’m just a person doing my best to get to work on time, who can’t be responsible for anyone else’s bad behavior.

    6. Jaguar*

      I would probably raise an eyebrow at that.

      I think you just have to practice “no.” I can feel guilty about saying no from time to time and I think the problem is that humans are really bad at guessing what people’s reactions are going to be. When I think of how someone is going to take a no, I tend to go to worst case scenario. But if I reverse the situation and think of how I would respond if I got a no to the same question, it would be fine – or think about my mindset going into the question, like whether I’m expecting a yes or not (I wouldn’t expect a yes, but from the no-delivering side, I would assume the asker was expecting a yes). Saying no is just something you have to practice. When you don’t want to do something someone asks for, say no and resist the urge to say anything that you feel is motivated by guilt (lengthy explanations, alternative suggestions, etc) and then just see how it turns out. It will probably go better than you expect.

    7. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Then later when I tried to set the amount, she was disappointed that I didn’t want to do it “just for the company, because we’re friends.” That reaction is part of why I assume she will have hurt feelings over me ending the carpool.

      Wow, yeah, she is definitely taking advantage of you and you are very likely correct in your assumption.

      I feel like I’ve ended so many new friendships lately by slowly ghosting to get out of doing recurring favors

      You doing favors for someone is not a good base for a friendship.

      1. Not Karen*

        Yes, I hate to break it to you OP, but those were not friendships. Friendships are mutual. Someone milking favors out of you is not a friend, they are a mooch and a user.

        P.S. OP it sounds like you don’t think you can say no to a request without a “good enough” reason. “I don’t want to” is a good enough reason.

        1. CityMouse*

          I agree. A friendship that depends on you making huge leaps for them with no reciprocity is not a friendship.

    8. fposte*

      Oh, I was hoping she was an Ask, but she’s just a Mooch.

      As far as the recurring favors go, I don’t think there’s any need to share a policy, because that could come across as being strangely preemptively guarded. Just make any “Yes” a finite one. “Can you give me a ride to therapy on Friday?” “I can do that this week.” This makes it clear what it is you *are* offering without being too guarded, and most people aren’t going to mean “forevermore” when they ask for this kind of favor; people who *are* going to assume you should schlep them daily just for the friendship are going to blow past any stated rules anyway.

      I would also encourage you to feel freer than I think you do to say no even to one-off requests, if they don’t work for you; this sounds a little bit like you can’t quite bring yourself to draw the line before you do even a single favor :-). (And do you ever ask for favors yourself? Might not be a bad thing for you to do that now and then.)

    9. Marisol*

      whatever works best for you is best. As long as you’re not being unkind then I really don’t think it matters if your explanation is “socially awkward” or whatever. The whole goal is to advocate for yourself, and if you best accomplish that by using softening language or including explanations that others would find unnecessary, then I say do those things. If your choice is between being awkward, and not advocating for your own needs, then I say definitely be awkward.

      That said, if you are wondering if the phrasing of “I have XYZ rule…” sounds weird, it doesn’t sound weird to my ear. But, I am a rather direct and open person, who has no problem telling people things like, “I can’t focus on that today because my sleep disorder flared up last night. I’ll have to look at it in a few days”, whereas other people have different comfort levels with pop-psychology/feelings/needs language. No doubt, there are some individuals or groups who might object to your frank expression of your needs and boundaries. Do you live or work in a rigidly conservative area? If so, people might not be receptive to the way you negotiate for your own needs. Personally, I wouldn’t let this stop me, and ultimately, the only one who can strike the balance between your individual needs and your social obligations is you. Sorry, I guess maybe that’s kind of a none-answer.

    10. always in email jail*

      I agree with others- manipulative as hell.

      Also, I wouldn’t share the rule. Just use the rule to develop your script, ie “I can certainly give you a ride tomorrow, but unfortunately I’m not going to be able to on a recurring basis” (if you’re comfortable with that). No one has to know the reason “I’m not going to be able to” or “I’m not able to” is because of a self-imposed rule

    11. FlibertyG*

      Hmm yeah, unfortunately, it sounds like you’re just on two totally different pages with this. I believe you can find friends who don’t hold you to favors that make you uncomfortable! “Ask Polly” had a good column about making friends later in life – and I think if you felt more secure socially you’d be able to better fend off people like this, who have expectations that seem … unreasonable … (based on what you say here and below).

    12. Observer*

      My initial thought was that she’s from Ask country. Based on what you say, I think there is a good chance that she’s from Entitled country. If I’m right I really wouldn’t worry too much about losing this friendship. People who are entitled and manipulative aren’t very good friends.

    13. drpuma*

      Hi OP! Here is a friendly reminder that you can get out of doing recurring favors without ghosting.

      If I am feeling awkward or bad at socializing, sometimes I have to remind myself: “ask the other person a question now.” If you want to continue a friendship but not a favor, it may be helpful for you to remind yourself: “invite the other person to something now.”

      Here’s an example: “I can’t continue driving you to cooking class. How about we bring our lunches to the park some day next week and catch up then?”

      Of course if you are already trying this with folks who aren’t interested, those people sound like not-awesome friends.

      If you are interested in another advice website to read I enthusiastically agree with the other commenter who recommended Captain Awkward.

      This feels like more than enough advice from me!

    14. Mb13*

      Op I am glad that the comments where helpful. You say you have a hard time saying no to people. I really really recommend seeking a consular to help build the skills of saying no. It would help you log term in your career. Having a back bone isn’t the same as being mean.

    15. TootsNYC*

      I think you could tell those rules to someone. I just didn’t want you to feel that you had to.

      I know my pastor did, when my daughter asked him about buying fund-raising stuff. He said, “I don’t want you to feel rejected; we have a rule, because of X.” (and it could just be, “I worry that I’ll find myself resenting the favor, and that would damage our relationship”)

      People do say, “I’m sorry, I don’t loan money to friends” all the time. You could say, “I find that I end up chafing a bit, and I’d rather not do that to our friendship.” Or anything like that.

      Oh, and this hoping you won’t actually charge for gas–this woman is a user. In fact, I think your “ghosting” is less a problem and more an accurate response to someone who is not really a friend. I have situations in which people might do me recurring favors (driving me home from church, for example). I make a major point of being sure I turn down the offer now and then, and that I don’t hover at the door and imply by my body language that they should offer. Because I don’t want to damage our friendship by TAKING too many favors.
      If these people you’re ghosting on aren’t doing their bit to ease that pressure, then they aren’t really friends anyway, or they don’t really value your relationship.

      1. PaperTowel*

        She thought you’d do it for the company… my jaw hit the floor that she’s so tone deaf she thinks her company is an adequate reimbursement or exchange for DAILY lifts to work, when actually you’d much prefer to skip her company while ferrying her around full stop! I’m 90% certain that if you said ‘lifts are off, but let’s grab coffee in a couple weeks to catch up’ she might not bother with you anymore. there’s a chance that she is just playing at friendship to squeeze lifts and favours from you here, OP. Field full of red flags.

  44. fposte*

    This reminds me of the poster on the open thread who ended up in a similar situation, and then there was the post about the anxious co-worker who needed to be driven home all the time. I wonder if this ride pressure is actually pretty common. I had a bout of it once years ago but not since–do other people encounter this?

    1. Stellaaaaa*

      I’ve encountered this a few times, sometimes in the sorts of offices/work environments where it’s obvious that a lot of your coworkers are getting back on their feet after rough patches. It’s completely understandable why a recent divorcee, survivor of an abusive relationship, or someone who successfully completed drug rehab might not have a car or a license. But standing up for my own wants opens up conversations about how my life is relatively easier than theirs (no, I bent over backwards and went without a lot of essentials so I could afford my car) and implications that I need to perform karmic balance by being generous when I didn’t want to be. If you’re the sort of person who is a people pleaser or is easily guilted into doing favors for people who have “good” reasons, you can’t escape from this.

      I’m bringing up this particular angle because if you’re in a job that requires drug testing, background checks, or substantial experience in a specialized field, you’re not going to be working alongside people who have fresh DUIs and who have a certain type of spotty resume that comes from going to the school of hard knocks. So if you’re wondering why you don’t see this a lot…these are situations where I personally have seen it most often.

    2. Government Worker*

      Where do you live and work on the urban vs. rural spectrum? I work in the heart of a major city with a (usually) functioning transit system. I have very few coworkers who drive to work every day, and I don’t know anyone who drives from the area where I live since it’s an easy trip on the subway. Parking downtown is crazy expensive, we get good transit benefits from our employer, people have lots of options for getting around, and so asking for rides is Not a Thing.

      Thinking over past jobs I’m guessing this kind of ride pressure is most common in a certain kind of suburban area – the places where it’s possible to live without a car but most trips are way more convenient with one. Once you get to places with really terrible transit or none at all, everyone ends up getting a car even if it’s a huge financial strain, because life just isn’t possible without one.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, interesting perspective. I live in a mid-size car-culture town; when you get into the more rural areas near me the favor economy is really important, so I think such requests would be minded less as long as the person was community-participatory.

    3. Anon if you please*

      It’s interesting. I was pressured by the driver to accept rides. I didn’t have a car when I started at current company but the job was literally a 20 minute walk from where I was living and I was fully prepared to walk back and forth until I was able to get a car. I walked on my first day and a woman who started the same day as I announced, in front of everyone, that she would be happy to give me a ride back and forth to work because she lived nearby as well. I told her it wasn’t necessary. She insisted and all of me new co-workers were “oh how nice for you” and it was weirdly coercive. I offered her money. She refused. She gave me a ride for about 6 weeks and if I managed to find an alternative way to or from work she acted like I was violating an unspoken agreement. I have never worked so hard or fast to get a car in my life!!! We haven’t spoken a word to each other since I stopped taking a ride from her. It’s been three years.

      1. Jake Peralta*

        Wow, that is weird! I once had a 20 minute walk to work and it was GLORIOUS. No chance of traffic making my commute unpredictable, exercise built into my day, alone time in the outdoors. No amount of pressure could have made me buy a car!

        1. paul*

          You lived in a temperate climate? I’m on the high plains and we can get to the low teens in the winter, but I’ve also had it be 90 degrees at 7:30am in the morning during summer.

          Plus hailstones. Frigging hailstones. Those things hurt.

          1. Perse's Mom*

            I’m in the upper-ish Midwest. Well below zero winters, lots of snow (the slush is worse), and awful humid mosquito-ridden summers. The other two seasons are both road construction.

        2. Marisol*

          I adore walking but didn’t realize that until my late thirties. Growing up in SoCal, and working in Los Angeles, where everyone drives and no one walks. If I could walk to work in 20 minutes, I’d definitely do it. Glorious is the word.

      2. kb*

        20 minute walk to work is literally my dream commute! It’s odd she was miffed you didn’t take her up on it. I could see maybe being confused if you insisted on walking without an umbrella in pouring rain, but outside that, I have trouble understanding what was going on in her brain.

        1. Annie*

          I have a 15 minute walk to work and I love it. The weather can get terrible but it’s not too bad for just 15 minutes.

    4. Colette*

      I’ve dealt with this a couple of times. I tended to offer people rides when it was convenient for me (and transit would be a pain for them), and then it got out of hand. (The last time, it was a “friend” who couldn’t take a cab because it was too expensive but who had no problem expecting me to spend an extra hour picking her up and dropping her off. I started saying no, and she decided we couldn’t be friends anymore. I definitely am better off.)

      Now I don’t offer rides unless it’s someone who will (and does) reciprocate.

    5. Turtle Candle*

      I’ve had it happen a few times–once (as mentioned above) someone who didn’t want the hassle/expense of a car, a few times now with people for whom not owning a car is a Way of Life, except of course when they actually need a car, and then the pressure is on. (It’s extra special when I’m driving someone to the airport while they lecture me on how I should really get rid of my car and learn to bike everywhere, because then I will live to be 150 and solve global warming all by myself while getting in touch with my inner child! Yeah, okay–but then who’s going to take the both of us to the airport, huh?)

    6. Not So NewReader*

      It’s probably less in rural areas. Our jobs are so far flung that very seldom do people nag about rides. And because it is a big deal to go a couple towns over people seem very aware that something is owed. But for the most part people tend to be rugged individualists who will just get themselves to where they need to be somehow. Maybe distance, climate and overall road (narrow, twisty) conditions make people think a little harder about what they are asking?

  45. knitcrazybooknut*

    I’m not sure if this has been suggested or not, but you mentioned that in the beginning of friendships, people start to ask for things, and it’s something that gets annoying. In my experience, people who start asking for things will ask repeatedly, and push your boundaries to see how much/how far they can get. Generally these people will not be reciprocating in any way, so it’s really in your best interests to learn to say no when something makes you uncomfortable. It might help to take the time and decide, now, when there is no pressure, at what level of friendship you’re comfortable with what activity: level 1 friendship, borrow a pen. Level 2 friendship, borrow $10. Level 10 friendship, borrow a car. If you have guidelines to rest on, you can practice saying, I’m sorry, but I don’t think that will work for me. (Side Note: I also really recommend this amazing book, Getting In Touch with Your Inner Bitch. It’s hilarious but accurate, and really helpful for me as I learned to develop boundaries.

    I had a childhood that left me believing I had no right to say no to anyone, so it’s been a long process to develop the ability to say NOPE to requests that didn’t seem equitable or just were uncomfortable. I’ve practiced and developed coping mechanisms that help me not feel guilty or stressed when I refuse a request, but it takes time.

    Please put yourself first. You’re worth it.

    1. TootsNYC*

      “in the beginning of friendships, people start to ask for things”

      In my experience, the true friends DON’T ask for anything in the beginning.

      If they’re asking for a favor early on, they’re not friends. And any friendship they offer as time goes on is probably more a “payment” or strategy to maintain the “friendship” so you’ll keep doing the favor.

      1. PaperTowel*

        Yes that’s my experience too, I’ve never had a new friend who has turned out to be a valuable person in my life kick things off with asking me for favours, no chance. It’s more likely that at the start of friendships both parties are OFFERING favours! That’s somehow how things translate into friendship: offering someone a ride so having time to chat, offering to help with a work project so more time together and so forth. As I mentioned earlier re a coworker, I met someone brand new and went out of my way to be super nice and drive her out of my way the first day I met her after work to show goodwill and make her day a little easier and she got outta the car trying to set it up as a weekly thing for me to chauffeur her to her transit station. I’ve avoided speaking to her ever since.

  46. DDS*

    Honesty is always the best policy, if this makes the relationship dissolve, it was never worth it in the first place.

  47. Sualah*

    I don’t understand–you can carpool with her because you do your shopping/whatever on your lunch break…but you also need to spend your lunch break taking her places…so you would need to do shopping after work…

    Not that you owe her anything–you can just say no! But I’m just not seeing how it logically follows.

    Also, do you mind the situation at all? Like, me, I am not always my best in the morning (and my job doesn’t matter if I’m walking in 10, 15 minutes late), so I would hate for someone else to be depending on me. Even if they say they don’t mind being a little late–nope, that would stress me out. And my lunches are my own, period. But if I lived super close to someone, I would not mind being their ride home if we’re leaving at the same time. That would be just fine -for me-.

    So–your “cover story” could be, “Hey, my mornings are getting hectic, can’t pick you up anymore starting next Monday. I can still drive you home, though.”

    Lunch time, like Alison said, “Sorry, I have lunch plans.”

    I just want to emphasize, of course it is perfectly fine to want to do no ongoing rides at all, but you were also wondering about a graceful way out, so I thought this might help.

  48. Imaginary Number*

    The key thing is making sure she knows it’s not personal (i.e. this is about you not wanting to carpool with anyone, not just her.) There’s a couple things that could really help this out:

    1. Making the change about you, not her, so she doesn’t think it’s because you suddenly find her obnoxious. “I thought carpooling would be really easy, but I’ve come to realize how limiting it is. Not having that flexibility has been stressing me out, and I really need that flexibility back.”

    2. Do something that makes it clear you still think she’s an okay person, like inviting her out to lunch a few days later (the day of would make it feel like the invite is out of obligation.)

  49. Jerry Larry Terry Garry*

    I would use excuses for the lunch stuff (wtf?) and go simple and straightforward on the carpool. “I’m sorry, carpooling isn’t working for me anymore. I can keep going through Friday,(or whatever works for you) but after that you’ll need to figure something else out.
    “But why/blah blah blah”
    “I just need that time alone. I’ll see you tomorrow”

  50. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

    It always amazes me how you can give some people an inch and they take a whole 10 miles. I can relate to the OP. I always want to help people out but people like to take advantage. And your co-worker seems to have no qualms about taking advantage. First SHE suggested that you carpool and then once that got going, SHE asked if you could drive her to her appointments and errands –and not one-offs but twice WEEKLY. At the rate she’s going, next she will expect you to drive her around on weekends. You have to put a stop to this. At this point, I would be honest. Kindly tell her that the carpooling is not working out for YOU. If she presses and asks why, tell her it just isn’t (you really don’t owe her an explanation, after all, you are not the one who suggested carpooling ). and then tell her that driving her to her appointments is also an inconvenience to YOU. Again, if pressed, tell her that your lunch hour is your “me” time (emphasis on ME). Remind her that UBER is her friend. Please update us on this situation.

  51. Murphy*

    Ugh. I feel your pain. I got stuck driving a co-worker (she was actually a volunteer) to and from work for a while. I wouldn’t have minded so much except that she was never ready when I came to pick her up despite the fact that I always texted her when I was leaving. And then she also started making me take her to the store on the way to pick something up for lunch. She was disabled, which made me feel extra shity about complaining about it. It didn’t last too long, so I never ended up saying anything.

    1. Carpool hater*

      I have hated carpools ever since middle school, when my parents signed up for a carpool. The school offered grades 6-12, and the two other members of the carpool were in grade 9, and thus at the “upper school.” The middle school was about a half mile down the road. Naturally, when the other parents picked me up, they were invariably late, and of course they dropped their offspring at the upper school first, causing me to be late for class and getting detention.
      This is NOT the only reason I hate carpools today by far, but it definitely launched things on the wrong foot.

  52. Seal*

    I got sucked into carpooling with a classmate for almost a year while working on a masters degree at night. The program we were in was over an hour away and while I didn’t necessarily mind carpooling every so often, after working a full day I very much enjoyed having a long car ride to myself to recharge. Plus this woman’s car was just nasty! The car smelled like stale cigarette smoke, her backseat was full of miscellaneous crap and she actually bragged about never washing or cleaning it. Because of the distance and the logistics it was difficult to come up with a good cover story, but I started making excuses about having meetings that ran late every few weeks just so I didn’t have to deal with her. Fortunately she moved closer to where our program was the second year so carpooling was impractical.

  53. Janey*

    “Plus these situations tend to happen when I am in the early stages of friendship with someone — “friends” enough that they will be hurt that I don’t eagerly want to help them, but early enough that the truth is I actually don’t have this burning desire to do whatever it is they’re asking for.”

    Potential abusers use this as a tactic in order to sniff out whether you have strong boundaries or would otherwise be easy to manipulate.

    How to prevent this (since you don’t know if a new friend is an abuser or simply pushy or whatever): The first time a new friend/acquaintance asks you a favor, say no. No matter what it is. Say no.

    If they react by rejecting your friendship, it’s because they realize you have strong boundaries and it’d be a waste of time to put any more effort into controlling you, so they leave to find someone else they can easily manipulate.

    If they continue the friendship, that means they aren’t threatened by strong boundaries, which means they’re far less likely to want to take advantage of you. So the next time they ask a favor, if you are amenable to performing it, you’re good to go.

    1. TootsNYC*

      I want to underline Janey’s strategy.

      In fact, it can be one of your “rules” that I mentioned above.

      You just always so, “no, I can’t.” See what happens.

      Heck, you don’t even have to wait a couple of days to see whether they continue the friendship. Their immediate reaction will be really telling. If they try to argue you into it, they’re out of line, and they may be a user.

      Even if they aren’t a user, they’re a mismatch as a friend for you–you need friends who don’t make you end up feeling a little taken advantage of.

  54. seejay*

    OP, I feel you so hard. I’ve been in the same position so many times, and agonized for *days* and this was even over people that I didn’t even particularly even like and weren’t coworkers and didn’t even have to see regularly. Despite me trying to lay down boundaries and specific lines, this person stomped all over them, pushed past them and refused to hear what I was saying to the point that I had a meltdown and freakout. I kept trying to be kind and not hurt their feelings with pushing back but eventually I just had to rudely make up a lie to get out of any social obligations with them since they wouldn’t hear anything I was saying.

    I hope the scripts Alison gave you works and you can find something that works out!

  55. Librarian of the North*

    I don’t know if this has been suggested yet, but may I recommend the book “The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck: How to Stop Spending Time You Don’t Have with People You Don’t Like Doing Things You Don’t Want to Do” by Sarah Knight? It’s great and talks about how to not do things you don’t want to do without looking like or being a jerk.

    1. Red lines with wine*

      I just saw this TED Talk! I didn’t know she wrote a book. Sounds like a Christmas gift everyone’s going to get this year. :D

  56. Buu*

    She took it way too far with the lunch thing and she probably knows it so I’d use that in your response

    ” I said I was OK to try car pooling, but you’ve taken that to mean access to my car all day rather than sharing my ride to work. It seems to me like you need to come up with your own transport solution especially since you have ongoing needs. xxx day is the last day I’m going to be able to car pool,.”

    She may be a bit annoyed but if she considered herself your friend she’d understand, but it sounds like you don’t consider her yours!

    1. TootsNYC*

      I wouldn’t do this, to be honest; it makes it more of a punishment, etc. And it opens the door to her to attempt to negotiate a “if we don’t do lunch errands, maybe I can can carpool again.”

      Just say, “I don’t want to do this anymore.”
      Oh, but why? “It’s not working for me.” or ‘I just don’t want to.”


    If all else fails, start to say no to the lunch hour appointments. If she schedules things during this time, she can use her co-shared car herself. And I hate to say it but I find in going out of your way for someone, the generosity is rarely returned in full. I’ve had ex-friends who would chide me about saying no (everything from holding a party at my house, to driving someone at least an hour down and an hour back from a party). Yet if I needed their help with something, they had no problems saying no or backing out.

    1. PaperTowel*

      Just curious what you mean by ‘if all else fails’? The OP doesn’t need to seek permission from this coworker to stop with the lift giving, she has strategies now to let her know it’s no longer happening. There’s no need for her to stop part of the lift giving as a compromise and still do some of it, she can and by the sounds of it really should let coworker know all lifts are off.

  58. KT*

    I, too, never realized this was a known “thing”! I am an asker, and like many others have already stated, I am perfectly fine with a “No”. That is the risk you take when asking, but I’d rather be clear. As the adage goes, “Closed mouths don’t get fed.”

    I believe LW should definitely be honest in this situation. It will put the expectation on there for both parties, and (hopefully) avoid her co-worker revisiting this to “see if anything has changed”. If LW decides that she wants to extend the offer again, being honest will allow her to do so on her own terms.

    Sidenote: I have been able to figure out all of the acronyms that commenters use, except one — OP. Someone, please, what does this mean? It’s driving me crazy…like a personalized license plate I can’t figure out.

      1. KT*

        Ah, thank you! I settled on ‘Office Person’, which I knew was wrong, but I couldn’t think of anything else. My mind is at rest now.

  59. Merci Dee*

    So, there are tons of comments up already, and I haven’t had the chance to read every single one of them. If this has already been covered up-thread, I apologize . . . .

    OP, you mention that you’ve found yourself in similar situations in the past because you don’t feel comfortable declining to help someone. While it’s certainly a worthy goal to be as helpful as possible to those around you, you’re finding that there are consequences later down the road when you agree to help (finding it hard to break off the arrangement, etc.). It seems to me that much of this could be avoided with a little planning when the request is first made.

    Co-worker: “My boyfriend and I only have one car, so can I get a ride to and from work with you since we live so close together?”
    You: “Sure. I’ve got some free time in my schedule for the next week (two weeks, whatever you’re comfortable with), so I can give you a ride for a few days. But after the end of the week, my schedule will pick back up again and you’ll have to make other arrangements.”

    This has a couple of benefits — it solves a friend’s problem, it lets you feel like you’re helping out, and it puts a definite end date on the arrangement when you go in.

    One drawback to this method that you need to be prepared for, though, is that the friend might try to re-negotiate the length of the agreement when it’s coming to an end. Hold firm to the end date that you gave — “I’m sorry, but I can’t keep picking you up after the end of the week. This was the time frame we agreed upon at the start, and I have to stick with it.” Wash, rinse, repeat; if the friend tries to push back, keep telling them that you have to stick to the original timeline for the cut-off.

    I totally understand wanting to help people that you care about, but also not wanting to feel like you’ve signed up for a chore for the foreseeable future. So consider building in time limits when you have that first conversation. I’ve learned from experience that it makes things easier down the road when the situation needs to end or change.

    1. Bea*

      Going along with this train of thought and approach, this would also work out if you can say “Sure, I can carpool Monday and Thursdays, does that help you out?”

      Riding to work with someone every day that isn’t my partner, best friend or mother sounds worse than taking the bus but I have antisocial tendencies.

  60. C Average*

    A couple general thoughts about avoiding unwanted ongoing obligations, including driving. Maybe not applicable to LW, since the car is out of the garage as it were, but handy for avoiding such situations in general.

    –I’ve found that my freelance work provides a fantastic out for all kinds of ongoing obligations I don’t want to take on. “My workload/schedule/income fluctuates due to the nature of my work, so project/volunteer opportunity/charitable giving request isn’t going to work for me. Feel free to ask me about one-time stuff; I’m happy to help if the timing happens to be good for me. And thanks for thinking of me!”

    As to driving . . . I am a genuinely anxious driver. I have some spatial awareness issues that make driving and navigating stressful for me, and I really need to focus when I’m behind the wheel. I’ve found that I’m a safer, more confident driver when I don’t have a passenger. In the past few years I’ve become more comfortable being transparent with people about this rather than making up excuses, and it’s seemed to work well.

  61. Fleeb*

    It’s totally fine to say, “I’d like the freedom to schedule a last minute happy hour or go to the park, schedule a morning doctor’s appointment, etc., without it being an imposition on you because you would be stranded. I’m happy doing favors on occasion, but I’d like to go back to not being on a set schedule.” If she pushes back just reiterate that it’s not the act of driving that bothers you–it’s the feeling of being scheduled, so carpooling just doesn’t work for you in general.

  62. Miss Elaine E.*

    Another minor-ish part of the lunch time thing is parking. What if, say, the OP got an awesome spot in the morning, only to lose it and have to trudge to the back-of-beyond at the end of the day because Special Snowflake carpool buddy had an appointment? It wouldn’t make me happy.

  63. GiantPanda*

    OP, use one of the scripts for no longer driving her to work. As kind as you can but firmly. Don’t offer exceptions.

    And, just in case you have a hard time sticking to your “No”, make plans for the next several days so that you are genuinely unable to drive her. This should make it easier for both of you to get used to the New Normal.

  64. Det. Charles Boyle*

    OP, ask yourself why you seem to believe your coworker’s happiness is more important than yours. It’s not, right? So don’t prioritize her needs over your own.

  65. Bea*

    I’m a people pleaser and I have been used and abused for it in outrageous ways throughout life this far. So please let me tell you what I’ve learned since I’ve had a revamping of my life after cutting out some toxic waste that used to be “friends”. You do not owe anyone anything, your happiness is important, doing what makes you happy is not selfish or wrong.

    You have to start taking care of yourself and accepting that you cannot take care of everyone around you. This is your coworkers life and she is not your responsibility. It’ll hurt and feel horrible for you but it’s a band-aid and you just rip that sucker right off and oh it doesn’t hurt anymore! You can do it. You’re trapped inside your own mind and heart right now, struggling because “what if she takes it wrong”, well then she can figure it out for herself, that’s not your problem as long as you are kind.

    I’d start by telling her no to taking her anywhere at lunch, since it’s once a week (WTFFFF). Then using one of the kind scripts provided here tell her that you don’t want to carpool anymore. You can be extra nice about it and say “hey, starting next week, the carpooling thing has got to stop.” so you can give her a few days to figure out her plan of action. But if you don’t want to give her a week or any advance notice, that’s not mean either.

    You are a good person, others will try to take advantage of you and you have to protect yourself or you’ll become bitter and angry at the world and not want to help anyone at all at some point.

  66. Annie*

    I would tell her the truth – whatever it may be. You might find you enjoy the solo drive in to work and home so you can prepare for your workday or decompress. Or maybe you prefer to drive alone because you’re a nervous driver. If you want to offer rides to work, but not home, that’s an option as well. Certainly the weekly errands sound silly – she can call an Uber or a Lyft if she has standing appointments she needs to get to.

    That all being said, I once ended a friendship over this issue (we didn’t work together). I don’t have a car and a friend and I were both invited to a party hosted by a mutual friend that was a few hours away (about 3 hours by car, 4 by public transit with multiple buses/trains). I asked the friend if she could drive me (since we live in the same city), and she gave an excuse (said no, she was going up the day before the party, and she couldn’t drive me on the way back because she had a lot of errands to do, and couldn’t take me home, not even part of the way. When I got to the city after 4 hours of exhausting buses/trains and rainy weather, I found out that she had actually driven the whole way at the same time and didn’t offer me a ride with her. I was livid, because I thought we were friends but obviously she was avoiding me/lying to me. I would have rather she come out and said whatever the reason was. I was incredibly hurt because it seemed like she didn’t want to spend time with me, even though she had invited me on vacation with her. I didn’t understand why she would want to go on vacation together, but not take one drive together to a party we were both going to? I thought that was incredibly selfish of her and haven’t spoken to her since. By the way, I was never a ride mooch, this was the first and only time I asked her for a ride anywhere.

    Anyway, coming back to the letter writer, I think you should just tell her you like the solo drive to clear your head (or whatever your reason is) and don’t start making up lies/excuses where she could find out they are lies.

  67. Saucy Minx*

    OP, are you worried or afraid or dreading that Moocher will be angry w/ you? If so, I’d like you to consider what your own feelings are about her pushing for so many favors. Go ahead & acknowledge those feelings, whatever they are, & use them to help you choose which scripts will work for you. There are many good ones on this thread.

    Moocher is a CW (not a friend!). If harmony in the workplace is a value you hold dear, she has severely breached that & is the person causing any unpleasantness.

    In your shoes, I do believe I would be feeling angry & resentful. I would never be rude, but I see no reason to be so gentle about her feelings when she has trampled over the norms of social contracts. If she gets the message that her own behavior has brought about your change of heart, that is a natural consequence of how she has chosen to treat you; if you don’t want to express your displeasure openly, then that is fine too. The only reason for kindliness at this point, IMHO, is to honor your own idea of how people should be treated, & to help you to establish your position (that would be on the high ground) as a civil CW who cannot be imposed on.

  68. not a paralegal*

    OP: lots of sound advice given from everyone: your car, your time, your rules, and a real friend would understand this. Please come back with an update after you’ve given your notice to co-worker. I hope their reaction proves they’re an oblivious friend and not a moocher.

  69. Hannah in London*

    As a fellow people pleaser (‘if I do this favour for me then they’ll like me…’) I have so much sympathy for your situation. Have nothing to add to the great advice already here (apart from it will feel pretty awkward but that doesn’t mean its the wrong thing to do.)
    I have found it helpful to wait before I say yes to things, especially recurring commitments. I normally phrase it ‘that sounds interesting, let me check my diary/let me have a think if it’ll work, cos I would hate to back out/let you down. I’ll get back to you soon/in a couple of days etc.’ Stops my immediate yes reaction and I just agree to stuff that I really want to do.
    Also, bit of a whinge, but I do hate it when people ask if you for a favour or if you have any free time, without telling you what it’s for. Like, yeah I have free time for a coffee and chat but not to take you to ikea. grrr.

  70. Beancounter Eric*

    Why not tell this individual to take responsibility for their transportation (and their life in general) and leave you alone? No cover stories, not excuses why you won’t transport them – simply tell them “as of X date, I am no longer driving you to work, nor at lunch.”

  71. JoJo*

    Miss Manners suggests just saying, “I’m sorry, that would be impossible” with no further explanation.

  72. Chris Hogg*

    Great question, great thread, great comments.

    And a great opportunity to mention that I recently wrote a book entitled How to Say NO Without Ruining Relationships :)

    You can read the first chapter here:

    Definitely looking forward to Alison’s new release.

  73. Lady Phoenix*

    Matk Twain said, If you tell the truth, you won’t have to remember anything.”

    Tell her you want to stop carpooling. No cover story, just a simple, “I want to stop.” If you try the cover story, you’ll have to remember to say this, do that, etc etc or else she will realized that you lied and it will infuriate her mich more than than stating it outright.

  74. Xarcady*

    I was in a very similar situation once. What caused me to get out of it was not my growing resentment at being expected to give this coworker rides everyday, but when she asked me to change my vacation dates to match with hers, so that she wouldn’t have to take public transportation while I wasn’t working.

    A few weeks after that request, which I did not comply with, I sat her down and told her the truth. Giving her rides was taking up too much of my life. I was turning down invitations because I had to give her rides home, and frequently stop off at stores for her to run errands, which took more of my time. And I was altering *my* schedule to accommodate here when she needed to be in early or stay late. (I had tried to push back on those, but she was pretty relentless in coming with with reasons why I should do what she wanted).

    Simply put, I was not willing to have to think about her and her need for a ride every single day of my life. And asking me to change my vacation was the final straw. I was not a taxi cab. She needed to figure out how to get to work on her own.

    What started as a favor to her, giving her a ride to work in a snow storm, eventually turned into being a taxi service. Had she not demanded so much of me, she could have continued to get rides during inclement weather. As it was, she ended up with no alternative but the bus/subway.

    1. Janice in Accounting*

      You can NOT be serious–she asked you to alter your vacation dates?? My own children aren’t as demanding of my taxi services as this woman was of yours. Good for you for standing up for yourself!

      1. paul*

        All my fellow askers: When I said an ask *could* be rude in and of itself? This is what I’m talking about. Holy crap

  75. Non-profiteer*

    If you are really worried about being “caught,” or uncomfortable with bending the truth, you could find a coffee shop or library or book store you could stop at on your way home – just long enough to justify changing your schedule. I mean, I would actually love an excuse to stop at a library and have 30 minutes of reading every day.

    I’m totally with Allison that you don’t owe excuses or lies, but if this makes you feel better, might be an easy-ish way.

    1. Observer*

      I don’t think there is any reason for the OP to change her schedule in any way to avoid the co-worker’s reaction. I think the suggestion gives way too much credence to the CW’s (non-existent) standing to have any expectation.

  76. anyone out there but me*

    how can I get out of chauffeuring my coworker everywhere?

    Just say no.

    It really IS that easy.

  77. MashaKasha*

    I was the coworker getting rides at my first job 20 years ago. I’d found my first US job a lot faster than I’d expected. So, on my first day at the new job, I didn’t have a car, a driver’s license, and had never driven in my life. Bought an old used car, my dad taught me to drive, I got my license and it was all good two months later. But during those two months, my dad dropped me off (well, technically, I drove, and he was sitting in the passenger seat yelling at me for doing everything wrong, heh heh), but in the evenings, he was at his own job, and could not come pick me up. So I had a coworker drive me halfway home from work for two months. A couple blocks from the daycare center that he had to pick his kid up from, was a bus stop, with a bus that went straight to my apartment. He’d drop me off at the stop and drive the couple blocks to the daycare to get his kid, and I’d catch a bus home.

    I feel a bit better now about that period of my life after reading this thread. To be honest, I’d been feeling kind of bad all these years about how I had inconvenienced a coworker for two months straight. But I only made him go a few blocks out of his way to drop me off, and he knew I was actively working on getting this issue resolved so he wouldn’t have to drive me; and it would not have occurred to me in my wildest dreams to tell him to change their vacation schedule for me (???), take me to a store and then pick me up at the store (?!?!), take me to a doctor’s appointment during his lunch break(!?!?!) I suspect I would’ve lost my ride with a quickness if I’d tried getting him to do those things!

    1. Observer*

      I think what you describe falls into “helping someone get on their feet.” That’s something that decent people should try to do when they can.

      The key differences, as you say, are that you knew a favor was being done, you had reasonable expectations, and the situation was expected to be time limited.

  78. Hoorah*

    Alison and the commenters gave excellent suggestions that would not cause offense to any reasonable person.

    If your colleague is still wounded or does not understand why you won’t be carpooling, that’s totally on her. Not you.

    It’s not your job to protect her delicate feelings. You can only go so far in maintaining a good relationship with people around you. So if after all this your relationship with her becomes frosty, don’t feel guilty or uncomfortable or wonder if there was something else you could have done.

  79. RB*

    OP, good luck, I have become ensnared in pretty much these same situations where you become over-committed while trying to establish a relationship. Those relationships never really worked out, often due to the other person’s neediness, which I have a low tolerance for. I’m much more wary now of becoming involved with people who are quick to glom onto others.

  80. You volunteering doesn't mean I'm volunteering*

    I was raised by a mother who not only wouldn’t say no when people asked her for favors, she’d drag us along to help even after we were old enough to stay home alone, so I learned early on the value of just no. “Oh, I’m going to be setting up the food after event” inevitably announced while we’re in the car on our way there. Great, now in addition to going to something I didn’t want to go to at all in the first place, I now get to spend extra time waiting for everyone else to leave, and I have to help set up the snacks and then clean up afterward because “Mom volunteered” always means “You’re voluntold.” Sounds awesome, Mom, and you wonder why I was always completely uninterested in going to any events with you as a teenager.

    The upside is that as an adult I’m quite comfortable with saying no. The most answer I’ll give to why is either “I can’t” or if they’re persistent “I can’t because I don’t want to.” Though after reading this blog and Captain Awkward, I’ll be adding “No is a complete sentence” to the rotation.

    It’s still a bone of contention with Mom – I’ll go visit and she’ll say “oh, my neighbor is having trouble with her laptop, I said you’d fix it for her” and I’m a bad guy for “making her look bad” because a) I don’t want to spend time working on random stranger’s laptop when I’ve literally flown from one coast to the opposite one to spend time with my parents and sister, and b) I don’t do Windows. Yes, I’m a server administrator, but I literally haven’t used Windows this century – I have Mac laptops and I use them to administer Linux servers in the cloud.

  81. specialist*

    This has been a really interesting discussion. It took me a few days to read all the comments, but I did, and I found them thoughtful and helpful. I hope our original poster will come back to tell us how they decided to handle the problem and how it all worked out.

  82. NoNoNoNoNo*

    “I won’t be able to keep carpooling with you/taking you for appointments after X date. I wanted to give you a heads up so you can go back to whatever arrangement you have with uour boyfriend and the car you share.”

  83. Susan Geleng*

    I just got through this situation.
    I think, I handled it rather well,
    I might add.
    I simply explained to my friend that my life is becoming increasingly busy. So that being said, she needs to find a back up ride because I may not always be available.

  84. Retired*

    I’d simply state that I’ll drive you, but ask slightly less than a cab or train or set an amount. This way they are paying you for gas, theyre not going to work on your dime. If things sour, you dont feel “used.”
    Also, if you are a private person, youll be rehashing life story, with or without radio on.

Comments are closed.