my employee pressures coworkers for rides everywhere

A reader writes:

Your recent post about an intern who wanted rides to work made me think perhaps you might have some insight into my present situation. Unlike similar posts I’ve seen, it’s not the chauffeurs who are asking about the situation, but the manager (me) who sees someone taking horrible advantage of coworkers. I know these people are so compassionate and caring, but they also don’t have the extra funds to be putting the wear and tear and gas on their vehicles.

I have an employee who started working here as a college student, “Jenny.” Jenny didn’t have a driver’s license or vehicle, but the campus housing was less than a quarter mile away, so she walked. However, after she graduated, she moved a few miles farther away and started asking fellow employees to give her rides to work and rides home. People gave her a ride. Jenny also now asks the person giving her a ride to stop at her child’s daycare on the way to and from work to drop off/pick up the child. (She’ll leave the car seat at the daycare during the day.) This has been going on for almost a decade. She still does not have a driver’s license or vehicle and has no intention of getting them, as far as I know.

Employees have actually quit because they didn’t want to continue to give Jenny a ride but felt guilty saying no. Currently, she gets most rides to and from work (and daycare) from three compassionate employees who are very caring and can’t tell her no. One person always gives her a ride home, every single day. Usually Jenny gets a ride to work with one of the other two employees. Sometimes Jenny will ask for (and receive) a ride from someone who is not even working that day. They will drive in (one employee driving 23 miles one way), pick her up, drop her off at work, and drive back home.

She never offers to pay for gas. She’s asked people to drop her off at the movie theatre where she’s meeting friends. (Presumably the friends give her a ride home.) She has had coworkers drop her off at her kid’s daycare in the morning for a meeting. Then she’ll call her coworkers in a few hours to pick her up and bring her to work.

She does occasionally have other friends give her rides, but it definitely looks to be the majority of time she asks coworkers to pick her up and drop her off and generally drive her around.

I don’t think she’s ever used public transportation (which is mediocre here). Her daily commute is farther than the previous quarter mile, but could still be traversed by walk or bike.

This is the situation I inherited when I became manager about a year ago. I have talked to the employees giving her a ride. Most don’t want to do it, but they are too compassionate to say no. If this is what their conscience is telling them to do, what can I say to that?

Part of the problem is that the majority of this happens before and after work hours. Occasionally, Jenny will ask for a ride to or from an appointment or meeting (during work hours), but most of it is the employees giving her a ride on their own time.

The few times when she does ask for a ride on work hours, well, everyone helps each other out occasionally. How can I forbid an employee from picking her up at her child’s daycare when I just drove out to jump another employee’s stalled vehicle?

She rarely asks me for a ride so it hasn’t been an issue personally. Again, how can I help one employee (with a dead battery) when I won’t on occasion help out another employee?

I hate to see people taken advantage of. I know most of these people don’t have extra financial resources. I have heard some employees say something like “She’ll hate me if I don’t give her a ride.”

Is there anything, as the supervisor, I can or should be doing?

Aggggh. This could all be solved if your employees would stop being so passive about it! If they’d simply tell Jenny they can’t drive her anymore, the problem would be solved.

But they’re not — and since you’re actually losing employees over it, something that shouldn’t need to be your business is becoming your business.

To be clear, there are a lot of ways this could play out that wouldn’t be your business. If Jenny were just asking for occasional rides and people were mildly annoyed but doing it anyway … not really your business. But you’ve had employees quit over it.

I also wouldn’t be surprised if over time, a cultural expectation has built up on your team that driving Jenny around is “what we do here” — and so people who would like to tell Jenny no worry they’re expected to do it anyway. Some of them might worry about how it will affect their relationship with Jenny at work, or even their relationships with other coworkers if their refusal to drive her means someone else feels obligated to drive her in their place. So again: your business.

But I can see why you’re struggling with it, since it’s outside-of-work behavior that your employees are agreeing to. Keep in mind, though, that there are times when behavior outside of work falls into your purview: for example, if an employee kept showing up to outside-work social events and insulting the coworkers who were there, that would be your business because it would affect the dynamics on your team. Or, for an example that’s closer to your situation, what if you had an employee who was constantly nagging coworkers to buy her dinner and they didn’t want to do it but felt obligated to help her out, and some people were starting to resign rather than continue to fund her meals? In both those situations, although the behavior was outside of work, it would be affecting your team dynamics and so you’d have standing to intervene.

There are limits to this, of course. If two of your employees used to be outside-of-work friends and had a falling-out, it wouldn’t be appropriate for you to get involved other than ensuring they were treating each other civilly at work. But when things come into work, they’re your business. And in this case, with people quitting over the situation, that bar has been met.

Ideally, you could just talk to the people driving Jenny and give them your explicit encouragement and permission to turn down her ride requests. But it sounds like you’ve done that and it hasn’t changed anything. Maybe that’s because these employees are people-pleasers or afraid to be assertive, which can become extra potent if it intersects with any feeling of “this is what the team does.” But since talking to them hasn’t worked, I’m hesitant to rely on trying more of that.

Because of that, I think you’ll have to talk to Jenny and say something like: “I need you to figure out transportation to and from work that doesn’t involve relying on your coworkers. I know on your end it must look like people are driving you happily, but what I’m hearing on my end is that people feel pressured to help but would like to stop, and it’s affecting the dynamics on the team. I understand this has been your set-up for a long time, so I don’t expect you to change it overnight, but I do need you to have another system in place one month from now.”

She will probably push back, saying people are happy to do it and they’d say no if they didn’t want to. To that you can say, “Unfortunately, we’ve had people quit over this and I can’t continue having it impact the team that way. You do need to find your own transportation to and from work.”

In theory you should add, “Obviously an occasional ride when you’re in a pinch is fine — we’d all do that for each other. But your coworkers can’t be your default plan for getting here and home.” But given the high danger that Jenny will take that as license to continue to ask for rides most of the time, I’d probably leave it out for now.

After you have that conversation, it’s worth talking to the ride-providing coworkers again, letting them know you’ve had this conversation, and saying you need them to do their part by being clear with Jenny that they can’t continue to drive her.

From there, you’ll need to stay pretty actively involved to make sure that Jenny really does stop leaning on colleagues for constant rides; this is entrenched enough that it’s likely to take fairly active involvement from you (possibly ongoing for a while) to ensure she actually lets up on people.

Is this a weird amount of involvement to have in an employee’s transportation and other employees’ favor-providing? Yes! It absolutely is. But it’s at the point that you’ve lost multiple employees over it, so you’ve got to intervene.

{ 604 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    A reminder of this commenting rule:

    Limit speculation on facts not presented by letter-writers to reasonable assumptions based on the information provided.
    • Don’t invent possibilities simply because you could imagine them to be within the remote realm of plausibility.
    If you’re speculating on facts not in the letter, explain how it’s actionable for the letter-writer. “She might be stealing your lunch because she can’t afford her own” is not actionable (and quickly becomes derailing). “She might be stealing your lunch because she can’t afford her own, and so you could try X” is actionable.

  2. my cat is prettier than me*

    I don’t like confrontation, but I can’t imagine quitting a job instead of telling someone I can’t drive them anymore.

    1. Melissa*

      Totally! I am not one for a direct conversation, so I’d be making up “Oh I can’t today or tomorrow or next week because my family is in town” or whatever, but I wouldn’t quit.

      1. Margaret Cavendish*

        Yeah, this is a pretty extreme reaction! OP, you might want to look a bit deeper into this, to see if there’s more going on than just the rides. One person quitting over something like this is unusual enough – more than one person would raise alarm bells for me.

        Good luck!

          1. pope suburban*

            My impression is that this is not a great job otherwise. LW mentions that these people do not have the money to afford the added gas and vehicle maintenance costs. That makes me think that the pay there is notoriously low, to the point that people are not interested in staying long-term regardless. In my experience, workplaces that lowball their workers this badly tend to have other issues- no benefits, lack of flex, sometimes toxic culture- but there really aren’t any clues about those so I’ll leave it be. None of this is LW’s fault, since it doesn’t sound like they are in a position to be dictating budget or pay scales, but it is their problem because they are trying to manage a staff whose needs are not fundamentally being met. Jenny seems like more of a last straw than a primary motivator here.

              1. Quill*

                Yeah, whether Jenny is asking colleagues for money (or food, or cat-sitting, or any other kind of favor that OP doesn’t know about or didn’t include) or not, if everyone is barely making ends meet, Jenny’s lack of driving, and the common practice of people who are not working that day (!) taking on the expense / time of driving her, is probably fueling some kind of resentment that she “gets to” have that perk of not paying for gas / a car / car insurance.

                Also, many people probably feel insecure in saying no to Jenny because it’s been a decade of her getting free rides – the less adequate the salary is, the more likely people are to be desperate to hold on to this job because it’s better than nothing.

            1. Arts Akimbo*

              Agreed. Jenny asking for rides seems very likely to be just the straw that broke the camel’s back for employees that were already unhappy.

            2. Random Bystander*

              Well, a 46 mile round-trip added to one’s expenses can move into significant (person who wasn’t even working that day driving in 23! miles one-way to provide this unpaid favor), though I would have thought that would be a perfect ‘out’. “Sorry, can’t do it, I’m not going into the office that day.”

            3. JSPA*

              An extra ~50 mile trip (23 miles 1 way) in an older car or in temperatures where you’re running the A/C? Or constant detours that add up to an extra 50 miles per week?

              The IRS generally estimates cost at about 60 cents per mile. So that’d (conservatively) be a value of $30 per week in money lost.

              And that doesn’t consider the time and hassle.

            4. Princess Sparklepony*

              I’m wondering if it’s a charity of some sort and the people working there just really want to help people so they help Jenny. But then it’s become a thing where because they helped once, then they helped again, and now it’s become an every day/every week thing and it’s too much. But they don’t know how to get out of it without seeming unkind to someone who needs help. It’s like a vicious cycle of helping.

      2. My Useless 2 Cents*

        Along that line would it makes sense for OP to alter work schedules for Jenny or those Jenny most relies on for rides
        It would be easy for coworker to say something along the lines of
        “Sorry Jenny, my schedule is now 10-6, I can’t drive you home anymore”

        **Obviously with the ok those co-workers, I wouldn’t suggest this if it would make co-workers unhappy but if they are really conflict avoidant and have a flexible schedule they may prefer the excuse.

        1. Mouse*

          But people are even driving Jenny on their days off! I think a schedule change would probably just make it harder on the drivers. This is so wild.

          1. Ellen*

            as one of the drivers in a similar case, I regarded her as an outside of work friend, right up until I 1- found a better job and 2- said no to giving her a ride to her job, anyway. for me, an added set of conditions included that she was sometime my supervisor until the actual supervisor came in and she had been there for a LOT longer than me, knew

              1. duinath*

                i mean, jenny’s having people drop her at daycare, and then pick her up again later in the day. chutzpah is real and it is in the room with us right now.

                i can’t help but think once more than one person (!) has quit because of your behaviour, firing should be a very real and immediate option.

                1. Wheeler's Fire*

                  That seems a bit unfair. You ask someone for a ride, they quit, you get fired? That is not great management either.

        2. HonorBox*

          This isn’t a bad idea. OP could certainly offer alternative schedules as a way for the coworkers to say easily say no. That said, it does sound like they’ve driven her in on their days off, so there would need to be explicit statements that the new workday starts at 10 and not a minute before.

    2. Nia*

      Employees have said ‘She’ll hate me if I don’t give her a ride’ perhaps they’re speaking from experience and Jenny reacts poorly to refusal. Quitting rather than putting up with Jenny’s behavior is perfectly reasonable.

      1. Observer*

        If her behavior at work is that bad, then the OP doesn’t even need to address the rides per se. They do need to address her behavior. And, to be honest making someone’s life difficult because they won’t give you a ride is a firing offense. One warning, and boom. If you REALLY need / want to go through a process, three strikes and you’re out.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I don’t think they can require that if it’s not necessary for the job. If my employer did that, I’d consider it overreach.

          2. DataSci*

            No. Require her to get to and from work on her own, without asking for a ride. That could be biking, public transportation, even getting a ride from a family member. Presenting “everyone must always drive everywhere” as the solution here misses the point.

            1. Mockingjay*

              Most places I’ve worked stipulated some form of that requirement, in the employee handbook: “Employee is responsible for their own transportation to and from premises.”

              No useful advice here; I’m torn between being appalled and half-admiring Jenny’s success in successfully cadging rides for a DECADE.

              1. Hot Flash Gordon*

                While the statement that the employee is “responsible for their own transportation to and from premises” is clearly meant for employees to secure transportation independent from their coworkers, I can definitely see people rules-lawyering this stating that they’re ride-sharing with team members and nothing in the handbook states that asking coworkers is forbidden.

            2. Rainbow*

              The buses might be spotty but girl, just get one! Or cycle, or walk… or just don’t move house to a random location where you can’t get to work any more??? As a non-driver myself, I cannot believe this woman…

              1. RegBroccoli*

                Agreed! I have been without a license before due to epilepsy, it could happen again, so for years I carefully picked where I lived based on bus routes (and I’m in a city with terrible public transit). Thankfully I am now 100% remote so less of an issue.

          3. Anne of Green Gables*

            Hard disagree. Require Jenny to find her own transportation beyond her coworkers, absolutely. But whether someone has a driver’s license or not is their own business. There are a whole lot of reasons someone might not have or want a license, and it is not for an employer to demand. (Assuming that it is not a requirement of the job, which it clearly is not here).

            1. EchoGirl*

              I agree. I didn’t have a license until I was 27 for a myriad of complex reasons, so the idea of an employer making someone get a license feels like a massive overreach. But requiring her to manage her own transportation without burdening her coworkers is fully reasonable.

          4. GrooveBat*

            Requiring her to get a driver’s license, even if that were possible, would not necessarily solve the problem because she still might not have a vehicle.

          5. rebelwithmouseyhair*

            It doesn’t sound like workers earn enough to cover driving lessons and a car and petrol for this single mother.

      2. Expelliarmus*

        Yeah, I’m surprised Alison didn’t tell the OP to ask the other employees what Jenny does when people say no or what makes them feel like she will ‘hate’ them for not giving her a ride.

      3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        If Jenny repeatedly reacts in a way that people think she “hates” them when they don’t give her a ride, Jenny needs to be fired.

        1. GammaGirl1908*

          Right? I am not a big people pleaser; I will help when I can, but thinking that someone will hate me just makes me shrug; if I didn’t do anything wrong, that’s on them. These can’t ALL be spineless people pleasers. Jenny is holding something else over her colleagues, unless this is the most passive group of people ever.

      4. Totally Minnie*

        Yeah, I think that’s an important thing for OP to find out before they tell Jenny her coworkers have complained about having to drive her places. That advice really, really worries me.I instantly envisioned her going from coworker to coworker in the office space demanding that they tell her they love driving her places.

        It’s important to ask the people who drive her why they’re reluctant to stop and if she’s ever engaged in retaliation when people have said no.

      5. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        Yes, this wording is potentially concerning and definitely worth looking into more deeply. Is it that the staff have a particularly difficult time with someone being unhappy with them or is there something about Jenny’s past behaviour that makes them understandably worried that there will be fall-out of saying no to her.

        In addition to Alison’s advice, I’d make it clear that if Jenny reacts badly to people not driving her anymore or starts treating people differently, you want to know about it and will deal with it proactively.

        1. Lulu*

          While the LW said they’d spoken with the colleagues about this, I am left wondering just how explicit that conversation was. I agree with you that more deep conversation is needed here on a few fronts. While Alison moved on from “speak with your workers about this,” I think her usual advice to have a very direct conversation without softening the language might still be an important place to start. If the LW hasn’t already, they need to actually say “You are not expected to give her rides. I will not expect you to give her rides if she’s having trouble getting to work or arriving late. I do not think this is a reasonable expectation for her to have.” Then, going on to probe more deeply about what else might be giving them hesitation. Based on the letter, I think the conversation might’ve been more along the lines of “Does it bother you to give her rides?” “yes, but I feel obligated and I won’t say no.” There’s more conversation that needs to be had after that point.

      6. Ellie*

        Yes, and it may not just be Jenny either – maybe it has permeated the culture of the group, and they think that *everyone* will hate them, if they refuse to drive her. Whether it’s true or not, that kind of belief could really mess with your ability to say no, and I think OP absolutely has to address this.

      7. Princess Sparklepony*

        Could it be that Jenny’s behavior made them think about the job and decide to look around at other opportunities? So while Jenny was the catalyst, the desire to move to a better job was already there…. Jenny was a great excuse to polish up the resume.

        Reminds me of when I had to sell an apartment and move. I still miss the apartment but I in no way miss my weird neighbor.

    3. Putting the Dys in Dysfunction*

      Honestly, there must be something else at play, I believe other reasons to quit the job. Otherwise how would saying no be worse than having to switch jobs?

      1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

        It sounds like it’s not a very high paying job. It might be relatively easy to find a comparable position where you aren’t constantly guilted by a young mom in an atmosphere that enables her to continue demanding things of you.

        1. Lydia*

          Yeah. It could be number 5 on a list of reasons people left, but it was enough of a reason to include in the list.

    4. MK*

      I agree. Also, I don’t see how compassion comes into it; is Jenny ill or diasbled or impoverished?

      1. Aelfwynn*

        Since there’s nothing in the letter indicating otherwise, I think it’s safe to say that Jenny is not disabled or impoverished, as that would be highly relevant info to leave out. The most likely explanation for Jenny’s behavior is that she has free transportation via her coworkers and no motivation to change that.

      2. Boof*

        I’m not sure that matters; at most perhaps the manager could consider adding a “Transportation stipend” of some kind to perks, that could be used on parking/mileage/bus tickets/ride shares/etc – but it should be for everyone doing similar work

        1. Hannah Lee*

          Just because she’s a single mother doesn’t automatically mean she has no access to other forms of transportation besides consistently mooching rides off of co-workers.

          1. JSPA*

            enough places in the US are unsafe even for a fit, agile cyclist on a regular bike, that a lot of people would not even consider a semi-novice bike with a city bike + childc trailer or child seat(s)…

              1. Alpacas Are Not Dairy Animals*

                I would consider it society’s/the state and local transit agencies’ problem that they’re not making the community accessible, as well as Jenny’s individual problem, but not individual coworkers’ problem except inasmuch as they have the opportunity to vote for better bus service or advocate for bike lanes or whatnot.

      3. fine tipped pen aficionado*

        The general vibe I get from the manager knowing none of the employees can afford wear and tear on their vehicle is that none of them are making a lot of money so impoverished might be a given.

        But also like… you can feel compassion for someone who tells you they need something even if they don’t justify why they need it.

        1. MK*

          Sure, but also surely there needs to be a reason to feel compassion? By definition compassion is a reaction to a need/difficult situation of some sort. If you have a coworker whose only reason not to drive is because they don’t like driving or don’t want the expense of a car, why on earth would you feel you have to provide transportation out of compassion?

          1. JSPA*

            Compassion requires only feeling sympathy; some people feel it more easily than others. It’s like challenging someone on feeling hot, or cold; if they feel it, the fact that you don’t, isn’t relevant to their experience.

      4. wordswords*

        I’m not sure how much difference that makes, practically speaking?

        One can have compassion for whatever factors of Jenny’s situation mean she’s having to depend on favors from friends and coworkers to get around on a daily basis, transport her kid to and from daycare, etc. But no matter what the root cause is, it’s simply not sustainable for her to plan her life around the constant availability of rides from coworkers who didn’t volunteer for that level of transport, aren’t being compensated for it, and don’t feel they can say no. Whatever Jenny’s options are — and she may not have a lot of great ones! — she needs to figure out something else, whether that means different transit, a different job, or something else. She deserves compassion in that process, but it’s still a necessary process. And compassion, practically speaking, means extending her some emotional grace and kind words and some buffer time to figure out her new set-up (but not infinite time or infinite emotional support from coworkers).

        1. Hannah Lee*

          And if compassion is key, it should be available to Jenny’s co-workers as well.

    5. Dust Bunny*

      I wonder if the previous manager created the impression that they couldn’t say no.

      I would just tell Jenny to put on her walking shoes and deal with it, but I might quit altogether if I had the impression that my boss wouldn’t back me up in telling her “no”.

      1. fine tipped pen aficionado*

        This is my suspicion as well. If this manager has only been a here a year and this behavior has been going on for 10, it seems pretty likely that there may have been other managers who encouraged this indulgence in the past.

    6. Trout 'Waver*

      I totally can see it if it’s gone on for that long. New employee joins the team and feels the pressure.

      Also, oftentimes the people that are giving Jenny rides may feel resentful of the people who say no and pressure them as well. I’ve seen that happen before.

      1. Artemesia*

        This. I assume the original boss was like one in an earlier letter here who presumed on a lower paid staff member to transport an intern. Those who say no will not only get the ire of the boss but of those being compelled to say yes. And they direct their resentment at the pushovers not at the boss who is demanding it or the user employee.

        Years ago I refused to sign on a big loan for my husband’s law firm; the other partner’s wives did as requested by the bank and surrounded me at a party to demand why I was not willing to support the business. I just told them I got better legal advice than they did. My husband was always clear about keeping any of risks and liabilities away from our joint assets and from me.

    7. TootsNYC*

      I can imagine looking for a new one.
      Even if I finally said no, the resentment might linger.
      And if I anticipated getting any pushback from anyone it might be the thing that led me to look for something else.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      I think that gets into how this has become “the culture” of the workplace, that everyone gives her rides and pitches in to help her out and that’s just what we do as a business. Switching to a different business where that is not the cultural norm seems easier than shifting the norm inside this one.

      1. Olive*

        Great point, at first I was thinking that this seemed like an extreme of being conflict adverse to quit instead of saying no, but as a bigger picture workplace “culture”, I can more easily see someone thinking – this whole workplace culture is exhausting and unreasonable and me as an individual saying no isn’t going to change the general vibe.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          I wonder if there are other oddities like, “Sally only approves OT for people who come to Thursday potluck” or “when someone leaves we all upgrade by one desk”.

          “I don’t want to drive Jenny” might be the safest thing to say in an exit interview while still being illustrative.

      2. GreyjoyGardens*

        It makes me wonder if the workplace is a microcosm of the community. A tight-knit “we’re all like faaaamily here” (ugh x infinity) workplace coupled with a surrounding community that is also tight-knit and people are expected to pitch in for neighbors.

    9. Meep*

      I mean doing the math, it is probably a net gain. Usually, when you move jobs, you get more money. In this case, even if you take a pay cut, you will have more money in your pocket, because you no longer have to support her lifestyle.

    10. Momma Bear*

      I know, right? I once had a job where I took public transit and a neighbor started offering me rides. Then she suddenly quit carpooling. I was a little taken aback but neither of us quit our jobs over the transportation situation. The fact that someone said they were worried she’d hate them makes it an office problem.

      I’d also give Jenny options – does the EAP provide any kind of commuter service, or is there any kind of commuter connection/ridesharing support that maybe she hasn’t tapped into? Does your company have a ride share board? This is probably going back to the Stone Age for some folks, but my college had a board where you could post where you needed to go and someone going that way would contact you. Schools here sometimes also coordinate carpools for kids who are beyond the normal transportation boundary. It’s not without precedent.

      I suspect also that she relies on them in part for her child’s sake, so people feel like they can’t because of the kid. I know that would tug on my heart a little.

      Can you ask her what other options she’s explored? This has gone on for a long time apparently so it’s going to be tough to break, but she really needs to consider other options, especially as her kid gets older. To ask someone to drop her off and come back for her is a taxi service, not a coworker. Surely her coworkers aren’t getting her groceries or taking her kid to the doctor…are they? So she must have options outside of work and daycare.

        1. Festively Dressed Earl*

          Momma Bear is suggesting using alternatives that may already be in place as a way for this manager to solve her Jenny issue, not suggesting that the company set up something special just for Jenny.

      1. Some words*

        Users always have compelling reasons for their asks that will make most normal people feel very uncomfortable saying “no”. It’s no accident.

        Amazingly they’re able to find alternatives if the usual patsies decline to help them out.

      2. Artemesia*

        What is shocking here is not that she gets rides with colleagues but that she isn’t paying for them. If she were filling the tank occasionally, the resentment might be a lot less.

      3. Princess Sparklepony*

        This just made me think that maybe Jenny needs to figure out how to use public transportation and for some situations get herself a Lyft or Uber account. Those are everywhere now.

        But Jenny needs to figure it out herself instead of making it a company problem or her co-workers’ problem.

        She’s had a 10 year ride on her co-workers, it’s time for her to take charge of her life.

    11. Minerva*

      This is what gets me. What power does Jenny have that makes quitting your job preferable to telling her no?

      1. Ellen*

        my “jenny” would just stay home and say she was sick, leaving others to pick up the slack.

        1. Minerva*

          In that case you have a management issue. If Jenny refuses to come to work because she doesn’t have transportation that’s a reason to let Jenny go.

          Losing multiple people because 1 person doesn’t have her own transportation is just strange.

    12. RussianInTexas*

      This! I can’t imagine all of these people are complete doormats! Is Jenny this vindictive and unpleasant when things don’t go her way?

      1. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

        I am kind of gobsmacked that in a decade no one has pushed back on this, other than to apparently quit? I wonder if this is some sort of non-profit or social work environment where especially compassionate people often feel pulled towards? Because I would have no problem telling Jenny no, but I also do not have the personality to work in that type of field and have only ever worked in corporate offices.

        1. GreyjoyGardens*

          It could be a nonprofit or social work environment. Or it could be a particular kind of tight-knit workplaces that employ, for instance, ex-cons, recovering addicts, very poor people for whom this is their first job, or another type of situation where it’s a whole lot of people starting from the bottom, so the “we look out for one another here” ethic is very strong. In any case, it’s gone far beyond what is healthy. That people quit rather than say “It is not possible for me to give you rides anymore, Jenny, so you are going to have to figure things out” makes me wonder how dysfunctional it is.

      2. AngryOctopus*

        It does give me a “Jenny is vindictive when people are unable to give her rides” vibe, even if it is just Item #7 on a list of 15 items of why they want to leave. But the fact that it’s mentioned means the dynamic needs to be probed into for sure. I’ve been in jobs where people don’t get along with other people, but nobody has ever cited that as a reason they left the job–this tells me that the person (people, I guess) saying it found the whole issue unpleasant enough that it merited a mention when leaving. That should raise at least an orange flag that says “Please Investigate Further”. And OP, even if nobody before you ever felt a need to take this on, you should. You see a problematic dynamic. You know people have mentioned it in exit interviews. All signs point to “figure out what’s happening and why people won’t say no, and tell Jenny to be a professional and stop asking her coworkers for rides as her primary transit”. I’m sure it’s not going to be fun, but it does have to be done.

      1. Quill*

        And the fact that those pay terribly and make you deal with customers doesn’t help you to be fifteen minutes from quitting at any given time either.

    13. doreen*

      I think that depends on the type of job we are talking about and how easy it is to get a new job. I can’t say I’ve ever known anybody to quit a job because of this specific issue – but I’ve known plenty of people who quit jobs because 1) they couldn’t stand a particular coworker and 2) they were able to easily get a comparable job.

    14. Danish*

      Imagine what a piece of work Jenny must be to make quitting seem like the better option to multiple people.

    15. AnotherOne*

      I could see it happen because this is clearly an office where it has become so much the norm and everyone is feeling obligated to do it. That possibly some people have felt that they can’t push back- or that if they push back, they felt (real or not) negative consequences for pushing back.

      And it was just easier to leave.

    16. laser99*

      I must not be very “compassionate”, I would refuse to chauffeur anyone around. I’m sure all the money she is saving has nothing to do with it, right?

    17. purr snickery*

      There’s a lot of judging and lack of compassion here. “Get a new job,” “move,” “I won’t go 5 miles out of my way to give someone a ride” etc. Jobs don’t grow on trees, people need health insurance, and moving costs money! The US essentially discriminates against people who can’t or don’t drive, it limits all work and social opportunities and leaves you exhausted from dragging grocery bags around waiting for a bus, dependent on someone with a car, or completely stranded. Have some compassion. We don’t know why Jenny doesn’t have a license, she might have a hidden disability or can’t afford a car. Should someone be badgered into giving her rides? No. But if company culture (esp “we’re like a family”) has been to do so, expecting that to change is going to be painful and ugly, and could have fallout for other employees who might assume they can’t ask for assistance. Being without transportation involves rearranging your life for the worse.

      1. Princess Sparklepony*

        What I don’t understand is – if Jenny doesn’t have a car why did she move farther away from where she worked? I get as an intern it’s not permanent but once she was hired on permanently, she should have dealt with the transportation issue either by getting a viable way to work (public transportation, a carpool where she pays for gas, or something where she is contributing somehow) or live closer to work or a bus line so that she can get to work.

        It’s like she’s got some weaponized incompetence going for her so that everyone has to help her.

        1. lucanus cervus*

          Yes! I don’t drive and I’m careful to arrange my life in such a way that I don’t have to. For emergencies I use a taxi, for everything else public transport. I’ve accepted lifts in the past when offered and been grateful, but I never just set myself up with commitments that I can’t keep without other people’s constant assistance.

        2. Alpacas Are Not Dairy Animals*

          Presumably staying in campus housing wasn’t an option when she graduated, and she moved into the next-closest housing that was affordable with student loans/parental support/whatever else she was getting before.

      2. Despachito*

        Does the compassion involve a right for PERMANENT FREE transport though?

        I, like many others, am eager to know WHY so many people are putting up with this for TEN YEARS (and I assume Jenny’s child is not in childcare for all that time, unless disabled), are not happy with it to the extent of quitting over it, yet do not do what seems the easiest way to get out of it – to say NO.

        What kind of charm or secret weapon does Jenny have to make them do that?

        I think OP should investigate this because knowing the root may help to find a solution.

      3. Jill of All Trades*

        Disability or not, ideally she should express appreciation in some way: bringing lunch for the driver, washing the driver’s car and checking tire pressure, paying for oil changes, babysitting, or something else within her abilities. If this saves her a ton of time/energy/money on other transit, she can use a bit of those savings for her drivers. I made custom cross stitch commissions for people when they helped me in this way when I couldn’t drive.

        I don’t think it’s wrong to enforce that at work if people have left over it. Jane can do what she wants with non-work contacts.

    1. Ridger*

      Oh, Jenny knows Uber exists. Jenny also knows Uber expects to be paid, unlike her coworkers. She’s saving a good bit of money right now. She’s going to be understandably angry when she has to start spending (note, I don’t say “rightly”). She might even ask for a raise.

      1. Meep*

        +1 This is what is comes down to. Her coworkers are financing her lifestyle so why would she want to change?

      2. HotSauce*

        That was my first thought and when OP said she never offers gas money, well I lost any tiny shred of sympathy for this person. When they said it has been going on for a DECADE I became mad on behalf of the coworkers. This woman is a moocher, plain and simple.

        Although honestly, they need to just say no. Even if they send the NO in an email, rather than say it to her face. NO is a complete sentence.

        1. yala*

          Yeah, that’s the part that blows my mind. I’ve been a ride and I’ve needed rides, but if it’s more than an occasional “car’s in the shop” type thing, I can’t imagine not offering *something*

          Like, at this point maybe make something official, and the extra hours her coworkers work as her taxi can just come direct out of her paycheck.

        2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          Yeah, the lack of gas money or other contribution is what gets me the most here. Carpooling is a perfectly reasonable way to get to work if it happens to work for everyone involved, and I wouldn’t see anything inherently wrong with someone who managed to coordinate carpools for an entire 40+ year career without owning their own car, but a carpool involves either rotating who is driving or the non-drivers covering gas/maintenance/tolls/etc. so as to pull their weight. Expecting free rides on a consistent basis with no reciprocity is just not reasonable once you’re an adult.

          I wonder what other long-term “favors” like this are going on in this work culture. Is it just that Jenny always gets a ride, or is Kevin also getting a homemade lunch from Lindsey every day? (Presumably, if Jenny was purchasing ingredients and making lunch for the entire office every day in lieu of paying gas money, or some other favor exchange, the OP would have mentioned it in the letter, but that’s still the kind of deal that works until it doesn’t work for one of the participants anymore, at which point a new plan that does work needs to be made.)

      3. AnonInCanada*

        You got it. Why should Jenny change her freeloading ways if she can get away with it? Hence why OP should intervene to prevent these co-workers from being put in this awkward position, because no doubt Jenny’s laying guilt trips as well: “Woe is me, I can’t afford transportation since I have a child to raise, please drive me [to work/to daycare/home/to the movies/to the doctor].”

        Seems like Jenny does know how to drive: her boss and her co-workers crazy to the point where this is a problem!

    2. Fierce Jindo*

      Uber isn’t affordable for daily (let alone four times daily, with childcare and work) trips.

      Clearly Jenny needs to figure something else out, but let’s not be cavalier about how much of the US leaves people without a car completely stranded.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        “Her daily commute is farther than the previous quarter mile, but could still be traversed by walk or bike.”

        In this situation, she’s not. Or at least she doesn’t have to be.

        1. SunriseRuby*

          Walking or biking with a child who needs to be dropped off and picked up at a daycare, while not impossible, could be a challenge for many people, particularly in the winter.

          No argument that Jenny needs to come up on her own with reliable transportation that doesn’t include an investment of her co-workers’ time and resources, however.

          1. Olive*

            There’s a good chance that coworkers would happily give her a ride on a snowy day if those were the only times she was asking for a favor.

          2. BubbleTea*

            Given that this has been going on for years, and daycare is for small children, there’s a good chance Jenny didn’t even have a child when it all started. She didn’t see becoming a parent as a reason to change her system.

            1. SpaceySteph*

              Which is itself pretty ridiculous. Having a child changes a ton about your lifestyle and arrangement, including your transportation choices.

            2. Ally McBeal*

              Even in NYC where the vast majority of people primarily rely on public transit, every one of my friends who’s had a kid has gotten a car and dealt with the parking nightmares because life without a car is so, so much harder when kids enter the picture. I assume Jenny’s been doing this because of the massive cost savings (and likely the lack of a partner who’s able to help – maybe Jenny’s single or maybe partner has a job that conflicts with her schedule) but at some point it simply doesn’t work anymore.

          3. Lisa Simpson*

            Mooching rides and having to install/uninstall a carseat in a random car every day is just as tough.

            1. Bookmark*

              Yes! I was thinking about the carseat logistics. I think it is highly likely the carseat is not being safely installed in these vehicles.

            2. JustaTech*

              Yes! My husband took the baby to daycare by bus this morning and reading this letter I had a half second of “OMG, where is the car seat?!” before I remembered that I put it in my car this morning.

            3. Verthandi*

              That was my first thought. This is not a quick thing to do. The driver has to wait for the seat to be installed, a child to be strapped into it, and then it’s safe to drive away.

              I’ve known others like Jenny and they love to pour on the guilt if you don’t dance to their tune. If this Jenny is like the ones I’ve known, if someone offers a ride, she won’t take it if she’s not ready to leave. And if she wants to leave before her arranged ride is ready to go, she’ll demand to go with the first driver who *is* ready to go. And the whining and crying when we refused to be her unpaid chauffeurs. And unpaid is the operative word. She never thanked anyone, nor offered gas money, nor acknowledged that we were doing her a favor.

          4. My Name is Mudd*

            The walk to my kids’ bus stop was just about 1/4 of a mile. We made the walk twice daily. And when they got older they walked alone with the other kids in the neighborhood. It’s not the end of the world.

        2. Ann Onymous*

          Depending on the age of Jenny’s child, walking or biking might not be practical for daycare drop-off and pickup, even if it’s a distance an adult by themselves could manage. But that still doesn’t make this her coworkers’ problem.

            1. HonorBox*

              Absolutely! I asked below what happens if the child needs to go to urgent care in the evening? Is Jenny making calls and sending texts to find a ride? That just doesn’t seem like the best course of action when a child is concerned.

              1. RussianInTexas*

                And at some point her child will most likely be enrolled in some extracurricular activities too.

              2. TechWorker*

                Not that I’m really defending her, but this isn’t a great example, plenty of people who can’t afford to use Uber/taxis 4 times a day would pay for a taxi in this situation. (Myself included!)

                1. HonorBox*

                  Agreed. I was using that as a broader example of things beyond getting to and from work. Her resistance to getting a license will likely cause other issues and she needs to be prepared for things that will come up, too.

            2. Pink Candyfloss*

              As far as Jenny knows, she does have a plan, the same plan she’s apparently now had for YEARS. smh

          1. Momma Bear*

            I bet her coworkers would rather buy her a bike trailer than take her to work every day. There have been many times in my life where a mile walk was just part of my daily commute. OP doesn’t say that Jenny has any physical concerns that would prevent said walking or biking. I bet even if it was limited to truly bad weather people would feel less put upon.

          2. Golden Turnip*

            There are still solutions if Jenny’s child’s wouldn’t be able to manage the whole distance on foot: pushchairs, bike trailers, a child seat that can go on Jenny’s bike.

            1. Samwise*

              Or, you know, Jenny could buy a cheap car. She should be able to afford it: she has saved on ten years of car payments, taxes, license, gas, maintenance. Ten years of expenses.

              Please don’t tell me I don’t know Jenny’s financial situation. No, I don’t. That’s beside the point. If she has a dire financial situation, then she can still work out something equitable with her coworkers.

              1. metadata minion*

                She doesn’t have a driver’s licence. Assuming this is because she can’t drive rather than just that she’s never bothered to fill out the paperwork to get a license in a new state or something, getting a license as an adult who does not live with someone who owns a car is *incredibly* difficult. (I am in the middle of this process right now). There are tons of options she should be pursuing other than hassling her coworkers, but right now “just get a cheap car” is not one of them.

                1. Decidedly Me*

                  I got my license as an adult without living with someone with a car. I borrowed a family member’s car for the test and it was no big deal. I also had friend’s as backup if needed. Jenny happens to know many people that would be thrilled to have her get her own license (not saying they are responsible for helping with this, though).

                2. vito*

                  Maybe the office should take up a collection to get her a gift certificate for a driving school? might be cheaper and less stressful than being a chauffer to her.

                3. metadata minion*

                  @Decidedly Me – I’m sincerely glad that it was no big deal for you. It has been an insurmountably big deal for me so far and it’s incredibly frustrating.

                4. Yorick*

                  Yes, it’s basically impossible to get a driver’s license as an adult without family/partners to help. You have to have a car to get a driver’s license. Driving schools are almost entirely just for teenagers.

                5. Magenta*

                  Do you guys not have driving instructors? The vast majority of people in the UK learn to drive with professional lessons, they may have a tolerant family member who will go out with them to practice, but the instructor is the one who teaches them.
                  I would say about a third of the people I know who drive learnt as post age 21 year old adults, it would increase to way over half if you include 18-21 years old. Our driving age is 17 and was one of the first amongst my friends to pass my jest just after I turned 18. My colleague just learnt in her 50s.

              2. mbs001*

                Oh c’mon, people. Just say no! I would have probably given her a ride once or twice but once the pattern was apparent, she’d be cut off. People’s time as well as their money (for gas and auto maintenance) add up with continued rides and no way this entitlement should stand.

          3. Princess Sparklepony*

            She likely has a stroller. In my city a lot of kids that look too old for strollers are in strollers because they can’t do all the walking that the city requires.

        1. KatEnigma*

          Or not so rural areas. In a college town of about 60K in ND that was also a hub for all the rural areas, we had seemingly 2 Lyft/Uber drivers. Going an hour to a small city of 150K, (and also home of 3 colleges) there were maybe 5?

          1. NeedRain47*

            that sounds bonkers… I’m in a city of 100K with a large university and we have one million uber drivers! Drivers come into town from the neighboring *larger* towns b/c they get more buisness here! (but you still can’t get an uber at 7AM, which was relevant when I had to drop my car off at the mechanic.)

          2. Kayem*

            Same, I think I’ve seen maybe a couple where I live and this is also a similarly-sized college town. It’s a major tourist hub for the state and one of the big draws is pedestrian and bike-friendly infrastructure, so it’s bizarre that there’s not more mass transit or rideshare options. There’s one taxi service and though I know that theoretically we have city buses as evidenced by the bus stops and seeing said buses in the wild, they’re always listed as out of service or bound for the garage.

          3. yala*

            Yeah, public transportation here is abysmal, but I can’t even imagine trying to get an uber. Any time other than a festival, I feel like the wait would be ridiculous.

          4. Jen with one n*

            Hah, if I walk 10 minutes to the next province, I can’t get an uber. So I can uber to appointments in that province, but then have to either walk, bus, or taxi back. I’m assuming it’s because the taxi lobby in that province is stronger, but haven’t looked into it too closely.

      2. ferrina*

        This isn’t about U.S.’s poor public transit system- this is about Jenny creating her own inequitable system (whether she created it intentionally or unintentionally). This isn’t a one-off scenario or trying to scrape by for a couple years- this has been going on for almost a decade. Jenny is established in her job, but still declines to give gas money to her colleagues for daily trips. That’s not on public transit, that’s on Jenny.

        1. Csethiro Ceredin*

          Yes, if she was a decent person who was just stuck she would absolutely chip in for gas. The fact that she feels fine with asking for a ride even if they are not working that day, AND doesn’t give them anything toward the expenses/time, says it all.

      3. Meep*

        I feel like this is going to devolve into a “not everyone can have sandwiches!”-type thread. Uber is an option, walking/biking are options, getting a drivers license and a car is an option, paying a friend to drive is an option… Jenny has a lot of options here that are NOT relying on coworkers and whether those are feasible for Jenny’s specific situation is a Jenny problem.

        How you get yourself to work is something that every adult has to figure out. Yes, their are areas of the world and personal situations that make this a lot harder, but it’s been 10 years and Jenny needs to take some responsibility and figure something out, and it can’t be “continue to mooch rides off my coworkers.”

        1. Chief Petty Officer Tabby*

          Exactly, Meep. Jenny needs to exercise other options, even if they might be difficult. I don’t know how to drive, and am kind of afraid to (I’m partially blind). However, I’m considering asking a relative or friend to teach me so I can possibly do gig work that involves a car, or at least make it easier to do more petsitting. If that includes paying said relative or friend, than I shall, because driving is not free.

        2. Emma*

          Agreed. And really, even if she has somehow found herself in a situation where she absolutely cannot propel herself 1/4 mile down the road due to unavoidable environmental factors…

          …10 years is enough time to move.

    3. RussianInTexas*

      So do buses, and owning a car, and getting the driver’s license, and do bikes.
      None of the reasons why she can’t do some of this are her coworker’s problem.

    4. Pink Candyfloss*

      Uber doesn’t exist everywhere. In my town, we have plenty of people driving for DoorDash and still have to use local taxi/limo service to get places because no one drives for Uber here.

      1. Lydia*

        The Uber comment was more about there being solutions, not that she has to use Uber. Jenny has been doing this for nearly 10 years. She’s had more than enough time to sort out her situation, but has abdicated that responsibility.

    5. Dr. Rebecca*

      Yo, everyone, I didn’t say “ONLY Uber exists,” nor did I say “Uber exists and it’s a perfect solution.” Neither of those things are true, and they absolutely don’t need to be pointed out in this pithy, exasperated comment,because we all already know that, because whether or not she’s in a high access area, this doesn’t seem to be something Jenny has investigated.

      This is absolutely becoming a Rule 4/Not Everyone Can Eat Sandwiches thing. It was a joke-comment aimed at Jenny’s lack of initiative, not at any of you. Please chill.

    6. Decima Dewey*

      I’m a nondriver and take public transportation each day. Getting to work or someplace else I want to do to is on me. True, sometimes things happen and I get to work muttering “I hate [redacted transit agency].” But in the main, I get in on time–before the people who drive.

      If something crops up and I have to ask a favor from a coworker, coworker will get gas money or a special treat sometime soon.

      A decade of mooching rides is way too much.

      1. Cedrus Libani*

        I’m a non-driver too, and I’ve organized my life around it. Since reaching adulthood, I’ve only lived in places where public transit is a viable option, including some fairly creative housing solutions in my broke 20s. I only consider jobs that are in places I can get to in a reasonable amount of time. I’m not even pregnant yet, but I’ve devoted significant thought to how I’d get myself and the hypothetical kid(s) where we’d need to go, particularly when choosing the place I currently live. My limitations, my problem, nobody else’s.

    7. JSPA*

      There are many thousand smaller towns where none of the rideshare companies exist. And you can’t pay for rideshare on (e.g.) a call center salary.

  3. Corrigan*

    I’ve been the one pressured into driving someone before and it sucks. For me, it did stop when my boss asked “Is driving Daenerys becoming a problem?” and when I said yes, I was able to get out of it.

    I can’t believe people quit over it! They must have felt really pressured

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Given that it’s been a decade and is still happening I’m thinking it was informally part of the culture of the team/company that “we’re family and families help each other” in the most dysfunctional way of we’re family possible. In that case I bet the folks who left had looked around and decided that the only way to truly keep their sanity and not drive Jenny around was to leave – because the culture wouldn’t support telling her no.

      I love that OP wants to stop the brain drain of loosing people who don’t want to drive Jenny – but may I suggest looking into how driving Jenny got started and also why it never got ended? It does sound like at first she was getting to work all on her own.

      1. New Jack Karyn*

        The letter says that Jenny used to walk from campus, when she was an intern. She graduated, moved off-campus, and that’s when she started cadging rides.

      1. Corrigan*

        I was an employee and the person I was driving was a disabled volunteer. My manager asked if the driving was becoming a problem. It had been, but I didn’t feel like I could say no, since my manger had originally asked me to do it. (But she wasn’t ready when I came to pick her up and would also ask me to make extra stops, like she needed to pick up lunch or she wouldn’t be able to eat….) But when I said yes it was a problem, she spoke to the volunteer and I didn’t have to drive her anymore.

  4. Peanut Hamper*

    Public transportation where I live is pretty mediocre, too. What was normally a 30 minute round-trip commute turned into two hours a day on the bus when my car was in the shop for a week. But that’s what I had to do, so I did it.

    Jenny, get a bus map and go and do thou likewise.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Public transportation where I live is also mediocre but it’s not un-functional I still use it, despite having a much longer commute than Jenny does (and also owning a car, but I get tired of driving so much).

    2. Melissa*

      Yep. I live in the suburbs, and the bus takes waaaaay longer than driving or Ubering, but you can do it. I have, and people do.

      1. Cardigans 4 Octopii*

        I agree with this. I was a non-driver for six months because my car decided to need a new transmission right when I started that job and I couldn’t afford repairs right away. Our public transit is terrible and turned a 30 minute commute onto a 2 1/2 hour commute, but I still did it. Jenny has had 10 years to either get a license, save up and move closer to her job, or get a new job.

    3. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      If I had a coworker who normally drove and their car was in the shop for 2 weeks, I would offer to drive. Because IT HAS AN END DATE. And we all need a little help ocassionally.

    4. ThatGirl*

      I live in the Chicago burbs, about a mile from my office, but there’s no public transit option to get there and walking would be treacherous across a major 6-lane thoroughfare. So I drive. At least my car is electric.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      It’s pretty damn good where I live, and it still takes an hour to travel a distance that I could drive in 25-30 minutes with no traffic (which never happens here). But parking is prohibitively expensive so I ride the bus/train and just read.

      So do a lot of other people who have children that range in age from infants to old enough to go by themselves.

    6. Dover*

      Also remember, Jenny could’ve looked for a place to live that had (relatively) convenient public transit to where she needed to be, but instead decided that she could live wherever and keep mooching off others.

      1. Armchair Analyst*

        in many areas there is a premium cost to living with convenient public transportation. so yes I agree and also I have empathy for those who can’t afford it

  5. Micah*

    This has been going on for TEN years?? And includes daycare trips with a car seat? How is her work output?? This attitude of entitlement has got to be reflected in other of her ways. She needs to learn a lesson and it is gonna be tough on everyone.

    1. Jessica*

      Yeah, when it escalated from “pick up coworker who might be on your way” to make special trip to daycare, spend time installing/removing car seat, and drive around with screaming baby” that’s the point (if not before) when I would’ve been OUT.

      1. Margaret Cavendish*

        Installing and removing the car seat, plus driving around with a potentially screaming baby – not to mention, potentially screaming babies also have the potential to produce unpleasant smells, and occasionally unpleasant liquids that overflow the car seat.

        As the babies grow into toddlers, there’s less bodily fluid, but more cracker crumbs on the seats and fingerprints on the windows. Generally less bodily fluids, but it’s still not a great tradeoff if it’s not your kid!

        1. GreyjoyGardens*

          Yuck! I keep my car nice and clean and would NOT want someone’s kid messing it up. Sure, if it’s an emergency, I’ll give a ride (but I don’t have a car seat, so that would be up to the parent) but no snackies allowed!

    2. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      Yeah at the POINT SHE HAD A KID, it was time to say no. Like this isn’t the little college intern who we are all helping out because poor college intern. This is a grown arse woman with child.

      1. HonorBox*

        My question is what happens if that child has to go to urgent care at 7pm? How does she navigate that? While I’m not suggesting that one MUST have a car, when you have children you do need to figure out how you’re going to get them to important things without having to rely on others to drop everything.

        1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

          This is such an excellent point. How does Jenny manage things like grocery shopping? Or getting places when her colleagues are not available. Jenny has a plan for those times I am sure. She COULD figure out how to get to work and back, she just chooses not to.

          1. JSPA*

            Having limited funds for transport” and “having no money ever for transport” are not the same thing.

            “Having family and neighbors who can occasionally drive for weekly groceries or health emergencies” and “having them available to drive daily” are not the same thing.

            Someone piecing together rides can a) be imposing on others and at the very same time, not have any other better options. We don’t have to mock or demonize people because their needs are greater than what we can afford to give them.

            (None of which would excuse her for being snitty about a refusal, of course.)

          2. Elsajeni*

            Eh, this kind of “well how do they do [X related thing]??” question often comes up when someone is asking for a lot of help or saying they can’t do something, and I rarely think it’s helpful — maybe they don’t! Or maybe they have a workaround that works for that other thing, but not for this, or maybe not doing this is what allows them to save their limited resources for that other thing, or… etc. The main point is, you don’t really want to get into the merits of whether Jenny really needs a ride or not; regardless, you cannot have people being pressured to drive her to the extent that they quit.

        2. Roland*

          It’s a lot cheaper to get a taxi during emergencies than twice a day. I’m not defending her mooching but it doesn’t mean she hasn’t heard of taxis.

          1. JSPA*

            Many thousands of smaller towns don’t have taxis, or uber / lyft. I’ve lived in college towns where the transport is “campus bus, that extends a little way into the nearby neighborhoods” and “shuttle to airport,” and that’s it.

        3. Dust Bunny*

          I would guess she gets a friend to drive her or springs for a taxi. ’cause I am definitely not answering that phone call.

      2. learnedthehardway*

        How does this even work with a baby seat? I mean, did she install one in a coworker’s vehicle?

        Time to put a stop to the free ride(s). I agree with Allison that the manager needs to deal with the situation, as it is affecting the whole team and causing attrition.

        1. LazyBoot*

          I’ve certainly seen people install or uninstall a child carseat in less than a minute, so that part doesn’t seem that impossible.

    3. Anonys*

      Yes, the “almost a decade” thing is striking to me as well. Other commenters here have said how weird it is that everyone is being so passive and afraid to say no – but it is often hard to say no and the context that driving Jenny has been the established practice for so long definitely explains (to an extent) why no-one feels they can push back.

      I defo think OP has so far been too passive in handling this and has a slightly wrong mindset about the implications of having a serious conversation with Jenny. “How can I forbid an employee from picking her up at her child’s daycare when I just drove out to jump another employee’s stalled vehicle?” and “how can I help one employee (with a dead battery) when I won’t on occasion help out another employee?” stand out to me. There is CLEARLY a difference between an occasional favor in a pinch and a daily driving service. Addressing one has no impact on the other. Not a perfect comparison as the driving isn’t strictly work related, but if you have an employee who is constantly asking other people to assist him in doing his routine daily job duties, addressing this is possible and wouldn’t at all mean that you are discouraging people from asking for, say, quick one-off advice on formatting a page break in excel. If Jenny balks at being reprimanded for using her coworkers as free ubers and says: “but Jane asked for help yesterday when her car battery died”, it should be quite easy to explain the difference.

      1. Anonys*

        Also based on the fact that people have quit rather than address Jenny directly and have said Jenny will hate them if they refuse, OP needs to make it really clear to Jenny that if she treats her coworkers rudely for not driving her anymore, that will not be accepted.

        OP probably needs to talk to the office drivers before, tell them the situation will be addressed with Jenny, that they should approach OP if she asks again and that it will be dealt with if Jenny retaliates against them. Yes, the drivers should have addressed this on their own but its way past that point now. The fact that the drivers have talked to OP about this multiple times also shows that they want OP to handle this as a manager.

      2. Anonys*

        OP also needs to make it really clear to Jenny that she is not to continue pressuring her coworkers and that she cannot treat them rudely or make the work environment unpleasant when people dont drive her.

        And then it should also be communicated to the office drivers that if Jenny retaliates against them in any way for not driving anymore, that will not be tolerated. Based on everyone being afraid to say no and saying Jenny will hate them, this is necessary.

        Yes, the drivers should have felt empowered to say no, but for whatever reason they don’t and this is clearly not a sustainable work environment and as a manager, OP is obligated to address this.

      3. ccsquared*

        Yeah, that line stood out to me as the starkest evidence for “something is really off in this workplace.” Most people in healthy environments understand the difference between an occasional favor in response to misfortune versus being Jenny’s default commuting plan for *10 years.* Everyone is acting as if Jenny’s transportation issues are an acute crisis and not how she has chosen to organize her life, and it seems like the LW is being sucked into that way of looking at things, which is going to make it that much harder to right the ship here.

        And if the categorical argument doesn’t work, take the utilitarian approach and do the math: 5 days a week for 50 weeks/yr for 10 years = 2,500 rides for Jenny vs 1 ride for the coworker with the dead battery.

    4. Writer Claire*

      >> This has been going on for TEN years??

      This is where my eyes popped out of my head. I could speculate why this situation continued for so long, but that really doesn’t matter in the end. Have a one-on-one with Jenny and tell her she needs to stop demanding rides. Then let everyone else know that 1) they are within their rights to say no, and most important 2) you will have their backs.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      I get that if this is in the United States, this is most likely at-will employment, but firing an employee for not having their own car (which is how this will be spun out in the court of public opinion) is not going to reflect well on the company.

      But yeah, my first thought was that this would no longer be a problem if Jenny were no longer an employee.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        They’re not firing her for not having a car: They’re firing her for causing problems for other employees. Nobody is saying she has to buy a car–they’re saying she has to find means of transportation that don’t mooch off of her coworkers.

          1. Dust Bunny*

            So what? People post lies on social media all the time and very, very, few of them tank whole businesses. It’s far more likely that a few of Jenny’s friends will be co-angry with her and then it will die out.

            1. Peanut Hamper*

              Yeah, I was thinking GlassDoor, but The People’s Court always comes to mind.

              I have a funny feeling that when Jenny gets pushback she is going to make a bad situation even worse, and that will be the thing she is let go for.

            2. Rainy*

              Or Jenny’s friends will realize that not driving her around is an option and they’ll stop doing it too.

              1. Lydia*

                I suspect many, MANY Of Jenny’s friends have had that realization. It’s unlikely Jenny just does this with coworkers.

            1. Cherries Jubilee*

              Exactly! Anyone connected with Jenny probably knows what she’s like. I doubt anyone would believe she was fired unjustly, and even if they do, who cares?

          2. AvonLady Barksdale*

            Feeling tied because Jenny might post something negative on social media is similar to feeling obligated because she might have a bad reaction to declining to transport her. This woman is not G-d, nor is she a local despot, so there’s no reason for her to exercise this much control.

          3. Dust Bunny*

            I mean, all those employees who quit because of Jenny could also blab on social media, so . . .

          4. RussianInTexas*

            So? People post all kind of things on social media, especially disgruntled people.

      2. Observer*

        ut firing an employee for not having their own car (which is how this will be spun out in the court of public opinion) is not going to reflect well on the company.

        Jenny might try to do that. If the OP does their job, it won’t work. And, to be honest, Jenny’s shenanigans are probably not doing the perception of the company any good anyway.

      3. urguncle*

        Having reliable transportation to and from work is a requirement for many in-person jobs. This doesn’t have to mean a vehicle if you live in a place with good, reliable and frequent public transit, which is why those places are more expensive to live in, usually. If Jenny does not live in a place like that, she needs to figure out her reliable transportation (not reliant on another employee), or move closer so that she doesn’t rely on someone else.

      4. Prospect Gone Bad*

        IME 20+ years in corporate America, we are “at will” in name only. Not since my fast food days have I seen someone fired with short notice for a silly reason. In most office jobs, problem employees stick around until there are reams of evidence on paper to support the firing, or they break something big

      5. Random Dice*

        She moved from a place she could walk to with, to one she couldn’t walk to, but didn’t also get transportation sorted.

        It’s not reasonable for her not to be able to get to work except through guilting and mistreating coworkers.

    2. Observer*

      It sounds like the LW needs to be ready to fire Jenny over this.

      Not as a first step, but yes. Because something very odd is going on here. As compassionate as people may be, no one *quite* over this, because they were so compassionate!

      But, first figure out what is REALLY going on here. Is it that Jenny is making people’s lives a nightmare if they won’t give her a ride? Is it someone else who has decided that Jenny must be given rides and is putting undue pressure on people?

      1. Momma Bear*

        I agree that firing over this is overkill. Give Jenny the opportunity to fix it. But if that spills into performance problems or trouble working with people who no longer give her rides, that’s a whole different matter.

    3. Dona Florinda*

      Honestly, if Jenny is somehow bullying people to give her rides (or acting otherwise unreasonable) then yeah, she needs to be fired asap AND it won’t be because of her not having a car, per se.

  6. Alex Rider*

    My guess that if employees quit over this Jenny did not react well to being told no. This happened to me at my first full time job. I do not like confrontation, but I finally just told the person I wasn’t able to do it anymore.

    1. Daisy*

      I suspect someone in higher management is supporting Jenny’s behavior, or at minimum had in the past. We are talking multiple people driving her around, who are not happy about it and others leaving. People being what they are, there must be some grousing among employees, even if new manager hasn’t heard, and at minimum older employees telling newer that working as Jenny’s taxie service is expected.

      1. New Jack Karyn*

        Yeah, I think the previous manager was very soft on Jenny, and her behavior when people declined to give her a ride. OP has been there for a year now, and this is a good time to have that chat with Jenny.

  7. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    OP writes that this started under a previous manager. I’d love to hear what that person thought about it, if at all. Did people quit under that manager or under OP?

  8. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

    I’m still in awe that someone is willing to drive *23 miles one way on their day off* to do this. That would be a HARD PASS for me.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Yeah, my commute one-way is only a few miles longer than that and I think I drive too much–Hell would freeze over before I’d do that on a regular basis. I’ve done it once or twice (in eighteen years), under unusual circumstances, and entirely voluntarily. And one of those times the coworker bought me a nice lunch as a thank you.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      To be honest, if I heard that a co-worker was doing this, I would lose a lot of respect for the co-worker. Meaning the one who drove 23 miles out of their way. (I imagine my respect for Jenny would also be pretty minimal at that point.) There’s something very strange about all of this. What on earth is it about this one woman that has all of these people cowed?

      1. Boof*

        I have a relative who is very what I would describe as “southern” and generous; basically they have a very hard time saying no once they’ve committed to helping someone until the situation gets pretty out of hand (yes I helped out buying a very particular/ocd grocery list every week for a while during covid for someone who was increasingly having a hard time staying home/independent but kind of just refused any other option [yes I get why other options were less attractive] – which was ok for a bit but the situation became increasingly unsafe/distressing and she was almost enabling them to stay in a not great situation at much personal distress after a while instead of helping them and eventually she said “I will help you get to help but cannot do this anymore” – but it took a LOT of me reassuring her that it was ok/right and she didn’t have to keep “helping” and worrying if she was ok at home every day)

      2. Ray B Purchase*

        It’s totally speculation, but I wonder if Jenny is significantly younger than the rest of the team and if they see themselves having some sort of caretaker role with her after watching her “grow up” (Quotations because…they didn’t. She was an adult when she started, but I could see this mindset since she was in college then). And now also feel an extra level of obligation because of her kid.

        This situation is so weird.

    3. Corrigan*

      Right? Even for a friend this request would give me pause! (in the absence of an emergency of other difficult situation of course)

      1. ferrina*

        Exactly! For an emergency, yep, I’ve got you. Maaaaaaaaaybe if your other plans fell through and you were offering me payment (heck, I’ll take payment in cookies!). But “I was planning on you driving me to work so take at least an hour out of your day to do that with no compensation?” um, no.

      2. Tiny Soprano*

        I’ve driven an 8 hour round trip to pick up my best friend when her radiator exploded once, but a long drive for someone who’s not my best friend, who I know won’t offer petrol money, and who is known to do it all the time would be out of the question.

    4. HonorBox*

      My wife works about 15 miles from our house and there have been a couple of times she’s forgotten something that was sort of necessary, but not absolutely necessary. She leaves before I do, and I’ve offered to drop that thing off “on my way” (which really isn’t on the way) to the office. And she tried like hell each time to stop me because she didn’t want me having to do that.

    5. RussianInTexas*

      Yeah, but pretty much all of it would be a hard pass for me. I will not go out of the way to carpool with a coworker, even if it’s couple of miles.

    6. Chirpy*

      I know one person who does this, but it’s for her son who works opposite days. She’s still really annoyed that work won’t schedule them at the same time.

      I really don’t think I’d ever do it more than once for a random coworker. Emergency, sure. Daily ride to work? No.

    7. Ashley*

      I felt guilty asking my coworker for a ride home one day, and she literally drives past my house to get to her house! I can’t imagine having the audacity to expect everyone to just be my on demand chauffeurs!

    8. GreyjoyGardens*

      I know, this is quite something! Jenny must have some superpower to get people to do her those kinds of favors. I’d do that kind of drive for a close friend, that’s it. Not a coworker.

      I have a strange feeling that Jenny is but a part of the dysfunction in this workplace, and maybe it’s a community thing as well.

    9. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Yeah, that shows that something is deeply out-of-norm here in terms of workplace favors. That’s the kind of favor I’d do for a close friend, but with a time limit of “until your car is back out of the shop in two weeks” or for an elderly family member who I cared deeply about for longer if I really couldn’t see a better solution to point them at, but for a co-worker it’d be a “one time due to complicated and unforeseeable circumstances” kind of favor.

  9. bamcheeks*

    I have heard some employees say something like “She’ll hate me if I don’t give her a ride.”

    This is the bit I’d pick up on! Where is this coming from? MORE THAN ONE person in your team worries that a colleague will “hate” them if they set perfectly reasonable boundaries on favours? Either you are in a professional which attracts peculiarly passive and conflict-avoidant people, or Jenny is secretly some kind of vengeance demon.

    As well as talking to Jenny, I would dig into this a little bit with people. Reassure your staff that they don’t have to do wildly onerous favours for colleagues to make them like them, and if a colleague “hates” them for no longer performing those favours, that’s a work problem that you will intervene in. I would also keep an eye on any other lack-of-boundaries problems that might exist in your team.

        1. Corrigan*

          Exactly! (Though now I’m imagining just being super obnoxious in the car to convince them to stop asking!)

          1. Cedrus Libani*

            I’ve discovered this new diet plan…beans for breakfast, every working day. Might have to wake up early to get the timing right, but if you do, you’ll drop at least a hundred pounds of dead weight.

      1. xylocopa*

        But probably not if it meant she was taking it out on you in some way that made work harder, or made the workplace miserable.

        1. Welcome*

          Yes, I’m very tempted to say, “okay, let her hate you.” But OP is concerned about the team dynamics being impacted by the rides, just wait until she sees how team dynamics are impacted by Jenny hating people. Even if Jenny is perfectly polite to people who stop giving her rides, there can be other impacts to the team. Team dynamics are one of those ineffable things that can go sour even when there is no specific behavior to pin the dysfunction on.
          In the end, the coworkers aren’t the ones who are doing anything wrong, so the solution is not to be found by focusing on their behaviors. The most OP can do for them is make it clear that they have her support if they choose to start saying no and see Jenny start to treat them differently.

      2. bamcheeks*

        Right, if the alternative is “do a 23 mile round trip on my day off”, I think most people would! My *partner* wouldn’t ask me to do that unless it was a really dire need and there was absolutely no alternative, never mind a random colleague. This is a very Living On A Hellmouth situation.

    1. The Original K.*

      Yeah, I would dig for more information about what “she’ll hate me” means, because I would not care at all if she just, like, pouted or glared at me or threw a tantrum when I told her “I can’t drive you anymore, sorry.” (Admittedly, this would not be hard for me to say no to, so I’m coming at it from that perspective.) But if Jenny is asking subordinates for rides and retaliating if told no, or hiding files needed by people who tell her no, that’s a much bigger issue.

      1. AngryOctopus*

        And that behavior has to be reported to the manager. “Hey, I want you to know that Jenny asked me for a ride last week and I said no. She said FINE and left my office. This week she won’t respond to my emails about needing document X from her for project L, and the deadline is coming up. She’s always been responsive before and this feels related, as I’ve heard others mention things like this before.”

    2. CheesePlease*

      Yes, what is Jenny’s role? How much capital does she hold in the office hierarchy? As a manager, focus on minimizing the repercussions from any employees pushing back on Jenny.

    3. FD*

      I agree, this seems like something worth investigating.

      I agree that I would look into this, but more specifically I think that I would tell the employees who have been giving her ride explicitly that if she starts causing problems for them or her behavior dramatically changes towards them, that they should talk to you.

      If she’s the kind of person who is good at punishing people without being seen, your employees need to know that it’s safe to tell you about it.

    4. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      Not just reassure staff. Tell them flat out — you do NOT need to drive Jenny. No softening language at all. I have a feeling that OP has not explicitly stated it but more said you don’t have to drive Jenny if you don’t want to. And they want to rather than have her hate them. Then also state flat out, no softening that if Jenny gives them a hard time they are to come to her and SHE will deal with it. While making it clear it will be a JENNY problem not a them problem.

      And be prepared to fire Jenny if she reacts badly to being told that her coworkers are not her personal chauffeur.

    5. ferrina*

      Yep, this is a good place to dig in. OP should do more than ask and say words- OP should be highly visible and quick to step in. Talking with all the staff 1:1 on a regular basis to take quick steps, and make extremely clear to Jenny that she’ll be on a PIP if there is any retaliation.

      That’s what I like about Alison’s response- she draws a hard line so it becomes the Manager’s Official Decree, and if Jenny ignores that it becomes even more of a work problem (not something individual coworkers are responsible for)

    6. Nicki Name*

      Yeah, I’m wondering what form “hates me” takes. Does she have supervisory powers? Does she control access to a critical resource? (If so, should one person have control over that resource?) Will the unliked person be subjected to passive-aggressive nagging? Will they be outright harassed?

  10. the-honey-eater*

    So Jenny’s gotta be coercing or otherwise treating badly the coworkers who don’t want to drive her, right? That’s the reason MULTIPLE employees have quit to get away from this whole situation?

    1. pally*

      Yeah- I wonder if they are in need of something from Jenny in order to complete their work. Not having this ‘something’ means things are harder for them.

    2. Katydid*

      I can’t believe that this has been going on for 10 years and during that time this woman had a child. One thing I noticed no one mentioned is where is the child’s father? Could he not cover rides to and from daycare allowing Jenny the option to bike or walk?

      1. HonorBox*

        I don’t think we can go there specifically. We don’t know Jenny’s situation and shouldn’t make assumptions about the presence of someone else in the household. That said, she needs to figure out her own support system that doesn’t rely solely on coworkers.

      2. Quill*

        Honestly the kid’s dad is beyond the scope of our knowledge as an advice column and also beyond the scope of what OP needs to know as Jenny’s boss. If he’s around and can make that change? Great, solves Jenny’s transit problem. If he’s not available for whatever reason, there will have to be a different solution.

  11. Odyssea*

    I had a coworker once suggest that we carpool, by which she meant I would drive a half hour out of my way to pick her up on the way to work and the same on the way back, and she would not drive at all (or pay gas money). I very quickly said no to this, and she said, “But I’ll save so much money!” and I said, “But I’ll end up spending so much extra money!” Which I guess she didn’t care about.

    Anyway, there’s a reason when her position was eliminated to be replaced with a higher level one that the big boss said we couldn’t rehire her, and things like this were just the tip of the iceberg.

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      Wow that’s a shocking amount of gumption on her part!

      I can’t tell if it’s a complete lack of self-awareness or being wayyy too self-aware to ask someone to be your free personal chauffeur and then double down on how it will be beneficial solely to you.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      I once agreed to carpool with a colleague were the situation started out pretty equitable: she asked if I could drive to her house (sort of on the way, but I had to come off the motorway) and then from there, we would alternate vehicles for the rest of our substantial commute to save wear and tear on our cars. We didn’t need to pay each other because we filled up our own vehicles, but we still saved money because we alternated cars. The rub came when there were work social events; she indicated that she wanted to have a drink at these events, and with our carpooling system, she could, right? The only problem was she wanted me to be the designated driver every single time there was something social to go to, instead of keeping to the spirit of our previous alternating agreement. No offer of money to compensate me for more occasions driving my car, just an airy handwave that “you’re driving this way anyway and you still save money on ordinary work days”. Well, I got a little tired of the whole thing since the carpooling thing was her idea to begin with. It was sort of worthwhile to me while it was equal, I missed the privacy of driving solo. So, I just told her I was done car pooling and would rather not have to detour off the motorway anymore. If she’d just offered money or to alternate on social occasions, she could have had a designated driver 50 per cent of the time. I carpool with another colleague currently who I drop on my way and I don’t ask for anything because she gets it. She can’t reciprocate because she’s a non driver but she bakes gluten free goodies for me when she can. Other people simply decide they like being looked after.

    3. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

      I find this sort of thinking so baffling. As in, my brain absolutely cannot connect the dots. It’s almost like a pathological selfishness. What is it that makes people like this tick? How do they manage to ignore the weight of the social contract so blithely?

      1. 1LFTW*

        For me, the pathological self-interest is less baffling than the poor execution.

        I can sort of wrap my head around selfish people who get what they want by manipulating others, because it implies a tacit understanding that nobody is inherently invested in someone else’s self-interest.

        But people who think *anyone* would go out of their way to spend their own money just so the selfish person can save money? Or my colleague, who proposed that I should sacrifice one my classes (and therefore, ACTUAL INCOME) to her, and thought I would be persuaded by the argument that doing so was better for *her* schedule? Like, NO.

        That’s what I don’t understand. At least manipulative people have figured out on some level that other people exist separately from themselves, and have learned to get what they want in spite of that. But the people who are so entitled that they believe everyone else is as invested in themselves as they are… I can’t comprehend how anyone reaches adulthood with that mentality intact.

        1. Despachito*

          I can understand this… it at least sometimes works for them. If they get what they want in 30 per cent of cases, it is still better (for them) than to get nothing.

          They apparently do not perceive / care for the long-term damage this does to a relationship.

    4. GreyjoyGardens*

      I used to carpool – with two of my neighbors, who both lived in my apartment building! And the two of us passengers always gave our driving neighbor some gas money.

      That’s some nerve to try and sweet-talk someone into going out of their way to carpool with you and then pushing back when they said “no.”

      1. HonorBox*

        Similar situation, though not specifically for work. I drop my child off at school (no buses for their school) and two neighbor kids also attend the same school. It is literally ten blocks from school to my office, so it works out because I’m on my way to work anyway. The neighbor family are friends, so I’m happy to do it, and even then, the “kids” get me a gift card to a bakery or something like that each school year.

        And when I’m out of town for work, or have a late meeting, or my child has the same sports practice the other family’s do, they’ll be glad to do the driving. That’s how this is supposed to work.

  12. Tesuji*

    Feels like the LW could (preferably as a follow up to talking to Jenny directly) make some sort of general statement to the team, along the lines of “Just to make sure everyone’s on the same page, I want to make clear that our assumption as a company is that each employee is managing their own transportation needs. There is no expectation that you should ever have to give a ride to a co-worker, and no one should ever feel like they’re obligated to do so.”

    Making sure everyone on the team knows–at the same time–that they can maintain a united front and it’s okay feels important here.

    (And if the LW would feel uncomfortable addressing the issue so bluntly… well, yeah, that’s exactly why the co-workers keep giving in and even quit rather than have to address it, but that’s why they’re getting paid more.)

    The fact that this is a situation she inherited does worry me slightly: Is she *sure* that none of this came from her predecessor? I’ve seen managers who’ve been completely okay with strong-arming co-workers to give rides to other co-workers to make sure they have full coverage.

    Even if this only started with a suggestion (“Oh, you need a ride? Sorry, can’t help you. Hey, Gladys, you live near her, right? Maybe you can help out…”), that moves it to an entirely different level for me. If the previous manager was complicit in setting up this disaster, not only does it feel like it would be on current management to fix it.

    Beyond that, if this is seen as an implicit requirement of the job (and, worse, if previous management pushed people into this), not impossible that this entangles the company in unfortunate ways if, for example, they get in a car accident on the way there.

    1. Bagpuss*

      Yes, I’m thinking maybe a one-to-one meeting with Jenny, making clear this can’t go on, secondly, a meeting with all of the individuals currently acting as Jenny’s chauffeurs to let them know that they are not expected to drive, that if not doing so has any repercussions at work you will deal with these, and that you have spoken directly to Jenny to make it clear she needs to have her own arrangements in place by the end of the month , and them perhaps a general, more public, statement.

    2. Trillian*

      I wouldn’t be surprised to turn up one or more enablers or enforcers, whether previous management or previous or current coworkers. One or more person reinforcing the ‘thou shalt not gainsay Jenny’ diktat. This may well prove to be a problem that turns out to be a mess, exposing bullying and dysfunction. Is this the only situation in which workers feel like they can’t say no to excessice demands?

      1. Festively Dressed Earl*

        +1. I’m wondering if this Jenny problem is actually a wider culture problem where employees are made uncomfortable for enforcing boundaries.

  13. Bit o' Brit*

    This blows my mind. I can’t drive and never intend to either, but I just can’t imagine being ok with being so dependent on others like that! How does she not feel like a child when she’s calling people to give her a lift to the movies?

    1. Melissa*

      Absolutely. Many people don’t drive (even in America where it’s assumed that adults do), and it’s a valid lifestyle choice, but most of them manage like adults!

    2. idwtpaun*

      Every time I ask myself, “How can this person not feel embarrassed or ashamed doing something like [insert thing here],” I have to remind myself that so many people out there really have no shame.

    3. Miss Fisher*

      I was a late driver. When I started teaching, i lived close enough to get dropped in the morning by my mom and then walk to my grandparents house after school ended. I found that to be super embarrassing, so I couldn’t imagine asking a co-worker to drive me. It took about 2 months of me doing this before i finally got my license and bought a car.

    4. VI Guy (visually impaired)*

      I can’t see well enough to drive and occasionally got rides with coworkers, but in every case I could either walk or take public transit and I never relied on it. One guy’s drive home would get me halfway to my place, so I’d get out when he slowed to turn at an intersection and walk the rest of the way. I made sure that he wasn’t doing anything extra on his trip home so no extra cost to him, and I didn’t ask. He would typically offer on rainy or hot days, when I really appreciated a shorter walk.

      It completely blows my mind that she expects all this help. If she’s so pushy it makes me wonder how angry she is when people refuse, and how much conflict this will cause in the workplace.

      1. Elsewise*

        I’m assuming that you mean “when he slows to turn” as an indicator of how you knew it was about time to get off, but for a second I thought you meant him not doing anything extra included not stopping to let you out. It gave me a very funny image of you doing a full tuck-and-roll jump out of the car at the same intersection every day. (Suit and briefcase included, of course.)

    5. Sovawanea*

      In addition to the lack of independence, it also cam just feel super unsafe to me. It took me a long time be okay with Uber or Lyft even. Occasionally, I would accept an offered ride from co-workers if I knew they lived in my neighborhood and there was really no extra driving for them and we just happened to be leaving at the same time.

      The only time I ever asked a co-worker for a ride is when there was an off site work thing, like a holiday lunch, where getting there by bus and back in the timeframe was impossible. I even used a hotel shuttle at a conference location to get downtown and catch a bus home instead of making my co-workers who already were griping about the extra drive out there in the first place for a ride home.

    6. Christmas Carol*

      It doesn’t matter that driving may or may not be a choice; but moving to a location where there is no workable public transportation to your place of employment, when you are aware that you can’t/won’t drive is all on you.

      Jenny has three choices:
      Learn to drive and buy a car, or
      Find other housing and daycare where she has workable transportatin options, that don’t involve mooching off of her coworkers, or
      Find other employmenet/daycare where she will have access to workable transportation options.
      It’s her choice, but she has to pick one

      And furthermore, if the child is young enough to need a car seat, it is probably under age 10.
      That means Jenny already had transportation issues before she chose to become a parent. In the future, does she expect her co-workers to drive her kid to/from school dances sporting events too?

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Oh believe me there are plenty of parents who think it’s everyone else’s responsibility to drive their children around for extracurriculars.

        “But it’s a long way!”
        “Yeah, it’s a long way for everyone, Rebecca.”

        People are cheerfully helpful when it’s a one-off or temporary situation such as when the parent is sick/injured, or their car is being mended, or there’s a clash with the sibling’s annual llama juggling expo. But it’s the relentless and entirely predictable weekly ask that begins to grate.

        1. Jessica*

          I want to know whether the llamas are juggling or being juggled. (And yes, either way, when do tickets for the expo go on sale??)

    7. Lily Rowan*

      Seriously! I don’t drive either and am mortified every time I ask anyone for a ride.

      (Although this letter did inspire me to reach out to a driving school!)

      1. Refreshing*

        Are you using hyperbole? Mortification is not required every time you ask for a ride. People can need rides. It’s OK.

        People are objecting to the “10 year” situation. Jenny is a broken stair. A few people l have removed themselves from the situation, but everyone else is just letting things go on as they have been for the last 10 years.

        1. Lily Rowan*

          Mortified may be a bit strong, but I am embarrassed about it and ask for rides as little as possible. And when I do, I do everything I can to keep it from being a hassle for the driver (eg, getting out along the person’s direct route, as someone else noted).

          1. Bus fan*

            Yep, I’m a non-driver, and me too. Mortifying. In fact, the only people I ask for rides from are my retired parents when I visit them in their city, because I know they kind of like to do things for me and spend that time with me. And even then I only do it sometimes and mostly make my own way around.

            I’m not above getting a lift if it’s offered, but I’d be very embarrassed to ask for one.

    8. Butterfly Counter*

      Exactly. Asking people for rides got really old by the time I was 15. I hated to inconvenience anyone, even someone who lived less than 1/4 mile away from me. And seriously, my own parents were so eager and happy for me to be able to drive myself around rather than chauffer me everywhere (and also to drive my siblings around) that they had a car ready and waiting for me to use once I got my license. I can’t imagine giving up the independence of relying on myself to be able to come and go when I need vs. when someone else could have the time.

    9. theletter*

      I’m also car-free and my license is just for show at this point, but make it work by choosing to live/work where there’s solid public transportation and enough services nearby that I don’t need a car. I’ll splurge on rideshares from time to time, and I figure since I’m saving money by not having a car, I can afford it.

      I would find the process of organizing free rides daily to be very stressful, especially to work and daycare. Do we want to know what her secret is?

      1. New Jack Karyn*

        Her secret is that it’s now a standard; one person picks her up every day, and two others share the ‘duties’ of taking her home. It’s set up now, no stress!

        Although I do wonder what she does when her ‘usuals’ are sick or on vacation.

    10. Looper*

      This is someone who is still working the same job they had when they were a college student. I feel “Arrested Development” is more than just Jenny’s favorite TV show.

  14. idwtpaun*

    “This has been going on for almost a decade.”

    That’s the point at which I heard a needle scratch. Ten years? Ten *years*? *Ten* years?! And members of the team you manage will drive her to and fro on their days off?!

    I don’t understand any of this. Does Jenny have blackmail material on your company’s entire workforce or something?

    On a less hyperbolic note, I do have a real concern given how long this has been going on, how far people have gone out of their way, and that people have quit – this has somehow, whether through Jenny’s forcefulness or someone else’s – become the ingrained culture of your team/workplace. I would bet that any new hire joining the team is being pressured by the rest of the team to buy into this. At this point, it must be some sort of “been in the monkey house too long to smell the smell” situation. And I’m worried that talking to Jenny like Alison suggests won’t do anything. Because what are you next steps? Are you going to fire her if she simply doesn’t do as you tell her and doesn’t change anything?

    This is also one of those very, very rare situations in which I’m not sure I find Alison’s advice practical. While I do think Jenny has taken extreme advantage of her coworkers, I’m not sure lack of transportation is a problem that can be solved in a month. If public transit in the area is bad, one month is not enough time to obtain the ability to drive, a licence, and a car, nor enough time to budget for daily taxi use.

      1. Christmas Carol*

        The realization that the term “needle scratch” isn’t understandable by a whole generation of
        AAM readers is making me feel realy old.

        1. Armchair Analyst*

          once I was telling a story where there was a needle scratch moment and I made the sound and my husband interrupted to ask if that sound was to indicate me asking “wait what – how did a record player get into a story from last week?” it was so funny it kind of derailed the story but definitely made the point

    1. Jen (not Jenny)*

      The original post says that Jenny lives close enough to walk or bike. So she will still have an option to get to work, even if public transportation isn’t great and she doesn’t have a license or a car.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Or, from another angle, she has several months to arrange powered transport before winter sets in.

    2. Colette*

      It sounds like she can walk or bike – or get rides from people she does not work with. Regardless, as an adult, she will have to figure it out.

    3. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      Not OP’s problem that a month is not long enough. Jenny has has TEN YEARS to figure out something than MAKE EVERYONE ELSE drive her around. I mean, at the point she was going “hey can you drop me at the movies” something should have told her that maybe, just maybe, it was time to be an adult and not a kid who needed adults to drive them around.

      And yes I know there are adults who need people to drive them to places. But those folks tend to know its an inconvenience and don’t just make it a social thing, oh i’m hanging with my friends, you person who is not part of the social event need to do the driving.

      1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        Also she CAN fire Jenny over this. Jenny I told you that you are responsible for your own transportation and not relying on your coworkers. you are still being driven back and forth by employees. That cannot continue, today is your last day.

      2. I Have RBF*

        And yes I know there are adults who need people to drive them to places. But those folks tend to know its an inconvenience…


        My mother lives in rural Florida but can no longer drive due to ARMD (vision problem.) She relies on neighbors for transportation. But she always pays for gas, and works with people to manage her schedule. She’s over 80 though, but knows how to not take advantage of people.

    4. Observer*

      While I do think Jenny has taken extreme advantage of her coworkers, I’m not sure lack of transportation is a problem that can be solved in a month. If public transit in the area is bad, one month is not enough time to obtain the ability to drive, a licence, and a car, nor enough time to budget for daily taxi use.

      Still her problem. But also, transportation is not bad – it’s mediocre. Which means that she can manage, even though it’s a pain.

    5. TootsNYC*

      it’s time enough to recruit a friend
      and what has she been doing with the money she wasn’t spending on a car or gas?

    6. DLW*

      I say yes, do fire her. She’s causing people to quit and taking gross advantage of her unwilling coworkers. If talking to her doesn’t work, then yes, fire her. She’s an at will employee who can be hired for any non-discriminatory reason. If she can’t come up with a transportation alternative in one month, too bad. She’s had ten years to come up with a solution but chose instead to sponge off her coworkers.

    7. Baby Driver*

      So require that Jenny enroll in a driving school and give her however long it typically takes to get a license.

  15. Observer*

    The few times when she does ask for a ride on work hours, well, everyone helps each other out occasionally. How can I forbid an employee from picking her up at her child’s daycare when I just drove out to jump another employee’s stalled vehicle?

    Well, tell her in advance that you are no longer going to allow people to leave work to help her out. But, do it. Because there is a key difference between helping someone who has an emergency (the stalled car) and *planning* to use someone else’s services. She knows what the deal is with her child’s daycare, so this is something she could do something about *if she chose to.

    1. Bagpuss*

      YEs, if it was “She got a call that she needs to go now because her kid has fallen off the monkey bars” that’s an emergency and helping her is fine. If it’s “I need a ride to get to the parent-teacher conference” that’s not.

  16. DD*

    There is signs of a lot of dysfunction going on here and I bet that there is a lot more going on with the dynamics of that team around Jenny that the manager doesn’t know. What is going on that she has the kind of hold over people that they are coming in on their day off to drive her to work with no visible reciprocation?

    If she was an incredible coworker who was helping pay for gas and going out of her way to help the drivers out it would still be strange but less dysfunctional. When talking to the riders the manager needs to probe a lot deeper on comments like “She’ll hate me if I don’t give her a ride”

    1. Trillian*

      My guess is a predominately female workforce in a helping or care occupation. Training and ethical standards enable them to enforce boundaries with clients, but with coworkers there’s an all-in-this-together bond that certain personality types will exploit.

    2. uncivil servant*

      This is my guess. People aren’t quitting over Jenny, but over a broader cultural problem that makes Jenny possible.

      Like, I once quit a job because I could not stand my co-worker. All he did was play on Facebook all day (literally all day) and say a few annoying catch phrases. Did I seriously move cities to get away from a guy who just read me asinine Facebook posts?

      No, I left because management was so apathetic that they didn’t care that they had just hired someone who wasn’t willing to do his simple but mundane job. I realized they valued the work I did so little that they didn’t care if it didn’t get done.

      I’m not saying that OP has created this culture. I wonder if they work in a helping profession, where no one wants to stand out as the sole cold-hearted person who won’t help out the single mom*?

      *Single mom is fanfic but if she has a partner she’s gone from moocher to straight up grifter in my mind.

      1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        Yes, I don’t think we should take “quitting over Jenny” literally. (Obviously worth asking if you can tho.) She’s a visible symptom of something.

        This is true for “x% quit because of their manager” as well IMO. It’s a catch-all for a ton of issues — lack of advancement, lousy coworkers, lousy culture, lousy schedules — that get pinned on management because they didn’t / can’t fix those things. It’s a convenient shorthand.

        1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*


          Managers can be pretty terrible, and wield a lot of direct power and influence over you day to day. If I had the spine to quit my job over the last couple years, it would have been solely because of my manager.

          Other than that, I agree with your general point. Most reasons given for quitting are more of a “straw that broke the camel’s back” than the sole inciting reason.

    3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Yeah, I think OP needs to have a conversation with the most straight talking / direct person in the team who’s likely to know what’s going on, and get them to lay it all out.

    4. GreyjoyGardens*

      I think it may be either 1) that there is a ton of dysfunction and Jenny is just the tip of the iceberg, or else the excuse that people give when they quit that is covering up other issues (that may be a lot worse, brace yourself) or 2) this is one of those workplaces where co-workers are expected to help one another far more than in a conventional office environment. Think small “we’re like family” nonprofits, or the types of companies that employ ex-cons, or people with disabilities that would have trouble working anywhere else, or people re-entering the workforce. You get the drift. These employees usually have difficult personal lives, and so it can be kind of expected that everyone links arms and pulls each other along in whatever way. Lots of borrowing and lending small sums, rides to work, that sort of thing. The trouble is when this gets out of hand, like it obviously has here.

      Another possible situation is this is one of those small, tight-knit communities where everyone is expected to give and receive a lot of favors. Jenny has obviously taken a lot of advantage beyond what is expected in this situation, so something is weird here.

  17. kiki*

    I want to start by saying that I respect being car-free when your lifestyle and area supports it. I am currently without a car. I think more areas (esp in the US) should expand their public transit offerings so folks don’t need to rely on personal vehicles. That being said, I’ve met a few people like Jenny before where their lifestyle NEEDS a car and they just opt out and rely on the generosity of others. I always wonder if they think other people just enjoy paying for a vehicle and gas and everything entailed in car ownership? Or maybe they just truly haven’t recognized that they actually need a car at this point and the favors they’re asking have gotten out of control? But perhaps I’m being less than charitable and Jenny is really in a position financially where she cannot afford a vehicle. It’s just in my experience with folks like this, it wasn’t the case.

    1. soontoberetired*

      My experience, too. I had to tell someone I am not their free transportation to trips to our shared place of birth. She could drive herself but had chosen not to anymore, but she lied to me and said she was not allowed to drive. She felt very entitled to know my plans and I just stopped telling her. She got the hint.

    2. DinoZebra*

      Jenny may have a disability that prevent her from driving – but which doesn’t effect her work so LW and colleagues are unaware of it.

      I am NOT saying that Jenny’s lift-sharking behaviour is acceptable. It absolutely isn’t – she needs to look at other transport options and/or contribute to lift-givers petrol costs. But I understand being reluctant to disclose a disability that might change how colleagues think about you and behave towards you (particularly if it’s something stigmatised like a seizure disorder).

      As someone who’s disability prevents them from driving it’s ongoingly frustrating to be seen as not a proper grown-up because I don’t have a driving licence – and to keep having the same conversations with people who tell me driving is easy and I must learn no matter what my doctor says about it

      1. M. from P.*

        Even if she were physically unable to drive that still doesn’t explain not pitching in for gas money.

      2. fine tipped pen aficionado*

        Totally valid and a lot of people in the US treat certain activities, like driving, as a rite of passage into adulthood and if you don’t participate in them you are viewed as childish and irresponsible. Any kind of dependence can reduce the dignity people afford you and any kind of inexperience can reduce the respect.

        Sorry you have to deal with that, Dino. I think it’s valuable to remind folks of this when there’s an opportunity.

        Obviously it doesn’t matter WHY Jenny is doing this because there is no reason that a coworker should ever share in responsibility for your transportation. There may be people in your life who should, but there just isn’t a circumstance where that’s a coworker’s job.

        Stories like this always serve as a reminder to me of how important it is to build community outside work, even though making friends as an adult is hard.

      3. Telephone Sanitizer, Third Class*

        I feel you, I don’t drive either. But my city has decent bus service. I hope Jenny can work something out that doesn’t require her coworkers’ time and resources.

      4. vito*

        If they were disabled and unable to drive, wouldn’t the local public transit system have some sort of shuttle system? Around here it is Access Lynx. It may be slow to show up but eventually they get you where you need to go at a “reasonable” cost.

        1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

          The LW said the public transportation where they live isn’t great, so they might not have that.

        2. ParatransitOptionOfLastResort*

          It is incredibly difficult to get this type of service in most places and often they will only go to places that have public transportation – these services are typically for people unable to use pubbn licenses transit. Where I live it can take as long as three hours to get someplace if you need to transfer, they can get you there very early if it works better for their scheduling (so, for instance, you may need to leave 5 hours before you want to be someplace that’s a 15 or 20 minute drive away) and you can’t make any adjustments to the time after booking even if you’re at a dr appt and they run late. It’s meant as a last ditch option for people who can’t use anything else. And it’s not actually that affordable either (you pay a separate fare for each leg of each trip, i.e. each time you’re transferred). If you get them to give you access and it goes where you need to go it can be a lifesaver, but it’s extremely restrictive.

      5. GrooveBat*

        [i]I understand being reluctant to disclose a disability that might change how colleagues think about you and behave towards you (particularly if it’s something stigmatised like a seizure disorder). [/i]

        Well, right now her colleagues think of her as a difficult mooch and they resent her for it. I think they’d be much more understanding if she were to disclose a disability.

    3. Heather*

      It’s also hard to claim to really be car-free when you are constantly in cars, to and from everywhere you need to go, with your child in a car seat— it’s just someone else’s car!!

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Particularly if you’re making them undertake a special journey, rather than jumping in for a shared ride.

  18. Observer*

    OP, as I’m reading the other responses here I had another thought.

    Is it possible that it’s not just “compassion” that’s driving people here? Because some of what you are describing is pretty extreme. People driving her into work on days that they are not working? That’s weird. People quitting rather than tell her no?! That’s wild.

    So I wonder if there is some leverage that she has – or that people think she has?

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      I doubt anything nefarious is going on. This started when she was a wee helpless college student and they probably have not changed how they are viewing her. They are still seeing her as a wee helpless college student (with a baby!) instead of a grown-ass adult with a job who should be figuring these things out on her own.

      1. Observer*

        That just doesn’t make sense. People do not *quit their job* rather than help someone out. Even a “wee helpless [and hapless] college student (with a baby!)”

        SOMETHING is very wrong here.

        1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

          My sister quit her job, not to avoid helping someone out, but due to being around a person who felt entitled to other people’s resources and time while giving nothing in return. She was a psychic vampire in every dimension and guilted much younger coworkers into spending time with her outside of work. It wasn’t solely “Elle always wants us to go to the movies with her,” but that was one of the most definite things that she did do and could be pointed to. It’s hard to articulate “Elle thinks I exist as an extension of her own ego and I can’t live beneath that shadow anymore.”

      2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        I’m more likely to think there’s a lot of pleading vs. leverage. But how else will I get there??? Without a ride I can’t get to work and then I’ll lose my job! My landlord keeps raising my rent, I am so broke and I’ll be on the streets if I don’t get paid. And I have to take care of my baby! Being a mother is so hard, with no support. You have to help me, there’s no one else who can! You know how hard my life is.

        You’d only have to go through this routine early on. Once people accept the ongoing helplessness, she’s just a broken stair.

        1. Peanut Hamper*

          Yeah, I do think there is some other dysfunction going on in this office and this is definitely part of it. But “dysfunction” does not equal “evil, plotting, and nefarious”.

      3. Kevin Sours*

        Nefarious is the wrong word. I don’t think their is blackmail or anything. But there is some kind of social pressure going on. Possibly just guilt coupled with the weight of tradition (it’s been going on for a decade). People might believe that Jenny will make things intolerable in the office if they don’t — and that management may not deal with that satisfactorily. Unspoken expectations can really have an effect in ways management is oblivious to.

        But clearly *something* is happening here. The fact that people are quitting to avoid the situation strongly suggests they don’t feel able to say no and OP would do well to dig into why that is.

    2. pally*

      She’s been there a decade. Maybe seniority plays a role here (inappropriately so).
      Also, she’s rarely asking the manager for rides.

    3. New Jack Karyn*

      I think it’s just the ‘leverage’ of a calm office, where no one is trying to guilt-trip you. Folks say, “I don’t want her to hate me,” which suggests that Jenny is unkind (at best) to people who tell her No. There’s a lot more pressure if there’s also other folks enforcing this, as in, “Come on, I’ve driven her three times this week, can you just get her this time?”

      Over time, she’s become a Missing Stair, as Weaponized Pumpkin pointed out. Jenny might have an extinction burst when OP starts to address it.

      1. Observer*

        Yeah, that could be too. From the OP’s pov, it’s pretty much the same thing, because it means that she’s essentially forcing people to do something for them that just doesn’t work for them.

  19. Mandie*

    If Jenny has this much audacity and this much control over the people giving her rides, she’s definitely going to retaliate when OP tells her they’re complaining and secretly don’t want to help her. At a minimum, she’ll probably guilt trip them or freeze them out. I think OP should give them a heads-up before she has the conversation with them so they can be prepared for any backlash.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Anyone who responds like this should be let go. That is a person who is fundamentally unreasonable and a liability to your workforce.

    2. Miss Fisher*

      I would make sure the others on the team possibly also block her # on their cell, so she doesnt call and harass them.

    3. pally*

      Yep! She’s going to cajole (er, bully) them to continue ferrying her around.
      Only, she’ll insist they not say anything at work about this.
      These co-workers need to provide a united front and support each other with saying ‘no’ to Jenny.

  20. Dust Bunny*

    “Sure, I’ll give you a ride, Jenny. We can listen to my new CD. I hope you like death metal. With bagpipes.”

      1. Dust Bunny*

        . . . honestly, I would, too.

        There’s a guy on YouTube or somewhere who plays metal on bagpipes that shoot flames.

      2. Iain C*

        Search for Schelmish. German band that plays folk in a metal style with bagpipes. Is not able to be played quietly, but has to be blasted.

        You’ve not heard Ring Of Fire properly until you’ve heard it shouted in a German accent.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        There’s a sorta-metalish one on YT that’s pretty good but I don’t think it quite hits the mark.

        1. vito*

          there is “Don’t Stop Belevin” done by three bagpipers on you tube which is really good.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Let’s not go here. Single parenthood is a thing for a lot of people for a lot of different reasons, regardless of sex or age.

    2. Yeah...*

      It’s been 10 years of rides, I don’t think inquiring about any support system (at least periodically) is wrong.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        Support system in general — fine.

        Spouse/partner in particular — not okay.

        Single mothers get enough guilt trips laid on them for not having a man around. We don’t need to be adding to that.

      2. Kaiko*

        Jenny sounds incredibly under-resourced and has put together a patchwork of support that includes, yes, her unwilling coworkers. Lots of people are putting her down for being overly reliant on these folks; I see someone who is very worried she will lose her work, her transportation, and her livelihood, and is meeting her needs with a level of enforcement/guilt that is causing problems. I’m not saying it’s good or should continue; I do have compassion for her.

        As a manager, I would include in this conversation what flexibility I can offer while she’s getting her transportation figured out – can she align her hours to the bus schedule, for instance? is there a perk like subsidized transit passes that can be offered? etc etc.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          Or maybe someone who has gotten complacent about finding alternatives because it’s been ten years and nobody has pushed back. And we don’t know anything at all about how under-resourced or not she is, or whether this is just cheap and convenient.

        2. RussianInTexas*

          We know nothing about her resources except that she does not drive and does not plan on doing so.
          She might be a single mom with no resources, or she might not be.
          Neither is relevant in manipulating her coworkers for giving her rides to and from work and in the NON-WORK hours for a decade.

          1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

            Including to social events, with no offer of recompense in favor or cash.

        3. home*

          “Jenny sounds incredibly under-resourced and has put together a patchwork of support that includes, yes, her unwilling coworkers. Lots of people are putting her down for being overly reliant on these folks; I see someone who is very worried she will lose her work, her transportation, and her livelihood, and is meeting her needs with a level of enforcement/guilt that is causing problems”

          Yeah, no, I am not seeing that at all. There are a lot of under-resourced people who hold jobs who manage to not mooch off their coworkers for 10 years straight like this. Jenny is entitled and lazy, plain and simple.

    3. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I’d guess OP would have mentioned it if the dad was involved. Jenny would 100% be getting some rides from him if he was in the picture. I just can’t image a woman with enough gumption to take a 23 miles one way free ride not also getting rides from her partner. Or her ex. *Maybe* he’s a useless man-child, but I can’t see someone so needy going for a man child. She’d want to be taken care of, not the other way round.

  21. Chairman of the Bored*

    If a co-worker is going to “hate me” because I decline to drive them around as a matter of routine then they are just going to have to hate me.

    1. SweetestCin*

      I will freely admit that my thought on “but they’ll hate me” is “okay, die mad” because I’m just open-eyed gobsmacked that this has been going on for TEN YEARS.

      1. alienor*

        Me too, especially because there has obviously been turnover in those 10 years. How many people are left who even remember Jenny as the helpless young college student who needed a ride? Is she only asking the people who do? It seems really weird for multiple new hires to just have accepted driving Jenny around as part of working there–I’m not a confrontational person at all and I would still nope right out of that.

  22. Person from the Resume*

    I will note that I have friends who live in our southern city with poor public transportation without cars.

    They walk a lot. They have a bike. One does take public transport which sometimes makes for a much longer (double, triple) commute than driving does. Ones take Uber/Lyft when needed. And when it makes sense we offer them rides. (I have been ridiculously overpaid for gas for a 90 minute trip to a state park outside of the city.) But they figure it out themselves without making a nuisance of themselves. Without asking people to go out of their way or be inconvenienced.

    This is wild. Jenny needs to be stopped since it is having an impact in the office.

    1. Lily Rowan*

      Even with the good public transit where I live, not every trip is workable. I just looked up a trip that would be 40 minutes (including a mile of walking) on transit, vs. a 10 minute drive.

      1. Empress Ki*

        40mn commute isn’t much. Where I live, plenty of people commute 1 hour each way to go to work. I now commute 35/40mn each way, and that considered very reasonable.

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          If it’s in the middle of the workday, where they’re supposed to be dropping something off or picking something up, it’s an hour and a half trip. Someone who drives would be back in less than 30 minutes. Not really workable.

          1. uncivil servant*

            So that person can’t run errands while at work. If those are personal errands, then you have to arrange your day so that you don’t count on lunch hour for errands. If it’s for work, you have to find jobs that don’t require you to drive stuff around.

  23. Introvert Teacher*

    Who are these people giving rides for a decade and quitting instead of saying no? I really don’t get it. It is truly not that hard to refuse someone politely:
    “I’m sorry, I’m unable to give you a ride tomorrow/going forward due to my own schedule conflicts.” repeat, repeat, repeat. No need to explain yourself. No need for detail. I don’t get why people feel guilty or allow themselves to get trapped in the weeds explaining/arguing/being manipulated into giving rides. If she responds with anger, say “I’m sorry you feel that way,” and then just let your comment hang there. And immediately go back to working — don’t engage after that. Basically just don’t fan the flames.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I get the FIRST request and offer. Maybe the second. People do like to be helpful. But more than that… no. Your advice is good– there is no shame in saying no, and it’s not my problem if the requester gets angry about it.

      A friend of mine injured herself and needed help with lots of little things. I was happy to help. I like to feel useful, and I always want to encourage people to ask for help if they need it. Then it got to be too much and I had to start saying no. Did I feel a little bad? Sure, but just a little. I wasn’t going to rearrange my life to assist with something she could have done herself with a little extra effort. There’s asking for help and there’s expecting people to drop everything to help you.

      1. Samwise*

        Yes, I broke my leg and needed a ride to work, and drop off my kid at school on the way. I hired a former student to pick me up every morning for a month.

        1. Miss Muffet*

          But this was something with a set end date, and you paid the person to basically be your Uber. Neither of which apply to our moocher here! I think pretty much everyone feels like it’s reasonable to help someone out in a pinch or at least chip in on costs.

    2. Cherries Jubilee*

      It’s like that aphorism about handing an elephant a rope to tie it to a post so it doesn’t wander off. The elephant is fully capable of dropping the rope, or tearing out the post; the barriers are in its own mind.

      Whatever these people think would happen if they issued a “sorry, no” (social stigma? Jenny mad?) are only legitimate barriers in their own minds.

      1. New Jack Karyn*

        I dunno–Jenny might be the type to make their work lives miserable if they don’t accede.

  24. Watry*

    Has anyone said no to Jenny at all, OP? Or maybe her attitude at work has led them to believe she would lash out? It’s certainly possible, but the idea that multiple coworkers are too compassionate to say no to constant driving, and some have quit rather than say no, doesn’t quite pass the smell test.

  25. Hiring Mgr*

    This makes no sense to me. If employees are quitting it has to be over more than just Jenny asking for rides. Unless Jenny is a boss or high up in management and is threatening their jobs, I just don’t get it.

  26. SunriseRuby*

    I hope this supervisor has the needed discussion with Jenny and follows up with an update about how it all went.

  27. HonorBox*

    LW, I’d agree with everyone saying that you need to address this with Jenny. This is expecting far too much from coworkers in general. And if people are unwilling to say no because they don’t want Jenny to “hate” them, it is much more of a work issue than her not owning her own vehicle. She needs to be able to have reliable transportation to get to where she needs to go. People can’t be expected to drop everything to go get her during the work day when she’s at a daycare meeting. People can’t be expected to ferry her to work on their days off. People shouldn’t feel put out because she’s unwilling to provide her own transportation. She needs to be able to get to and from work and daycare without leaning on people who are afraid of her reaction if they say no.

    Also, I don’t think I’d put too much thought into the idea of you or anyone else helping someone on occasion if there’s an emergency like a dead battery. That’s not the same, and if Jenny were to bring that up, you could absolutely remind her that’s an apples vs. oranges discussion. She doesn’t have an emergency issue that is an occasional problem. Jump starting someone’s car happens infrequently. Her issue is a regular, day-to-day, issue.

    1. HonorBox*

      Also, I’d suggest watching the situation after you give everyone the directive that they’re not expected to give Jenny rides any longer. If people are saying no and she reacts poorly, you have more opportunity to have a deeper discussion with her about how she acts in the workplace.

  28. I should really pick a name*

    In these discussions with employees, if someone says they’re worried that Jenny will hate them, let them know that if Jenny is treating them poorly, they should come to you immediately.

  29. Keymaster of Gozer*

    You definately need to have a word with her.

    People saying they’re afraid of her getting mad, people quitting over this? She is doing something highly negative out of your sight. Guilt-tripping, tears, anger, rage, blackmail, whatever – to have multiple people complain and leave is not coincidence.

    I believe that when you tell her to get her own transport sorted that you’ll find out what her typical reaction to refusal is. I also believe it’s going to be a very unpleasant experience. But ultimately you’ve got someone who is negatively affecting the mood of the rest of the staff and costing them money (I wouldn’t do a 23 mile drive for a coworker!) that they can not afford.

    One unpleasant meeting could result in a much happier rest of staff for you. Look on it that way.

    (I do not think getting into *why* she can’t get other transport or has been doing this so long is going to be beneficial. If your staff with cars all quit and were replaced by people who biked in she’d still have to deal)

    1. Observer*

      One unpleasant meeting could result in a much happier rest of staff for you. Look on it that way.


      I’ve mentioned this before but there is a saying that you should keep in mind “One who is kind to the cruel, is cruel to the kind.”

      The bottom line is that the “compassion” here is actually very NOT compassionate to people who are being unfairly pressured.

      1. Dust Bunny*


        In the discussion about a hypersensitive, crying employee awhile back several people pointed out that being compassionate to Crying Employee was basically being non-compassionate to everyone else who had to kid-glove her feelings.

        It’s nice to be nice to Jenny but not to the point of burdening the rest of your team.

  30. Yikes on Bikes*

    I can’t decide who I am more annoyed by – Jenny, or the co-workers who won’t say no. I get that confrontation can be hard, but good lord…driving 23 miles ON YOUR DAY OFF to give a co-worker a ride? Either some important details are being left out (like Jenny has some sort of dirt on them? She is the big boss’ daughter?) or the co-workers are massive pushovers.

    1. Hiring Mgr*

      I’m definitely more annoyed by the coworkers. This has been going on for TEN YEARS. They could easily shut it down if they want to. Jenny might have her own issues but imo this is on the drivers – if they don’t want to do it anymore, do a Nancy Reagan and Just Say No

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Both of those are annoying but actually more than either of them, I’m annoyed by whoever had these people quit (probably the previous manager, or maybe HR) and didn’t dig into the details of what “quitting because of driving Jenny” actually entailed.

    3. Random Dice*

      I’m thinking it’s less pushover territory than it is that Jenny is a Missing Stair that has been enabled by management for a very long time.

      She seems to coerce coworkers through a combo of guilt and punishment.

  31. Badger*

    Is it possible to revisit her original job description and see if having reliable transportation to and from work was a requirement? That might help your case.

    1. The Person from the Resume*

      If the job doesn’t require it; there’s no need to add it for this super wierd special case.

      First every job has a requirement that you reliably get to work on time. Second, reliable transportation doesn’t have to mean a driver’s license and a car.

  32. Miss Fisher*

    Also, what happens when Jenny’s child starts school and if not taking a school bus you are now stuck in school drop off and possibly pick up lines and then taking her child to sports things etc. At some point it has to stop.

    1. GreyjoyGardens*

      I was just thinking about that. Jenny’s kid is going to get to the age where school drop off and pick up are non-negotiable, plus there’s all the activities and after school stuff, AND there’s the “what if the kid is sick and needs to go home in the middle of the day” conundrum too. This is not sustainable.

  33. BellyButton*

    TEN YEARS?! WTH? Yeah, this has somehow become part of the culture where everyone has accepted this what they do. If people are worried about her hating them, I wonder what kind of response she has when people do tell her no.

    I don’t really have any advice on this- it is all bananapants.

  34. Heather*

    If not already part of the application/hiring discussion… moving forward, be sure to ask if the person being hired had reliable transportation as part of the hiring process.
    Walking /biking is a valid answer and explaining that people must be able to traverse to and from work on their own is a requirement of the job might be useful in the future.

  35. I edit everything*

    From OP’s comments about the other employees having tight financial situations, it sounds like these are likely lower-paying jobs. I wonder if there’s room for improvement there, and how that might change the dynamic and change Jenny’s situation–if she has life circumstances that mean she simply can’t afford a vehicle, for instance. And what is keeping her from learning to drive (some medical conditions prevent one from driving, for instance; past vehicular-related trauma; an anxiety disorder)? There could be so many different things at play here.
    As others have said, a month may well not be long enough, if she does decide to learn to drive, get a license, buy a car, etc.

    1. Observer*

      I wonder if there’s room for improvement there, and how that might change the dynamic and change Jenny’s situation–if she has life circumstances that mean she simply can’t afford a vehicle, for instance.

      No. 1,000 times NO.

      Look, it’s possible that the OP’s employer should be paying people better. But that has nothing to do with Jenny’s behavior.

      She can walk, use public transportation or find other ways to deal. Also, she doesn’t need to own a car to actually pay for some of the costs to other people!

      Absolutely none of the suggestions that you make remotely excuse what is happening here.

      As others have said, a month may well not be long enough, if she does decide to learn to drive, get a license, buy a car, etc.

      Not the OP’s problem. Especially since it’s not a give that the only way for Jenny to manage is to get a license and buy a car.

    2. Alex Rider*

      She has been getting rides from people for ten years. A month notice is not OP’s problem.

    3. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      EVEN if Jenny cannot afford a vehicle, it is not her coworkers who as you note are in tight financial circumstances themselves to help her out to this extent. Jenny regardless of her circumstances needs to figure this out on her own, and not expect her coworkers to be her personal chauffuer.

      The REASON Jenny does this is not really relevant, it needs to stop. And it needs to stop now.

    4. RussianInTexas*

      That is still not my problem, I am not going to schlepp you around, especially on my day off, especially for 23 miles.

    5. Pierrot*

      I do not drive and have never driven, in part due to anxiety. Many of my jobs have been low paying- either in the service industry or nonprofits. I live in a city with good public transportation, but there were times when I did not, or more recently, I had a job with a very difficult public transit commute and I ended up leaving, in part because of that.

      None of these reasons are an excuse for Jen’s behavior. I’m an adult, and I learned how to navigate these issues, because pressuring other coworkers to drive you (and your child!) around every day to work and outside of work is entitled and very outside of the norm. There might be systemic issues at play here, but 1) that does not mean that Jen has no agency and 2) her colleagues could have their own stressors, so why should hers take precedent?

  36. TootSweet*

    I wonder if any of the people driving her to and from work, and her and her child to and from daycare, have considered potential liability if there’s an accident with injuries to either or both of them. Regardless of the length of the commute, anything can happen. This may (or may not) be another point that LW can raise with the drivers.

  37. Cubicle Warrior*

    I really hope we get an update on this one. 10 years is a long time to be mooching off of coworkers.

  38. Iridescent Periwinkle*

    Jenny would hate me so fast because no I am not someone’s free daily ride. An occasional ride to the mechanic? Or grouping up for a work lunch? fine. But not routine daily rides.

    1. bamcheeks*

      nahh, I suspect she gets on absolutely fine with the people who set that boundary early on, but she’s got a core 2-3 people she knows she can coerce into it and she will be vile to those people if they ever step out of line.

    2. Jellyfish Catcher*

      It’s also a long time for former management to not address this weird issue.
      One year new manager – you are stuck with inheriting this situation, it sucks. But your employees will back you with gratitude.

  39. Two Pop Tarts*

    Jenny is a manipulator.

    • Going on for a decade (it’s a habit, not a one time action)
    • People are afraid of upsetting Jenny
    • Favors only flow one way
    • An employee has quit due to Jenny

    The LW should be worried that not only is Jenny manipulating people, but that she’s creating a toxic work environment.

    Like the movie Casablanca, when confronted with the manipulation, she’ll be “Shocked, shocked that manipulation is going on”, but she knows exactly what she is doing.

    1. KatEnigma*

      The decade part probably means Jenny has a medical condition that prevents her driving. Depending on the State, you sometimes need to be seizure-free for years (including a decade) before you are allowed to get a license!

      1. HonorBox*

        Nothing in the original letter indicates that, though. It just says she doesn’t have a license and has no intention of getting one. I’d imagine that if there was a health issue, that would have been included, as it would impact how to address this.

          1. HonorBox*

            That’s fair. People may not know, and don’t need to know. What they do need to know, though, is that being Jenny’s transportation system isn’t part of their job. Especially when it inconveniences them, has become the regular way of doing things, and is done at cost (both money and time) to them.

        1. Observer*

          I’d imagine that if there was a health issue, that would have been included, as it would impact how to address this.

          That assumes that the OP knows. But also, no it would not affect how the OP handles it. Because ultimately, it doesn’t really matter. This has to stop.

          If you’re thinking ADA, no. Firstly, the employee needs to let their employer know, and clearly Jenny hasn’t. Also ADA accommodations have to be REASONABLE. There is nothing reasonable about this behavior.

        2. Baby Driver*

          Again, OP can easily address this situation without having delve into thorny questions such as whether there’s a sufficient nexus to the workplace for the situation to be actionable.

          Require Jenny to get a driver’s license.

          1. New Jack Karyn*

            No, you can’t reasonably require someone to get a driver’s license if their actual job doesn’t necessitate it. Lots of people don’t have a license, and get to work just fine.

          2. GrooveBat*

            Requiring her to get a driver’s license won’t solve anything if she doesn’t have a car.

        1. RussianInTexas*

          We know exactly zero about her medical conditions, financial situation, none of that.
          And none of that matters here.

      2. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        Even IF she has a medical condition, it is still not her coworkers responsbility to get her to and from work. Plenty of people with medical conditions that prevent them from driving figure out how to get around — without making people drive 23 miles on their day off to get them to work.

        Jenny has options. What she is refusing to do is explore any of them. Because why should she — she has a system that works FOR HER.

        1. AngryOctopus*

          This. We hired a woman at a previous job who was not allowed to drive for 6 months because she had had an idiopathic seizure. She had her own way to get to and from work that did not involve coercing coworkers in any way. It can be done if you have a medical condition! Not an excuse!

      3. Falcongirl*

        Not necessarily. And this is just anecdotal, but most of the people I’ve known who had medical conditions that prevented them from driving (like epilepsy) were scrupulous about offering money for gas and very careful about not abusing it, which it doesn’t sound like Jenny is. On the other hand, I’ve known people who didn’t get a license because they just didn’t want to and figured they could rely on others for rides. They were much less scrupulous about offering compensation or even thanks, sometimes.

      4. doreen*

        It doesn’t “probably” mean that – it might , but there are plenty of other reasons why someone might not have a license. My sister does not drive – she has a license only because it was a requirement for the state job she wanted. She hasn’t driven since the day of her road test over 30 years ago. It’s not a medical thing – she has a license. She just doesn’t want to drive – which is fine. It’s fine for Jenny, too. What’s not fine is when the cost of their decision not to drive is imposed on other people – in Jenny’s case, her coworkers ; in my sister’s case , her family members.

        1. mbs001*

          People let themselves be imposed upon. No one can force you. Family or otherwise. Just say no if you don’t want to do something for someone.

          1. Statler von Waldorf*

            This statement is unkind, reeks of victim-blaming and is also not true. Just try telling a cop you don’t feel like stepping out of your vehicle because you don’t want to when they ask. You’ll quickly find out that yes, you can be forced to do things by people with authority.

            If Jenny had sufficient authority or political power at the workplace to seriously threaten someone’s employment or even to just to make their work lives hell, then it’s a fair call to state that they are being forced to do this. Most people find the threat of losing their job and becoming homeless to be fairly coercive.

            1. len*

              It’s not unkind. It’s a statement of fact and any judgment is something you’re reading into it yourself. Of course there are all kinds of reasons someone might allow themselves to be imposed on, that doesn’t make it a positive outcome and doesn’t mean the person is… whatever you’re inferring, weak-willed? It’s okay to acknowledge that sometimes people make suboptimal choices, even in the context of the kinds of power dynamics you’re describing.

      5. Ellis Bell*

        Jenny has other ways to get around besides driving. I get that some places are only navigable by car but the OP was helpfully clear that she could bike or walk. Even if cars really are Jenny’s only lifeline, she should at least be chipping in to cover costs and being *extra* thoughtful to her co-workers, not less.

      6. Observer*

        The decade part probably means Jenny has a medical condition that prevents her driving.

        That is pure speculation.

        Also, not relevant.

      7. mbs001*

        That’s a far leap to say that since this has been going on for 10 years then it must be that she has a medical condition. I don’t see that at all in what’s been posted. Jenny is just someone who thinks the world should revolve around her and her needs.

      8. Two Pop Tarts*

        There’s no indication in the letter that she has a medical condition. What we can glean from the letter:

        • She’s young (attended college recently)
        • She’s a single mother (baby, no mention of a husband, boyfriend, or father helping her out)

        That’s a recipe for low income and high expenses. And when your expenses are high, you cut costs.

        Cars are expensive. Loan payments, insurance, regular maintenance, repairs, parking, they all add. It would be one of her biggest monthly expenses. It makes sense to cut it if she can.

        It’s not that hard to live without a car, if you are living in the right location. Close to shopping, daycare, and work. The cost of the occasional Uber would be small compared to the monthly cost of owning a car. Not getting a license and a car is a smart financial decision on her part.

        If she did have a medical condition, I suspect she would have used to convince others to driver her around. Hence it would be public knowledge.

        1. QueerColumbo*

          she’s not that young. if she graduated college ten years ago and was 22 when she graduated (estimates) then she’s 32 now. i’d feel very differently if she was still in her early 20s, but by your 30s you do need to figure out some sort of transportation that is not relying on your coworkers, however that may look!

  40. Some Dude*

    Does her job description not include having a reliable form of transportation? I thought that was standard. If not, I’d say have HR make some job description updates and sneak that in, but Jenny would probably go into turbo mode “Now I really need your help or I’ll be let go!”

    1. pally*

      If this is the situation, I bet Jenny could make the argument that getting rides from co-workers IS a reliable form of transportation. After all, these multiple drivers work at the same workplace as she does. What could be more reliable than that?

      1. HonorBox*

        I think that the specifics of that could come out in a discussion with Jenny. Relying on coworkers can be reliable, but if those coworkers are out sick, on vacation, not working, she doesn’t have reliable transportation.

          1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

            Right? So many people are equating “reliable form of transportation” with “owning a car”. I hate how car-centric this culture is. (I grew up in LA – a car city if there ever was one – and where I live now I do own a car, and hardly drive it at all.)

  41. It Is What It Is*

    Jenny needs to find a job closer to home or a work from home position. She is living outside of her means – I don’t necessarily mean financially (although that is probably part of it), but she has put herself into a position where she is not self-sufficient and cannot get herself to work without relying on co-workers. She needs to find independent means to get to work (car, Uber, bus, or friend) and stop making her coworkers responsible for her.

  42. KatEnigma*

    Here is the list of people I’ve had drive me to/from work. (People should keep in mind that aside from anxiety orders, some can’t drive because of medical conditions- most commonly seizure disorders)

    Regularly: 1) A Coworker who I’d been friends with since 3rd Grade. I paid him, and if he had other plans after work or for vacation, I said “okay, have fun!” and found another ride
    2) A neighbor who was on disability buy offered to drive me to get some extra cash instead of me paying the more expensive 3) Cab drivers – places that don’t have Uber sometimes even still have a cab service. It can be very slow to get to you, and you’d better call for the to work ride with LOTS of extra time, but in places with no public transit, it’s a viable option. 4) My father, who presumably loved me enough to deal with the inconvenience.

    On only rare occasions like once a month or less 1) Coworkers I was friends with outside of work, a couple of which literally had to drive past my house to get home.

    No stops were ever requested. Sometimes THEY wanted to stop somewhere, and I agreed, since even if I was paying, they were doing me a huge favor.

    Jenny has options.

    1. WS*

      Yes! I have a friend with a medical condition that means she can’t drive, and we live in an area with zero public transport – there is a train to the big city but that’s a 40km drive one way to the station. It’s not easy for her, but there’s a volunteer car service made up of retired people who take her (and other non-drivers) to medical appointments, her family members take her places when needed, she lets friends know when she is going to have to be somewhere and if it fits with someone else’s schedule we take her. She took a job with regular hours in town (where a lot of other people work) so there’s always going to be someone going along her road and into town or back at those times who will give her a lift in exchange for some petrol money. None of this is like what Jenny is doing: there’s something very wrong in that workplace.

  43. Golden Turnip*

    I think the staff could do with some assertiveness training, as being able to say “no” to Jenny seems to be extremely stressful for them.

  44. Kevin Sours*

    “Ideally, you could just talk to the people driving Jenny and give them your explicit encouragement and permission to turn down her ride requests. But it sounds like you’ve done that.”

    Like a lot of things in letters here I wonder how explicit this has been done. There is a lot of difference between “you don’t really have to do that” and “if you don’t want to then stop and if there is any blowback in the workplace I will deal with it”.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Or not even “if you don’t want to” but rather “if this is causing a hardship for you”.

    2. Sloanicota*

      “I have made it clear to Jenny that she needs to make a plan to get to and from work that does not involve her coworkers. Please don’t feel any obligation to drive her now and in the future, and if she continues to ask you, let me know and I’ll handle it.”

      1. Kevin Sours*

        The advice suggests starting with the coworkers rather than Jenny but that “was already done”. I’m not sure it was done effectively and might still be the best place to start.

  45. Punk*

    What is Jenny’s seniority level? If she’s been there for ten years, it’s possible that some of her drivers report to her or are otherwise cowed by her position. Does she have input on raises or promotions?

    1. Heretoread*

      Id worry that Jenny is going to try and confront the ride-givers directly (“Boss says you don’t like giving me rides?! What the heck/ how could you/etc.”). Should OP direct the other staff members to loop her in if Jenny does try that?

      1. HonorBox*

        100% they should. Whether Jenny confronts directly or does anything that would be seen as “retaliatory” when they say no, OP would need to know.

  46. Workerbee*

    Wait. The people who quit over this were in fact able to say “No” to continuing with their entire job, which is effectively saying “No” to your manager, coworkers, career path there, and the org itself, plus take on the hassle of finding a new everything – but can’t say a single “No” to a known freeloader?

    1. Friend of HR person*

      Jenny may be a master manipulator. I like the response above

      “I have made it clear to Jenny that she needs to make a plan to get to and from work that does not involve her coworkers. Please don’t feel any obligation to drive her now and in the future, and if she continues to ask you, let me know and I’ll handle it.”

    2. fhqwhgads*

      It’s potentially less about who they can/can’t will/won’t say no to and possibly more of a “I just need to get away from this person, period”.

  47. too many dogs*

    I would first find out if Jenny has a valid medical reason, like epilepsy, that prevents her from driving. Then, if Jenny is a higher rank than any of her “chauffeurs “, that is a kind of abuse of power and must stop. If they’re all driving her because she’s been there longer than anybody, and they all think they have to do this, please correct their thinking. The fact that she does not contribute gas money is also annoying. If she’s been there over a decade, she is probably making more than her newer coworkers, who are spending time, gas money, and wear on their vehicles to take her thither and yon at their own expense. I doubt she will quit over this, because she’s got too good of a setup going on, and she knows that other places won’t pamper her like this.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      A medical reason has nothing to do with anything here. Jenny doesn’t need to get a license, she just has to figure out a way to get to work without placing an ongoing undue burden on her coworkers. It doesn’t matter what that is.

      1. Baby Driver*

        Yes, Jenny need to get a license, barring a medically disqualifying condition. It’s time for her to learn to be an adult.

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          Wow. No. Lots of people function just fine without a license; it’s not a punch card to adulthood.

          1. Random Dice*

            I think it’s clear that they weren’t saying a license is required in all situations, but that it’s required in this one.

            Sandwiches etc.

            1. New Jack Karyn*

              I don’t think that’s what Baby Driver means at all. Otherwise, they wouldn’t thrown in that crack about ‘being an adult’.

              The problem is not that Jenny doesn’t have a license, and it won’t be solved by her acquiring one.

          2. Empress Ki*

            I don’t have a license and I am still an adult. However, it’s because I always lived in European large cities where a car isn’t needed. Not polluting the atmosphere unnecessarily is adult and responsible.
            If you live in a country/city with poor transportation, that’s different.

        2. UKDancer*

          No, Jenny needs to stop mooching rides. It may be that the solution is for her to learn to drive and get a car, but other solutions also exist (walking, cycling, taxis). The problem isn’t that she doesn’t have a licence, it’s that she’s a pain in everyone’s posterior by demanding rides.

          Also please stop implying that not having a licence equates to being a child. I was in my 30s before I got a licence because I didn’t need one sooner and could manage all the composite parts of adult life (working, paying the mortgage, dating) easily without one. I live in London which has excellent public transport and ample taxi provision and made sure I always had a plan for getting back.

          Some people manage perfectly well without a licence or a car and without mooching on their colleagues. The problem is Jenny’s taking advantage of their good nature which needs to be stopped.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer*

            Thank you. My husband is older than me and has never had a single driving lesson, let alone a license. I do all the driving.

            He’s definitely an adult, we’ve been married over 18 years!

    2. RussianInTexas*

      There does not need to be a reason, and no one needs to know a reason why.
      It is on Jenny to find the way to come to work without manipulating her coworkers in to giving her rides, regardless of her reason.

    3. Kendall^2*

      It doesn’t matter why Jenny doesn’t drive, and it’s not great to be looking into someone else’s medical information when not a health care provider, either. Jenny needs to figure out an alternate solution for how she’s going to get herself to work.

    4. Keymaster of Gozer*

      No, it doesn’t matter WHY she can’t/won’t drive herself. Not medical, financial, emotional or whatever reasons.

      I’m disabled, I HAVE to go by car pretty much everywhere but I’d absolutely never demand others drive me every day to wherever I want to go.

      (And I’m epileptic. Luckily seizure free for 15 years so I do drive a car)

    5. Observer*

      I would first find out if Jenny has a valid medical reason, like epilepsy, that prevents her from driving.

      Nope. It’s just not relevant. She can’t be pressuring people like this, regardless of her reason for not driving.

      Then, if Jenny is a higher rank than any of her “chauffeurs “, that is a kind of abuse of power and must stop.

      Agreed, absolutely an abuse of power.

      But ever if she’s not higher in rank, she STILL needs to stop.

  48. Rick Tq*

    Does Jenny have skills that are hard to replace or is she just a familiar face? If she has unique skills she may be worth keeping but you may need to fire her to clean up this mess.

    At the very least put her on a PIP to stop demanding rides. Alison used moderating language above, “I need you to stop”, that in my opinion needs to be stated much more firmly: “You must stop doing this or your continued employment is at risk”

    Having this codependent situation go on for 10 years means it will not be easy or pleasant to clean it up so your staff aren’t spending so much time being Jenny’s chauffeur.

  49. Cherries Jubilee*

    Sounds like Jenny’s plan is to guzzle up others’ generosity until her own kid is old enough to drive her!

  50. Justin*

    As someone who hates cars (and as such won’t leave a major city, even if I have to drive on a rare occasion), my choice to avoid driving never ever is allowed to inconvenience someone else. Jenny, stop.

  51. Falcongirl*

    My husband has a friend from high school who didn’t get his driver’s license and just asked people for rides. It wasn’t a big deal in high school, but six years after graduation, he was still doing it. He guilted a couple of friends into giving him rides to and from work, rides to movies, etc. Eventually, my husband and one other friend had had it and started putting pressure on their mutual friends to stop giving him rides. Lo and behold, within a month of everyone refusing to give him a ride, he got his license and started borrowinng a car from his parents, no more rides needed!

    When the OP talks to the people giving rides, they might want to point out that it’s possible that their “kindness” is preventing their coworker from becoming self sufficient, and that sometimes it’s kinder to put some pressure on a person to solve their own problems.

    1. GrooveBat*

      That last paragraph is a really good point. And it might resonate with the overly kind co-worker/enablers.

  52. Big Pig*

    I don’t have a car or a licence (British and live in a these days) but I hate people feeling like they have to offer me a lift and go out of my way to refuse them so as not to put them out. I choose (well the ADHD might rule out my chances of being allowed a licence now that I have a diagnosis before a licence) not to drive so I deal with it. Jenny needs to get told where to get off, even worse forcing her child into the equation too. She might not be able to have a car or a licence but that isn’t other people’s fault.

  53. Asked You Thrice for a Towel*

    I am a workers’ compensation attorney. Please put an end to this. It’s very possible that, in case of an accident, the company’s workers’ compensation insurance would be responsible, thus increasing your premiums. It depends on the state you’re in, and the facts, but in my state this could absolutely be covered by workers’ compensation.

    1. Lisa Simpson*

      Even if it isn’t, it’s a good excuse to shut the problem down. “Our risk management team says this must stop. We’re adding ’employees must have reliable transportation’ to all of your job descriptions and you all must find your own way to work.”

      1. Asked You Thrice for a Towel*

        Exactly! Using the insurance liability is an excellent way to shut this down without having to involve the coworkers. That gives the coworkers a way to say “I’d love to help, but I’m not allowed anymore” (even if they would no longer love to help).

    2. Statler von Waldorf*

      I fully agree with this suggestion. I think this is by far the best way to handle this situation.

  54. Contracts Killer*

    In-house counsel here – OP should talk to their company attorney and ensure they are aware of the situation. If it were me, I would want to make it stop ASAP. I think you can distinguish this from situations where there’s a carpool of specific people or two coworker friends that frequently ride together. This is an employee asking various employees to drive her to/from the office – in some cases during working hours. I’m not listing out all the distinguishing/problematic factors, but on balance, there could potentially be liability to the company if Jenny or the person driving her were injured during their commute. I don’t know that it’s a high risk, but in particular coupled with the fact that employees don’t actually want to drive her, this is just one more reason to make it stop.

    1. Coverage Associate*

      And insurance lawyer here. My first thought was, Are we sure this is only an outside of work thing, from a liability standpoint? The rides serve a business purpose, management is aware, and sometimes they are during work hours. Going and coming analysis can be very fact dependent, and the analysis on the insurance side can look at more facts than the employer liability side. I wonder what the business’ broker would say to this story?

  55. Capt. Liam Shaw*

    Honestly my first thought is medically/legally Jenny can’t drive due to some disability.

      1. Capt. Liam Shaw*

        Oh I agree what Jenny is doing isn’t sustainable. But it would explain all the weirdness of people always willing to help.

    1. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      Irrelevant. It’s still Jenny’s responsibility to figure out her own way to and from work/daycare.

  56. ijustworkhere*

    I wonder if the OP can rally the team to meet with Jenny and have OP act as a meeting facilitator to help them make this situation clear?

    While I think Jenny’s expectations are ridiculous, I also think it’s a problem that OP has a work team that is too timid to say no to this nonsense. Here’s an opportunity for them to learn how to have a backbone and deal with what is in all reality a pretty straight forward situation, which would no doubt help them in their jobs.

    I realize my idea may be a pie in the sky response, but OP taking over the resolution of this issue just perpetuates the team passivity and feels somewhat paternalistic/maternalistic. Help adults learn how to be adults in their personal life affairs.

    No one at work ever set the expectation that these employees should give Jenny a ride.

    1. Baby Driver*

      OP needs to consider why these co workers are all acting like doormats. If they’re simply too bashful to say “no,” what are they going to do if they have to negotiate with a vendor or other stakeholder? Doormat employees don’t help a business.

      1. laser99*

        It doesn’t apply here but it does in some cases. My former employers and co-workers certainly benefited by me my fear of pushing back.

  57. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

    I worked my first 12 years at my current job with no car, but adequate but time consuming public transportation available. After I built up relationships with my coworkers, there were a few who were going my way and would give me a ride home so my hour commute was 15 minutes. Sometimes they would discuss amongst themselves who was available, but for 12 years I treated it as a gift and not an entitlement.

    That being said. In this case, since there is a negative impact on the team, a good supervisor would have individual conversations with the ride-givers, remind them that they are under no obligation to provide rides, emphasize that if there is fallout it can be brought to supervision to be addressed, and provide a simple script that they can use — “My circumstances have changed and I can’t provide rides going forward (or after next week or whatever).”

    Then, as the rides dry up and Jenny starts to panic, supervisor can intervene and say “your transportation needs are not your coworkers’ responsibility. What is your strategy for solving this long term? Would you like a link to the bus schedule or to the Uber app?”

    There will no doubt be drama. A weaning off period might be compassionate. But it needs an end date, and each coworker needs to have a script ready, with solid and non-drama back up from supervision.

    1. GrooveBat*

      I don’t this is a feasible approach. The co-workers don’t seem to have the wherewithal to deploy that script, so there’s no guarantee the rides will “dry up” as you assume. And the weaning off period, even with an end date, would just drag on and on…or, worse, revert back to the status quo.

      LW needs to have a conversation with Jenny and cut this off at the pass.

  58. Sometimes maybe*

    This one is tricky, if I was one of the people giving her rides, I would actually be annoyed that my boss was now telling me I could no longer perform these task in my own time. I know most commentors here want to knock Jenny down, but I really don’t care as much about that as my employer using me to regulate another employee’s situation. This sounds like this is really only affecting three other employees, and I feel like this is a drastic step and while it might stop the Jenny inconvenience, it might also create a more micromanging and judgmental culture.

    1. HonorBox*

      But the OP says that people have complained to them. That isn’t micromanaging. This is actually managing and giving people the right to say no without fear of repercussions from Jenny.

      1. Kevin Sours*

        It’s a little more than that if you aren’t giving them the right to say yes. But sometimes that’s the only effective way of stopping social pressure when you can’t easily distinguish a willing yes from an unwilling one.

    2. Kevin Sours*

      It’s always tricky when you have to try to distinguish between people volunteering and people “volunteering”. You can’t always just say that’s on the person being asked to navigate. When people feel pressured into doing things they don’t want to do and it starts negatively affecting the business you probably have to step in — even it’s necessarily a blunt instrument with potential negative side effects.

      1. BatManDan*

        I have no sympathy or tolerance for those that cannot / will not advocate for themselves. It’s a part of adulting, not optional. Search for “ask culture vs guess culture” if you want to know how this plays out in all aspects of life.

        1. Kevin Sours*

          Power dynamics are a thing. There is a very good reason why say taking a lunch break is mandatory for workers in California and not something that can be waived.

    3. H3llifIknow*

      It’s not like she somehow divined telepathically that this was an ongoing issue; other employees QUIT because of it and still more have complained that they feel OBLIGATED to continue to do it. The manager has a duty to let Jenny know that it is unreasonable as an adult who’s been there for several years to not have reliable ongoing transportation arrangements. Heck many job openings I’ve seen have that as a requirement for the job! And if even ONE person continues giving in to Jenny’s requests, what happens when that person is sick or takes a vacay and everyone else has gotten on board with “Let’s make Jenny accountable for her own damn job transportation.” It really needs to be a team effort to encourage Jenny to grow up and stop being needy and to encourage people who may not know HOW to say No, to have the agency to do so.

    4. Petty_Boop*

      It might also create a more professional, self-aware and independent culture wherer people aren’t tiptoeing and afraid of “making her hate me” if they refuse a favor. The people who continue to feed Jenny’s refusal to grow up are doing her–and by extension her child–no favors.

    5. I should really pick a name*

      Then clearly you wouldn’t have been one of the people who quit because of this.

  59. Burning Out At Both Ends*

    I’ve got a coworker like that. Had 2 separate terrible accidents, the first year I couldn’t put up with it for more than 2 rides, one other coworker gave him a ride every day for a month and by the end was so full of resentment he was considering quitting. Eventually the asker got a new car but then he crashed that one and this time no one stepped up to offer rides, so he took the bus for the week it took him to get the new vehicle.
    It only got better faster because people refused.

  60. Melisande*

    Some firms have rideshare schemes where employees who are willing to give lifts for coworkers commuting to and from work get priority parking or something and there is an expectation that the passengers will contribute to the gas costs. I’m wondering if converting the current informal arrangement to something semi-official might make it easier for everyone: people can opt in or out and Jenny will realise that organising and PAYING FOR her travel to work is her responsibility.

  61. H.Regalis*

    It’s wild to me how long this is has been going on, and I live in an area that is a bastion of passive-aggressiveness where most people would rather cut off their own hand than have a direct conversation with someone.

    Has everyone just been telling her it’s fine and then getting angry when she doesn’t understand that they mean the exact opposite? Does she blow up at people and make their work life a living hell if she doesn’t get a ride? Does Jenny have backyard chickens and pay everyone in eggs instead of cash? I have so many questions for LW’s other employees XD

  62. Conflict Avoidant*

    I was the ride provider for a coworker in my first job out of college. My coworker and I worked basically the same schedule and she lived 5 minutes from the office, so it wasn’t that much out of the way for me. It was a bit annoying sometimes when she would be running late, which then meant both of us were late to work. We could at least go hang out at her place during our long lunch breaks (split shift) since she lived close. She didn’t really pay for gas, but often she would provide food for lunch. The complicating factor was that she is my partner’s relative and also was the one who got me the job, so it was a bit hard to say no. Eventually, we opened another location a couple miles away with a slightly different schedule and I had to cover that location, so I had an excuse for why I couldn’t drive her anymore. I am a people pleaser and terribly conflict avoidant, so I was so glad to have that excuse. I only ended up being her ride for maybe 6 months at least.

  63. bathing suit gown*

    “They will drive in (one employee driving 23 miles one way), pick her up, drop her off at work, and drive back home.”

    What is wrong with these employees? No, seriously. This is not normal behavior even for severely passive people terrified of “confrontation” at any time. What physical or mental handicaps do your employees have that is contributing to this?

    Also, you’re going to have to lawyer up if you want to actually put a stop to any of this. Jenny absolutely will try to stage some BS lawsuit or cry discrimination.

  64. Kaikeyi*

    Folks, you need to stop speculating as to WHY Jenny might need a ride/can’t drive/can’t find alternative means of transportation. IT. DOESN’T. MATTER. The only thing that matters is that she needs to figure out something else besides her relying on her coworkers for rides. Full stop. Some of y’all are telling yourselves a story where Jenny is an Olivia Twist single-mom paraplegic with epilepsy and anxiety and, not only do we not have any evidence that any of this is the case, none of that NONE OF IT would mean that her coworkers are obliged to give her a ride for years on end without compensation for their troubles.

    1. Peanut Hamper*


      But honestly, I feel this applies to most letters.

      People on this site love to speculate why. But often in the workplace “why” is either protected by law (i.e., HIPAA) or completely irrelevant or none of our business or some combination thereof.

      The real question is usually “what” (as in “what do I do next?”) or “how” (as in “how do I prevent this from happening again?”).

      1. Kaikeyi*

        Agreed. I think especially on letters like this when there’s a very (very) likely scenario but it’s kind of boring (Jenny learned she could get free rides from her coworkers so why go through the trouble of doing anything else?), so people say “oh, no no! Can’t be that. There MUST be a tragic backstory that complicates it.”

        If people want to speculate so badly, I would like to kindly direct them to the Mystery section of their local library where they are sure to feel much more satisfaction. Although I do feel like part of the appeal of commenting with speculation is a false-sense of pride that they’ve somehow stood up for the downtrodden when, in fact, they’ve done no such thing.

    2. Lisa Simpson*

      It does a great job illustrating as to why so many people felt obligated to give Jenny rides for so long, though.

      1. Aelfwynn*

        Okay? How does making up probably false scenarios about Jenny help the letter writer deal with the problem? She knows Jenny’s situation a lot better than a bunch of folks on the internet that don’t even know her real name. The coworkers told the letter writer they feel obligated is because they’re afraid Jenny will “hate” them, which points to Jenny not taking ‘no’ well, not her being a poor hopeless soul with nowhere else to turn.

        Inventing a Dickensian backstory for the subject of every letter is not actually helpful and just derails into arguing about the state of public transportation in rural Iowa and how people with disabilities are mistreated – none of which helps the letter writer solve the issue.

    3. H.Regalis*

      This is something I had to learn the hard way (and to be honest still am learning) with a mostly now ex-friend. In that case it was, “You can be neurodivergent and also be a huge jerk, and the former doesn’t excuse the latter.”

      It’s a hard knee-jerk response to overcome. You want to know *why* somebody acts a certain way, but it’s really easy for that to go from explanation to excuse.

  65. Turingtested*

    I’m a very “go along to get along” type and if I joined that office I’d assume that giving her rides was part of the culture and that if I declined there would be consequences like there always are for ignoring office culture. It’s always easier to quit than to enact a culture change. I’m not at all surprised people have quit over this.

    1. Aquamarine*

      Agreed. If I had other decent options, I can see myself just moving on to a job where regularly driving a coworker around wasn’t even something I’d have to think about. And that would mean pretty much any other job.

      1. Turingtested*

        it sound like LW might not see it as a cultural issue. perhaps I’m being unfair.

    2. Llama Identity Thief*

      This. Especially because there could be a level of foot-in-the-door technique either deliberately or accidentally being applied – once you’ve said yes to Jenny once, you feel like you couldn’t possibly say no again because why was it fine then but not now what has Jenny done why do you hate me?!?!?!?!? I’m not saying that Jenny verbalizes any of this, I’m saying I could easily see myself becoming similarly trapped for the same reason. But when combined with what seems like an office culture where everyone else is Perfectly Okay With Giving Jenny Rides, it’s really easy to not speak up until you’re out, and just continue the cycle.

      OP, there’s already plenty of advice here that is telling you go have a long talk with Jenny, which I will simply echo as the reasonable first step. After that conversation, no matter which way it goes, it might be worth trying to discuss the general issue with the team, without making it specific about Jenny. Other issues like this will come up if you don’t break the more general culture of not speaking up that seems to have taken hold.

      “In exit interviews with multiple of the people who have left us, I’ve been given feedback about company culture concerns that were enough for people to quit, but that they did not feel comfortable expressing while they were working for various reasons. I want to take time to clearly state that if you have a culture-level concern about the workplace, please feel free to loop me in. I’d prefer that in terms of any personal issues you have with your coworkers, you attempt to talk it out with them before bringing me in. But if you feel like you can’t have such a conversation or find it to be a stonewall, please loop me in before they start to get so extreme it’s worth leaving the organization.”

      If something comes up in the Jenny investigation that makes it clear Jenny is the reason you did not hear about these complaints earlier, then this probably doesn’t need to be said, but may still be worthwhile. Focus on the direct issue now (Jenny & the rides), but once that’s resolved, it may be worth tackling this as a broader focus.

  66. Former Retail Lifer*

    I’m a middle-aged woman who has never had a driver’s license because of a medical condition that is not obvious and no one would know about unless I told them. I wouldn’t judge Jenny for whatever the reason is behind her not driving, but I WOULD judge her based on her being a grown-*ss adult without a plan to get to work on her own. I always made sure that when I moved, I had access to a few buslines and I’ve had to turn down job interviews because there was no way to get there on public transportation. In the olden days, I’d take a cab if I worked before or after bus hours (maybe 1-3 times per month) and now, of course, there’s Uber. I only ever took rides from co-workers when they offered them. I had a plan (the bus) and a back-up (cab/Uber). The kid in daycare does throw a wrench into it, but there has to be some way she can get the kid there. People take their kids on the bus all the time.

    1. Observer*

      I wouldn’t judge Jenny for whatever the reason is behind her not driving, but I WOULD judge her based on her being a grown-*ss adult without a plan to get to work on her own

      This is the heart of it, isn’t it.

  67. Lisa Simpson*

    “Jenny will hate me if I don’t”

    If she’s pushy and spiteful over rides, I would bet very good money she is also pushy and spiteful over other things. Dig in, write up, terminate.

  68. Walking Is Beneficial Exercise*

    I knew a guy who worked at a tech organization and made $BigMoney as an engineer. He told people he didn’t have a car for “economic reasons” and begged rides off the receptionist and cafeteria workers. He also never paid for gas, though he did say thank you. That pattern ended when they found out how much money he made.

  69. Tomato Soup*

    And please give new or transferred employees a heads up about the situation and that they are NOT expected to drive her around.

  70. PunkArseLibrarian*

    While I can’t imagine _quitting_ over it, my ex and I literally MOVED so he could have an excuse to stop giving a coworker a ride!! Granted, we wanted to move anyway, but after almost a year of driving his coworker to/from work most days of the week, we sped up the timeline. Though we’re both SO anti-confrontational that I feel like even if we hadn’t planned on eventually moving, we would have, as that would have been easier than telling the coworker no! *facepalm*

  71. mbs001*

    Oh c’mon, people. Just say no! I would have probably given her a ride once or twice but once the pattern was apparent, she’d be cut off. People’s time as well as their money (for gas and auto maintenance) add up with continued rides and no way would this entitlement should stand.

    1. H3llifIknow*

      I think that’s easier for us as “outside the situation” to see clearly. But imagine being IN there, having this young Mother, who presents as needing help, asking for a ride and fearing that if you say no, she can’t get to work, can’t get her baby from daycare (I noticed no mention at all of Dad in the letter), and feeling the pressure to “do the right/Christian (if you believe in that) thing” etc… It’s super easy to say “NO” in the abstract, but it is a LOT harder when you’re saying “NO” to a FACE 2 feet in front of you and “I don’t want to anymore” FEELS like it’s not a good enough “reason.”

      1. mbs001*

        Yeah, the first few times, maybe. After that, no way. Even if she was willing to pay for gas in some fashion, if I don’t want to spend my time driving her around, that’s a valid reason. I just don’t want to. I have other things to do. For me, the biggest complaint would be the demand on my time. Much more so than the cost in gas or auto usage.

      2. Kevin Sours*

        Especially if it feels like an unspoken expectation in the office. We see people do all kinds of weird stuff because “that’s just what we do here”. If you think there is going to be drama if you decline and your coworkers and managers are going to be looking your way when there is the path of least resistance may very well be to say yes — or even find some place else to be.

      3. Allonge*

        It’s always good enough reason. There are very few people in life you owe this kind of commitment to – a random coworker certainly is not one of them.

  72. Petty_Boop*

    I am, I believe, and I have been told, a pretty darn nice person. I’m always willing to do a favor, be a pinch-hit back up babysitter, even while working from home, take a meal to someone who’s sick. I say all this to say this: WTAF? Even I would eventually (and I mean like after a week or 2) say, “Nope. Sorry, I’m wasting too much gas and the extra hour away from my home and family is too much; YOU need to figure this out. You’re an adult for Chrissake!”


  73. EarlGrey*

    “Most don’t want to do it, but they are too compassionate to say no. If this is what their conscience is telling them to do, what can I say to that?”

    This really jumped out at me reading your letter, how much “compassion” and “conscience” were factors. It certainly sounds like Jenny herself is a big piece of the problem, but as a new manager I’d want to take a hard look at the culture in general. Do people feel like they can say no to requests to cover shifts, cut a break short, or come in early / stay late even when it’s inconvenient? Can they say no to workplace fundraisers they have to stretch the budget for or social events they don’t really want to attend? Jenny being an extreme example, is there a culture of what people call kindness and compassion and helping each other out but is actually a culture where it’s easy for manipulators to manipulate and hard for individuals to set reasonable boundaries?

  74. Ellis Bell*

    After you put your foot down about Jenny making her own way to work, be prepared for her to try dragging a “willing volunteer” to your office after she has persuaded some compassionate soul that she really won’t be able to manage. I would just be prepared for that possibility and you need to say to the volunteer that this is an individual goal for Jenny to meet on her own, and she will fail to meet this goal if she keeps accepting favours; you need them to help you break the wider culture of people feeling obligated, and of Jenny depending on others. To Jenny I would say this is about her demonstrating true independence; she has already had more than her fair share of completely free rides for close to a decade, has cost the team as a result and ultimately there’s really no reason why she can’t come up with her own plan. You might say to Jenny that you would only allow occasional car pooling for someone who is still ultimately able to get themselves in, or back home if their ride becomes unavailable, so she needs to demonstrate that she can do that going forward for a significant period of time.

    1. Baby Driver*

      OP has no authority over a third-party “volunteer” that Jenny ropes into being her chauffeur.

      That is another example of why the best way to handle this is to require Jenny to get a driver’s license. If she is a member of a protected class then require that of all similarly situated employees.

      1. e271828*

        If Jenny’s job does not involve driving, the employer cannot require her to have a driver’s license. Theoretically, an employee’s transportation choices are none of the employer’s business, but Jenny has gone there and made it her employer’s problem.

      2. Kevin Sours*

        If the third-party isn’t a fellow employee then it’s not her problem. If they are, then she really does.

      3. Ellis Bell*

        The volunteers are OP’s employees who feel obligated due to the office culture. I’m not sure that counts as not having *any* authority over them!

      4. Ellis Bell*

        I’m also kind of baffled by the requirement to get a driver’s license. So if Jenny walks herself to work from now on she’s in trouble? It’s simpler to keep the requirement as Jenny just needs to stop mooching rides and get herself to work under her own steam.

        1. UKDancer*

          Definitely. Jenny shouldn’t be required to get a driving licence. She should be required to stop mooching on her colleagues for rides. How she gets to work otherwise is her business but it’s the problematic behaviour that needs to stop.

      5. I should really pick a name*

        A driver’s license isn’t going to stop Jenny from mooching.

        The requirement is for her to find a way to work without impacting other employees. Using a proxy for that just leaves room for loopholes.

      6. BadSolution*

        this is discriminatory against people who cannot get a driver’s license for medical reasons. for all we know the problem child is one of them.

      7. Michelle Smith*

        This is not a good solution in my opinion. I have a driver’s license but I do not drive. At all. Haven’t since 2015. I had two car accidents in the 2010s and the resulting trauma from that had me decide that I don’t want to do it ever again. I took the subway to work for many years until I physically couldn’t anymore, and now I work a hybrid schedule and take Uber when I need to go into the office. If it was required for me to have a driver’s license to keep my job, I would be able to produce one, but if the job actually expected me to use it to drive anywhere I would refuse. There are other ways for me to get where I need to be.

        It’s also not something everyone can 0r should get. People with prior DWIs or too many traffic infractions may not legally be able to get a license. If they can, they may not choose to because they know it is safer for them not to drive. People with epilepsy or other medical conditions may not be able to drive. When I did used to drive, my photophobia (light sensitivity) meant that I couldn’t safely drive at night because I was blinded by passing headlights – I literally found the oncoming lights so painful that I couldn’t see or continue looking at the road. Lots of fun in the winter months when it got dark around 5 pm.

        On top of that, a driver’s license does not come with a car. I may have a license, but I don’t have any cars or vehicles to use it with, nor do I have access to parking at my home if I was interested in buying one.

        Rather than making an arbitrary licensing requirement that may not be possible and may not address the actual transportation issue at all, I think it’s probably better for OP to speak to Jenny about the real problem – the burden on her coworkers. Whether Jenny drives herself to work or takes a bus or takes an Uber or walks or gets a ride from someone who doesn’t work for OP really doesn’t seem to matter.

      8. Friday Person*

        I think this is approximately the eighth time I have read you make this suggestion in the comments today and I will be honest that its value has not improved even slightly with its obsessive repetition.

  75. Pete*

    Electric bikes are now a thing. I pass someone commuting on one every day. His commute is approximately 4 miles and I rarely see him peddle. (4 seasons climate too)

  76. LDM*

    Letters like this are amazing.
    This is one employee controlling other employees and management. And yet it continues.
    People quitting rather than continuing to drive Jenny is an extreme solution!
    That more one than one person felt that is a big management problem.
    Not only did they feel guilty saying no they also must have felt they had no recourse from management to change the situation to the point they quit?!

    How is this different than other letters like the employee bringing the work day to a halt by having daily sobbing meltdowns or the employee who had mental health issues that resulted in people having to wear certain clothes or colors or line up in a certain way so as not to set off their co-worker?
    One employee holding others hostage. And management not managing.

    So the message good, caring employees get is you matter less than this one person and not only do you matter less, but it’s your job now to accommodate them, be inconvenienced and downplay your own professional and personal needs in deference to them.
    Because everyday in that workplace, someone else besides Jenny, has to deal with a transportation issue, or a childcare snafu, or a lack of funds etc….but they just deal with it because the philosophy of the office is…only Jenny’s issue matter.
    Because we, the management have clearly set that expectation.
    And I’m betting Jenny isn’t such a stellar employee that it’s a worth the loss of people or the squashing of morale.

    1. Yeah...*


      People call me harsh, jaded and cynical when I say everyone replaceable (sometimes they don’t even replace you).

  77. L Miller*

    Letters like this are amazing.
    This is one employee controlling other employees and management. And yet it continues.
    People quitting rather than continuing to drive Jenny is an extreme solution!
    That more one than one person felt that is a big management problem.
    Not only did they feel guilty saying no they also must have felt they had no recourse from management to change the situation to the point they quit?!

    How is this different than other letters like the employee bringing the work day to a halt by having daily sobbing meltdowns or the employee who had mental health issues that resulted in people having to wear certain clothes or colors or line up in a certain way so as not to set off their co-worker?
    One employee holding others hostage. And management not managing.

    So the message good, caring employees get is you matter less than this one person and not only do you matter less, but it’s your job now to accommodate them, be inconvenienced and downplay your own professional and personal needs in deference to them.
    Because everyday in that workplace, someone else besides Jenny, has to deal with a transportation issue, or a childcare snafu, or a lack of funds etc….but they just deal with it because the philosophy of the office is…only Jenny’s issue matter.
    Because we, the management have clearly set that expectation.
    And I’m betting Jenny isn’t such a stellar employee that it’s a worth the loss of people or the squashing of morale.

  78. Observer*

    Most don’t want to do it, but they are too compassionate to say no. If this is what their conscience is telling them to do, what can I say to that?

    That their conscience is wrong on two counts. One is that their conscience is “telling” them something totally unreasonable. Secondly, that by acquiescing to this unreasonable demand they are harming others. And they are. If they have families, this is taking away money that could and should go there. But also, because it helps to cement this utterly unreasonable expectation on others.

  79. e271828*

    No one is irreplaceable. OP, you need to replace Jenny.

    If her system for getting to and from work is to get other people doing it for her, I have a feeling her actual work is being done to some extent by other people, or that others are covering for her. Is she in fact a productive, excellent employee? Is the wear and tear on the office worth her contributions? Your workforce is losing so much time catering to Jenny before and after work, it seems likely there’s some kind of compensation going on in the workplace as well.

    (Is she related to one of the company owners or something?)

  80. Bill and Heather's Excellent Adventure*

    What the bananapants? How has this gone on for a whole decade? OP, not only do you need to have a serious talk with Jenny about her transport arrangements, you need to tell everyone who’s been coerced into being her chauffeur that you’ve spoken to her about this and if she gives anyone ANY grief about no longer getting free rides or tries to pressure people into continuing them, they should refer her to you and they should let you know immediately.

  81. Cheesehead*

    I just want to throw this out there…
    I work with someone who has a friend who is from a different culture. The friend somewhat depends on people for rides, although she does take the bus too. Coworker seems to do a LOT for the friend, and I mentioned it to another coworker once…that the coworker seems to do a lot, and has she ever felt like the friend is taking advantage of her? My coworker2 gave me a bit of insight: the friend is older, and is from a culture where people take care of the older generation if they need help. She told me that (seriously) people just give the friend money for things like rent, and that’s how she exists! So my coworker kind of goes with that mindset and helps out the friend because people do that, even though it’s not my coworker’s native culture.

    Now, the friend is generous in other ways, and has often brought my coworker extra produce that she found at the store, or has made her food and brought it by. So to a degree, some of that is reciprocated. And I will say that the friend doesn’t demand or expect the rides from people as it appears that Jenny does.

    But I wanted to mention this because it was a very different dynamic than I was used to, but it was normal for the friend in her own culture. However, I will say that my coworker’s friend is just that…her friend, which is a relationship that she CHOSE. Jenny is asking all of this of coworkers, and that’s kind of a “captive audience” where they might not feel they can refuse. But my friend’s situation that I witnessed made me wonder if it didn’t start out from some cultural or societal expectation initially (help out the poor intern?) but over time has become an unspoken workplace expectation that nobody feels like they can question anymore. Of course, regardless of the situation, it doesn’t absolve Jenny from basically being a mooch. With regard to the OP, I think he/she has to stay out of it to the point where it doesn’t affect work. But if people are quitting and are bringing it up, then he/she does have some standing to get involved, even if it’s just to meet with the ride-providers and try to have a candid discussion about what they want to happen, and letting them know that he/she will back them up if they want to be off the hook as an unpaid car service.

    1. home*

      “I work with someone who has a friend who is from a different culture.”

      OMG can we stop with these ridiculous excuses??? Talk about the bigotry of lowered expectations.

      This is not a cultural thing. It’s a “Jenny taking advantage of people” AND “people being too spineless to say no” thing. End of story.

  82. PlainJane*

    Whew. When I first moved out here and discovered that “Public transit has been improved a lot!” meant “It’s gone from totally nonfunctional to marginally functional in a few neighborhoods nowhere near where I work,” I got some rides home (the bus stopped before my job did, but I was able to get there in the morning as long as I spent an hour on a ten minute ride)… until I was able to work out a car, because my job literally requires me to have reliable transportation. And I felt horribly guilty about it for four months. It’s in the contract. It sounds like it’s time to tell Jenny that she needs to acquire some kind of reliable transportation. Check the bus schedules (mediocre may be sufficient), or look into a cheap used car. Or Uber. Or *something*. But her transportation situation needs to be addressed directly. Her co-workers can’t be seen as her reliable transportation.

  83. KK*

    I want to know how Jenny manages her errands? Grocery shopping, the pharmacy, household supplies? She’s finding a way. She needs to find a way for M-F to let her coworkers off the hook.

    1. NJ*

      I’m curious if she’s retaliated in some way to make people quit instead of not driving. I suspect this because the op mentioned people have said they don’t want her to be mad. sounds like some digging needs to be done on what if any might be happening or has happened to make people willing to quit which seems like a drastic move

    2. RussianInTexas*

      In fairness, you can get about 90% of your needs delivered if you live in any sizable city.

  84. Hannah*

    This is one of the crazier letters I feel we’ve had in awhile. 10 years is SO LONG. if OP had written saying it had been 10 WEEKS I would have felt it was too long.

    Agreed with a lot of others that OP, you really need to dig into 1) how valuable Jenny is to the office as a whole, and 2) if you’re willing to stick with this boundary and fight for your employees’ free time (aka not driving her anymore). I just know if you do #2, you will have very grateful employees in your back pocket, and that is probably worth more than Jenny’s hurt feelings.

  85. JustMe*

    Yeah, one question that came to mind to me was whether she can afford transportation. Assuming Jenny is paid a livable wage for the area, would it be possible to offer transportation stipends? Perks for employees who take green forms of transportation (such as public transit or a bike)? An auto-buying program, or allowing her to leave 30 minutes early some days to take driving lessons? It could be slightly easier to talk to Jenny if the company is able to offer some sort of workaround to help her.

    1. Michelle Smith*

      I mean, the other people on her team are funding both her transportation and their own. I’m not sure it’s reasonable to financially reward Jenny for taking advantage of other people’s finances for years and years on end.

    2. fed up with anecdote cited as data*

      But why should Jenny’s company offer her a work-around? She accepted the job and all that goes with, including reliable transportation to and from work. If that isn’t a feasible arrangement for her, she needs to adjust. On her own.

    3. Light Dancer*

      Well, she has a child and must SOMEHOW be paying all the expenses that go into child-raising; we know she has day-care because some of her colleagues are driving her and her child there and back as well!

    4. L. Miller*

      Then the perks have to apply to everyone there!
      Otherwise it’s more enabling for Jenny. How could that be fair otherwise?
      I’m sure other employees could benefit from higher wages, travel stipends , auto buying opportunities and an 30 extra minutes to manage their private lives.
      Why is there an assumption that only Jenny has needs, or a pay raise, or flexibility?!
      Strange they wouldn’t consider. Hey we want to help Jenny but more importantly how we can also help the ones who help her out too?
      The problem isn’t Jenny’s lack of a car or rides…the problem is a willful disregard for other employees and their needs.

  86. OlympiasEpiriot*

    I hope OP / Letter Writer scrolls far enough to see the comments from the workers comp attorney, the corp in-house counsel and the insurance rep.

    They make excellent points that management (not just LW/OP) needs to know so they can provide backup to this one-year new manager.

  87. Zarniwoop*

    “how can I help one employee (with a dead battery) when I won’t on occasion help out another employee?”

    I’m puzzled by your puzzlement.

    It’s reasonable to ask coworkers for favors maybe, say, a dozen times a year?
    Dead battery guy has asked once. Jenny blew through her quota halfway through January.

    That the above wasn’t obvious to you makes want to suggest you reevaluate how you think about things, but I can’t begin to make any useful suggestions how since it’s just so foreign to how I see the world.

  88. GreyjoyGardens*

    These shenanigans with Jenny have been going on for SO long and her co-workers and management seem to be SO cowed by her, to the point of people quitting rather than saying “no, Jenny, I will not give you a ride” that I would take a look if there is some deeper dysfunction in the company. It could well be something as innocuous as giving poor helpless college student Jenny a ride and it snowballed, or people feeling sorry for an under-resourced mom, but it has grown to the point where, as one commenter put it above, nobody can smell the monkey house because it’s been full of monkeys for so long!

    I am surmising that maybe it’s a community thing contributing; if it’s one of those small communities, especially if they are religious, people might feel obligated to do someone a lot of favors, the kind secular suburbanites would boggle at, but it’s “just what you do for your neighbors as *insert religion* charity!” Or, alternatively, the workplace might employ a lot of graduates of Hard Knocks University (ex-cons, displaced homemakers, etc.) and people in these kinds of situations tend to develop a strong “favor economy” of doing things for one another that go beyond what many others would think appropriate. I raise these scenarios because I have either seen or heard of this kind of community or workplace being a “we all do stuff for one another, we are each other’s safety net” type of environment.

    But in any case, LW, please get to the bottom of this. Jenny’s mooching is simply not sustainable long term, especially if people are quitting to get away from her! Are there managers who enable her? Is this a workplace with low salaries and a lot of unpleasantness (some retail or call centers, for instance)? It seems to me the rot goes beyond Jenny.

    1. BatManDan*

      “not sustainable long term.” You and I have different definitions of “long term.” This has been going on SO long, that I’m willing to wager even odds that it can’t be extinguished. Jenny will quit before she stops asking people for rides, or will quit when is prohibited from asking people for rides.

  89. NJ*

    I’m curious if she’s retaliated in some way to make people quit instead of not driving. I suspect this because the op mentioned people have said they don’t want her to be mad. sounds like some digging needs to be done on what if any might be happening or has happened to make people willing to quit which seems like a drastic move

  90. El Camino*

    Yeah, Jenny’s being fully enabled here and the behavior won’t stop unless these colleagues stop giving rides. When I was a youth program facilitator, I had one parent pressure me into giving her child a ride home after our program ended because she didn’t have a car and the bus route was tricky to navigate (formerly rural area that had a population boom and struggled to adjust). Because I was young and at my first job post-college, and my boss was super laid back to the point of being detrimental, I felt cornered to say yes. But I was so anxious the whole drive that if anything were to happen, a fender bender, etc. that this parent would absolutely get litigious. And I was also worried that I would become the unofficial ‘chauffeur’ if other parents found out. So it only happened twice before I pushed back and, with the full support of my boss, said it was against our org’s policy, liability concerns, blah blah blah. And her child still found a way to get to the program.

    I totally get wanting to be helpful if someone’s in a bind but yeah, after TEN SOLID YEARS, this 100% needs to be stopped. And Jenny won’t stop it herself, when it’s working great for her. Good luck, OP! I’ll be looking for an update!

  91. CantDriveWillTravel*

    As someone who is medically unable to drive, I have done all sorts of things for transportation. I did have one job where my boss ended up driving me home a lot, but that was because my creative transportation option required a set schedule and work would make me stay late 3-4x week. My only was home at that point was a lift; this was pre-Uber, I lived by public transit but the job was miles away from it, and cabs didn’t service the area. It is the one time I’ve gotten lifts without offering to pay for gas as I felt like company had the obligation not me (and I was entry level and paying a driver for rides I wasn’t taking, but my arrangement required me to pay for a minimum of 10 rides/week – it was actually a work study job through the local college, an arrangement that would have worked well with a better schedule but that I’ve not been able to talk another school into doing).

    In my last several jobs and contracts (since 2017-18 or so) my employment agreement had me working from home most of the time with the company on the hook for an Uber both ways if they wanted me to come into the office. It’s worked pretty well.

    In my case, these were not accommodations but I’ve reached the point where I will request this as an accommodation if I can’t get it without such a request.

    I have no idea if any of this is possible with her job, but I would try some or all of the following:

    1) offer work at home if possible
    2) if you can do so without asking illegal questions, find out if there is a medical reason she doesn’t drive. Even in large cities with good public transit not being able to drive is not convenient and there may be more going on. If so, you likely have more avenues to work the problem
    3) Find out if there are services for some group she belongs to that might be leveraged (single mother if that’s the case, etc). Ideally she’d do that on her own but if you can find a better arrangement hopefully she’ll use it.

    Hope this helps.

    1. Observer*

      if you can do so without asking illegal questions, find out if there is a medical reason she doesn’t drive.

      Absolutely NOT. It doesn’t matter why Jenny is doing this. It’s not the OP’s problem to solve. And no reason is going to give them more “options”, even if it were, unless the OP had the power to just pay for Jenny’s car service.

      Find out if there are services for some group she belongs to that might be leveraged

      That would be an incredible overstep – and for a situation where the OP has no obligation. It is not the OP’s place to find a solution.

      If Jenny needs a medical accommodation, she needs to ask for it. And even if she needed that, it would not be the OP’s job to start looking for solutions without first hearing what Jenny suggests.

  92. Fish*

    If not to a management higher-up, I wonder if Jenny is related to a big supporter of the employer. Particularly if it’s a nonprofit organization.

  93. Raida*

    Argh, the pain of someone being trained into thinking something is normal!

    She started years ago, walked to work, was in school, intern – her intro to the office was ‘poor student we all like’.
    From there it became ‘oh no she’s moved now unfortunate that the poor student we all like is in a tough spot’ and people gave her lifts.
    *at that point* is when a manager needed to make it clear it is not a professional norm to have coworkers be a free taxi service. Because this has been her entire professional experience, all the people syaing ‘yes’ trained her to think it’s normal and fine.

    Now? You need to tell your team members it’s okay to say no. You need to work with people-pleasers on what they can do with assertiveness training, focussed on their role and the kinds of roles they want. You need to sit down and have an uncomfortable conversation with her that this isn’t normal, and you’re *sorry that people just sorta felt bad and never actually put in a reasonable boundary* but now it needs clarification.
    These are coworkers. Not taxis. Certainly not free taxis.
    You gotta get your kid to daycare? Absolutely this is an additional reason people are driving you, do you want help looking for alternatives?
    *Can* you drive? I’m not gonna assume everyone has a license or can even get one.
    To and from work can be common, where coworkers live near each other and are happy to do it, often sharing the driving or paying fuel. But “I’m going to the movies later who’s driving me?” These aren’t your mum and dad and you aren’t a teenager…

    It’s gonna suck. But you need to do it and be clear that you understand the office has taught her it’s normal and it’s going to be a big adjustment and you do not want to see any retalitory behaviour towards the people that have cars in the office after this conversation…

  94. Michelle Smith*

    Jenny seems like a classic missing stair. I’m really sorry. I don’t know the best way to address this but I hope you update us and let us know how it works out.

    1. L Miller*

      Exactly this^^

      And while everyone is navigating around the missing stair and twisting themselves into pretzels to make the situation “work” for one person, the needs of every other employee there is deemed unimportant by management and by the employees themselves ultimately, because they buy into the enabling.
      I still find these stories incredible.
      I wonder if studies have been done on how everyone kind of joins in the “group think” that allows situations like this to flourish.
      Where things are so dysfunctional for so long that no one questions it because it’s the office normal.
      We read so many letters here about the missing stair that I think it would be a fascinating study of human nature.

  95. LifeBeforeCorona*

    For several years I worked at a location that was on the other side of a busy transCanada highway. If the highway wasn’t there then it was an easy 30 minute walk or bike ride. Because of the highway, it was a perilous pedestrian crossing. Car people would give rides to non car people and the expectation was that they gave the driver a nominal sum for each ride. $2 versus a $15 cab fare. Perhaps you can take Jenny aside and insist that she either pay the drivers something or you will make it clear to the other staff that they are under no obligation to help her. Free rides for years without paying out a cent has saved her a lot of money and she has to be aware of that.

  96. BatManDan*

    It’s worth noting that Jenny will be rightfully shocked when she is told she needs to make a change. This has been going on for a decade. The behavior (her caging rides) has been reinforced to the point that extinguishing it will likely be impossible; if the manager holds firm, Jenny will leave, probably feeling she has been singled out for punishment, or forced out for some vague or unknown reason. You usually have to say “no” 10 times for every YES that you’ve said to a past behavior, before the message is received that it NOT going to change back to “yes.” Most of these employees will be dead before Jenny believes that the co-workers don’t actually plan to give her a ride anymore. She’ll quit first, if the issue if forced.

    1. Observer*

      The behavior (her caging rides) has been reinforced to the point that extinguishing it will likely be impossible; if the manager holds firm, Jenny will leave,

      Which will extinguish it in the workplace, which is all that the OP needs to worry about. The rest is not their problem.

  97. TG*

    I am mad for you and your employees but I think they need to speak up for themselves. I’d encourage them to stop the practice without payment for gas and their time since this is way beyond an occasional ride. If it were me I would’ve asked for payment a long long time ago and explain that I have a life too so cannot be counted on at all unless I offer. Have this woman get Uber and get her own rides or the bus. End of story, either that or she gets her license and a car. Since you have had people quit in the past you could potentially say something but I’d be careful about what you say. Good luck and I hope your employees get some backbone and charge her and/or stop the practice completely.

  98. Nysee*

    My jaw has dropped. I can’t believe either the culture of the workplace or the OP who is lamely trying to justify Jenny’s actions by stating that she herself does favors now and then. What the???? People actually drive in on their days off to chauffer Jenny? I don’t care if they live across the street from the jobsite, this is wrong on so many levels.

    But… it underscores what I’ve been saying for decades. There are givers, and there are takers, and the takers know where the givers live. Figuratively speaking. Jenny knows just who she can manipulate, and she does it well. This is so classic “mean girl” behavior, I’m surprised no one has mentioned it before.

    While Jenny may never have made any credible ‘threats’ about hating those who refuse, it seems that she finds people with such low self esteem that she doesn’t have to. Or else it has somehow been implied that it’s drive-Jenny-or-else.

    Lastly….should there be even a slight fender-bender with Jenny in the car, be forewarned that Jenny will suddenly have enough money to hire a good lawyer and sue.

  99. doglady*

    Our organization brought in “boundary expert” Sarri Gilman to give us a multi-hour training on boundaries. We also received a workbook. It was awesome. She has videos out there if anyone wants to get a sense of what her presentation might look like.

  100. CLC*

    The imposition isn’t just financial. Personally I would be extremely stressed worrying about someone else getting to work in the morning (and their child to daycare!). It might really be taking a toll on some of the drivers. Really seems like it’s time to intervene.

  101. Golden Raven*

    OP, since this has been going on for ten years (!), it may be time to look closely at the company culture both then and now. Is there an emphasis on “we’re all family here”? That can sound so cozy, warm and supportive (and sometimes it really IS!), but it can also be a way to gloss over the fact that company norms are seriously askew and employees are expected to act like indulgent family members instead of adults who are trading their labor for compensation. (One example of this mentality was the teacher whose principal resisted their request for classroom supplies by saying that teachers were expected to spend thousands of dollars a year of their own money to buy their own supplies because it looked better to the community.)

    If there was or is a “we’re not a company, we’re a family” managerial mentality, then it could be very difficult for many people to say “No” to Jenny because they don’t want to get their boss side-eyeing them for being “mean”. Yes, of course, this is ridiculous – but SOMETHING drove two employees to quit rather than tell Jenny that they simply couldn’t keep giving her rides. If that something is endemic in the company culture, rooting it out would be beneficial all around.

  102. HappyTot*

    Not me, but my mother has a work colleague who refuses to drive and obtain and license and previously had her husband drop off/pick her up from work.
    When her husband stopped working, she then relied on kind hearted coworkers to take her to and from work. But then she’d take advantage of the situation and ask the coworker to stop by at a grocery store, or a poultry store, or a newsagent, etc, promising that it would only take 2 minutes, but would end up taking at least half an hour. Often the poor coworker who was chauffering wouldnt arrive back home until much later.
    Sometimes she would ask whoever was picking her up to stop by somewhere, and would cause them both to arrive late to work. She would then blame her coworker.

    People finally put their foot down and stopped driving her.

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