companies that say they have a “young vibe,” coworker assumes someone will drive him to meetings, and more

I’m on vacation. Here are some past letters that I’m making new again, rather than leaving them to wilt in the archives.

1. What does it mean when a company says they have a “young vibe”?

I went through a 15-minute phone screening today. I think the conversation went fairly well for how short it was (wow, she really spoke FAST!) but there’s one phrase the HR person used that keeps making me wonder. I asked her what the culture is like at this company and one of the things she said is “We’re a young company.” She’s not talking about the company itself which is over 100 years old, so she must mean that most people in this office are young or hip or forward thinking, stuff like that. She said that everybody in there has a good time because “they all love what they do, and love the brand.”

Though I’ve been blessed with good genes and appear to be about 10 years younger than I am, I’m not young. With 15 years of experience on my resume, she must’ve deduced that, at the very least, I might not be in my 30s anymore, right?. And … I’m not hip and trendy, nor do I wish to be. Plus, I like and admire the brand, but I don’t know if I’d ever love it. So, what does it mean to tell a candidate that there’s a young vibe? I kind of think that’s disrespectful towards people who are seasoned and experienced, as I am.

This is for an administrative role with reception duties. She also stressed that the person hired would be “the face of [Company]” at the front desk — so obviously they want someone who projects the brand — but was she also saying “old fat farts need not apply?” Should I forget about this one?

That kind of talk — not just the “young” thing, but also the emphasis on “we have a good time” and “we all love the brand” — is very likely to mean that their staff is predominantly 20somethings/early 30somethings and that the company thinks that makes them cool (rather than just heavily staffed by people without a ton of professional seasoning). Things that often go along with that: They may under-pay. They may expect you to live and breathe work in ways that are often easier to swallow when you’re 22 but much less appealing when you’re 42. Or maybe none of that is true. Who knows, maybe they’re pretty functional and just inadvertently use the same language that dysfunctional, bro-culture-ish organizations tend to embrace.

If you’re otherwise interested in the job, I think you should accept an interview if they offer you one. You’ll learn a lot more about their culture if you have a chance to talk with them more in-depth. (And really, you could always ask at the next interview, “You mentioned that it’s a young company. Can you tell me what that means here and how it plays out?” The answer to that should be illuminating.)


2. My manager misses meetings because she schedules them too early

My manager is amazing and someone I really look up to. I started in this role mid last year and she has been my biggest supporter throughout my time here.

However, I work in Europe and she works in the U.S. so there is a six-hour time difference between us. Both of us are flexible with our time so we can get around our time difference pretty well. However, since the beginning of my time here, she seems to have a habit of scheduling our one-to-one meetings very early in the morning and often misses them because she sleeps through them. This is an inconvenience because I try to move to a room for our meetings which we need to book beforehand, and then my planned work for the day changes order.

Is there a tactful way for me to ask that she schedules later meetings? There have been other instances where she has scheduled an early meeting with upper management and on those occasions (only twice) I have woken her up with an excuse of asking her a question about the meeting beforehand. Obviously I can’t do this weekly. Is there another way or is it something I need to just live with?

You can say something! The best way to do it is to just observe that the time doesn’t seem to work well for her (without commenting on the reasons) and ask about switching to one that would work better. For example: “I’ve noticed that setting our meetings for (time) isn’t working well with your schedule. What do you think about moving them to X or Y and seeing if that works better?” If your sense is that she’ll assure you she can make it work, replace that last sentence with the slightly more assertive “I propose we move them to X instead — would that work on your end?”

And if she insists the current time is no problem, then wait a few more weeks and if it keeps happening, at that point you can say, “I really want to make sure we get to meet regularly. Can we change our meetings to Time X or Time Y?”

For meetings other than your one-on-ones, the next time she proposes an early morning start time, try saying, “I know that’s ridiculously early in your time zone — what about X or Y instead?”


3. My coworker always assumes someone will drive him to meetings

I have a coworker who always assumes that someone will drive him to and from meetings outside our facility. He owns a car but usually takes public transportation to work since it’s cheaper and his wife can use the car. It’s one thing to give him a ride to a meeting from work because we are going the same place, but he never asks, he just follows you out to your car. He also never says thank-you or offers gas money. The worst part is he also assumes you will drive him back downtown in rush hour traffic so he can get a bus home, and gets upset when no one will drive him. Most of us don’t even live in that direction, and I don’t think his transportation should be my responsibility. Any advice for how to deal with this situation?

You’re right that his transportation isn’t your responsibility. That said, depending on your office norms around ride-sharing to meetings, it might not look great if you flatly refuse to take him to a meeting you’re going to yourself. But there are ways to get out of that, like “Sorry, I need to make a stop on the way so can’t take passengers” or “I can do it in an emergency, but generally I prefer to drive alone.” (That last one sounds pretty chilly and I’d only use it if he’s a bad passenger in some way.)

But you absolutely don’t need to drive him back afterwards if you’re not going back to the office! You can say, “I can drive you there but won’t be able to take you back afterwards since I’m heading straight home from there.” If he gets upset, that’s on him — he’ll need to plan his own transportation rather than relying on coworkers to go out of their way (in rush hour!).

As for the lack of thank-you’s and gas money … he might not be offering gas money because he assumes you’re submitting for mileage reimbursement (if you’re not, you should be). But is anyone in a position to say to him, “Hey, you’re relying on all of us for rides but never saying thank-you or acknowledging the favor, and people will be more willing to help if you do”?


4. My spouse fired someone in our social network

My spouse just fired for cause a worker who is a member of our social network, although we don’t socialize with the worker, who I’ll call “Pat.” Pat’s younger than us, but Pat and spouse are former coworker/neighbor/friend to several of our friends. It’s a small universe here – everyone is intertwined by ties of family/friends/shared history.

Pat was on a PIP, but either didn’t understand what s/he needed to do to improve or wasn’t willing to – it’s not clear which. Pat is a nice person – just unable to do the job. Pat was getting coaching by my spouse and by the direct manager, but it didn’t help. Making it worse, I’m not sure Pat’s spouse knew Pat was on a PIP so this may be an enormous shock. They have various financial obligations, some new since the PIP.

I don’t want to and know I can’t talk to any mutual friends about this if they ask, but I’m afraid they might ask or (maybe even worse) silently think the worst of my spouse. My spouse feels terrible about this, but Pat really didn’t leave any choice. If a mutual friend asks, is there anything I can say – other than “I’m not at liberty to talk about it” – to make it clear my spouse feels bad about this and tried to prevent it?

You can say, “It’s tough when that happens. I know (spouse) really regrets that it didn’t work out.”

That way you’re not revealing any details you shouldn’t reveal, but you’re acknowledging that it’s an unfortunate thing. And the “it didn’t work out” implies there was a reason for what happened, just not one you’re talking about.


{ 154 comments… read them below }

  1. PhilG*

    #4: something along the lines of “It’s not personal, … It’s strictly business.” From The Godfather would seem to summarize all that needs saying.

  2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP4 (fired someone in social circle) – “didn’t work out” is one of those useful phrases that can be applied successfully to a lot of different situations. If the mutual friend presses for more details (which is really just gossip at that point) that is the time for “I can’t go into that but I do know a proper process was followed” etc. Why was Pat taking on new financial obligations when s/he was on a PIP? Did s/he assume it would be successful?

    1. Adam*

      This usually happens either because the manager soft-pedaled the consequences of the PIP and didn’t make it super clear that the result of the PIP could be losing their job, or they did and the person just couldn’t accept that they really were on the verge of being fired. It sucks when it happens, you really don’t want people getting blindsided by being fired.

    2. BatManDan*

      It may be presumptive of the LW to say “new financial obligations.” Maybe Pat & Spouse bought a new car, moved to a bigger home /apartment, but LW is unlikely to know if those expenses were borne by someone else, paid for in cash from past savings/an inheritance, negligible in the overall budget of Pat & Spouse, irrelevant to the budget of Pat & Spouse because one or the other have a side-hustle that they can ramp up at a moment’s notice.

      1. Uranus Wars*

        Yea, I agree and found that bit wasn’t really relevant to the situation. And, honestly, while no one ever feels good about firing someone, their personal obligations shouldn’t come into play when performance is an issue.

        1. Observer*

          their personal obligations shouldn’t come into play when performance is an issue.

          But they certainly do tend to affect how the social circle reacts.

        2. fhqwhgads*

          It’s relevant in the sense of how the friends may react, which is what the OP is primarily concerned about. For example the friend-group (or individuals within it) may be thinking “OP’s spouse is so horrible, giving Pat the sack right after they bought a house” (or whatever it was).

        3. Artemesia*

          But in the friendship circle knowing he just bought a new house for example, is going to make the firing look more awful. The LW is worried about the social consequences for her and her husband of the firing and so this is very relevant. A boss who fires someone out of the blue after they just bought a house or similar is going to be reviled for ‘not letting them know this was going to happen.’ Of course a PIP is ‘letting them know’ but she is not taking about reality, she is talking about how her social circle is going to view this.

          The ‘Sorry it didn’t work out’. and ‘I can’t talk about it, but I know it was a long process and proper procedures were followed’ helps communicate what she needs to communicate if she is questioned about it. Often that questioning will be ‘it was such a shame that Fergus was let go – and with their new house and all’ — at that point she can use those lines to set context without going into inappropriate detail.

      1. Rainy*

        Yeah, that was my assumption as well. Especially for people who’ve been trying for a while, putting that on pause for something else isn’t usually going to look like a good solution to a “maybe” problem.

      1. She of Many Hats*

        Or different medical expense, or the car died, or rent went up drastically, or kid went to college or…..

    3. Old Woman in Purple*

      OP4 mentioned that Pat’s spouse may not have known about Pat’s PIP, so ‘new financial obligations’ may have just been them continuing their life’s business-as-usual.

    4. Venus*

      If any friends are clearly upset then I think it’s best to start up front with “I don’t have any details about specific situations yet know that the company has a clear and lengthy way of handling employee performance.” I have heard Alison use this wording with employees who were suddenly worried about a coworker who was fired, because the coworker lied and said it was a surprise so remaining employees worried that they might be next, so a clear reminder of “These are the steps that we would use for anyone” is helpful. In this case it would be weird to list out the steps, but saying that there are multiple steps would help.

      In my workplace the process is very clear and on our website, so there is no ambiguity. I think it starts with unofficial verbal warning, official verbal warning, then written warning. After that there are a few more steps but I can’t remember the details, and it would be extremely clear to everyone that a fired employee would have had many chances to improve.

  3. GythaOgden*

    Regarding car share — our organisation is trying to get people not to use their cars as much and go by train and to carpool when necessary. (We’re not really in a situation where we’d need to fly, as our work is regional rather than national and we’re in the UK, so while expensive, the rail network is reasonably extensive and the company has a website to book travel through if necessary.) We can ask for taxi reimbursement as well. We’ve all piled into one Uber ride in the recent past on the way to the Christmas party, and split the cost, so maybe if that would be viable it wouldn’t hurt him to pick up that tab.

    However, my mum used to give my friend a lift home (or to the bottom of his road) from D&S game nights and she always complained he never directly thanked her or offered her mileage. When we were just kind of best friends and inching our way towards getting together properly, the man who became my husband used to give me lifts to a sci-fi club and I bought his drinks there. Gratitude can grease the wheels of social situations on its own and make things feel better even if the monetary cost isn’t at issue.

      1. Lexi Vipond*

        But sometimes they might – as for a party where alcohol is served – and that could count as one of the non-driver’s ‘turns’.

        1. GythaOgden*

          Or it will be up to the non-driving guy to do so himself, which is what I meant to be intimating. I don’t drive either, and the handful of times I’ve needed a lift there’s been a carpool or I’ve been offered one to take a leg out of a longer commuter train journey, but I’m aware enough to know that I’ll sometimes have to stump up for a cab, and this guy should be in the same mindset if he chooses not to drive in town.

          1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

            Yes, especially given that these meetings are very likely planned in advance, rather than announced the day of.

    1. Tio*

      I think if the company was willing to spring for Ubers, the coworker wouldn’t be asking people to take them home. Plus, even outside of that, you’d have to uber into work as well or your car would just be stuck there if you’d driven in. It sounds like there aren’t a lot of people who aren’t driving in in the company for the coworker to split with, and even less (like none) who live near him that would want to spilt an uber.

      1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

        Co-worker isn’t asking to be taken home, they’re asking to be taken back downtown so they can catch their usual bus. Lots of places have decent commuter transit to a business hub, but crappy transit between places that aren’t that business hub. (It’s still on the co-worker to figure out a better method.)

  4. WS*

    I joined a company that had the “young” vibe and was upfront about it. This was absolutely true – for HR, communications and sales, which were also majority young, majority female and in the first two cases, relatively poorly paid and overworked. The sales team was overworked but better compensated. Most of the rest of the company was not at all like that, and I must not have been the only one to notice the discrepancy, because about 6 months after I joined, representatives from the department in question started handling early-stage interviews with guidance from HR, rather than HR running the process.

    1. Kara*

      How does ‘young vibe’ mesh with employment law? It rather sounded to me as though they were trying to get older people to self-select out, which wouldn’t that be potential age discrimination?

      1. fhqwhgads*

        If the point of the “young vibe” is “our target audience/customer is a particular age group and the Brand is to appeal to that”, it’s not necessarily saying “older people need not apply” but rather “the company Voice is trying to appeal to said age group, so if you work here, do that”.
        That is, of course, the most generous interpretation of the phrase, because frequently, it just is age discrimination and the company is too busy trying to seem cool to think about things like labor laws.

      2. Qwerty*

        Usually companies who were claiming a “young vibe” brought it up as a way of selling to candidates how fun and great it is to work there. We’re all friends! We are energized by our work not drained! Come have fun with us!

        The age of the letter is important context – at the time, there was a ton of hype around startup culture and established companies were trying to find ways to sound like they were cool enough to compete with the new companies on the block. A company that had been around for 100 years would have been worried about being seen as stuffy, old, and undesirable. Anything that seemed related to corporate culture was getting negative press and small corporations with thousands of employees were claiming to be startups.

        There was also an interest around that time from middle aged folks who *wanted* the young vibe to feel young again. Rather than buying a stereotypical red sport car, they go to a young company with the cool kids for a few years.

      3. Fikly*

        Because creating a culture that certain groups tend to enjoy and certain groups tend to not enjoy is not discrimination or creating a hostile work environment in the legal sense. What would be illegal would be the company refusing to hire people above a certain age.

        In this case, it very much looks like the company is willing to hire someone older (or at a minimum, is doing enough to keep up appearances by interviewing them) and then saying FYI, this is our culture, now the choice is on you.

        Also, note the wording, which is important. They said young vibe, not an actual age. That gets them around any laws about age, because vibe is not an age, it’s a feeling or attitude.

    2. MassMatt*

      #1 In addition to Alison’s points about the likelihood of long hours and low pay, “young vibe” may also mean they socialize a lot together, and personal/professional boundaries are blurred or nonexistent.

      I once interviewed at a place where they tried to explain that the long hours weren’t so bad because they all liked to party too, and spent time after work at the bar across the street. All I could think of was how that would mean spending not just 50-60 hours with these people each week but probably at least 60-70.

      At the time, I liked to go out for drinks occasionally but ugh, that bar would get really old, really quickly.

  5. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP3 (coworker waits for rides) – I get the sense that travel to these off-site meetings is handled a bit informally, when really they are ‘driving for the job’ and should be treated as such – e.g. what are the insurance arrangements for these journeys? (details of this vary by locale, but can easily get into a situation where one’s personal insurance doesn’t cover it because it was a “work” journey, but the employer’s insurance doesn’t cover it either as it is being handled informally).

    As such, imo OP should take this up with their manager / whoever is requiring these trips. The suggestion about “I have to stop off on the way so I can’t take passengers” or whatever would work if the situation was about no longer giving him a ride in a (personal) car-share scenario, but less so when viewed as a business trip.

    1. MK*

      If your car insurance doesn’t cover you because you are using the car for work purposes, you have incredibly shitty insurance. Also, while I appreciate Alison’s point about millage reimbursment, I have only ever known it apply when it’s a considerable distance, not a meeting in the same city (which is the impression I get from OP).

      1. LAM*

        When I’ve worked for government entities, many don’t allow for mileage reimbursement if it’s within a certain area of your regular place of work.

        When we had to travel, even via plane, we couldn’t get reimbursed for purchases within a geographic location. Gas purchases would need to be made via the card associated with a specific fleet vehicle, so no reimbursement on that front.

        We’d get reminded before travel, though at least they let us know the first eligible place to get coffee. Never mind, it would take less mileage to get out that range in some directions than it would be to go to another office downtown.

    2. r.*


      This is driving *for and as* work, aka a business trip (even if a very low-key one). Depending on the local legal environment this may affect insurance, pay and working time regulations in a very different way than commuting to/from their home.

      LW is correct in the sense that only the insurance angle is a LW-problem, but all the other concerns really are a LW/coworker’s-manager-problem. Manager needs to hash out the travel requirements with the employees, just as for any other business trip.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Insurance on work drives is so variable — and so specific to country & provider. If I understood previous chat here correctly, in some places someone driving for business and carrying other co-workers needs to be on the business insurance. even if it’s their own car. I haven’t heard that in the US

        1. MK*

          I am in Europe and this is unheard of in my country. Personal insurance covers your car once it’s on the road, period, there is never any exception regarding what you are doing with it. The opposite may not apply, a work vehicle might have insurance restrictions if it is used for non-business purposes. I suppose a gray area would be is you were actually using your personal vehicle not for going to work, but for actually working, like an uber.

          1. bamcheeks*

            Definitely a thing in the UK, although I’ve just realised I don’t know if it’s a law or organisational policy.

            1. Green great dragon*

              My insurance specifically says it covers me for personal and not business use, though I haven’t investigated what counts as business use.

            2. UKDancer*

              I think it’s an insurance policy thing and depends what you pay for. Last time I was getting insurance there was a significant jump in price if you wanted cover for business journeys (probably because I was younger and had not been driving for long). As someone living in London who wasn’t going to be using it to commute, I only got insurance for personal journeys. If I need to drive anywhere for work they will pay for a hire car.

              1. bamcheeks*

                Yes, it is an insurance policy thing, but I mean I don’t know if it’s illegal to do business driving without being insured for business driving— I don’t think that means you’re driving uninsured. I’ve had jobs where I had to show that I had business
                driving included on my insurance in order to be able to claim expenses, but I don’t think I was breaking the law if I didn’t have it, just unable to claim expenses.

              2. workswitholdstuff*

                Also UK here

                There’s Personal use, personal use + commuting to a place of work, and ‘Personal Use, commuting, and journeys for work (But not as a taxi/Uber etc). (I forget the precise phrasing, but that’s the general gist!)

                I can have mutiple meetings at different places for work, or be based over a variety of sites – so I have the cover set up for that third options – which also is what is needed in order to be put in for milage.

                I *should* do it for all the short journeys, but I always forget – but the longer journeys I definitely claim for!

        2. doreen*

          In my experience in the US, occasionally driving a co-worker to/from off-site meetings wouldn’t be seen by the insurance company as being any different from driving a neighbor to the mall once in a while. Insurance companies want to know if the car is used for business regularly, like a sales rep driving all day from one customer to another. And even then, it’s not that they won’t cover it, they just charge a higher rate.

          If I have this straight, everyone goes to the office in the morning , at some point they leave the office, people are not required to return to the office and no one does because they live in a different direction. I can’t tell when he finds out he doesn’t have a ride back to the office – do people tell him that when he follows them out to the car or is it a surprise?

          I don’t see how it’s the manager’s problem, at least not until co-worker claims he can’t get to the meeting. The manager isn’t telling the LW or anyone else that they must drive him to the meeting..

          1. Smithy*

            That is my take on the situation, and if I were to speculate a little, I wonder if the coworker may be creating a socially and professionally uncomfortable dynamic when these meetings end.

            Based on where the meetings take place, leaving the coworker might make the OP and others with cars look bad. I’m thinking of an industrial park or more remote/rural area where getting an Uber/taxi would take a while and there might not be a natural place for this coworker to wait. So they’re not just breaking the social contract of not giving him a ride back, but also looking odd professionally.

            Or even if that’s not the case, ending a professional meeting and having a colleague throw a bit of a tantrum about not getting a ride immediately puts you in a position to question if you’re in the wrong. Even if there’s a coffee shop across the street where they could wait for an Uber to take them a reasonable distance to the closest bus stop.

            Whether it’s case #1 where the situation does involve meetings in more remote areas, or #2 where he’s just being demanding. Being mindful on the issue at hand (being perceived as the mandatory ride to/from the office, extra time and mileage to bill), and issues not at hand or less of a professional deal (insurance, saying thank you) is helpful when talking to a supervisor.

          2. r.*

            A large claim will usually prod an insurer to investigate whatever ambiguity exists in an insurance arrangement for a reason — excuse, if you want to be unkind — to not have to pay the claim.

            If you have an insurance that allows the insurer to deny coverage for ‘professional usage’ you should not allow any ambiguity to remain in what ‘professional usage’ means for the purpose of the policy. It’s not a situation where ambiguity favours you, so you should check and make sure.

            That’s all what people are saying here.

            1. Hannah Lee*

              ^ This!

              It’s not something you want to think about, shrug, and just say “I’m sure it will be fine”

              Because it may well NOT be fine. If something happens and there’s an accident while LW is driving co-workers to the meeting, or driving them home afterwards, and maybe even someone gets injured while in LW’s car … if there is one iota of wiggle room, the company’s insurance provider, the injured party’s medical insurance provider and LW’s own auto insurance provider could all wiggle out of covering most or ANY expenses, leaving LW to pay for damages to their car, to other people’s property and medical expenses for whoever was injured. Not to mention possibly have consequences to their own insurability, and auto insurance rates.

              Sure, LW could look into coverage that would be more likely to make them whole in the event of an accident, but that will likely cost more than what they are paying for a personal policy. Since they don’t seem keen on being the company shuttle already, that’s probably not a direction they’d want to go in.

              It’s fine if LW wants to use Alison’s phrasing to bow out of being the perpetual company transport for co-workers. I’ve used “oh, I looked into it and my insurance won’t cover me if I’m doing this regularly” in a situation where co-worker transport to a regular meeting was about to become yet another “non-promotable, of course Nice Person Hannah Lee won’t mind” task that none of my coworkers or company managers were expected to deal with, absorb the expense, inconvenience of.

              At the end of the day, it’s really either up to the company or the individual co-workers to figure out how to manage the commute between work location and event location.

        3. GythaOgden*

          In practice my team generally covers a number of different sites and is mobile enough that they would be on different sites over the course of a single working day and generally coming in their personal cars (my old boss’s car, in which he gave me a lift to the station after a company meal, was very definitely his personal car; few company cars would feel like I was being driven around in a PlayStation 5…). I could ask, but I suspect their personal insurance would cover it or it’s the kind of thing that would be reasonably well understood as not a big deal.

          Basically, facilities and maintenance management jobs would be screwed over if there was any sudden change in insurance needs, and if this guy already owns a car, he probably knows what the policies and laws around insurance are.

          I’d steer clear of trying to make up some excuse like this. All you have to do is suggest that you regularise the car situation, he drives himself on days when he needs to go off-site to a meeting and/or you develop a car-pool. Assuming OP drives their car to and from meetings themselves and their insurance covers their trips and has also already been driving this guy around without incident or insurance claims, I’m not sure how they would suddenly justify a change in operations; it would just lead to arguments when there’s no need to try and pretend the insurance situation magically changed overnight.

          They need to use their words, suggest a compromise or keep quiet, but chicanery around this would be easy to disprove if no laws or policies have changed since she last drove the guy around.

      2. MK*

        This would likely be region-specific, but where I live driving to a meeting in the same town isn’t a business trip in any sense of the word. Driving “for” work is also the commute, which is never compensated, and going to an off-site meeting isn’t driving “as” work.

        1. Uranus Wars*

          And, regarding mileage, at my company we don’t submit if the client meeting is on the way home and I don’t incur any additional mileage than what I would on my normal commute.

          For that same client I DO submit, however, if it’s a work from home day and I am ONLY going to that client meeting and home (and would not have otherwise left my home office for work) or if I am in office, go to the client meeting, then back to the office, then home (I submit a round trip office-client-office)

          1. She of Many Hats*

            When I started submitting mileage, it was explained to me this way:

            Starting my day driving from home to meeting/different office or ending my day from meeting/different office & returning home is not billable. It considered regular commute to work.

            My office is home, driving to/from a meeting may meet billable criteria. Billable mileage may only the portion of distance beyond a predetermined distance (eg commute nearest local office employee would otherwise have a desk)

            I’ve commuted into the office/meeting but need to go to a yet another location for work, distance to off-site location and/or returning to office is billable.

            This formula may depend on company policies and governmental requirements for your area.

            1. Jackalope*

              Similarly, for at least one job I had, we had a specific office that we were assigned to as our “home office”, and if for some reason we were going to another office (rare but not unheard of) we would get paid mileage – I don’t remember if it was from our homes to the other office, or from the regular office to the other office. Obviously this makes the most sense if you aren’t traveling for work on the regular.

            2. UKDancer*

              Same for me. My company has a few offices and you have one that is your home office (usually the closest one to you). Your commute to your home office is not reimbursed so whether I drive or get public transport it’s for me to pay for it.

              If I travel from my home office to another office in a different city (so I’m in London and I go to the Edinburgh office) or if I travel to a supplier in a different city then that is reimbursed, either through mileage or through them paying for a train or taxi.

        2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

          It is the case in the UK that this type of journey is a “business” trip, I also checked some USA sources (I appreciate that things can vary between states though) and there are certainly cases where ‘personal auto insurance’ does not cover business usage, only a commute. A journey to an off-site meeting, no matter if it’s in the same town, seems to me that it is *not* a commute (which is to a regular, fixed place of work). If the off-site were 100 miles away would you still say that isn’t driving as work — it seems obvious.

          Someone in another comment said “but giving my neighbour a lift to the grocery store isn’t a business trip either”, but the distinction between them is that the grocery store ride is a social undertaking. Giving your colleague a ride to the local grocery store to get supplies for the office is a trip done for business purposes.

          In the UK (and from the sources I found, in the states where this applies) the effect is that you are, essentially, “driving uninsured” if doing a business journey on a policy that only covers personal and commuting use.

          1. doreen*

            I disagree that “commute” always means to a regular fixed, place of work. I’m sure it does in a lot of cases but I’ve had a job where on any given day I might be working in one of eight different locations. All in the same city and within 15 miles of each other. You say 100 miles away for one day makes it obvious that you are “driving for work” – what about the opposite? In your view , am I “driving for work” because my destination is a 1/2 kilometer away from my normal work location? Are you not covered if you stop to pick up donuts for the meeting on the way to the office?

            For the most part , auto insurance in the US is going to cover some things you might consider business use under a personal policy – and you would have to look at the definitions under the insurance policy to determine what is “pleasure” , “commuting” or “business”. Typically, occasionally driving to a different work location will be covered as “commuting” , even if it is 100 miles away. “Commuting” more or less means a single round trip per day to work or school – and distance is not involved. It’s not unheard of for people to commute 75-100 miles one way.

            1. aqua*

              my car insurance and most car insurance in the UK specifically distinguishes between “commuting to a single place of work” and “business use”.

          2. GythaOgden*

            OP has been driving this guy to and from the meetings regularly. At this point, claiming an insurance issue for no longer being willing to carpool with him is going to sound like an excuse, because he’s probably going to ask, know himself (as he drives, just not generally to and from work) or would look it up (because he’s an adult and presumably has a smartphone on which he can Google new insurance rules that suddenly mean he can’t get a lift when he’s been doing so for a while already). When OP’s story falls apart, then that’s going to reflect badly on them, not him.

            Probably better just to tell him the truth and work out a deal than go to this kind of elaborate charade. It’s more awkward to be caught in what is essentially an elaborate lie than just say your patience is wearing thin and he needs to make other arrangements.

            1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

              I wasn’t suggesting using the insurance as an “excuse”, but actually raising it as a genuine possibility that this currently hasn’t been considered. I agree that to get out of the car sharing itself, a more direct conversation rather than blaming it on insurance etc is needed.

              1. GythaOgden*

                Yup. I think others are running away with it a bit as if it is a solution. I wonder also whether the distinction, even in the UK, is between using a vehicle for specific business (like Uber or delivery or a van for tools) and needing a runabout because your work takes place at a few different places (like mine), which is the issue in the OP.

    3. Becky S*

      Very good point about the insurance, and drivers may find out the hard way that the co-worker wasn’t covered. A statement on the police report (if there was an accident) along the lines of ‘they were driving to a work meeting’ would alert the insurance company. As for the coworker getting upset when he doesn’t get what he wants… then he’ll be upset. That”s how some people manipulate others.

    4. Mockingjay*

      Our federal contract specifies that local travel for meetings and site visits are a job requirement and not reimbursed under a certain radius. (This is normal in our industry; most staff travel between company offices, government facilities, and local sites daily or weekly as each location handles separate parts of the overall program.) People will offer rides occasionally, usually along the lines of “wanna ride to the meeting together?” But everyone is required to be able to get to places as needed. (Side note: equipment transport is not permitted in personal vehicles, so people aren’t being asked to do that “for free.”)

      There have been similar posts over the years. My honest reaction: cars are expensive and I budget for the operation and maintenance of mine to use when and as I want, which includes meeting my job’s local travel requirements. I am not wealthy enough to fund a coworker’s transportation, nor should I have to, even indirectly as giving a ride. Once in a while is okay; a regular commute – no.

  6. Bad Worker of All Time*

    #4 Either he didn’t understand what was needed of him to improve or wasn’t willing to improve. There is a third possible reason. He wasn’t able to improve. As a person who has been fired over 30 times, some people just are bad at work. I never got fired for being late, not going to work, being rude to people. It doesn’t make sense to people. How can a smart person, be fired and not be able to hold a job. There are many invisible reasons. I could do something 100 times and then forget how to do it. Sure I had detailed notes with each step. But you have to be able to work fast. There’s not time allowed to follow detailed steps of how to do your job. If there’s 5 steps to process work but 1 step has to be done different. I couldn’t remember or realize it’s different. Not to make a mistake. I was never made at those who fired me. I was and am mad and hate myself for not being able to keep a job.

    1. Stay-at-homesteader*

      Oof, that sounds really rough. I hope you can find a way to stop hating yourself, though. If you are trying that hard and still finding yourself having such a difficult time, then it sounds like those jobs might not be the right ones for you! And depending on where you are, there might be resources and programs designed to help you find a job that is the right fit/where those strategies you already have might be more successful.

      But regardless, how you do at a job is absolutely not a measure of your worth! Truly, I hope you can stop hating yourself. You (and everyone else) are so much more than an employee! Our society is really bad at remembering that, but whether or not someone has a job has nothing to do with whether they are a good person.

    2. DJ Abbott*

      Have you ever been checked for problems like ADHD? I don’t know if ADHD is a good example, but something that affects memory or executive function? If you could get diagnosed, there might be a medication that would help.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Seconding this! I was just recently diagnosed with ADHD (in my mid-forties!) and although mine is mild enough that I have not had too many work problems, paying attention to detail and remembering things like “step 1 is different this time” are the exact reasons I sought out a diagnosis. Task switching is also difficult for me. And afaik, ADHD is only one of many reasons why someone might have these kinds of difficulties. I’ve been on medication for a few weeks and it’s been a game changer. Bad Worker, if you are able to get to a doctor they might be able to help you find a path that works for you. Stay-at-Homesteader is right too that not being able to hold down a job does not mean you are a bad person. And maybe you could also seek out some kind of career counseling that could help you find a job that would fit better with the skills you know you have and a minimal amount of tasks that you’ve had difficulties with in the past. Either way, I’m sorry you’ve been through all this.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I had the same thought. My LD (dyscalculia with comorbid dyspraxia) has a few symptoms like this — application of processes to a problem and pattern recognition can be hard for me, and I lose track of things. It’s worth getting checked.

    3. Crazy Job*

      I am also bad at jobs ( for reasons that are kinda dumb- a mild case of ADHD, a weak body, etc) So same!

    4. Jessica*

      Also, you must be insanely good at something, because I read this and my first thought was Wow, they were able to get 30 jobs! Maybe you could find something to do that uses your interviewing skills…

    5. Irish Teacher.*

      That was my thought too, that it is possible to just not be skilled at something. It wouldn’t even have to be being bad at work; it could be simply that that job is a poor fit. I know some teachers, for example, who struggle with keeping order. They 100% understand the importance of discipline and they are usually very motivated to do it, but for whatever reason, just cannot. Sometimes it is as simple as the students having gotten it into their heads that “this teacher is a pushover,” or alternatively, having decided they dislike the teacher for whatever reason and are not going to work for him or her and at that point, it can be very difficult to change things, no matter what the teacher does.

      Often these teachers understand the theories of discipline strategies very well and do the same things as successful teachers but for some reason (whether because the students dislike them or have already categorised them as “somebody we don’t have to obey” or because they don’t sound sure of themselves or whatever) when they say, “I’ll have to speak to your year head if this continues,” the students hear, “I can’t handle you myself so I’m going to have to run and tell tales to the year head” whereas when another teacher says the exact same thing, they hear, “I am not willing to tolerate this behaviour, so you’d better shape up pretty quickly.”

      Sorry to hear you have struggled so much. I think that as a society, we tend to be very critical of people who struggle with things like that, especially if they are smart and tend to assume they must just not be willing to improve when…that isn’t always the reality.

      I second those who have asked if you ever had it investigated. It is possible that you have some learning difficulty or neuroatypicality or something else that is causing this. It’s also possible that you have been working in roles you just aren’t suited to. In either case, it doesn’t sound like this is your fault. It sounds like you are doing everything you can and this doesn’t determine your value as a person.

    6. Random Dice*

      I have heard so many versions of this story from fellow neurodiverse folks.

      A diagnosis lets you put down shame, and pick up tools.

      Neuropsych testing can help you get a diagnosis (and ADA accommodations at work).

    7. Anon for This*

      There was a job I had where I just could not get one particular part correct (scheduling multiple people over multiple shifts.) I would get it done, and then three people would come and tell me I’d assigned them to the wrong location or wrong time. It was very demoralizing. I’d done it before for a much smaller org without any real issues, I simply couldn’t get the hang of it there and the software they used didn’t help. I separated from that job before I got let go, but it was still really depressing. Jedi hugs to you.

  7. Teaching teacher*

    Is it even okay for the fourth letter writer to imply they know anything about the firing? Even if it’s just their spouses feelings and that it didn’t work out? I’m just thinking that it’s one thing to worry about it if your potential boss is your baby daddy’s ex, but if your potential boss’s spouse happens to know your friends do you need to assume that they will know if you had an unsuccessful PIP?

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      It would be really, really routine for someone to know that their spouse–or even spouse’s org–recently hired Susan Pomplemousse to coordinate teapots, and had to let Brad Monteback go because the warehouse thing wasn’t working out.

      For adults with some discretion this would start as “it’s a shame it didn’t work out” all around, with no further details. But if Brad is telling all and sundry that he was given no warning, that he didn’t even do the things he’s accused of, that the reports were carried off by giant moose who are invisible on the security cameras, etc… well, that’s one thing if you’re venting to people with no connection to Teapots Amalgamated, vs people who are aware of the broad outlines–or specific details–of What Went Down.

      The flip side of this is the companies who don’t announce when someone leaves (for any reason) and you just have to gradually figure out why they are no longer in the office nor responding to voicemails or emails.

      1. GythaOgden*

        Or even when they suddenly reappear as if nothing had happened. I got promoted a couple of months ago off reception but my old colleagues pulled a fast one and there was suddenly no-one to cover this week and next. (There’s apparently a ‘permanent solution’ to this but I’m hoping it means that they are actually replacing me or training someone else to come in rather than the troubling alternative.) I’m doing this week and their supervisor is doing next week, but when I suddenly resurfaced on Reception (this time with actual stuff to DO! and a laptop to do it on) I got people asking if I had come back, or asking why I’d suddenly disappeared and reappeared.

        We always complained on Reception that no-one told us when they left or when they had someone new come in, so it was always a bit of a lottery whether we’d be told before someone rang in for them and got met with a bemused (and somehow audible) shrug. But then we were dealing with a building with multiple different orgs all under the same NHS umbrella and with whom our inter-organisation communication network resembled the Berlin Wall.

        I mean, everyone is lovely and now I’m not re-enacting Waiting For Godot, it is more amusing than scary and much less of a struggle. I even discovered where my former line manager’s PA went to when she bailed on him after a year, and it was nice to show her that I actually DID know what I was talking about. It would be astronomical to implement the fix I think would help matters. But it’s still frustrating and quite alienating, and if I hadn’t got the job I have now I would have been on LT sick or a LoA or something.

    2. bamcheeks*

      Yeah, I think the amount LW knows about this is already deeply inappropriate, TBH! Yes, people talk to their spouses about work and about management issues they’re having, but when the employee in question is *known* to the spouse, you really should be a lot more careful about this stuff.

      “It’s a shame it didn’t work out” is good because it covers “Pat left of their own accord”, “Pat left because of a health issue”, “Pat left because the position was no longer needed” as well as “Pat was fired”, and that is absolutely as much as LW should know.

      And yes, Pat gets to be pissed off about it and maybe maybe they will slag off your spouse to your mutual friends, and maybe some of your friends will take Pat’s side and think worse of your spouse, and you both just have to say nothing and keep repeating “it’s a shame it didn’t work out, I hope Pat finds something better soon” — that is the kind of stuff that comes with management and you take on that responsibility when you accept the more-money-and-more-power part. That’s the explicit quid pro quo.

      And really, your spouse should really be more careful about what information they share with you about co-workers or reports who are also friends. People are entitled to expect confidentiality about this kind of stuff from their managers!

      1. Chapeau*

        LW does say spouse hasn’t provided details about Pat’s issues. Just said they’re not doing well and then needed to be let go.
        I’d rather be forewarned that things in our social circle could be awkward, even if it’s just a “hey, pat’s been having some issues and might be let go,” so I’m not blindsided by Pat’s family/friends jumping on me about it. Maybe I’d just use the info to avoid meeting with people who I know are likely to take Pat’s side for a while.

        1. bamcheeks*

          They also know that Pat was on a PIP and receiving coaching. I’d consider that *very* confidential and I’d be very cross with any report of mine who was giving their spouse that kind of information about their reports. I know the US doesn’t have such strong privacy laws as the UK but in the UK I’d be in serious trouble if it came out that I’d shared those kind of details outside the organisation about a specific named person, never mind one that my spouse knew.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            same. Even if I do mention PIP-level issues with my team members to my husband, I don’t do so with names attached, and he doesn’t know any of them at all. If I was somehow managing someone we knew (which I would not), I DEFINITELY wouldn’t say word one about the work relationship to him, because how Sam is doing at work is not my husband’s business unless Sam wants to bring it up in conversation. (And then my husband has more sense than to ask me for further details about it.)

    3. Dinwar*

      If it’s someone in their social network it would be extremely weird to pretend to know nothing about it. I mean, how would that even work? Saying “Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry to hear that!” would come across as totally fake, to the point of making me at least wonder how much of the rest of our relationship was equally fake. There are plenty of avenues to learn the basic information–spouses, mutual friends, the person that was fired discussing the PIP and other parts of the process, that sort of thing–that it would be expected for the spouse of the boss to know that it happened and some basic information.

      This isn’t going to be easy for anyone, and it probably will end up destroying the relationship between the person fired and the boss (and, typically, the boss’ spouse), but being up-front is going to have a much better chance of success.

      1. BatManDan*

        I would take the position that it’s extremely weird FOR someone to know it, so “pretending” not to know wouldn’t even be an issue. I apply the same rules to my social circle; if someone shares anything that is NOT good news, I tell them “if you want my wife to know that information, you’ll have to tell her yourself or tell me that you WANT me to tell her. It’s not my news to share, so I won’t do it unless you ask me to.”

  8. Tiredofit all*

    LW3 — agree with AAM, but at my company, we only get reimbursed mileage if the employee has to drive extra miles. If the meeting is on the way home, there would be no reimbursement. I cannot tell if this is LW3’s situation, but given she says drive him back downtown, it may be. I think many employees who drive him may regard this meetings as getting out of downtown early and avoiding rush hour.

    The co-worker wanting rides needs to figure out a way to avoid inconveniencing others. Unless they say something as AAM suggested, thsi will not stop.

    1. Malarkey01*

      The coworker needs to talk to their management and figure out who is responsible for transportation to offsite meetings too. In my company we have several people that take public transportation. Asking them to go to a midday second location is a business task. We don’t require a car for this position so of course they wouldn’t be able to drive cross town to meet the Wombat Outreach Center (I’m branching out from llamas) in the middle of the day.
      We pay for a taxi/Uber if they’re going alone. If there’s a group the expectation is they consolidate into one car and we pay reimbursement (it’s usually the highest ranking person, the one who really likes driving, or the one with the minivan).

  9. Melissa*

    It has been my experience that non-drivers don’t always “get” the culture of people who drive. For example, most of us who drive (and I’m in the US, so almost all adults do) consider that a basically solitary activity. We anticipate that we can listen to a podcast, zone out, or whatever, alone in our cars. Therefore, carpooling is “a thing”— it’s a thing that many people do and enjoy, but it is different from the normal experience. We will have to chat, take someone else’s temperature preferences into account, apologize if we brake suddenly, etc.

    But some adults who don’t drive assume that a car is more like hopping in a bus: “You’re already going to XYZ so I’ll just hop in and it doesn’t change anything.” Whereas the driver is likely to think that a big favor is being done by allowing a passenger to join them.

    None of that helps the OP, but I’m just pondering the situation!

    1. bamcheeks*

      I think that’s individual rather than cultural. I have a car and drive when I have to, but I think it’s extremely non-ideal to have a bunch of people driving around in individual vehicles and I’d always rather drive a full car than an empty one.

      1. wordswords*

        I agree that it’s extremely non-ideal to have a bunch of people driving around in individual vehicles and that it makes way more sense to carpool whenever possible. And so I do, and I’d always rather one car go a place than multiple!

        But that’s a matter of principle. Emotionally, it turns solo time (which might be welcome or might be boring or might be both) into social time, in an enclosed space, for a fixed amount of time, in this case with a coworker I may or may not know well or click with socially. Of course I’ll do it, but there’s a certain amount of girding my mental loins for the trip to suddenly be a socially draining one. As you say, that’s individual more than cultural! But I don’t think it’s all that unusual, either. And I do agree that non-drivers don’t necessarily recognize it, since for them being in a car is always a social experience, although of course it’s hard to 100% separate “don’t realize it would’ve been solo time (positive or negative)” from “trying to be cheerfully sociable about this social situation.”

        All of that said, again, I absolutely agree that I want to carpool whenever possible for environmental and traffic efficiency reasons even when I don’t emotionally want to spend the whole way feeling like I ought to uphold my end of the small talk and pick neutrally acceptable music. The part of it that for me tips it over from “hey coworker you really ought to say thank you once in a while” to thinking that the coworker is being kind of a jerk here is the part where he’s apparently getting mad that nobody wants to go way out of their way at rush hour to drive him back to the office. They’re not going that way, it’s apparently a lot of extra time and stress for them, and this seems to be a repeated issue with the standard meeting location/timing, so it can’t be unexpected at this point. I get that it’s a pain for him, but the solution can’t be making it a pain for everybody else without even acknowledging that they’re doing him a big favor to make his life easier.

        1. Random Dice*

          It’s also an introvert and a disability thing – a passenger is a physical drain that can leave me without enough spoons for the rest of my day.

          If I were an extrovert and able-bodied, a passenger would be a boon.

          Well, no matter what, this entitled coworker – who doesn’t even bother to ask, just assumes, and doesn’t even bother to thank anyone – is never going to be welcome.

    2. BatManDan*

      Good point; I hadn’t gone that “meta” in my reflections on that. As far as just following people to their car, of course he thinks it works that way – that’s the way it’s worked so far, and it keeps working, so whether he assumed it from the start or not, he’s “learned” that it absolutely is the way to get a ride, in this organization. I would have thought he’d learned a bit when people declined to take him back into town for a bus-ride home; apparently it’s happened more than once, and he considers it a serious inconvenience.

      1. Angstrom*

        Yup. “Are you going back to the office after the meeting?” should be his second question, right after ”Can you give me a ride to the meeting today?” Not asking either and assuming he’ll be accomodated is just plain rude.

        1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

          This is the real problem. He doesn’t ask, he just assumes. Then doesn’t even bother with a thank you. And if his taxi won’t take him where he wants to go, because its not actually a taxi but a coworker who exists independent of his needs, he throws a tantrum.

          As someone upthread noted, a little politeness would go a long way.

          I don’t think he needs to offer gas money since the person has to go to the meeting anyway. But asking instead of just following to the car and then saying thank you would probably solve like 80% of the issue.

      2. SopranoH*

        This kind of reminds me of the time in college when a classmate volunteered me to take her and a couple of friends to the grocery store. I’d taken her and a few of my friends a couple of times because I was going, even though driving with others makes me anxious. I’m not confrontational, but I noped out of that so fast. I also never took anyone with me when I drove after that without some serious planning ahead of time. I saw myself becoming the campus personal chauffeur after that and closed off all attempts to bum a ride off of me.

        The classmate was always pretty sweet but kind of clueless, and I know she’d never driven before. I think she thought driving was fun and didn’t see the problem. I wonder if the coworker doesn’t have experience with cars.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          One of my daughter’s college housemates, to the housemate with a car: “So I’ve got an evening class this summer; would you be able to give me a ride?”
          Her: “Sure.”
          Him: “Great. It’s in a city 90 minutes away.”

        2. Arts Akimbo*

          I once got volunteered to drive some people to a large city 3 hours from campus. OH, THE GUILT TRIP I got when I said no!

      3. Anonynom*

        Due to past trauma, I have issues about being alone in small enclosed spaces with men I don’t know and trust well.

        You know what makes my PTSD hypervigilance go crazy? A man who’s giving “off” emotional vibes, not following social conventions, and being incredibly entitled. The idea of having to let that man into my car… ugh, it’s making my throat tight just to imagine.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      This is well parsed.

      Outside of work, reminds me of the people who don’t see what’s the big deal about moving into someone’s home–the host already have a spare bedroom no one is using.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Ah, another excellent point! Hosting is stressful!!! I have a small apt and a tiny guestroom that I use for an office and a full-sized air mattress that takes up most of the floor. So while I’m always very happy when my close friends want to stay for a night or two, I absolutely do not feel comfortable telling a stranger they could stay. I feel bad, but again, social anxiety precludes me being able to host someone I don’t know, and my setup isn’t the best for that either.

        1. Elitist Semicolon*

          I mean, given the setup you describe, even putting up someone I DO know for more than a day or two would be disruptive and anxiety-producing for me.

          1. Slow Gin Lizz*

            Yeah, it definitely depends on who! I’ve only had a few overnight guests, never for more than two nights, and all of whom are very close friends. I wouldn’t feel comfortable hosting an acquaintance, though. And luckily the guest who stayed two nights was here on a weekend when I didn’t need to work.

    4. Slow Gin Lizz*

      This is an excellent point and one I’ve never thought of before! If you don’t drive,* you therefore have never been alone in a car and maybe don’t realize that for drivers used to being alone in their car, having a passenger changes things a lot. It’s kind of like being a party host. I am only recently coming to terms with the fact that I find hosting parties very stressful and am limiting myself to having small groups of close friends come over for a few hours for a game night or something like that. And I’ve also very much limited myself to carpooling only with people I know I’m going to be okay stuck in a car with for however long we’ll be stuck in the car (so, therefore, close friends with whom I know I can carry on a good conversation). I now realize that both carpooling and partying are fairly similar social situations and since I have some mild social anxiety, that does explain why I don’t like to do either if given a choice.

      A few years ago I got roped into carpooling to a regular musical engagement I had with another player and realized after awhile that I really found this person stressful to be stuck in a car with. I was able to get out of the carpooling by saying I was going to be going directly from my day job (white lie) but a few weeks ago she asked if I could give her a ride home after a Sunday afternoon concert. She gave me an easy out, though, because she actually said, “Or are you not going directly home after the concert?” I told her I was not, even though I was, but then actually ended up going grocery shopping on the way home so in fact didn’t really lie even though I did so in the moment.

      *And yes, I realize the coworker in OP’s letter does drive, just chooses not to drive to work or, apparently, work meetings.

      1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        Although I would like to point out — the guy does have a car. So presumably he does know how to drive and the whole solitary thing. it sees that he and his wife have just one car so he uses public transportation for work. Although since this job seems to involve offsite meetings on what appears to be a regular basis, maybe he needs to rethink that stance.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          Right? Maybe the wife needs the car all the time to get to work but you’d think they could work something out wherein he gets the car on the days he has offsite meetings. Or that his wife could pick him up if the meetings are at the end of the day and none of his coworkers are heading his way. In any case, he has a lot of gall getting mad at his coworkers for not wanting to drive him in the wrong direction at rush hour when they also want to just go home.

    5. Artemesia*

      that is very perceptive. ‘It is no trouble as you are going that way’. is tone deaf if someone is talking about getting a ride every day to or from work or whatever. I pay the hideous costs of a car for the freedom to do what I want, and privacy with one’s own thoughts and one’s own music is part of that. If I decide to swing by a shop or come to work a half hour later or whatever, I have to coordinate that with the person expecting my services. If they are also not doing anything to reciprocate that makes it even more irritating.

      In the OP’s case, I would give them a lift to an event from work but would blandly say — you will need to arrange an uber or other lift back as I am not going that way. (or I have something to do after) whatever.

    6. City Dweller*

      I think this is a solid point in general, and especially when you’re talking about a regular commute. But if 6 or 8 people in my office are going to lunch or a meeting in the middle of the day, we’re not taking 6 or 8 cars. We’re taking 2 or 3. But I’m in Los Angeles and paying for that much parking is prohibitive in itself. And putting that many more cars on the road seems a bit extravagant around here. I think what makes the letter a bit different is that they’re all headed to separate destinations after their meeting. That and the guy is going a different direction and is apparently unpleasant about the whole thing. I think ride-sharing to a meeting is pretty normal. Expecting your coworkers to actually inconvenience themselves with nary a thank you is not.

      1. UKDancer*

        Yes same. If a group of us are going somewhere my company would expect us to try and share taxis / arrange rides where possible. So before Christmas, Pippin, Frodo, Sam and I were going to a meeting in Bree. Sam, Frodo and I were getting the train and Pippin was driving (all from different places because I live in Gondor and Frodo and Sam are coming from different parts of Shire). I’d expect Sam to offer to take us to and from Bree station and if that wasn’t possible for the 3 of us coming on the trains to try and arrange so we take one taxi rather than three taxis.

        Similarly I’d expect Sam to offer to drop us back at the station or for us to share a single taxi. Obviously if you’re all going different places after that’s more challenging.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      I was thinking that the letter was written before the prominence of Uber and Lyft and maybe now they could just tell the guy to get one of those, but no, in 2019 rideshare apps were in most major cities (in the US, at least) so I don’t know why nobody made him do that.

      1. MK*

        I think the letter suggests people did make him do that, and he gets upset. Which isn’t his coworkers’ problem, but Alison’s advice about setting expectations beforehand is good; I would go a step further and, if these meetings are arranged ahead of time, let him know a few days before that he won’t be getting a ride from you.

      2. Banana Pyjamas*

        I live near a MAJOR university. You can easily get an Uber from the university to my town only 15 minutes north, but you can spend hours trying to get an Uber from my town.

          1. Uranus Wars*

            I am in same boat as Banana, and mine is in a bigger city (2nd most populous in state). Problem is my town is 12 miles south and rural. I have to wait at least 30 minutes…if I can get an uber/lyft at all. I have never been able to schedule one.

  10. Elsa*

    LW3 – anywhere that I have worked, if we went to a meeting offsite leaving from the office and returning to the office, we always ride shared. Even if we had each come to the office with a car, if we were all going to the same place it was just logical and economical that we’d all drive to the meeting together. In that context I can understand why your coworker would just assume that he would get a ride, though of course it is always nice to say thank you.

    If you are not planning on returning to the office afterwards, that is a whole different situation. Ideally if you know in advance you can give him a heads up the day before: “I’d be happy to drive you to the meeting tomorrow afternoon but I’ll be heading home straight from the meeting, so you’ll be on your own for getting home.” That way he can decide if he wants to bring the car to work that day.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      The coworker should be responsible for that, though. I guess since it’s become a pattern for him to expect rides the OP and other coworkers could start doing this but he really should be thinking about how to get to and from the meetings way ahead of time. I honestly can’t imagine not planning my own transportation to anything, let alone work meetings, especially if it means I need to rely on others for any part of that transportation. To just simply plunk oneself down in someone else’s car without confirming if that would be okay, and then expect that someone else to drive out of their way to return one to the office…well, that not only takes a lot of gumption but also a very cavalier attitude towards eventually getting back home. (I’m honestly somewhat impressed with this; I get so stressed out about getting stuck somewhere that this would never ever ever work for me.)

      1. a thought*

        I think the *company* (not the coworker and not the LW) should be responsible for getting people there and back, especially since it sounds like it’s not a place that public transport goes and it’s not a job that requires having a car!

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          Yes, the company should definitely be financially responsible for sure, but the guy himself should coordinate his own local transportation. In a previous job I had where we would sometimes go to off-hours events, it was very common for us all to go together from the office but then we’d all take separate Ubers home on the company’s dime. It would have been quite silly for us to expect the office to coordinate all those Ubers. Any responsible adult should be able to arrange car service for themselves; some companies (like the one I was at) will even let you put the company’s credit card in your Uber/Lyft profile and use it whenever you are traveling for work, but I imagine that’s somewhat rare.

          1. fhqwhgads*

            Yeah, I mean if the guy went into it thinking “we’re all going there and back to the office”, he wasn’t completely off-base. But now that it’s become a pattern, and people have told him it’s out of their way to bring him back, it really shouldn’t be on them to preemptively tell him every time “I’m going straight home after”. He’s an adult. But given that he doesn’t seem to get it on his own, a clear direct statement should theoretically help.

        2. doreen*

          Maybe – it’s also possible that there is public transportation but the bus near the office s more convenient.

          And making the company responsible for getting people there and back can end up backfiring. At one point, my job stopped reimbursing mileage for going to offsite meetings/training under most circumstances. We were supposed to take an agency vehicle , which would have cost us nothing out of pocket. Many , many people just took their own cars even without reimbursement – because going to the office in the morning and back in the afternoon just added time to the day , especially when the off-site event was in the opposite direction of the office.

      2. Olive*

        Yes, I just can’t imagine having no one willing to drive you back more than once, getting upset about it, but then letting it happen again. And I think it’s reasonable both for coworkers to carpool to an off-site meeting together when possible AND for people to not be willing to make a significant detour through rush hour traffic.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          I live in a metro area famous for it’s terrible traffic and I am very used to me and so many of my friends and family never ever ever wanting to drive out of their way for any reason whatsoever. None of us would even suggest that anyone else do it either; I even very kindly point out to my geographically-challenged friends if they are offering to carpool somewhere why that wouldn’t make sense. I’m absolutely appalled that this guy is getting mad at his coworkers for suggesting they do it; to me it’s the very height of rudeness.

          1. RussianInTexas*

            Yes, I too live in such metro, and I am not going back in rush hour because it would add at least an extra hour and a half to my drive home.
            When I was still in the office (WFH now), it would take me about 40 minutes to drive 7.5 miles home from work. There is no way I would be adding on it to drive someone who is unwilling to figure out his own commute.

    2. MK*

      Even in cultures where you always rideshare, surely there is some discussion beforehand? As in, “who brought a car today?”, “could anyone give me a ride”, “are you returning to the office?”. You don’t just assume someone else will give you a ride there and back, without asking and without thanks.

    3. CommanderBanana*

      I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask a coworker a ride if you’re going to the same work destination, but this guy is also expecting his coworker to go back through rush hour traffic to drop him at his bus stop, and it sounds like he’s also behaving like a jerk about it. Saying thank you costs nothing.

  11. a thought*

    For LW3, one detail is that the LW charachterizes this as “the coworker has a car but prefers not to drive it due to $ and so the wife can use it”. I read the letter as “the coworker and the coworker’s wife *share* a car which means the OP normally takes the bus to work”.

    It doesn’t change that none of this is the LW’s responsibility — but I do think it makes it more reasonable if you think that the coworker actually may not have a car available to them everyday. Then I think it’s up to the coworker and/or the company to figure this out (*is* this a job where having a car is required? some are! If it’s not a job where a car is required, then the company should expense the coworker’s taxi back to the office from the meeting site).

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      That’s also a good point! For offsite meetings, the company should be financially responsible for getting the guy home, so why is he not just getting a taxi or an uber or something?

      1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        Because its easier for him to just expect his coworkers to drive him around. Working with his manager to resolve this or working with his wife to coordinate car use would take effort. this guy won’t even put in effort to ask if its okay, he just follows someone to their car.

        Harsh? yes. but this isn’t a one time thing. It keeps happening and the guy has not done one thing to fix the situation instead expecting his colleagues to accomodate him.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          Well, yes, but I would think it’d be an easy out for coworkers to say “no, call an Uber” when he asks for a ride. And seriously, why is begging for a ride from a coworker easier than just getting a taxi/Uber?* I know you have to wait for a car service, but negotiating with coworkers takes time too.

          It isn’t clear from the letter how long this has been going on, either. If it’s been months or years then I’d say his coworkers have been accommodating him for far too long but if it’s just been a few weeks or for a few meetings over a longer period of time, maybe they just hadn’t had a chance to be more assertive about not driving out of their way at rush hour for him.

          Still, gotta admire (not) his gumption (except not).

          *Probably because the guy has absolutely no idea how much of a pain he’s being to his coworkers.

          1. CommanderBanana*

            That’s true! The coworkers do need to use their words (I think a lot of questions can be answered with “have you told this person what you are telling me?”).

    2. Daryush*

      Yeah, another question is, how accessible is the offsite location by transit? Is he getting upset “at” the LW, or is he upset because it’s impossible to get home from where he is?

      IMO people who have cars don’t always realize how difficult it is to get some places without a car. One of my occasional offsite meeting locations is “less than 5 minutes from the train station,” but without a car it’s actually “2 and a half miles down a busy street with no sidewalks.”

        1. Daryush*

          It doesn’t, but sometimes it makes me less angry when I approach others with understanding instead of assuming the worst.

      1. Myrin*

        I don’t have a car (although I do have a licence and can use a company vehicle when I need one) so I know what you mean and agree in general but the coworker in question does have a car, he just doesn’t use it to get to work. If these meetings regularly take place at hard-to-get-to locations, it would be wise of him to try and work something out with his wife and their shared car use instead of depending on his coworkers.

  12. Tiredofit all*

    I have worked for accounting firms where we are expected to be able to visit clients. One onboarding question (which is available to staffing personnel) asks, do you have a car available you are willing to drive.

    If you answer no, you will not get staffed onto jobs you cannot drive to.

    We would get reimbursed IRS mileage rate, which in theory would cover gas, insurance, depreciation (but obviously might not cover all cars, like a Rolls Royce)

  13. BatManDan*

    It’s worth noting the polarity of the positions shared here, regarding the social circle and the work-performance issues. The polarity I’m speaking of, is the folks that assume that spouses (LW’s spouse, Pat’s spouse) would be sharing any/all details of what happens, and the folks that are appalled that anything is shared at all. I will absolutely not take a side, although I have strong opinions, but it may serve some people to realize that no matter how well-reasoned and dogmatic THEIR position is, there is a not-insignificant number of people in their circle that share a completely opposite position.

    1. Happy meal with extra happy*

      Yes, this is true. I’m on the side of not finding it odd at all that someone would mention to their spouse about one of their employees being on a PIP, so I’m initially finding it weird that people believe so strongly in the opposite direction. But, it’s likely the same as letters we get here about whether or not it’s normal to google a coworker – some people do it often (me!) and some people are horrified by the idea.

      1. Olive*

        I think a middle position on both is fine. It’s normal to tell your spouse that an acquaintance was fired after being put on a PIP and that they tried coaching her but it didn’t work – they’re not in the CIA. It would be inappropriate to share a lot of details about Pat’s work or problems.

        It’s normal to Google a coworker and see what comes up on the first page and on common social media. It’s horrifyingly invasive to start digging deeply into a coworker’s personal life beyond what is easily visible.

        1. BatManDan*

          Any position (either extreme, or the middle) is “fine,” as in “defensible” and “held by reasonable people.” The difficulty lies in assuming that another reasonable person approaches life, information, and relationships the same way that you do.

          1. Olive*

            I think extreme positions are often not defensible or held by reasonable people.

            Like if I have a PI following a coworker because I’m curious about his personal life.

            1. BatManDan*

              I’m talking specifically about the extremes of sharing / not sharing. Not the extremes of “digging for info” and “not digging for info.” (FWIW, your “middle ground” position of Googling a co-worker seems extreme, to me.)

  14. CommanderBanana*

    “The worst part is he also assumes you will drive him back downtown in rush hour traffic so he can get a bus home, and gets upset when no one will drive him.”

    That’s a hell no from me.

  15. Olive*

    LW3 – Social lubricant at work can go such a long way. Not being obsequious and smarmy, and not having to be best friends forever, but being polite, friendly, and grateful. Depending on how often the meetings happen, I suspect that if the coworker was communicative and grateful, people would be a lot more willing to occasionally go out of their way to help him out (even though it’s not required and shouldn’t be expected).

  16. Orv*

    I feel it’s underappreciated how often people who brag about their “car-free lifestyle” are really just mooching rides off their friends who do drive.

      1. Orv*

        When I lived in Seattle most of my friends were Millennials and almost none of them had driver’s licenses. I got roped into all kinds of stuff, including (on two different occasions) renting trailers and towing them with my car so people could move.

    1. RussianInTexas*

      I know it sounds terrible, when I was still dating, not having a car/not driving, for any reason, was a disqualifying criteria for me.
      I live in a famously sprawling car-centric metro area. If you don’t drive, you are exceptionally limited to what you can do, and the areas you can live.
      I wouldn’t date anyone geographically inconvenient either, so there is that.

      1. Maggie*

        The way it’s phrased about going downtown to get a bus makes me think they live somewhere where transit is actually fairly limited. I live in Chicago so the idea of having to go somewhere more than 5 blocks away to get a bus makes no sense to me. Like get a bus from where you are and connect duh? But the having to go downtown makes me think it’s somewhere with super limited transit so he tries to make his inconvenience other peoples. I’m happy to give rides to a meeting but I wouldn’t drive downtown in rush hour so that person could get on a bus (outside of an emergency) and if they got mad at me then they can just never ride with me again lol

    2. Emmy Noether*

      That probably depends a lot on where those people live. We don’t have a car (a fact I am possibly a bit too proud of), and the last time someone gave me a ride was… spring 2022 I believe. He insisted, I would have been fine taking transport.

      But we have two tram lines and three buses running literally in front of our door, we bike a lot on well-developed lanes, we can walk downtown in 20 minutes and have several supermarkets, bakeries, pharmacies, restaurants, etc. within 10 minutes on foot. According to friends who have a car that live near us, the daycare run is actually faster by bike (so they also bike). The few times a year we want a car we rent one.

      The other people I know who don’t have cars are similar.

    3. EmmaPoet*

      I don’t have a car (but am looking to buy one) and I rely on the kindness of Uber and Lyft. I do get the occasional ride from a friend, but I don’t ask anyone to do it on the regular, and I find a way to pay them back.

  17. Waiting on the bus*

    Letter #2 reminds me of my boss. Our weekly meeting used to be scheduled for 9am, which he could only manage if his train was right on time. He’d be late 5-10 minutes almost every time because it usually wasn’t.
    That was kind of annoying for me as I never knew if he was coming to the office and just late, or if he decided to work from home that week and I should call him.

    I suggested to move the meeting to 9.15am, which we did – and my boss started to take the next train in, 20 minutes after the one he took before. Now, I ain’t got much of a talent for numbers, but even I could tell that the math of coming in 20 minutes later when the meeting was only moved by 15 minutes wouldn’t add up.

    The meeting usually starts at around 9.30am now and the Outlook reminder that pops up at the starting time is essentially my “15 minutes before start” reminder.

    OP, the conversation to change the starting time was as simple as “can we move the meeting to 9.15? I think that works better.” Hopefully, the switch will work out better for you!

  18. BellyButton*

    I work for a young company, only 12 yrs old, most of the employees are under 32. I LOVE it. I specifically set out to find a company that employed mostly young Millennials and Gen Zs. I love developing the younger generation for leadership and I can’t wait for them to lead the world. We are also a small company so I have regular conversations with everyone at every level, and they are amazing. While I am 50, they inspire me to make sure I stay current (relevant and innovative) and give them what they need.

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