I’m being pressured to chauffeur interns to and from work

A reader writes:

I have a manager at work, Sally, who I used to get along with until I realized how toxic she was. She would always throw people under the bus to make herself look good in front of the boss.

Two years ago, when we had an intern without a car, she told our boss, James, that I would drive the intern to and from work The intern lived about two miles out of the way from me. There was no forethought or consideration about how I would feel to this. Simply that I would do it because it would go the extra mile to make the intern’s experience more memorable, as it was someone James eventually wanted to hire.

I said no for a litany of reasons — he was already expecting me to be there early to set up for the interns and leave late, the slight wear and tear to my car, the idea of getting into an accident with her in the car, etc. My main concern was that she was a foreign national. If I got into a wreck, without company insurance, I would be solely responsible for her medical bills, despite it being essentially on company time and as a company demanded activity.

James pushed a little, but when I stayed firm with how extremely uncomfortable he made me and said such in front of the intern, he backed off. If he had continued to push it I would’ve demanded that he pay for insurance, mileage, and overtime for travel time. We couldn’t have financially supported it so I have a feeling that is why he backed off.

Well, Sally didn’t take it well and decided for weeks to try and guilt-trip me into taking this employee with me to work. She lamented back and forth about how much it would cost to “uber” back and forth. At one point, she made me look into a bus pass in attempt to show me how much company money I was wasting by not driving this intern back and forth.

Later the intern admitted the entire thing had made her uncomfortable. Especially because they were paying her an extra $3/hour to offset said transportation costs in the first place. They were expecting me to do this for free!

Well, we now have another intern without a driver’s license and this one lives clear across town. Sally hasn’t asked me yet, but I am afraid she is going to tell our boss again that I will do it. She has already begun asking about my route since I moved six months ago and spinning sob stories about how unsafe the bus is and how expensive an Uber would be for the company.

This woman lives closer to the intern than I do. She can do it herself it matters that much to her!.

How do I nip this in the bud? From experience, telling her outright doesn’t work because she will deflect and blame James as being the one who oversteps boundaries. It doesn’t matter to her that it was her idea in the first place.

I would fall back onto demanding that the company pay for the expenses but I honestly have no desire to add an extra hour to my commute. And outright saying no to James doesn’t work when I have someone undermining me to make herself look good.

This is ridiculous. It’s one thing to ask you as a favor, but as soon as you said no, that should have been the end of it. Or they can make it part of your official work duties, pay you for it, and cover any needed insurance — but it doesn’t sound like you want to do it regardless, so you need to hold firm on saying no.

If Sally keeps hinting, I’d just address it outright: “It sounds like you might be hoping I’d be able to drive (new intern) to and from work, so I want to let you know it’s not something I’m able to do.” If she pushes or asks why, say, “I frequently have commitments before and after work, and it’s not possible for me to be responsible for someone else’s transportation.” (You do have commitments before and after work, whether it’s stopping by the grocery store or sitting on your couch for an extra 30 minutes. She doesn’t need to know the details, but if she pushes for them, it’s fine to be vague — “I have a lot of family stuff going on” or whatever.)

You said that telling her no outright won’t work because she’ll just blame James as being the one pushing it — but you can still hold firm if she does that. “I’m really not available to do it, sorry!” Repeat variations of that as necessary.

And if needed, you can tell James the same thing. In fact, feel free to send him an email saying, “Sally told me you’d asked if I might be available to drive (new intern) to and from work. I let her know I can’t do it; I frequently have commitments before and after work, and I’m not able to be responsible for someone else’s transportation.” You could add, “(Old intern) told me we paid her a transportation stipend to cover her costs getting to work, so hopefully that’s an option here too.”

But really, this sounds like a situation where you just need to be committed to saying no and sticking to it. There are times when an employer will override your no and tell you that something is a condition of your job — but it doesn’t like that’s happening here. They’re just hoping to guilt or pressure you into it, and the way to respond to that is to decline to give in.

{ 282 comments… read them below }

  1. Clorinda*

    People have some nerve. I feel bad for the interns–how cringe-inducing for them, and how terrible for them to start their work career thinking this is in any way normal.

    1. Snailing*

      Right? I’d feel horrible if I were either the intern or OP in this situation!

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      Seriously – and, if they’re trying to recruit the interns post-graduation, having them watch this drama play out and seeing management try to strongarm a coworker into chauffeuring them is not a good look.

      1. Greg*

        I turned down a job offer strictly because of how two managers behaved during my internship. Put me in very uncomfortable positions and continued after I asked them to stop.

      2. Joan Rivers*

        It would be so tempting to point out to the boss that Sally lives closer to intern than you do, so why doesn’t SALLY pick her up?

    3. Lady Meyneth*

      I’m trying to think back on Intern-Me. I think I might have ended my interneship over something like this; certainly I’d be trying to find something else ASAP. I’d just feel so horribly infantilized that people 3 levels above me are arranging transportation for me without even asking for my input, and assuming I wasn’t adult enough to just take the freaking bus to work. OP being pressured into it would just be icing on a pretty icky cake.

      Do these people think their interns are 5 years old?

      1. Elle by the sea*

        I remember how some people used to freak out that I didn’t have a driving license and that they would have to drive me around because the bus/Uber was unsafe and expensive. I was perfectly comfortable taking the bus/walking for hours/cycling. I don’t need to be driven around and I think that most people without a driving license are equally self-reliant.

        1. Brooklyn*

          You really do great that the bus is unsafe almost exclusively from people who don’t take the bus. It sounds like this wasn’t a bus stop in a bad part of town, this woman just seems afraid of poor people and thinks only poor people take the bus. I don’t know where the interns are from, but if they are international, they probably don’t have this idea, and she’s showing them the worst of America.

        2. PeanutButter*

          My walk to work is currently shorter than my walk to the mailbox/school bus stop when I was kid in the sticks. I still get people asking if I need them to call me an uber or give me a lift if there’s even a hint of a drizzle, or it might be getting to dusk.

        3. CircleBack*

          I guess I can see a concern if the person is coming from another country that the local bus system may be confusing to navigate – but if that’s the case, help them out with it and give them some leeway for the first week or so to figure it out.

          1. Self Employed*

            Most transit systems are on either Google Maps or another app for ride planning and directions to the stop. Some will even have the bus’s current location on the map using GPS so you can tell how far away it is. I rode transit quite a bit before the pandemic, especially during the 8 months I was between cars.

    4. Ray Gillette*

      How utterly mortifying. My manager at my first post-college internship was unqualified to manage an intern, to put it mildly, but even he didn’t make this kind of overstep. I also did not own a car, and the office was not well-accessible by public transit, so he introduced me to other interns recruited from the same campus so that I could ask them about carpooling if I wanted to.

  2. I should really pick a name*

    If you’re worried that this is going to happen, just tell James from now that you’re unavailable to drive the intern.
    That way, it will look odd if Sally says that you can do it.

    1. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

      Yes! If anyone ever volunteers me for something I can’t, or don’t want, to do before asking me first, and then tries to strong-arm me into it by saying they already told so-and-so I would do it, I just tell them they’ll have to go back and say they were mistaken. Either that or I tell the other person the person who said I could do it was mistaken. I don’t care if that is embarrassing for the one volunteering me because you don’t volunteer someone before checking with them first.

  3. ahhh*

    I know this probably won’t do much, but can you cut things off at the pass before Sally even talks with James. Email James NOW. Just mention how uncomfortable you were last time especially since the company is paying extra to the intern for transportation; you have commitments before and after work; regardless of what may come in future discussions this is something you are unable to do.

    If you want to be snarky turn the tables – you might mention that Sally lives closer to the intern.

    1. TimeTravlR*

      That’s what I was thinking… suggest to James that Sally lives close to the intern. What a weird mess.

    2. Artemesia*

      ‘It won’t work for me because of my other commitments but I would in any case be uncomfortable taking on the liability of providing transportation for employees.’

      ‘If it is no big deal, why don’t you drive her since you live closer? I can’t do it and in any case would not want to take on the liability.’

    3. Venus*

      I would be slightly snarkier. Before anyone mentions anything, say to James that given Sally’s concern for the interns it is great that she lives so close to this one, and can therefore volunteer to do it herself.

    4. lost academic*

      I think better to just let these interns, who I assume to be adults, resolve their own transportation. You’re not their parents driving them to soccer practice.

  4. Mental Lentil*

    You do have commitments before and after work, whether it’s stopping by the grocery store or sitting on your couch for an extra 30 minutes. She doesn’t need to know the details.

    I love this. Your company has no say in how you spend your personal time off the clock.

    1. Elenna*

      This. LW is committed to not losing an hour of sleep to driving the new intern around! It’s a commitment!

    2. MechE*

      “Your company has no say in how you spend your personal time off the clock.”

      While I both enjoy the sentiment and happen to agree, this (largely) isn’t true in practice. There are blanket protections for union activities, though they have exceptions. Some states have blanket-ish protections (New York, California, Colorado, North Dakota). Twenty nine states have smokers protection laws. There are other behaviors or actions that are protected by other states.

      This is how it should be but not how it is.

      1. Snailing*

        Well sure, there are reasonable things your employer can say about your free time and how you act and how that reflects on them – see every employer’s social media policy on what you can’t post about them or moonlighting rules, for example.

        OP’s situation is not a reasonable expectation, so in this case, her employer has no say in how she spends her personal time off the clock.

        1. MechE*

          I agree that it isn’t a reasonable expectation. Frankly, this is a hill I’d be willing to die on. I was merely pointing out that the blanket statement isn’t necessarily true nor is it useful for everyone. Sometimes we all have to go along to get along.

        2. AcademiaNut*

          There’s a difference between unreasonable and forbidden. I agree that the demand is unreasonable, but there’s a huge range of unreasonable demands that employers can legally make, and fire you for if you refuse (possibly contesting UI on the grounds that you were fired for insubordination/refusal to do your job).

          If the OP is hourly they’d have to pay her for the time, but if she’s exempt, there’s no strong definition of “off the clock”, and the employer could decide that driving the interns around was part of her job.

          1. AnonInCanada*

            But is it reasonable for the employer to demand chauffeuring this intern also demands the OP to drive them in their own car, use their own gas, have adequate insurance for the business use of a personal vehicle etc.? I don’t think so, either.

            1. Zillah*

              It’s definitely not reasonable – AcademiaNut can of course correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m not reading them as suggesting that it is, just pointing out that it’s technically something the boss might be able to do.

              1. Self Employed*

                I think whoever handles insurance/legal issues for the company would be happy to point out to the boss why it’s better that nobody take responsibility to drive the intern to work like she’s a 12-year-old going to soccer or band.

          2. JessaB*

            If they want someone to do that, then as a business expense they need to pay for the proper insurance and a gasoline and upkeep stipend. Or provide the person with a company car. The hours driving should also be counted, if the person gets overtime especially. They want to make it part of the job, then it needs to be treated that way.

  5. SomebodyElse*

    Honestly, I’d just have the discussion upfront with James and let him know that Sally is starting to hint, and before anyone gets any ideas in their head that it’s just not possible. Then if Sally comes right out and asks (or signs you up unknowingly) it’s already been addressed.

  6. gardengates*

    Man, I feel this OP. I had a co-worker who frequently had car troubles and our office at the time was located an hour’s drive away. I lived clear on the other side of town from them and after one of the higher-ups stopped giving them rides it started falling to me. I had to add an extra 30-45 minutes to my already long commute, they usually took long phone calls during the drive which make it even harder to unwind, and it got old really quickly. It was also frustrating because the coworker admitted that they could work from home, but “missed being around people in the office”. Work offered to increase my mileage reimbursement, but luckily I was able to sort the situation out with my supervisor after saying “Hey, I’m fine doing this occasionally as a favor, but I can’t have this be part of an already long commute as an expectation” and it stopped being an issue. It sucks that in this case, the supervisor is the one doing the pushing.

    1. Mr. Shark*

      Wow, that would infuriate me. Not only do you have to add time to your own commute, but then if they are on a phone call during the drive, it feels like you are just a chauffer rather than a co-worker doing them a favor. They are just ignoring your existence except as a driver.
      I’m glad you got that shut down.

    2. Lexie*

      It kinda blows my mind that an employee’s transportation issues would become something a company would take responsibility for. Everywhere, I’ve worked getting to and from work was the employee’s responsibility and if they had an issue it was on them to figure it out. That’s not to say that coworkers wouldn’t help each other out if someone was in a jam but that fell under the category of personal favor, management wasn’t involved at all.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Agreed. For example, yesterday I saw a job listing which explicitly mentioned that because the workplace is in the middle of nowhere the candidates must have their own transport (ie there is no public transport ha ha don’t even bother looking it up).

      2. Mr. Tyzik*

        My car was *stolen* several years ago, and the response was to let me work from home, not pay for a cab or Uber or the bus or press a coworker into taking me to the office. My transportation was not the company’s responsibility, and I would have felt weird if they suggested carpooling with someone miles away from me.

      3. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        It’s an intern in a foreign country, so I’d cut them more slack than a seasoned local.
        For example, I recently offered to pick up a third party engineer at their hotel on my way to the job site and drop them off after work. It made sense as we worked on the same survey and they did not know the place.
        But I volunteered, not “was volunteered”.

        1. Self Employed*

          If the engineer is just there temporarily and you’re going to a jobsite, that makes more sense than “this person has a 3-4 month internship and we don’t want her riding buses with those icky poor people.”

          1. JessaB*

            I think the bit that bugs me most is that nowhere does the OP say that the intern was asking for transportation help. It feels so grossly infantalising to organise someone’s life without them being involved.

    3. Paris*

      Oh no! I’ve always felt that talking on the phone while someone else is in the car is unconscionably rude. They’re a captive audience! You’re excluding them from a conversation and prohibiting them from listening to anything else!

  7. Nona*

    Is it normal for employers to manage their interns commute for them? Unless these are high school interns (at the younger end of school), these seems pretty infantilizing to me.

    1. Sarah*

      I agree, I’d never heard of this happening before either. IMO if you take a position, internship or paid position, it’s up to you to figure out how to get yourself there.

      1. Kelly L.*

        This. I don’t drive and I would haaaate this. If I took the job, I already thought through the logistics, and I already have a plan to walk or take public transport, depending on the distance. The last thing I would want is to feel beholden to a co-worker for it.

        1. onco fonco*

          Yes! I don’t drive and I would be hideously uncomfortable if people started trying to arrange transport on my behalf. I don’t sign up for stuff I can’t get to independently. The only time I accept a lift is if the person driving has invited me to a place I can’t otherwise get to.

          1. Caroline Bowman*

            this completely! I do drive and am very happy to give the occasional lift to a person who either doesn’t or has no car or whatever, and have gone as far as, knowing of a very young colleague who didn’t drive, offering to take them to / from work on very rainy days, but that was *my* personal choice and not any kind of expectation, and if it didn’t suit me to do it, I simply didn’t offer.

            The idea that someone should spend their free time and money on ferrying a fellow employee around every day for months is insane!

          2. Sarita*

            Agreed. I lived in the city for a while and went car free. I only agreed to things I knew I could get to or had a transportation plan. Friends would often give me a lift if we were going the same way, but it was absolutely not my Plan A. I chose not to own a car to save money, they don’t owe me anything.

            The only time I expected my job to care about my transportation issues is if were having an off-site somewhere and public transportation wasn’t a reasonable strategy.

        2. Nanani*

          Was going to say the same. Sally doesn’t get to kidnap me before/after work because I don’t have a car!

        3. Arts Akimbo*

          I used to really enjoy taking the bus to work. But for some unknowable reason, my supervisor HATED the idea of me on public transportation, so she picked me up to carpool in. Well, we did that a few times, and then she was out sick, so her husband (one of the attorneys at our workplace) came to get me instead.

          That man was probably THE worst driver I’ve ever ridden with. I was so tense by the time we got through those less than ten miles! I politely refused any further attempts to carpool.

          1. Non Driver*

            In the US, I assume?
            This country just has a…thing against public transportation that has to be experienced to be believed.

            1. Hazel*

              That hasn’t been my experience. I think it depends on where you live and what the public transportation system is like there. I don’t think this sort of generalization is possible – anywhere really, but especially about a country as large as the U.S.

              1. allathian*

                Yeah, the rates of public transit use in, say, NYC are pretty high, more than 50 percent of employees use it according to Wikipedia.

              2. drinking Mello Yello*

                Urban areas are about the only places with decent public transportation systems in the US and they’re not really connected to each other across the country at all. Suburban areas may or may not have public transportation of some sort (and it might be pretty sparse) and rural areas usually don’t have any.

                We have a scanty bus system in the suburban area I’m in; I’d have to drive 15 minutes to the closest bus stop and it takes about 4 times as long to get where you’re going.

                Various cities have public transportation systems, but the US absolutely does not have A Public Transportation System (thanks to the auto industry slipping money into congress’ wallets over the decades :/).

              3. pancakes*

                Nah. Overall, we have far fewer options and far less interest in investing in public transportation than other wealthy countries, and a great many poorer ones. This is very apparent to anyone who travels abroad, and has been studied for many decades. Over the past thirty years, for example, fifteen countries have invested heavily in high speed rail networks. The US has one 34 mile track between two points.

            2. Kelly L.*

              Outside of major cities, and sometimes even within them, a lot of people are horribly classist and racist about it. (I’m not over-interpreting on the racism. There’s one major transportation system that has a popular racist nickname.) There’s this assumption that if you’re on the bus, something is wrong with you, and also something bad is probably going to happen to you. So gross.

              1. it's me*

                Atlantan here, can confirm.
                My car was in the body shop for weeks and I had to take the bus. The old white guys at the Midtown company where I worked were absolutely horrified to hear that I took the bus. The stop was right outside.

        4. Self Employed*

          I don’t know if interns go to the same level of research about internships, particularly if they’re from another country and don’t know where they’re going to live when they accept the position.

    2. Quickbeam*

      Yes it does! Maybe they are foreign nationals without a license in this country?

      I hate getting leaned on to drive other people for work. I solved it by stuffing my yarn stash in my car. “Look! No room!”. Yes, I have that much yarn.

      1. Anonym*

        Finally! An excuse for excess crafting supplies! They’re a time saver and boundary preserver… *runs off to pull bolts of fabric out of storage*

        1. The Rural Juror*

          I also have a lot of supplies sitting in the closet that could use some air… Embroidery floss? Yep! Yarn? Yeppers! And the newest addition – Macrame cord! Having fun moving all that stuff out of the passenger seat! Muwhahahaha!!!

      2. Reluctant Manager*

        LW does say that last year’s intern was a foreign national. She also says this is someone James wanted to hire, though! What a bizarre precedent to set for someone you were hoping to bring on full time.

        1. pancakes*

          Foreign nationals can use an International Driving Permit, and in some states, like mine, they can use their drivers license from their home country. The rules vary by state, but it’s not as if they’re prohibited from driving.

          1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

            True, but it can be quite overwhelming to heap “driving in a foreign country with different rules of the road and finding your way to work” (plus the expense of renting a car) on top of everything else.
            So driving an intern to work the first few days might be quite reasonable.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Someone from an overseas branch was assigned to our division for a year. He did not have a driver’s license, and our company arranged for driving lessons so he could get one & lease a car.
          No co-workers were harmed in the making of this solution.

    3. DataGirl*

      I agree this is really weird. My teen does not have a car, you know how they get to and from work? I drive them! I can’t imagine any workplace managing transportation for an employee or intern, it’s on the person who accepted the position to figure out.

      1. Elenna*

        This. I didn’t have a car (still don’t actually, although I’m hoping to get one soonish) for any of my ~2 years of co-op during university. Guess what? I took public transportation to work, like a grown adult with common sense. It did not occur to me for one second that the company might organize a driver for me. WTF.

        1. UKDancer*

          Ditto Someone old enough to do internships is old enough to get themselves to work and part of the internship is to help people get to grips with workplace norms.

          I did a couple of internship placements in the university vacations and it was my job to get myself to and from work on time. I did not expect to get chauffeured around. One of the law firms I did a placement with paid interns a small allowance on top of the money we got for the placement which about covered my train fare from small town (where I lived with my parents) into big city for the job but that was unusual.

          I had a regular summer job as a tour guide in a small castle when I was a student and got the bus from small town to the village with the castle. Quite often the other guides (who were older, mainly retired) offered to give me a ride into work or back because it was on their way and I think they wanted to save me the bus fare. I would never dream of asking or expecting them to give me a ride. It had to be their decision to offer. If they didn’t then I waited for the bus.

        2. OhNoYouDidn't*

          Not all communities have reliable and regular public transport. The area where I live has TERRIBLE public transport; not only is it unreliable, it does not come often at all. This is a huge burden on low income people. Even if this is true of the OP’s community, if you’re old enough to do an internship, then you’re old enough to figure out your own transportation. If you can’t get there, you can’t work there.

          1. it's me*

            The transportation situation for these interns isn’t actually the OP’s problem.

          2. Self Employed*

            Where I live, the public transport schedules were cut during the pandemic and have not been restored even though demand is too high for the available spaces (given 6′ social distancing on transit). People are being left behind by the bus because there’s no room, and pretty much anyone who could afford a used car got one to avoid using the bus.

      2. pleaset cheap rolls*

        “I can’t imagine any workplace managing transportation for an employee or intern, it’s on the person who accepted the position to figure out.”

        It’s not as rare as you think. I worked at a place that had seasonal labor shortages, so we sometimes provided transportation to/from the factory to help bring more people in. As part of the driver’s job in a company vehicle.

        I’m not saying the OP’s company is at all doing the right thing, just that sometimes company’s do provide transport.

        We also see this in academia, with the school providing transit to distant labs. There are buses between a fe central locations at a college near me and a lab about 15 miles away that students and staff can take. This is a little different insofar as pickup/drop-off is not right at the workers homes.

        1. Expelliarmus*

          Sure, arranging your own transportation may not always be necessary, but very rarely is the onus on a colleague.

        2. anonomouse*

          I think that situation is a bit differnetly. there is a town about 50 miles from me that routinely advertises in my city. Part of the advertising is that they have a bus that goes to and from the factory so that people don’t have to drive, and its free.

          But I do wonder if they do this if the intern is coming from out of town or maybe is from another country? But if that’s the case you would think it would be part of the job description as a perk of the company and then the company should be paying someone to provide the transportation.

        3. Asenath*

          But the companies are providing this! Whether it’s those minibuses that take workers to the chicken plant or the ones that run between two university campuses, or two hospitals, they’re paid for by the employer and driven by professional drivers. The only job I had where employees might drive as a part of their job, the employer stopped the whole thing because of insurance and legal issues. If work transportation was required, it had to be using a vehicle paid for by the employer which was driven by someone hired for the purpose and holding the proper kind of license. OP is being told to transport this intern as part of her job – without any of these precautions. That puts it right out of “neighbours form a carpooling arrangement on their own” territory and well into “illegal transportation for hire”.

          1. pleaset cheap rolls*

            I don’t understand why your comment starts with “but” since that sentence is completely aligned with what I wrote.

        4. allathian*

          Yeah, but that’s different. The employer paid the driver’s salary and car insurance.

        5. Self Employed*

          There’s a difference between a company or campus having regular shuttle service and a coworker being expected to drive a person every day.

      3. Quinalla*

        Right? It is one thing (and a great thing) to reimburse or have a travel allowance for interns/co-ops especially or any employee that has to pay for parking, take the bus, etc. but to dictate and plan it out for someone? Very odd!

    4. PostalMixup*

      When I was an intern, they provided us housing in Large City that was an hour from Work Site. We each got a subway pass and commuter rail pass and had to manage our commutes on our own.

    5. radfordblue*

      Agreed, this seems pretty bizarre and inappropriate. Everywhere I’ve ever worked, including high school and college jobs, has assumed that the employees will figure out for themselves how to get to and from work.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        It’s a bit harder for interns, though, who might not own cars, and who have to find short-term housing (its own problem) that might not be near public transit.

        And then, if you have done the math on what Uber and Lyft drivers earn and realize that, after taxes and wear and tear on the car, they make almost no money, there is a certain moral quandary: Do you knowingly exploit someone who is either desperate or bad at math or both?

        1. Metadata minion*

          As someone who doesn’t drive, I wouldn’t take a job or internship if I wasn’t able to get there via walking/public transit/bike/etc. Unless this employer told the interns transportation would be provided and they made it sound like there was a company shuttle rather than guilting coworkers into doing it, it would be weirdly irresponsible for the interns to just show up and expect transportation to happen for them.

        2. Elsajeni*

          Yeah, I can see feeling obligated to offer some kind of help or support for interns in particular — this may be their first experience of actually having to get themselves around town outside of a college campus where everything is walkable, they may be from out of state or out of country and have no idea how to get around your city, etc. It’s the trying to pressure a random coworker into giving the intern lifts every day that’s bananas, not the idea of providing or helping with transportation in general.

    6. A Social Worker*

      Yeah, this seems really bizarre. Adults can figure out how to get themselves to and from work, and we already know it made the first intern uncomfortable so it’s not an issue of the interns not being able to figure out transportation.

    7. Momma Bear*

      Agreed. When I was an intern, it was made clear that I needed to arrange my own transportation (in my case I needed a car to run office errands). Even later when I was in my first job, it was up to me to decide if I took the train or drove. If the company is giving someone an extra $3/hr to offset this, then it sounds like they see it that way, too. That could be part of the response – “I know that Company provided Old Intern money to offset commuting costs. I’m sure they could do it again. I am not available.”

      I would tell Sally NOTHING about where I moved, how I got to work, what I did on the way, etc. You get to work on time. Period. She doesn’t need to know if you travel by carrier pigeon or car or what. Maybe also use AAM’s “That’s interesting” as a bland response.

    8. BRR*

      It’s not normal. It sounds like from the letter it’s clear that intern needs to be able to provide their own transportation, or if that’s not clear before you hire an intern you should. But “it would make the intern’s experience more memorable.” Well…it sounds like it was memorable to the intern.

      It’s a little buried but it sounds like maybe Sally is trying to show how she’s saving the company money? and expect the LW to shoulder the cost?

      1. Expelliarmus*

        That certainly seems possible, seeing how she’s SO worried about how much an Uber of a Lyft would cost for the company. Her lamentations seem to indicate that she’s trying to show Gumption.

    9. PollyQ*

      I’ve never heard of anything like this, and I can’t think of a reason why an intern’s commute should be any more of a concern to their employer than any other employee.

      1. UKDancer*

        No. I mean we usually get an intern in the summer in my team and I usually check they’re ok with using the underground if they’re not from London and make sure they know which buses stop by the office. This is because public transport in London can be a bit daunting if you’re not used to it. If they want to cycle I ask a cycling colleague to show them the showers and the bike parking.

        Other than that I expect them to be able to get themselves to and from the office as normal.

        1. Heatherbelles*

          Yes, checking that they’re comfortable with the Underground, and letting them know the best buses for nearby is logical.

          Arranging lifts for anything but one offs (you’re both working offsite somewhere, and it’s convenient to pick up over trying to meet at the office and then do), is not logical.

          ( eg I’d occasionally pick my boss up if we were heading off somewhere together all day, as he lives about 10 mins drive for me and didn’t particularly enjoy driving, and I don’t mind it – otherwise, it was 20 mins added onto the journey for both of us to go to work and then head off! That way, at end of day, I’d drop him off and already be halfway home…. And colleagues have done the same for me. But never as a regular, expected thing.)

          There is a colleague I’ve regularly dropped off (in the before times), as it was a ‘come off the dual carriageway one exit earlier, and often I was going to get groceries in the shop opposite her house). I did it because it suited me, and we could have a natter on the way home.. She never expected it though.

        2. Keymaster of Gozer*

          I really appreciated the manager of my job in London who gave me all the information on what routes from Paddington to the office were accessible to me because of disability. I was shocked how little of the underground I could use.

        3. T*

          I do the same – namely checking they have Citymapper downloaded and their route to where they’re staying / work plugged in.

    10. Person from the Resume*

      No it’s not normal for work to manage anyone’s responsibility to get to work from home.

      Maybe parking arrangements or monthly transport passes for cities with good public transportation to encourage them not to drive but in the US getting to work is the employee’s responsibility.

      1. pleaset cheap rolls*

        “No it’s not normal for work to manage anyone’s responsibility to get to work from home.”

        It does happen in some fields. In certain types of physically remote locations – think a bunch of site visits with rural communications. As a perk for top level staff. With certain types of blue collar jobs where a work team goes in a truck.

        Maybe it’s rare for office jobs and most other jobs, but it literally is a think that exists.

        “in the US getting to work is the employee’s responsibility.”

        Not always. Usually, but not always.

        1. Self Employed*

          Some large companies and universities have shuttle buses on fixed routes, but it’s still the employee’s responsibility to figure out which one goes closest to their home and when to catch it. The Stanford shuttle service is even included in the online transit planners along with the municipal bus service. (I used it once to buy a part for my car because my car was broken and the dealership was near a shuttle stop but not the regular bus system. The shuttles departed from the same station as the municipal buses and the commuter rail.)

    11. Retro*

      I appreciate that the employer was aware of transportation issues for the intern and willing to tack on a little extra for the transportation fees. I’ve worked with college students with financial difficulties and they do indeed worry a lot about whether their measly intern hourly rates can pay for their transportation if the office is far from public transit or would require calling a ride share service.

      But I think that’s a huge overstep for the employer to arrange the transportation itself. The employer can arrange for a transportation stipend, but they shouldn’t be the one calling a rideshare or dictating exactly how the intern gets to and from work.

    12. AcademiaNut*

      In situations I’ve encountered for extended work visits in a foreign country, the cost of leasing a car would be covered by the employer – buying a car for a short term visit is not practical, and leasing is expensive if you’re paying for it out of an interns salary.

      Helping a foreign intern get settled is pretty normal, though. Not to the extent of daily rides, but a lift to the grocery store for a shopping can be a big help, particularly before the first pay cheque when you can’t afford cab fare.

      It sounds like they subsidize transportation when needed, but Sally wants to avoid the expense by dumping the task on the OP, and James wants to impress potential hires, but neither are interested in actually inconveniencing themselves.

    13. Not A Girl Boss*

      This was very much A Thing at my mom’s company. They employ a lot of foreign nationals who can’t drive, and part of the compensation package is housing. So it was fairly reasonable of the interns to expect the company to help them figure out transportation in this one specific instance. Normally not an issue, because the housing was located next door to the company.
      BUT For some odd reason (probably money), they decided one year to move the housing so far away from the company that the interns couldn’t feasibly walk. And that year, it so happened that not one of the interns could drive.

      My mom agreed to drive the interns and it was a NIGHTMARE. Out of the group of 4, 1-2 were constantly half an hour late in the morning and the other 1-2 at night, adding an hour total of waiting around for these interns?? Unpaid??? And halfway through the summer, her air conditioning broke. Admittedly, driving a bunch of programming students around in a hot car in the summer sounds nose-watering. But these interns had the CAHOONAS to actually complain to their bosses that my mom (who was doing this AS A FAVOR to them for free) hadn’t ponied up to get the A/C fixed yet. Their bosses passed along the complaints to my mom, but didn’t offer to help with the cost. The last day the interns never even said thank you. And she wrote them all bad reviews (saying they were disrespectful) and never volunteered to drive interns again.

      1. Moonlight Elantra*

        Good for your mom. As Michael Jordan once (allegedly) said, “[Expletive] them kids”

        1. ThatGirl*

          He didn’t actually say that, but the story behind the meme is pretty funny – the bet was that if he missed three free throws, a whole camp of kids would get free Jordan shoes … and he made all of the free throws.

      2. Archaeopteryx*

        Oh hecks no. I would’ve instituted a policy of “after 10 minutes this party bus leaves without you.”

        When I taught after-school dance in college some parents would be chronically upwards of 45 minutes late picking up the kids- and we had to wait outside, in October, as the sole adult. We had to threaten to drop them from the program after a couple strikes because… no.

        1. Not A Girl Boss*

          She had multiple conversations with them
          about why it was disrespectful, trying to be a mentor and teach responsibility etc.

          But she left once without one, and there was some kind of dramatic fallout where they couldn’t find another way home and spent the night at the office (I mean, these were shockingly un-resourceful young adults) and got chewed out by the management team, so…

          I mean, I would have rage quit after the first ungrateful comment or the second time they were late, but my mom is a better person than me. But I *did* get to listen to all the times she called to rant at me after dropping them off, lol. It’s also worth noting that I was also an intern at the time for another company, and was completely appalled by all of it.

    14. Lilo*

      I live in a city with public transportation and I was often given a transit subsidy when I was an intern. But like preloaded fare cards for the train.

      I have never been driven around or asked to drive an intern around. I would have found that extremely uncomfortable both as an intern and an employee. Everything about it is a bad idea. What if one of them is sick or has an appointment? It’s not okay.

      1. Self Employed*

        Yet another reason why unpaid internships select for people who can afford not to work–it actually COST money to work there.

    15. Laura*

      My workplace has an internship program for high school seniors and not only are they responsible for their own transportation, we are specifically NOT allowed to drive them anywhere (say, the entire group getting lunch) without written permission from their parents.

    16. Nunya*

      I had the opposite situation at my old job: I was managing international interns who lived on site, but needed transportation to and from town to run errands, make appointments, have fun, etc. We were outside the service area for public transportation (rural area) and waaaaay too far to bike. As their manager, I was their point person when they needed a ride, but I chafed (internally–I tried very, very hard not to let my frustration show) at one of them requesting rides RIGHT AWAY at the end of the work day, and the others seemed very hesitant to ask me for help, to the point of asking everyone else first. I wish I could report I found a system that worked, but with the cycle of new hires and my short tenure, I never found a good compromise.

    17. The Starsong Princess*

      They can figure it out. We had an intern who had transportation problem a few years ago. So he bought a used motor scooter and sold it at the end of his internship for more than he paid for it. That kid is going places.

    18. LizM*

      I did an internship with our Senator the summer after high school, and they did shuttle us from the provided housing (at a DC university dorm) to the Capital. But it was explicitly part of the intern coordinator’s job to make sure we didn’t get into too much trouble even when off the clock (she also lived in the dorms with us and acted as kind of an RA).

      The only time I’ve ever seen internships manage an intern’s commute is when it’s a program with multiple interns who are all living in provided housing. And in those cases, it’s specifically someone’s job, they are doing it in company-provided transportation (with company insurance, and having a driving record that’s been cleared by the company) and it’s part of their paid day.

    19. münchner kindl*

      I could only see workplace getting involved into this if they’re in the middle of nowhere and therefore, organise a company bus shuttle to next train station/ pick up point twice a day.

      But that doesn’t seem to occur to US employers, just not employing those who don’t have their own transport.

    20. Wry*

      Absolutely not. It’s super weird! With the exception of one internship I did where we had housing provided for us on the property (unique situation), I have never heard of anything like this. The first college internship I did, I commuted from my parents’ house in the suburbs into the city where the internship was located. I took a commuter train and then the subway. I practiced the commute once before my first day. That was it! Transportation-wise, the expectations were no different from a normal job – you get yourself there in whatever way works for you.

    21. Sacred Ground*

      In the US, not really no.

      Other places are different. In Tokyo, Japan, as I recall, employers do routinely pay commuting costs as part of compensation and I believe that’s required by law for anyone commuting over a certain distance to work. They have an amazing public transportation system but those trains aren’t free so this compensation is almost always a company-paid commuter rail pass.

      So, I could see how someone coming from another country for an internship may have some expectation of commuting assistance from the employer. Although even then I think calling on another employee to carpool is awkward at best for the intern and unfair to the employee.

      Just give them access to a company taxi (or Uber if you don’t care about safety, insurance, etc.) account. Or five them a bus pass and a map and trust that they’re grownups. And if problems arise, deal with them. Navigating around a city is part of having a job in one, right?

  8. Not a Blossom*

    I’d tell Sally I couldn’t do it but then say something like, “however, you live closer to her than I do, so perhaps you could drive her.”

    1. Cat Tree*

      I think that’s a good idea.

      I had a similar situation where a peer sort of volunteered me to come on site to work to just be a point of contact in case something went wrong with this specific manufacturing batch. And it is part of my responsibility to support this product. But if something went wrong I wouldn’t be able to fix it real-time anyway, and I had no desire to take an additional Covid exposure risk during the winter surge just to sit there and twiddle my thumbs. But he didn’t frame it as a question so I couldn’t just say “no”.

      Instead, I replied that I wouldn’t be able to do that but if someone from his team wanted to be there I could provide support by being available on my personal phone if they had questions. Well, after putting the ball back in his court he soon realized that there was minimal benefit to having someone from our department on site and nobody extra went in just for this batch. It turns out, the people who were already on site could just contact me directly (surprised pikachu). And it was actually a benefit to the people who had to be there by being exposed to one less person during the plague.

      So if Sally is encouraged to drive the intern, I’m sure so other solution will magically pop up in a day or two.

    2. MCL*

      I don’t even love this. It should not be incumbent on any employee to provide transportation to the interns if that’s not a job duty/expectation. Then next year, Sally has the ammunition to say “I drove the intern last summer, now it’s your turn.”

      1. Snailing*

        Yeah, while I appreciate the “let’s give Sally her own medicine” sentiment, it’s (1) not an appropriate reaction for a work setting and (2) sets a bad precedent for the future. And many people like Sally will take this an invitation to one-up later… “Well OP agreed this outlandish thing was reasonably enough to say I should do it, so I’ll double down next time and suggest this even more crazy thing that OP should take on!” Just…not a good idea.

      2. Yvette*

        “ Then next year, Sally has the ammunition to say “I drove the intern last summer, now it’s your turn.”
        Excellent point.

  9. Insurance Lady*

    I can’t comment further on the advice given (its great!) but oh god

    reading this as someone who works in insurance (note: I’m still not well versed in all of it.) …theres so much liability that I bet rude coworker isn’t realizing comes into play by having this a part of OP’s job duties. Saving money?? Not if OP ends up getting into a crash picking the intern up!

    1. OhBehave*

      Yes! And I would never believe them is they told OP they would pay any medical costs in the case of an accident.

  10. Mononoke Hime*

    Preemptively volunteer Sally for the job. List all the reasons she’s been telling you and also include a Google map showing how close she lives to the intern. And see how she reacts.

  11. I'd rather not say*

    Nothing to add, but thanks for the reminder that however bad I sometimes think my employer is handling something, there’s always lots of competition for that honor.

  12. Myrin*

    What is Sally’s deal here? Like, why does she feel like it’s her place to find suitable commuting means for these interns? Why is she so invested in this? OP says she likes to make herself look good but I honestly don’t even see how these weird stunts contribute to that.

    FWIW, OP, it sounds like you handled this really awesomely in the past, so kudos to you!

    1. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

      I know, right? Employers and coworkers are not responsible for other people’s transportation to and from work. It’s one thing to do a one-time favor for someone who lives on your route to/from work in an emergency. Quite another for it to be part of someone’s job to go out of their way to provide a ride to someone on a regular basis. The boss and grand boss are definitely out of line here, especially since they keep pushing after you say no. And this is a super weird way for Sally to try to make herself look good.

    2. I should really pick a name*

      I don’t think there’s a problem with her trying to assist them with their commute.
      It’s a problem that she’s volunteering someone without asking them first, and not accepting their no.

      1. OhNo*

        I have to disagree – there’s no problem in helping interns with their commute if they ask for help. But it sounds like the previous intern didn’t want that help any more than the LW wanted to be forced to drive them. That sounds to me like Sally is forcing the arrangement on everyone for her own ends, which is definitely a problem.

          1. UKDancer*

            Likewise. I would not have wanted someone trying to second guess my commute once I’d worked it out as an intern. I wanted to show I was capable and grown up and that involved getting around.

            As a student tour guide I did accept rides from some of the other guides if they offered when I was waiting for the bus but that was because they were nice people who were offering as a spontaneous gesture of help and it certainly helped me get home quicker. I didn’t need them to drive me and I was quite happy getting the bus and would not have appreciated being told that my commuting plans were deficient in any respect.

    3. Tuesday*

      It’s so weird that she’s making such a big deal out of this. And I would think it’s really weird for the interns too. I don’t think people expect their office to be so involved in figuring out their commute – even if they are interns and even if they are from another country.

    4. Daffy Duck*

      Oh, I know people like this. They feel they have done a good deed by dragooning someone else to do the actual work. They get all the kudos with no actual impact on their life.
      May the universe save you from them.

    5. CatCat*

      It reminds me of the accountant who was weirdly invested in OP’s normal and frugal work travel expenses all the way down to dinging the OP for having guacamole on a burrito.


      1. EchoGirl*

        I feel like this one’s even weirder honestly. The accountant one at least had to do directly with the company’s books, so while I’m not saying he was in any way in the right, the documents he was looking over were things that he was expected to look at for his job (the problem there was that he was so over the top about trying to pinch every penny). In this case, Sally appears to be digging into something that isn’t even within the scope of her position (based on the letter, it sounds like the intern had things figured out and wasn’t expecting help from Sally), and that’s far more bizarre.

    6. Lana Kane*

      I’m not trying to diagnose anyone, but a lot of this reminds me of anxiety. For example, if the last intern was one they wanted to hire, Sally might have started thinking of how to retain them, and ruminated all the way to “They won’t want to stay if they have to take the bus!” She might think that going above and beyond like this is the ONLY way to keep interns or “convince” them to onboard full time.

      1. it's me*

        I think that’s making a lot of assumptions. I have anxiety, and it would keep me from cavalierly volunteering someone else to provide transportation for an intern.

    7. Alternative Person*

      Seems like a play to be seen as helpful and collaborative while simultaneously making life harder for someone she dislikes.

    8. Anonymous Hippo*

      I wonder if she’s selling the interns on the job with the understanding that transportation is included, and trying to get around the company actually having to pay for it.

  13. Bilateralrope*

    Three areas that might give you more room to push back against this if just saying no doesn’t work. The first two stem from the idea that if you’re doing something your work has told you to do, even after you’ve tried to refuse, then it really should be on the clock.

    If you’re a waged worker, that means paying you for the trip.

    Then there is the matter of insurance. Check with your insurance company. Mine will cover me for my commute, but not if I’m driving my car at all while on the clock. In some jurisdictions, it’s against the law to drive uninsured.

    The third idea is to ask about what the companies plan is for days when you call out sick if you are the interns transport.

    Basically, make it a big headache for them to work out the details.

    1. Ama*

      Yeah, I’m actually surprised James hasn’t recognized the potential liability here. I’d refuse to do it at all unless the company and the intern signed a waiver that said the company would cover damages to my car or injuries to the intern if an accident occurred while I was driving them.

      I had a boss in my first job out of college that expected me to drive four miles out of my way every day to take the deposit to the bank (which also meant my work day was really 8.5 hours not 8, and I didn’t get overtime because I was incorrectly classified as a contractor even though I was a receptionist — something I didn’t know until I found this blog years later). BUT they didn’t expect me to do that trip without pay, and the day I had a flat tire and had to get a ride to and from work they took the deposit themselves.

  14. I should really pick a name*

    Does James actually ask for reasons?
    I’d suggest starting with “Sorry, but I’m not able to”
    The more reasons you give, the more Sally will probably try to find ways around them.

    1. Generic Name*

      Yeah, really, the reasons don’t matter. It’s an unreasonable request. It’s unreasonable from a personal favor standpoint (it’s impolite to volunteer someone else to do something that inconveniences them), and it’s unreasonable from a work standpoint (telling someone they have to do a task outside their normal duties for no additional pay, no reimbursement, and requiring them to do it in addition to their normal work hours). As Captain Awkward says, reasons are for reasonable people.

    2. GammaGirl1908*

      Yep. This is the place where “No is a complete sentence” comes into play. Giving Sally more information is just giving her ammunition. Find your multiple vague, firm, direct, and indirect and ways of saying no, and stick to them. That won’t work, I’m not able to, I’m not available for that, that isn’t possible, unfortunately I can’t, sorry but I don’t think so … et cetera.

    3. Retro*

      If James were a reasonable supervisor, then a NO alone from OP with no reasons given at all should be enough to get him to stop pushing OP to drive the intern.

    4. NotAnotherManager!*

      I agree. I do a lot of things for work, but this is just over the line for me. I might be willing to do a one-off, but certainly not regularly and hell no to every day.

      My commute is sacred. I want to put in my earbuds, listen to my podcast or music or whatever, and decompress for my 30-minute train ride. When I see coworkers on the train, we acknowledge each other and then go back to our own worlds. Sometimes, this is the only time I have to myself all day until bedtime. Nope, nope, nope. I do not have the explain my personal reason for to Sally to judge or counter.

    5. JI*

      I’m a big believer in the incredulous snort of laughter, followed by an amused “You’re kidding, right?”

    6. MJ*


      Anyone who won’t accept your ‘no’ is trying to manipulate you. So it’s important to never JADE when dealing with a manipulative person: Don’t Justify, Defend, Argue, Explain – especially preemptively!

      “I’ve said no more than once. I’m not going to change my answer so why won’t you accept it?”

    7. jojo*

      Simple reason. One hour out of her way twice a day. Sorry, I cannot afford the gas ten hours driving each week. Plus oil changes and other maintenance on the car. That is about 50 dollars per week. Just in gas.

  15. Archaeopteryx*

    Gentle, professional tone plus strong wording: “The answer is no.” (Then remain silent.)

    If asked, do NOT elaborate on the specifics reasons for your no. This kind of person will find a way that any “excuse” is not good enough. Don’t feed the beast- give no specifics.

    Also 100% you should point out if pressed that Sally lives closer to the intern than you do! Let her do it if it’s so small a favor and so urgent.

    BTW favors are usually asked in the form of a question. They are so out of line here.

    1. Happy*

      I had a door to door salesman at my house the other day. I just flat out said, “No, I don’t want to.” It felt so good!
      Or, “No. I won’t and you can’t make me.” :)

    2. Really Just a Cat*

      The freedom to say no is really compelling. As Allison said, they haven’t made it a condition of OP’s employment, so saying no is fine. The boundary pushing to try to turn the no into a yes is really problematic.

      I’m a big fan of just saying ‘No. I’m not available.” I never give a reason or rationale. I’m just not available, possibly because I’d rather sit and pet my cat rather than do what they want. If you don’t give a reason, they can’t argue it, and if you just repeat ‘I’m not available’ and possibly ‘My plans/reasons are private, but I’m not available’ then they can’t attack your reasons.

      I use this for everything–social plans I don’t want as well as work ‘opportunities’ I’d rather not have. Repeat it like a mantra and give yourself the freedom of not having to explain your reasoning. That you don’t want to is enough.

  16. BRR*

    I actually disagree with Alison on one point. I don’t think you should say you frequently have commitments. I think you should keep it to “I’m not going to be able to drive the new intern.” If asked why, the answer is “because I’m not able to.”

    I wouldn’t advise this part but I’d be really tempted to say cheerfully “hey don’t you live in [neighborhood]? it’d be much easier for you to swing by and pick up the intern!”

    1. Glomarization, Esq.*


      Offering explanations in this situation implies that LW would be open to having your concerns or obstacles addressed.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I agree in theory. In reality, a lot of people won’t say that because it feels rude to them, no matter how much I explain why it’s not, so I try to give responses more people will be willing to say!

      1. BRR*

        Ah that makes sense. I’ll have to hope for some spirited disagreement another day :(

    3. Sparkles McFadden*

      While I agree with the idea that “no is an entire sentence,” I have found it is easier to shut people down by adding the “I have other commitments” phrase. Otherwise, you end up with one or two more exchanges (“But why can’t you do this?” “Because I am not available”) and the whole thing goes on too long, making things more uncomfortable.

      I am currently semi-retired and people ask me to do things for them all of the time “because it’s not like you have to go to work.” I find if I say “I can’t” I get “But what else do you have to do” which makes me want to punch the person. If, however, I say “I have another commitment” the person will drop it. This is in a situation where there’s no power dynamic and I could not possibly care less if the person gets annoyed with me.

      The goal is to make it stop. “I have other commitments” makes it stop faster.

      1. Artemesia*

        Also retired, also use ‘other commitments’ when I want to decline something. Works great. The trick is never give an actual reason as that sparks negotiation. Lots of people don’t hear ‘no’ they hear ‘reason that I can work a solution to.’ (I myself was once included in lots of people and have failed to interpret ‘I’d love to except X to mean — let’s solve the problem of X.’

  17. Bookworm*

    Stick to your guns, OP! Honestly, that’s absurd and your reaction is perfectly reasonable.

    I’m lucky to have never been in this position but did once watch a head manager basically bully a supervisor into driving him to an awards lunch where each were going to be recognized for two separate things. The supervisor wasn’t even going to go but the manager completely steamrolled him into going. It was awkward to watch because the two didn’t have much of a relationship (even at work) and the supervisor clearly did not feel comfortable in saying no.

    Good luck.

  18. Vaca*

    I don’t understand why this wasn’t a career-ending move for Sally. Is there any context for why Sally has her job? Is she really good at something else?

    1. BRR*

      I’m not sure I understand why it would be career ending. Don’t get me wrong, Sally sounds awful. But this doesn’t strike me as something that would be universally fireable. (One answer might be James sounds a little iffy.)

      1. ambivalent*

        Yeah, James should have noticed what happened last time, but clearly didn’t hold Sally accountable for offering OP’s help without consulting them. Quite possibly, Sally is telling James that OP originally agreed but changed their mind later, or that OP was just trying to get money out of the company, etc. She sounds like she is ensuring that OP looks bad, not her. People who are good at manipulating their bosses don’t need to be good at anything else.

  19. Arielle*

    Why can’t the interns get themselves to work? Maybe they’re college students or something, but they’re adults, they’ll figure out how to get to work like absolutely everyone else in the world.

    1. pleaset cheap rolls*

      Not saying the Sally is at all right, but there are plenty of situations where the company provides transport. These range from high-end execs who have a driver pick them up and drop them off as part of the job’s benefits, to certain types of construction/contracting work where the boss picks them up on the way to a job site, to a neighbor of mine who arranged daily ubers for her nanny in the height of covid.

      I used to work at a small factory that faced seasonal labor shortages, so during the peak time we hired older teenagers, many of who lacked transport. So one of our drivers picked them up and took them home as part of his job (paid on the clock).

      1. HarvestKaleSlaw*

        I’ve dealt with both of those situations before: a boss who negotiated a black car service back and forth from work and a job site where we were all driven in a van to the site trailers every morning.

        The boss was driven by a professional livery driver with a CDL in a car that was insured and maintained as part of a commercial fleet. The van was driven by one of the teamsters, on the clock, and the van itself was leased and insured through the GC for the project. I’ve never encountered a situation where this was an official job duty for someone who was driving their own vehicle, on their own time, with a regular driver license.

    2. NotThatLucinda*

      I’m sure you aren’t doing this, but this is a good place urge: please don’t blame the interns! They very well might not be privy to these requests from Sally, and not approve of them! When I intern not too long ago, I would have been MORTIFIED if a manager had made this request.

      1. UKDancer*

        Definitely. It doesn’t sound like the interns are asking Sally to do this. It sounds more like she’s decided the bus is unsafe and they shouldn’t be using it.

        Personally I hated being dependent on other people for transport. I always took jobs that were accessible by public transport and did not need or want my colleagues deciding my plans were wrong. I didn’t mind if they offered me a ride occasionally but if I’ve arranged to get somewhere by public transport it’s because I know that’s a way that works for the journey I’m making.

  20. AstralDebris*

    How do these conversations where you tell Sally no and she deflects to James play out? If it’s anything like what I’m picturing, my advice is to agree with her framing and then do some forced teaming:

    LW: Unfortunately it’s just not possible for me to drive the intern to and from work.
    Sally: I hear you, and of course I would never ask you to do that, but this is coming from James so it’s really out of my hands.
    LW: Oh I see. I’m glad you understand, though. Now that you know it’s not possible, I hope you’ll help quash the idea if James brings it up again. If he’s really set on it, we can go talk with him together to shut it down.

  21. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

    To James with Sally cc’ed:

    “James, Sally said you have been asking about whether I am available to drive new intern to and from work each day. Unfortunately, I am unable to drive this intern back and forth. In addition to the concerns I had about being asked to drive the previous intern around, I realize this intern lives much farther away from me, and I currently have commitments before and after work and cannot be consistently available. However, I did notice that Sally lives considerably closer to the intern than I do, so perhaps you two can arrange with one another for her to transport the intern.

    I am sure you will find a workable solution!


  22. Anne*

    I’m very confused by all this. My understanding of interns is that the job is provide them with “real world” work experience. Included in that is introducing them to work norms-one of which is that an individual is responsible for getting themselves to and from work. How that happens is up to them. The intern can figure out bus routes, find a friend/family member to drive them, walk/bike to work, or yes, heaven forbid, use Uber or Lyft. (As a side note, as someone who does not own her own car and uses rideshares to get to and from work, I can tell you that it’s not super expensive, considering I don’t have to pay for gas, a car payment, or insurance every month).

    Continue to tell James that you’re not available. You’d think when they posted the job description for the internship that included was a need to provide own transportation (or variation thereof). If it wasn’t, then that falls on James, Sally, or whoever did the hiring. It’s not your responsibility to handle a problem of their own making.

    1. Jen*

      Yes! Just typed the same thing! Getting yourself to work is your own responsibility! Why is OP being tasked with driving what would seem to be capable adults to work? No thanks!

    2. I'm just here for the cats!*

      Yes I was confused too. Why would this be up to the company, unless they are bringing people from out of town (or country) for the sole purpose of this job? I find it really weird that they give the intern $3/hour more just for transportation costs.

      1. LizM*

        $3 an hour is A LOT for transportation. Assuming intern is working 40 hr/week, it’s $120 a week. An unlimited bus pass in my town is $60/month.

  23. Jen*

    Isn’t having reliable transportation to and from work, whether it be your own car, the bus, a family member/friend driving you, ride share, biking etc just part of being employed? These aren’t unpaid interns clearly, so expecting them to be able to get to the job that they have applied for and would know where it is located and what it will take to get there, isn’t such a big ask. I don’t even understand why this is an ask of the OP. The first intern wasn’t from the area/country, but helping her get a commute set up in one way or another is one thing, driving her daily for the extent of her contract is a whole other thing.

  24. AstronautPants*

    I don’t have a car, but I have always been able to take public transportation or walk to work. If a potential employer felt responsible for my transportation, I would feel really awkward! In fact, I frequently do feel awkward when people ask me how I live without a car, or assume that I need a ride. It does feel really infantilizing and judgmental when my job doesn’t require me to drive. In the letter writer’s case, I would get it if there is some sort of relationship with your office and a local university in a less urban place, where there isn’t good public transportation. Maybe there should just be a stated transportation stiped on the internship description.

  25. CommanderBanana*

    There’s a special place in hell for people who volunteer other people to do stuff.

    1. Campfire Raccoon*

      They’re having a potluck. I put you down for a vegetable and a dip.

      1. CommanderBanana*

        *shows up with a single serving of carrots and an individual dip cup*

  26. awesome3*

    If you’re trying to teach interns work norms, it’s good for them to know that one general expectation is finding a way to get yourself to and from work. That’s a very standard expectation, and teaching them otherwise is not setting them up for success anyhow.

    (also….. they probably already knew this and knew what it would mean taking an internship X miles away from their home????)

  27. NotThatLucinda*

    I’m in my first professional job out of grad school now, so I spent many recent years as the intern. I also don’t drive.

    OP, you obviously have my sympathy, and so do the interns! Yikes! How infantizing and embarrassing for them!

    She’s setting them up to be seen as kids, and undermining their professional reputations before they even get started. Of course interns are junior, but you don’t want to reinforce by not appearing competent and capable. As an intern and young professional, you are always trying to present as a contributing, valuable member of the team. This undercuts that so much!

  28. Nervous New Grad*

    I just want to add, good on you OP for standing your ground and not giving in to Sally’s absurd demands. It sounds especially tough since she goes out of her way to guilt you, and I don’t think everyone would be able to keep saying “no” in your position.

    1. Ama*

      I have had a couple Sallys earlier in my career (when my natural soft-spoken and friendly nature also came with an extra young looking face — some of this seems to have stopped as I’ve aged and developed a little more gravitas). The problem with Sallys is they see someone they think is a pushover and they assume that any ask they make will be granted by this person, if there is a slight resistance they go full on for the manipulation.

      The only way to deal with Sallys is to stand your ground with a firm “no I can’t, you’ll have to find someone else.” If they sense any attempt at bargaining or compromise they will pounce on it and never leave you alone until you cave.

  29. Bertha*

    Considering that the intern was getting a $3/hr travel reimbursement — so presumably $24/day?! — it seems quite strange to me that Sally is involved in this at all. I wonder if it’s at all Sally’s responsbility or even business that this intern have a ride to the office. I wonder if it even makes sense to punt this to HR – it sounds like there might be an expectation that the intern is managing his/her own commute, but maybe Sally wants to look “nice” and offer a commuting solution (that she doesn’t actually have to adjust her own life or time for, at all).

  30. Carol*

    I don’t really understand why the intern is getting a transit stipend PLUS OP is being pressured to transport them for free. Supposedly there’s no money to pay for OP’s insurance, wear/tear, mileage, but there’s money for a stipend? And if intern is getting a stipend, why the worry about the cost of the bus or uber? Why have Sally and James invented this need to ferry an intern around and then invented a money shortage as well?

    1. ambivalent*

      I suspect they are paying the intern such a low rate that they literally wouldn’t be able to afford transportation. I’m guessing the travel stipend is so tiny it’s practically meaningless ($3/h ? If the bus takes 30 min, that’s what, $15 per week?). Likely would not cover an uber for a single journey. They are trying to make the job more attractive to the intern (because it sounds like they do want to hire them) at minimal costs to themselves.

      1. Carol*

        Mmm, you bring up a good point–I assumed it was +$3/hour in pay overall, so intern is making, say, $15 instead of $12? But I guess if it’s $3/hour of commute time, yeah, that’s nothing.

        1. Myrin*

          No, I’m pretty sure your initial read is correct – I don’t think one would say “they were paying her an extra $3/hour to offset said transportation costs in the first place” if one meant $3 per hour of commute time (is that even a thing?), especially because the first intern apparently brought it up as a reason she was uncomfortable with the whole thing.

      2. LW*

        It was $23/hour. Her fellow intern was being paid $20/hr. When I was an intern two years prior (so 4 years ago) they paid me $15/hr. I was paying $30 every two weeks per gas just to drive myself and semi-annual bus pass (which the intern already owned) was $50, if matters.

        I did end up driving this intern/now-coworker a handful of times during pandemic when they unreasonably expected her to be in the office for the sole reason of James wanting to practice his Portuguese. We did have a system if she just didn’t want to go in, I would “forget her”. Since then, she has gone back to her native country. She is currently not a full-employee but a contractor, btw.

  31. Calliope*

    So this is a minor point – but someone being a foreign national doesn’t automatically mean you’re responsible for their medical bills when your company has ordered you to drive them for work. Obviously that doesn’t negate the other issues, but just so you know.

    1. Daffy Duck*

      It sounds to me like the company isn’t ordering it (they are paying a stipend for travel, not paying OP). I think Sally is doing this on her own “to be nice” to the intern. Legally it would not be working hours and not in OPs job description so the company isn’t covering it.

      1. Calliope*

        Doesn’t mean it’s not at the direction of the company – your boss being “nice” doesn’t change that. Courts would look at that.

    2. Foxy Hedgehog*

      If somebody is injured in a motor vehicle accident in the USA (nationality doesn’t matter), it’s frequently the auto insurance that is “hit” first with the medical bills, before the relevant health insurance. Your state law and your auto insurance may vary.

      1. Calliope*

        Yeah, between your car insurance, the company’s insurance, and any travel insurance the intern had, the various insurance companies can work it out. Again, not really the point here, but people shouldn’t be terrified to have foreign nationals in their cars.

        1. Foxy Hedgehog*

          Yep. The only risk is that the auto insurance company might consider transporting a co-worker as “off policy,” but it would shock me if that happened–people carpool all of the time without needing to update their insurance policy, and it still wouldn’t put the LW directly on the hook for medical bills.

          But yeah, the nationality of the passenger wouldn’t matter here.

      2. Esmeralda*

        Which is likely to raise your premiums. Is the OP’s employer going to pay that increase? (We know the answer to that one)

        1. Natalie*

          That’s a likely outcome regardless of whether or not your passenger includes a foreign national. (And no one suggested that means the LW should start driving interns around again.)

          1. Calliope*

            Right, by all means say no to driving the intern, but in general, if you have a friend from another country who you want to give a ride to, you don’t have to be worried about saying yes.

      3. Dancing Otter*

        Yes, but if you’re driving *for work*, your insurance likely doesn’t cover the accident at all. Mine added three pages of exclusions and exceptions to my policy last renewal, all about ride-sharing and limits on car-pooling and what not.

    3. Artemesia*

      someone gets hurt in your car, you are in for a world of legal hurt if you don’t have massive insurance that covers it — and it might not cover a commercial job of transporting employees.

      1. Calliope*

        Nobody is saying she should have to transport the intern – I certainly am not. I am saying that if you’re willing to give people rides in general (a friend, a neighbor, whoever) you shouldn’t be worried about it because they’re a foreign national.

    4. pancakes*

      I came down here to say that. I don’t think it is a minor point – it’s a pretty big misconception to think having a foreign national in your car is a huge risk.

  32. Suzy Q*

    I would go straight to talking about liability instead of commitments. You would be liable for any injuries to this intern and would then have to sue the company to recover damages. This whole thing is bullshit.

  33. DarthVelma*

    Totally off topic – but I love posts about interns. The “You May Also Like” almost always includes a link to “did my intern frame my coworker for credit card theft?” Still one of the weirdest questions ever submitted as far as I’m concerned.

  34. bunniferous*

    Say no for insurance purposes, period. I’m in real estate and these days a lot of my fellow agents have clients follow them to houses in their own personal vehicles instead of driving them for that exact reason. You are right about personal liability, plus even if you were inclined to do it, you should not do it for free.

  35. Spearmint*

    Honestly I’d be tempted to even more direct and say “sorry, that’s not my job”. But that may be overly direct for someone like Sally.

  36. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

    So, two loosely related stories from my first few months in the US:

    1) I did, in my first job, have a coworker drive me to a bus stop that was on his route home. They’d drop me off at the bus stop, I’d catch the bus home (saving 1-2 hours by taking one bus straight home vs having to change multiple times – like in most US cities, our public transportation outside of the downtown area is ridiculously bad), and they’d go on his errands, home, wherever. But the difference here is that, one, I asked them personally, not had our boss lean on them; two, I only needed a drive from work (I’d bought a beater car and was practicing for my license, and my dad was able to ride with me in the mornings while I was learning to drive); three, this person and their spouse went on to be close friends with my spouse and myself for years; and mainly, four, we came from the same home country and they could trust me not to sue them if anything bad happened. Which leads me to story #2

    2) My second day in the US, new landlady stopped by with a job offer of babysitting two toddlers while I’d watch my own preschooler and toddler. As jetlagged as I was, I still knew I had to say NO WAY for liability reasons. End of story.

    1. The Rural Juror*

      I used to give rides to one of my direct reports. Similarly to you, she was proactive and was able to get herself 90% of the way to and from work, but the bus stop was about half a mile from our office and it’s not the nicest area to walk (very industrial, no sidewalk, big trucks coming through). Many of us would have to pass her bus stop on the way in, so we just told her to wait there and whoever saw her first would pick her up. At the end of the day she was almost always leaving around the same time as me, so I was happy to drop her off at the stop. It would only take a few minutes out of any of our days and we were happier not to see her have to walk!

      There’s a big difference between that and being voluntold to do something inconvenient and at a personal cost to you. Sally is a JERK!!!

  37. Campfire Raccoon*

    I often lament how much better/different/simple my life would have been if I’d learned to say “No.” as a whole sentence, 20 years ago.

    1. Phony Genius*

      It’s funny how “No!” is one of the first things a baby learns how to say, their parents endlessly try to stop them from saying it, and then about 20 years later they have to learn how to say it all over again.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        When mine were very young, I was lucky to happen upon a book on parenting, that had a whole chapter on the word “No!”, where it said, among other things, “a child who’s saying no to you today, will have learned how to say no to ” (list of criminal and illegal-for-teens activities followed) “15 years down the road.”

        (Eda LeShan, When Your Child Drives You Crazy)

        1. Campfire Raccoon*

          Yes. My 15 yo likes to follow it up with, “You can’t make me.” He’ll be fine if he makes it past living with me.

  38. ambyr*

    Years ago, my old employer offered a friend’s son an internship. Okay, fine, in a small single-owner company a little nepotism shouldn’t be a surprise.

    Then he sent an email to all staff asking for someone to volunteer to not only transport but also house and feed the intern for the entire summer. And was shocked–shocked–at the lack of enthusiastic responses.

    We all held firm in the face of multiple pleading emails, and eventually the boss and the intern worked out a solution without us. I’m rooting for you to hold firm too, LW.

    1. Artemesia*

      Why couldn’t shouldn’t the boss do this? He presumably lives near the workplace and it is his friend?

  39. Ann O'Nemity*

    Reminds me of one of my coworkers who loves to volunteer other people for things. She gets credit for the ideas and problem solving, while others get stuck with the work or the awkwardness of saying no. Loved by the boss and resented by her peers.

  40. Ben Marcus Consulting*

    “Sally, that’s so awesome that you’re volunteering to transport this intern! Personally, I just have too much going on to commit to something extra for work, but good for you! That is why you’re mentioning it, right?”

  41. McMurdo*

    Oh my god, as an intern who’s moved somewhere clear across the country for an opportunity without a car, this would be my NIGHTMARE. Once a coworker offered to lend me her umbrella when I was walking home in the rain and that was bad enough.

    I do want to address a couple sentiments brought up in the comments, as someone who’s been on the other side….
    (1) Public transportation is practically non-existent in a significant portion of the US. I’ve lived in rural and suburban and urban areas, and outside the urban areas, I wouldn’t have been able to get to any of my jobs by public transportation if I hadn’t specifically lucked out and found a place either walking distance to work or to what little public transit existed.
    (2) At least in my experience, my employers helped me (and other interns) find housing and transportation because they knew we’d only be there for a summer, so buying a car and getting a 12-month lease wasn’t an option. They also, like, wanted us to come? This obviously varies by industry and company but a significant part of their full-time employees started as interns, so there were initiatives to keep us happy. In most cases, that just meant sending us links to short-term housing options or bus schedules, but I know a couple interns in super remote areas that rented rooms from a coworker’s friend or something and drove in with the coworker. Not ideal for anyone, but it does happen!

    1. McMurdo*

      Oh also, even ridesharing isn’t available everywhere! Right now I live about an hour outside of DC in a suburban-verging-on-rural county and there is one (1) Uber driver. In the whole county. No Lyft, nothing else.

      1. anonomouse*

        yup. live in a small wisconsin city and we have uber and lift. But you go 15 minutes across the river into Minnesota and you have no choice. They will take you to that town but you cant be picked up.

      2. Aquawoman*

        OK, but there is both a bus route and Uber availability for this intern, because Sally has come up with reasons why they’re not good options (bus is “unsafe” and ride share is expensive).

        1. Self Employed*

          I was just reading today that there’s a shortage of ride share drivers. Those who quit because of the pandemic have realized they weren’t making enough money (since most folks have done their taxes by now) and it was stressful and too much wear and tear on their cars and they don’t want to go back. Uber paid a lot more in the beginning and it dropped too low to be worth it. And with the long wait times, customers are crankier than they used to be so a lot of current drivers are dropping out.

          I’m glad that the “independent contractors” are deciding they don’t want to be exploited any more.

    2. pleaset cheap rolls*

      “(2) At least in my experience, my employers helped me (and other interns) find housing and transportation because they knew we’d only be there for a summer, so buying a car and getting a 12-month lease wasn’t an option. ”

      This is a good point. TO the people saying “Internships should be like the real world so let them fend for themselves” – it’s need not be 100% like the real world. Helping interns who might not be paid much is a good thing. Of course, forcing staff to use drive interns is not right, but it’s just not right to say interns must deal with the full experience themselves with no help.

  42. Phoebe*

    So I am confused by your advice above – that seems to me that there is bullying going on by Sally who is pushing her beliefs on her colleagues. Wouldn’t this be frowned upon at Boeing as unethical behavior?

  43. Harvey JobGetter*

    OP is clearly in the right here. But when you’re trying to persuade people of something, it doesn’t help to give trivial or objectively false or unrealistic reasons for your position. Most of the reasons OP lists seem to fall into these categories. Either just say no or make sure your reasons are really defensible.

    Part of this is that OP is clearly piling on reasons because of the PTSD all the awfulness of this job causes. Understandable, but not helpful. Get a new job.

    1. EventPlannerGal*

      Right – the LW is in the right but I wouldn’t bring up things like wear and tear to the car. I get the instinct to be all “and here’s ANOTHER reason I can’t do it!!” but it kind of comes across as petty and the actual reasons aren’t petty at all.

  44. TiredMama*

    Question. Would the company be required to pay her for the time/mileage/insurance if they said her job was conditioned on her picking up and dropping off this intern?

    1. Natalie*

      Outside of California, no. Employers are not required to reimburse business mileage, and since the 2017 tax bill unreimbursed business expenses are no longer deductible for federal taxes. (And prior to 2017 very few people were actually able to take that deduction.)

    2. Freya*

      If this were in Australia, the business would not be required to reimburse the employee, but unreimbursed expenses can be claimed as personal tax deductions, as long as they are properly documented and have the necessary connection to work activities. This would count, and I would expect the employee to keep a logbook showing mileage, copies of emails showing that it was required for work, and all receipts for all vehicle expenses so that the employee can work out which method of calculating the claim is better for them.

      1. Freya*

        As a general rule, driving to work from home is *not* claimable here, but if driving another person is considered part of your work duties then your work day starts from the moment you pick them up…

  45. IrishEm*

    “Why can’t you do it, Sally?” *Sally’s reasons* “My reasons are the same. Sorry.”

    1. Carol*

      Loads of suburbs have very little public transit to speak of. When I didn’t own a car and had to go to a suburb for a work conference, and my dumb company wouldn’t cover cab fare, I took a bus as far as I could go and had to walk ~1.5 miles of very busy streets/limited sidewalks to get to the location.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        And while I don’t know for sure if Sally is correct, I cannot tell you how many times I have heard people say the bus isn’t safe when they have never taken the bus. I grew up thinking busses were soooo dangerous so I didn’t take one until I moved to New York. Busses in my home city are just fine, even if they pick up passengers in not-great parts of town. Then I lived in a city with mediocre public transportation and horrified all of my new acquaintances when I told them I took a bus downtown.

        Point being, I would take Sally’s “but it’s not safe” with a massive grain of salt, especially since the company is essentially subsidizing the intern’s transportation.

        1. UKDancer*

          In my experience people who don’t use the bus often think they’re dangerous. Quite often that’s code for “they pick up people from lower socio-economic groups living in less good parts of town.” I’ve caught the buses in London most of my adult life with no major issues and wouldn’t think anything of it. I get the train more now but that’s because I’m living further out of the centre.

          My grandmother was convinced buses were dangerous and always wanted me to get a taxi when they came up to London to visit me. Quite honestly I preferred the bus which has CCTV, a record of my journey from my oyster card and a lot of other people around, to being in the back of a minicab where I was stuck in a car with someone I didn’t know and going down routes I was less familiar with.

          I don’t obviously know the bus the OP’s company interns are using but there’s no particular reason a bus would be unsafe in principle, unless there are particular factors making it unsafe.

          1. Artemesia*

            Buses are great — we use them in Chicago all the time. I have been spending the last two weeks in Federal Way between Seattle and Tacoma in an area that seems to be lovely forrest and gardens and endless suburban development and strip malls. You absolutely could not work in this area without a car as public transport is a joke. The nearest bus stop to where I am staying is a mile and buses are infrequent.

        2. Myrin*

          I don’t even understand that. Granted, I’m not from the US, so there might be some underlying going-ons that I’m not aware of, but how exactly can a bus be unsafe? Like. It’s a big vehicle which drives from A to B to C, picking up people along the way. Even if someone violent enters it, at least the bus driver will always be there, too, and you can also encounter a violent person while randomly walking down the road. I don’t get it.

          1. Anon US public transit user*

            Oh, the underlying goings-on are just racism and classism, in combination with a deeply entrenched car culture! You’re absolutely correct in your assessment of bus safety.

          2. Barbara Eyiuche*

            It’s the people on it who might be unsafe. Once a drunk man tried to pick me up, and was very belligerent. I passed my stop and got off halfway across town where I knew I could get a taxi. He followed me and tried to get in the taxi with me. Another time a drunk guy also was enamored of me I guess. The bus driver shut that down, but he did try to follow me too. And I also skipped my stop and got off at the mall because I thought it was safer. Still, episodes like this have been really rare.

            1. UKDancer*

              Yes the people may be unsafe but no more than people anywhere on the underground or in the street.

              I had a chap try and grope me once on the bus. I shouted at him to get his hand off my knee or I’d cut it off and insert it into his fundament. Everyone on the bus looked at him and he ran away at the next stop. I had a really drunk guy try and hit me for no reason on the tube and I moved away and caught the next train. Over the 20 years I’ve been using public transport I think that’s a good average. My understanding in London is that attacks on public transport are statistically rare.

  46. wayward*

    Could a company become liable if they pressured an employee to transport an intern and something bad happened? For example, what if the employee had a dog in the backseat that they were taking to daycare and the intern got bitten or knocked over?

  47. Erin*

    Is this a business or a child’s birthday party? And, why is Sally the room-mom in charge of making sure everyone gets home in time for dinner?

    I’ve never had this much involvement regarding transportation in my professional life. This is so odd.

  48. IT Relationship Manager*

    Rides to work should be an emergency situation (car won’t start, etc.) or something worked out privately between coworkers, like a carpool.

    Alison and OP are right, if this was to be something in her job duties, then the company needs to take all the liability.

    I’ve never worked in a place where an employee was required to take up the responsibility of a worker’s transportation.

    Sally complaining how much an uber costs is just astoundingly awful because it means she’s trying to shove the cost of transportation onto OP. This is just so backwards, I don’t even know.

  49. The Original Stellaaaaa*

    I know that there is privilege involved in requiring that employees have cars, but really, why is this company bringing on interns who seem to have no access at all to transportation? What is the hiring process here? And honestly, if Uber costs or bus safety are prohibitive issues, these interns need to figure something out anyway if they intend to work at all.

    I realize that Sally is putting her own spin on this, but the repeated decision to bring on interns without drivers licenses is specific and strange.

    1. UKDancer*

      There appears to be a perfectly functional bus and the previous intern didn’t appear to have a problem using it. It sounds like the problem is Sally’s view of the transport rather than the availability of the transport.

  50. Pandemic really?*

    Id go with a simple no and probably email Jeff. Am I the only thinking this is extra out of line in the middle of a pandemic, it’s not over by any means?

    1. TWB*

      I was coming here to say exactly this! Sally is concerned that public transit is unsafe during a pandemic, so her solution is to put two unrelated strangers in the close confines of a car twice a day, with no idea who either person may be in contact with outside the office???? WTF.

      “I’m sorry Sally. In addition to my previously stated reasons, I find it strange that you would suggest two strangers being in the confines of a small car during a global pandemic is a safe solution if you also believe that public transit is unsafe??? Maybe we should loop James in on this conversation?”

  51. Silly Goose*

    We expect our interns to be able to get to work just like everyone else. Why is the job subsidizing tho? Do they do it for other employees? Are they paying so badly they have to?

    So many questions!

    1. Lana Kane*

      I don’t know if this is the case here, but back in the day when I was an intern, I wasn’t getting paid. I was doing it for the college credit. They paid for my subway fare so that the internship didn’t end up costing me.

      1. Esmerelda*

        That would make sense if it was unpaid, but the intern seems to be a paid position from the letter.

      2. Silly Goose*

        Our interns are all paid. I could see something if they aren’t paid… Maybe. But then does it count as compensation? I don’t know if that kicks in other laws, etc.

    2. Esmerelda*

      I’m glad I am not the only one thinking this! It seems… bizarre to give the intern special transportation treatment that employees don’t get. And they were subsidizing travel with an extra $3 an hour!? How expensive is bus service in their city? Goodness!

    3. londonedit*

      Probably different because I’m in the UK, but I’ve often known interns/work experience employees to be given a subsidy for transport. The acknowledgement is that the pay for an internship is low and may not be enough on its own to cover transport as well as other expenses, so the intern is given a travel subsidy on top.

      Certainly in my industry (publishing) there’s been a big push in recent years to make internships available to more people, and things like travel subsidies are part of that. Historically, commercial publishing companies were based solely in London, which is an insanely expensive city, which effectively meant the only people who could afford to do an internship, or to take up an entry-level job, were people whose parents lived in London already or who could afford to support them to live in London on a low wage, or people who had friends or relatives living in London who could put them up for the duration of their internship. And in effect what that meant was that interns and those starting out in publishing were overwhelmingly white and middle-class. So there have been various initiatives, like subsidies and networks to help people find houseshares and loans for rental deposits, as well as things like apprenticeships that don’t require a degree or previous publishing experience, in recent years to try to go some way to redressing the balance.

      1. UKDancer*

        We do the same as far as I know. London is an expensive place so we give the interns a transport subsidy to cover bus / underground / Boris bike. They are paid but not brilliantly for the internship so I think it helps them to have supported transport. In contrast regular staff are better paid so don’t get a transport subsidy.

        Obviously we don’t go around trying to give them rides / pick them up / query their choice of transport mode. They’re expected to get in by whatever means they choose.

  52. Remotie*

    Ugg, this reminds me of my HR department at my last job. Our Director of HR was insufferable, one of his habits was to defer to the HR Manager to drive him to HR events (classes, seminars, group lunch if we all went out). We’d all normally carpool if we wanted to, but upon booking an event he’d immediately to go to the HR Manager’s desk and ask if she’d drive and pick him up on the way (they lived in the same city). For context, we all worked in a HR suite, desks only separated by partitions. HR manager felt trapped, she’d have to come up with various reasons to show up independently. It wasn’t until she had legitimate car problems that she felt comfortable telling him she couldn’t accommodate his request. To add to it, she’d say that he’d insist they ride in the carpool lane and side-seat drive the whole way. He never offered to pick her up or drive.

  53. joss*

    Personally I would leave any mention of other commitments out of this and just stick with “I am sorry but I will not be able to do this”. As mentioned in the letter there is a potential liability issue, wear and tear (how ever minimal) on your personal vehicle, and the unpaid work time any one of those is reason enough to just say no, in combination it is not even close.
    Now if they pushed after that the “I am sorry part” would go by the wayside but the rest of the message would not change

  54. AnonInCanada*

    I can just see this conversation now:

    Sally: “James wants you to drive [intern] to and from work every day.”
    You: “Sorry, no, I can’t do that!”
    “Why not?”
    “I have other commitments.”
    “But but but [intern] can’t get to work otherwise.”
    “There’s [bus route][bus route][bus route], [intern] can get there.”
    “But BuSeS aRe UnSaFe!!!!”
    “So why can’t you drive her?”
    “I have other commitments.”
    “…and this is my problem why? What makes your commitments more important than mine?”
    “But I NeEd yOu tO dRiVe [intern]!!!”
    “What part of ‘no’ did you not understand? Besides you live closer to [intern] than I do.”
    “But but but…I can’t.”
    “Neither can I. Find a way.”

    Then walk to James and tell him what just transpired, or email him, whatever works better.

  55. Bluestreak*

    I agree that this is awful boss behavior. But is it true you need extra insurance to carpool with coworkers. I don’t think there is any more liability than driving in your car with anyone else? Or am I wrong?

  56. wee beastie*

    This is bananas that anyone in your company would ask you for this, let alone that your colleague thinks it is ok to volunteer you for it without your agreement.
    There are so many ways this doesn’t make sense. If the intern is an adult, isn’t it a part of being an adult to learn how to get yourself to and from your workplace? Being chauffeured is a luxury even the regular employees don’t get, why would the interns rate such red carpet treatment? Presumably the intern is getting paid less than a full time benefited employee, so why are we worried about the expense of paying for transit for them? If the intern program is too expensive because of the need to pay a bit extra for them, aren’t their larger concerns this company has?
    Or are we talking about something other than my conventional understanding of intern? Which is basically a student-level employee gaining on the job experience for a temporary window? But…Even if this was a Visiting Dignitary or Visiting Academic or Visiting Executive, they’d still have to find their own way. My old company had a program where mid level and senior employees could go spend 1-3 months working overseas in one of our other offices to learn how they did things. Those were adults who could learn to travel to and from offices themselves.
    I just can not with these people in your office, OP. My heart goes out to you.

  57. Barbara Eyiuche*

    If I were the intern I would be extremely embarrassed by all this. I would also be humiliated if I found out after the fact that a coworker was driving me to work only because he had been pressured by higher-ups and didn’t want to do it. Getting extra pay for transportation is enough.

  58. Bae Bae Boo*

    The bus is safe! Some companies can get tax credits for providing transit passes to employees.

  59. Freya*

    My husband’s workplace organises carpooling, but:
    A) there’s no public transport
    B) it’s significantly out of town
    C) the company provides cars, fuel, insurance etc
    D) they organise this for *everyone*
    E) it’s written into their contracts that it’s provided by the company for everyone
    F) cars are filled with people who live in the same geographic area, and
    G) there’s a written, followed procedure for requesting and getting a change, if there’s another nearby car. You can request a change for whatever reason, and they try to make it happen

    No one is singled out, no one is paying for it themselves, and there’s processes in place. And if you *want* to drive your own car or ride a motorcycle to work, no one stops you. The carpool cars all have onboard tracking so the company knows if you’re joyriding in them, but that’s a known part of having a company carpool.

  60. BadApple*

    “Sally, you are right! It is so noble of you to drive the new intern to work! I’m so happy you worked everything out with James to give them a ride. It’s so important that we continue to recruit new talent into the company.”

    Then after that encounter, any time she guilt trips:

    “Oh, so you’ve changed your mind and will give her a ride?”

    (Don’t do this but it would be hilarious!)

  61. B Wayne*

    Twenty years ago I had a job where I would sometimes travel on site to our customers. On occasion I would be asked to transport a worker or three (usually part timers or temps) with me for the day. I didn’t give it a thought. Reflecting years later I cringe at the thought of a loaded up car full of temps and me (not making that much and having an economy car and economy insurance!) getting in a wreak. All those injury and accident lawyer commercials would have had a new meaning to me I am sure.

  62. Former Retail Lifer*

    This is so weird. I don’t have a car and I rely on public transportation or Uber. It’s 100% my responsibility, not my employer’s, to ensure I can get to work. I’ve turned down jobs and transfers because the job site was not on the busline and Uber would be too pricey. In what circumstance does the employer take on the responsibility of shuttling someone to work? I’ve never encountered that in my entire life.

  63. Say Something*

    Thank you OP and thank you Allison. This happened to me a few years ago. It was an awful experience being made into a chauffeur. My boss told me to drive my intern to and from work, saying, “What’s the big deal?” Wish I knew more then and had more backbone to push back. This intern was 24 years old and our town had a robust bus system. He was paid well and insisted on being driven. I no longer work there.

  64. hereforthepostitnotes*

    Personally, I would wait until she volunteers me to James. Then when James asks I would say “Oh, I’m not sure why Sally told you that. I already let her know I’m not available. However, Sally actually lives much closer to intern than I do, it would make much more sense for Sally to be responsible for intern’s transportation.”

    Yup passive aggressive but sometimes that’s enjoyable.

  65. Kathenus*

    Late to the party, but this gives me flashbacks to a few decades back when my boss volunteered me to house an international summer worker! I was young, not comfortable pushing back, and ended up doing it. The silver lining was that she was really nice and we stayed in touch for a number of years after, but I just can’t even imagine how he thought it was OK to not ask, but tell me, that she would be staying with me. And knowing my personality now I’m stunned I didn’t say something that might have torpedoed our relationship.

    1. UKDancer*

      Wow that’s a lot of nerve. I’m impressed you kept your temper.

      He’s lucky you had room for a visitor. I don’t know many people at work with a spare room as London is very expensive. Most people are in shared flats or studios and don’t have the room. I have a z-bed but it’s not really workable for more than 1 night. It’s a pretty large assumption that someone would have enough room for a guest.

  66. jojo*

    Quite true. Sally is volunteering LW for 40 hours per month as taxi service, not counting bad traffic days. And also expecting LW to fork out a minimum of 200 dollars per month for gas. That is not a favor. It is major commitment. Sally can go F herself.

Comments are closed.