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how do we share the cost of a ride?
July 5, 2006 4:22 PM   Subscribe

My roommate and I have the same job and we usually work the same days and shifts. Our workplace is a 30 minute walk away, so once or twice a week when I'm feeling lazy I call the local transit service for a ride.

The transit van is three dollars per trip for one person and one dollar for each additional person. Here's the issue- my roommate never takes the transit van when we're not on the same shift and she is never the one to suggest taking the transit van, even when it's raining, but the second I do, she's all over the idea, crisp dollar bill in hand. I end up paying three dollars while she pays one. I once complained about how this is a little unfair, she said that it was my idea to take the van, I'm going to take it anyway whether she does or not, and I'm not having to pay any more, so she's not doing anything to hurt me. She also claims that if she decided to call for the van before I did, she would fully expect to pay three dollars to my one dollar. It's only a little bit of money, but I'm a student and three dollars is a half-hour of work.
Technically it almost seems like she's right, but I still feel like I'm being taken advantage of and it makes me irritable and bitchy towards her. Am I justified for feeling this way? Should I insist that she pay her two dollars, and if she refuses, should I avoid her before work and then sneak off to catch the van around the corner? Should I just shut up and pay my three dollars? Or what?
posted by cilantro to Human Relations (64 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
If she horns in on your ride, you should split it 50/50. It's like if you shared a cab and she needed to get dropped off 5 blocks past you, yet only offered to pay a tiny bit, because "you were going that way anyway". Lame.
posted by tristeza at 4:31 PM on July 5, 2006


Can't you just tell the van driver that she's not with you, so she'll have to pay $3 as well?
posted by tastybrains at 4:31 PM on July 5, 2006


If it really bugs you, put your foot down about it. If you're sharing the van, share the van, and thus the costs. Otherwise, you won't ever call her or otherwise let her know when you're using it to come in.

It is just a convenience to her, and she treats it as such. Remove teh convenient aspect of it (you informing her of its arrival).
posted by Imperfect at 4:33 PM on July 5, 2006


Yes. You are absolutely being taken advantage of.

While it is true it doesnt cost you any extra money, the truth is that she is depending on you to create the situation that allows her to save money and then piggybacking on that.

Her technical argument has no merit. This is ethics not mathematics. She should pay you $2 - $1 for the price of the extra passenger and $1 for the compensation to you for creating this beneficial situation. She still saves money. Or, think of that latter dollar as "buying" your goodwill. Without which you will end up, out of bitterness, going around the corner to take the van and not notifying her.
posted by vacapinta at 4:33 PM on July 5, 2006


my roommate does this sort of twisted logic crap all the time. yes, she's taking advantage of you. she's admitted as much since she's *only* considering it since *you* called. if she wasn't taking advantage of the $1 deal, she would offer to pay half to cut down the costs for both of you. (which would be the equal and friendly thing to do)

her logic, while technically making sense, shows a lot of inconsideration for you, but calling her out on it will likely cause her to blame *you* for being unfriendly. She's being very selfish and not thinking of you as a friend, but as a means to a cheaper way home.

again, I sympathize since my roommate often acts the same way. I think you should just tell her that if she tags along, you expect $2 and you'll do the same whenever she calls. and if she doesn't like it, too bad. and stick to it.

good luck
posted by johnstein at 4:34 PM on July 5, 2006



Can't you just tell the van driver that she's not with you, so she'll have to pay $3 as well?
posted by tastybrains at 6:31 PM CST on July 5 [+fave] [!]


I take it you're the kind of person that does little passive aggressive things to roommates? What a retarded idea. The idea is to keep the peace while everyone gets what they wants, not promoting conflict.
posted by cellphone at 4:35 PM on July 5, 2006


Another analogy that may work for you is when you share a ride with someone heading, say, from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Generally, people split the gas costs in some fair manner.

Its easier to see here that the "technical" argument that all riders should ride free because the driver was going there anyways, has zero merit.
posted by vacapinta at 4:37 PM on July 5, 2006


That's BS, next time you take the bus, don't bother telling her.
posted by 517 at 4:37 PM on July 5, 2006


"I once complained about how this is a little unfair, she said that it was my idea to take the van, I'm going to take it anyway whether she does or not, and I'm not having to pay any more, so she's not doing anything to hurt me."

Yikes! I hope she sounds a lot worse than she really is, because...wow. Just be straight with her: tell her that if she's going to piggy-back, she should split the cost. No, she's not "hurting" you, but she's not helping you either. But you're helping her because she's too cheap. How is that fair? Ask her that. Don't mince words. The type of person who's willing to be a jerk just to save a few bucks isn't someone you should treat delicately.

If she refuses, try a couple of things. One, try not to tell her when you're calling the van. Two, if worse comes to worse, make a point of telling the driver that she's not with you and make her pay full fare, or try to get on after she does. Don't let her keep taking advantage of you.
posted by apple scruff at 4:42 PM on July 5, 2006


I take it you're the kind of person that does little passive aggressive things to roommates? What a retarded idea.

I'm sorry you don't like my idea, Arnold, but it's a valid way to stop her from taking advantage of the OP and the situation. She's totally being taken advantage of, and I see nothing wrong with squashing that.

On the other hand, I do see something wrong with being a total asshat. But that's just me. Clearly you don't share the same opinion.
posted by tastybrains at 4:46 PM on July 5, 2006


State clearly and without qualification that her position is bullshit.
posted by cortex at 4:47 PM on July 5, 2006


She is willing to pay $1 for a taxi, not $3. You are willing to pay $3. If you didn't page the van, she never would. Asking her to split the cost implies that getting the van is as much her idea as it is yours. It isn't. Letting her ride for a buck is no skin off your back, and since she isn't nagging you to call the van, but rather taking the opportunity to ride cheap when you do, she is taking advantage of the situation, not of you. I see no problem here. Oh, and calling the van and not telling her to teach her a lesson is juvenile. I'd let this one slide.
posted by Crotalus at 4:54 PM on July 5, 2006


I think this problem calls for a clever econonmist. I am neither.

"...she said that it was my idea to take the van"... Then make idea to take the van a shared one. Next time it rains, tell her you'll only call for the van if she gives you that second dollar up front.

On preview, Crotalus is headed to the same point from a different direction.
posted by klarck at 4:58 PM on July 5, 2006


I'm with her actually. You called the van totally on your own, fully expecting to pay the three dollars, and that's what happens. She's paying for a ride she wouldn't otherwise bother with, you get the three dollar ride you were expecting. So she never calls first, obviously she doesn't care about the ride as much as you.

I was thinking about what I'd do in this situation but I realised, I wouldn't be in this situation. If I was thinking about taking the van I'd say "hey roommate, I'm feeling lazy, how about we take the van today?". Either she says yes, it's a joint decision and you both pay half, or she says no, she walks and you pay $3. Or she says no and you both walk if you're not willing to pay the full fare. No more $1 tag on option.

So make it a shared decision, give her some buy in before you make the call. When you decide to do something together than it's fair to split the cost. If she doesn't want to call the van then gets in anyway, then you have something to compain about. But doing things the way you are now? You get the three dollar ride you expected (and left yourself open to). I just don't see the big deal.
posted by shelleycat at 4:59 PM on July 5, 2006


It's only a little bit of money, but I'm a student and three dollars is a half-hour of work.

Well, it's only one dollar that's in dispute here (i.e. the difference between paying $2 and $3), not three.

She should pay half the cost. But you also have to live with her. Pissed off roommates are no fun. How much is it worth to gain a dollar?
posted by winston at 5:01 PM on July 5, 2006


"Hey, wanna split the price of the van today?"
"No."
"Oh well, I guess I'm going to take it anyway." or "Okay, I guess we'll walk."
posted by miniape at 5:01 PM on July 5, 2006


Instead of calling the van, ask her if she's interested in getting a van. Make her be part of the decision and her excuse will vaporize.
posted by acoutu at 5:02 PM on July 5, 2006


If the pure money argument is something you agree with, remember that it benefits the poster nothing to inform the roommate that she has called the bus. In fact it costs her time ad work. Through the simple act of informing the roommate, the pure money argument goes out the window because the roommate has benefited from the work of the poster and is unwilling to place any value on it.

In short, the roommate is a dick.
posted by 517 at 5:03 PM on July 5, 2006


Your roommate's in the wrong. Seems like you could avoid it though by checking with her before you call for the van -- "I'm thinking about getting a van, you want in? $2 each." She's either in then or not -- surely she wouldn't be so petty as to say "no" and then jump in anyway. If she would, you've got bigger fish to fry -- time to start looking for a new roommate!
posted by modernnomad at 5:07 PM on July 5, 2006


Instead of telling her that you are taking the van, phrase it: "Do you want to split a van?"

That way it's totally clear that if she wants to, she should chip in $2.

If she says no to that question, then she can't use her previous logic to just add on to your $3 fare. She's approaching this matter with a certain logic, you need to set up the inital situation so that it matches your logic if you want things to change.
posted by voidcontext at 5:07 PM on July 5, 2006


Your roommate isn't being as nice as she could be. But this is an interesting situation. Say you confront her about paying half and she declares unequivocally that she is always willing to walk rather than pay an extra $.50. So then you have a choice: you can a) accept that she will pay less than you or b) pay all $3 instead of $2. Only a foolish pride would take (b), so you're stuck with (a). Plus, as autonomous human beings, she's certainly allowed to offer you such a bargain.

She has you stuck in a sort of prisoner's dilemma, so it takes some creative maneuvering to budge her position. I would try to explain to her that she is not only saving .50, but paying a much higher price in terms of her roommate's (your) feeling taken advantage of. If she's not the kind of person who will pay an extra .50 to cause you a great deal more peace of mind, that's her perogative, but it's also pretty cold.
posted by ontic at 5:10 PM on July 5, 2006


And I got the math wrong, but I think my point still stands with $4 instead of $3 and $1 instead of .50.

Sometimes ethics is about mathematics, but that doesn't automatically make ethicists good at math!
posted by ontic at 5:13 PM on July 5, 2006


She's not doing anything to hurt you, but she's also not doing anything to help you (ie, saving you a buck). Friends should make efforts to help each other, not just not to hurt each other. She's being unfriendly.
posted by occhiblu at 5:13 PM on July 5, 2006


The roommate's argument is logically sound but also inconsiderate. In the lasting friendships I've had, things like this would either be split up front monetarily or "paid back" in some other way--treating to a coffeeshop, movie rentals, beer, anything at all really--just something to show consideration for the other person rather than what looks like a desire to get one over.
posted by Tuwa at 5:17 PM on July 5, 2006


If you guys were friends, this would not be an issue. The caller wouldn't care if her friend got a $1 ride, the non-caller would always offer to true up on the ride, even if they knew the offer would be rejected.

I don't think you can "win" here if the roommate doesn't care if the van never shows up again, which is the only real stick you have in this situation. I would make a conscious effort to no longer care, or to no longer ride the van.
posted by popechunk at 5:19 PM on July 5, 2006


I think if I were to approach her on this, I'd either use the "Do you want to split the cost of the van today?" tactic suggested above, or just tell her straight out that you don't feel she's being particularly considerate, so you don't see the need to be considerate to her, and you'll no longer let her know when you're riding the van.

I'd recommend trying the first tactic before going with the second tactic.
posted by occhiblu at 5:25 PM on July 5, 2006


The roommate's argument is neither logically sound nor considerate. Consider: if a car service picks up extra people enroute, does it charge the incremental or full fare? All the ones I've used charge full-fare or split the fare evenly among all passengers (usually the former). Example is the cabs at Union Station in DC during rush hour, when they bundle multiple people in a single cab, and each pays full fare even though there's a sharing policy.

Having the "second fare rides for a discount" implies a relationship between the two people. In this case, the person calling the service can decide the relationship. The person who orders the service has no obligation to bear the majority of the aggregate cost if there's a shared burden and equal benefit.

To make the point more clearly, assume for a minute you had a "buy one airline ticket and get a passenger ticket for free" deal on a flight that cost $500. Would it be ethical/fair for the roommate to wait until you decided you needed to book the flight and then jump in to ask you for the free one? No. In this example, the benefit is due to the person making the initial investment and should be awarded - or not - by him/her.

That said, it's only $1.
posted by aberrant at 5:27 PM on July 5, 2006


Would you rather be right or would you rather be happy? Take the higher ground and be the adult - let it go.
posted by gregariousrecluse at 5:27 PM on July 5, 2006


Our workplace is a 30 minute walk away. [...] It's only a little bit of money, but I'm a student and three dollars is a half-hour of work.

I realize this kind of side steps the question asked, but: why not get a bicycle? You'll save time and money, you'll be healthier, and your roommate won't have the opportunity to take advantage of you. A 30 minute walk is what, a five minute bike ride?

Which she is doing in, as others have said, in a remarkably unfriendly way. But also: it's just a dollar, which may or may not be worth a happy living relationship to you. Which is it?
posted by lia at 5:34 PM on July 5, 2006


I don't really have to do much to inform her of the fact that I called the van, even if I make sure to call out of her earshot, she'll figure it out pretty fast when it's half-til time to be at work and she's walking out the door while I'm still in the shower or eating cheerios on the sofa.
I truly do consider the roommate a friend, and she's really laid-back about other financial situations (splitting checks, sharing food, etc.). I'm probably shallow and petty to worry so much about this when she's cool otherwise (and I've had some seriously un-cool roommates to contend with). Maybe that's why I'm so heated, because I DO consider her a friend and I can't understand why she pokes at me with this niggling little issue when she knows it bothers me. Anyway, I think popechunk might have solidified my decision. If I said "I'm never taking the van again" she'd shrug and say "ok", and then the next week when I gave in and called because of a torrential downpour or killer hangover, she'd say "cool" and follow me right back on to the van with her dollar. So there actually is a way for me to win, and that's for me to get over it. Easier said than done, but I'll try.
posted by cilantro at 5:34 PM on July 5, 2006


(and I love my bike... but the brakes and the gears are completely busted and I can't afford to get it fixed for another month or two at least)
posted by cilantro at 5:39 PM on July 5, 2006


you say she never takes the van on her own initiative, so I think that proves it is not worth $3 to her. But clearly it is unequivocally worth $1. The real question is, is it worth $2 to her?

I don't think your roommate is really being unfair - a little stingy, but when you're broke etc it's not so surprising to get into a stingy state of mind. Your roommate likes the bargain of getting home for a buck, and jumps on the chance when it's offered, probably not least because it is obviously a bargain (ie, she's getting something supposedly worth $3 for $1). But in general your roommate is okay with the walk home. what you have to do is see if the ride is worth $2 to her, as others have said, by proposing that you split the cost in half or don't order the van at all. But remember that it is possible that she would rather walk home than pay more than a dollar. In modern society most of these "pay what it's worth to you" deals are confined to auctions, so we don't have to play these games every day, but the fact is that things may be worth something different to different consumers.

If she truly would not pay more than one dollar for this convenience, then I don't think you can say she's doing anything wrong - it's annoying to you that she is totally uninterested in the chocolate fudge cake, but there it is. The other possibility is that she is secretly just as tempted as you, but bluffing about it, and in essence manipulating you so that she gets the $3 value for $1. If this is the case then any time she does not order the van herself, it is part of her bluff to seem like she would never order it, so that she can get it cheap on the other days. If you think this is the case, you have to call her bluff. If you think she honestly doesn't think the trip is worth $3, you have to find out if it would be worth $2 by asking.

If the trip is honestly only worth $1 and she is not playing down her interest but sincerely doesn't mind walking if it means she can afford the better coffee for breakfast (or whatever), then I would say you should just accept it - think of it like a little act of generosity on your part. It doesn't hurt you, you'd spend the $$ anyway, so why not let her benefit? I would put it in the same category as not putting a password on your wireless signal, or something. share the love :).
posted by mdn at 5:48 PM on July 5, 2006


Maybe that's why I'm so heated, because I DO consider her a friend and I can't understand why she pokes at me with this niggling little issue when she knows it bothers me.

You could try saying precisely this to her.
posted by cortex at 5:48 PM on July 5, 2006


Low conflict approach: Next time when you want to take a van ask her, do you want to split a van with me, cause if not, I'll probably just go alone.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 5:50 PM on July 5, 2006


It seems to me like you're trying to take advantage of her. You want her to pay for 1/3rd of your fare in addition to her own when she would be ok with not taking the van. She doesn't owe you anything, as it has zero cost to you for her to come.
posted by blue_beetle at 5:52 PM on July 5, 2006


Yes, it would be courteous for her to offer to chip in more. But it's definitely not required. You are making the decision to take it. You are saying, "I am willing to pay $3 to get there." Plain and simple. And as a friend, you need to just let it go.

I have some friends that never take cabs on their own because they're stingy. If it's late at night or raining or something, I'll share my cab with them. Because of the stupid one-way streets, my place is always the first stop. I always give them the price on the meter at that time, even though it will ultimately end up being more than half (because I've paid for the initial charge as well). I do this without complaining. Why? Because they're my friends and their friendship is worth more to me than money.
posted by wallaby at 6:01 PM on July 5, 2006


Here's what economics says about this situation:

Your willingness to pay is generating a positive externality for your roommate by reducing the price of the van for her. Coase's Theorum says that externalities can be appropriately capitalized between private parties if 2 criteria are met: clear assignment of property rights and sufficiently low transaction costs in reaching an agreement. Neither of these is really met in this case. This leads me to believe that 1 of 2 things are happening:

1. (The optimistic case):
You value the van ride enough to be willing to pay $3. She values it only enough to be willing to pay exactly $1 and no more. In this case, it makes sense that she would only ride the van on days that you ride it, because otherwise it is too expensive. Her behavior is rational and value maximizing if this is the case.

2.(The pessimistic case):
She knows (or has a good idea) of how much you value the van, which allows her to under-represent how much she values it in order to take advantage of you. This means that she values the van ride more somewhat more than $1 but somewhat less than $3. If she values it less than $1, she never rides, and at $3 or greater she is willing to pay the full price and call it herself. In this case, her behavior is rational and value maximizing as well; in fact, this is the smarter move, all else being equal, since the difference between what she is willing to pay and what she has to pay is surplus income she can spend elsewhere.

To solve this, you have to get her to somehow reveal to you how much she really values the van ride. If she values it at exactly $1, you have no reason to be upset. More than $1, and you're getting screwed, since (ideally) she could share her surplus with you. The best way to solve this is to manipulate the prices for the van and force her hand, which you do not have the ability to do. Not calling the van tells you nothing except that she values it less than $3 if she never calls it for herself, and means that you have to walk.

Unfortunately, she has you over a barrel. Either trick her into telling you what she thinks the van ride is worth and use the info against her, or get over it. Isn't game theory fun?
posted by jtfowl0 at 6:03 PM on July 5, 2006 [1 favorite]


Upon review, you could manipulate the prices of the van, but you will look like a real weirdo:

"Hey, I'm going to call the van. I'll pay half if you do."

"No thanks."

"Ok, I'll pay $2.01 and you pay $1.99."

"No thanks."

"Ok, I'll pay $2.02 and you pay $1.98."

"No thanks."

Repeat until you strike a deal. Is it really worth it?
posted by jtfowl0 at 6:08 PM on July 5, 2006


I think the folks saying that it's only a dollar are missing the boat. cilantro is in a position where she thinks a true friend would offer to split the cost, and the roommate did not offer to split the cost, thereby sending a subtle signal that they are not friends. I'll wager that this is the part that bothers cilantro, not the dollar.

cilantro, rest assured that this is probably a much bigger deal to you than it is to your roommate, who very likely means to convey nothing other than "van rides are worth a dollar to me". Nothing of her regard for your friendship should be inferred, based upon what you've said.
posted by popechunk at 6:09 PM on July 5, 2006


cilantro, in your initial post you said "I once complained about how this is a little unfair", and in your follow-up comment you said "I can't understand why she pokes at me with this niggling little issue when she knows it bothers me". I'll bet you anything that she doesn't know that it bothers you, and I'm guessing that she is definitely not deliberately poking at you.

You say you complained, but since it was only one time, and you might have been a little wishy-washy about it, it probably went in one ear and out the other. She's most likely forgotten that you ever said anything, because although it's important to you, it's not important to her. She would probably be shocked at how much thought you've given this. If she really is a friend, and is cash-aware and ponies up for everything else, I'll bet she'd gladly fork over the extra dollar for a friend, if she knew how much it meant to you.

I'm getting that this is not really about the money - it's that you don't think she's respecting you or valuing your friendship or caring about something that bothers you, right?

Why don't the two of you start a van fund? You can both throw spare change into a jar whenever you feel like it, and when you have $4.00, you can both ride. Make it a joint effort.
posted by iconomy at 6:10 PM on July 5, 2006 [1 favorite]


If I said "I'm never taking the van again" she'd shrug and say "ok", and then the next week when I gave in and called because of a torrential downpour or killer hangover, she'd say "cool" and follow me right back on to the van with her dollar.

But if you make it a shared decision to take the van or not then she has buy in, and has to either pay half or not take the van. You're making unilateral decisions to take the van with the implication that you're therefore prepared to pay $3. The only way to stop paying $3 is to stop doing that.

I don't get why you can't do this? Being friends surely makes it more reasonable to be discussing things and making shared decisions? It would never occur to me to order a taxi to go somewhere I know my flatmate is also going without asking them first if they want to join in. It's just mroe friendly to do things together. And you can easily make this change wihtout a big conforontation or anything to piss her off. Just casually ask next time before you call. This is key, once you've rung on your own it's too late, you've agreed to pay full fare.

Sure, what she's doing it's very friendly and is somewhat inconsiderate. But you're not being entirely friendly here either by not including her from the start. (although you're definitely being considerate, I'm not criticising your actions, you just need a different approach)

Take away the tag along option. Problem goes away.
posted by shelleycat at 6:17 PM on July 5, 2006


my roommate never takes the transit van when we're not on the same shift and she is never the one to suggest taking the transit van
Following jtfowl0: based on her actions alone, doesn't this mean that she values the van ride at $1 only? You [the OP] hav no leverage to regulate her fare since she is the very definition of an "additional rider." She may be ungenerous or maybe impolite, but your potential reaction (insisting that she split the fare, sneaking around to take the transit) would be ungenerous and impolite as well. All you can do is make known to her that you would prefer that she share the cost with you (which you have already done.) Get rid of your bad feelings and feel good about how giving and tolerant you are towards the people of the world.

[Or try to get her to reimburse you with something that you value, but that she doesn't value? She rides with you - she does the dishes? ha, ha! Right! Good luck with that!]
posted by imposster at 6:28 PM on July 5, 2006


Here's an idea that might help you get over it. Don't think of this as your roommate takeing advantage of YOU but think of it as her taking advantage of THE SITUATION. She clearly does not think a ride is worth $3. She not going to call the van at that price. When THE SITUATION arises that she can take it for $1, she'll do it. Good for her! She knows what she wants to pay for a service and has the willpower to stick to that. If it was me, I'd definitely offer to pay $2 (and I would have when I was a poor student, too), but that's not how she rolls. I'd just look at it as I have a friend who is careful with money, and maybe she can teach me something about financial discipline.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:28 PM on July 5, 2006


If I said "Do you want to share the cost of the van?", roommate would say "No, but if you decide to take it anyway, I'll tag along." In other words, great idea, I've tried it before, it didn't work. If I said "No, you have to split it with me if you want to come.", she would say something like "are you going to physically stop me from getting in the van?" And of course, I'm not going to do that. If I say "fine, I'll walk", then, well, I have to walk.
So, yeah, I guess letting it go is the right answer. It's been interesting to what you all think about the situation.
posted by cilantro at 6:29 PM on July 5, 2006


imposster: Given the circumstances, it is impossible to know exactly how much she values the van ride. As specific as you can get is that her value is greater than or equal to $1 and less than $3. The closer it is to $3, the more she is taking advantage.
posted by jtfowl0 at 6:39 PM on July 5, 2006


You should definitely let it go, but don't listen to the people here who let the room-mate off the hook. She is definitely taking advantage of you.

I'd be tempted to say I was going to call the van, and then sneak out of the house.
posted by mzurer at 6:45 PM on July 5, 2006


If I said "Do you want to share the cost of the van?", roommate would say "No, but if you decide to take it anyway, I'll tag along." ...

OK, that is rude and openly taking advantage of the situation. So yeah, with this you either need to tell her it's rude and unfair (with all that entails) or you need to get over it. Darn, I thought it could be fixed.
posted by shelleycat at 6:57 PM on July 5, 2006


If I said "No, you have to split it with me if you want to come.", she would say something like "are you going to physically stop me from getting in the van?"

If it has come to this level of manipulation/aggression, I would consider telling the driver that she is not with you, and is not an extra, but a separate passenger.

This reminds me of the guy at our weekly poker games who says that he doesn't want any pizza when we order. We all pitch in $7 and get two pizzas--which is more than we can reasonably eat. When it arrives, he grabs one piece and says, "Hey, I'll give you a dollar, 'cuz I only want one slice."
posted by underwater at 7:14 PM on July 5, 2006


This isn't a perfect marketplace. This is a roommate and friend where apparently the amount, albeit small, will aggregate enough to make an appreciable difference (more beer money? eating out at a nice place?). I would tell my roommate that while the company may advertise $3 + $1 for every extra rider that you will accept nothing less than 50% of the burden. Tell her that the final cost, not the x + y formula the company uses, is what will be split. Imagine if we get away from small numbers and back when they were giving away Hummers for $1 with the purchase of a new one. Would you let your friend buy the second Hummer for $1? Of course not, that's ridiculous you'd split the costs. I see no difference here.
posted by geoff. at 7:17 PM on July 5, 2006



She is willing to pay $1 for a taxi, not $3. You are willing to pay $3. If you didn't page the van, she never would. Asking her to split the cost implies that getting the van is as much her idea as it is yours. It isn't.


I'm not sure we know this. It could be the case that she would take the van on her own, occasionally, paying the full fare, but that she never has to, because cilantro does it for her.
posted by Hildago at 7:21 PM on July 5, 2006


If I said "No, you have to split it with me if you want to come.", she would say something like "are you going to physically stop me from getting in the van?"...So, yeah, I guess letting it go is the right answer.

Ack! Don't be such a marshmallow. If she would really say that, then she's not worth your kindness. She is a parasite who is taking advantage of the fact that you would rather avoid an awkward situation than stand up for yourself. Well, to hell with that. Let the situation be awkward for her. Some possible responses:

"No, but I'm going to tell the driver that you're not with me."
"No, but when the van comes, only one of us is getting on. We can stand there in the street until either you take a hike, you pony up the $2, or the van drives away without either of us, or you can just start walking now."
"No, but when the van comes, if you're standing there waiting with me, I'm not paying more than $2. If you won't pay your $2, we'll both end up walking. Then we'll do it again tomorrow."
"No, but I'm not giving the van our address; I'm having them pick me up at an undisclosed location that is not in a direct line between here and where we're going. Are you really going to follow me there?"
"No, but are you going to physically stop me from going over to your boyfriend's apartment and sucking his cock while he watches gonzo porn?"
posted by bingo at 7:23 PM on July 5, 2006


Charge her a $1 for the convience of your van accomodation.

She has to still pay the Van driver the $1 too - you're just letting her buy her way onto your ride.

She can either pay you both (After all, you did the work, you called, he's coming for you not her.

Also, be prepared to piss her off over this.
posted by filmgeek at 7:35 PM on July 5, 2006


i'd look at her as a room-mate, not a friend. if it were me, it would be the expectation of her to act like a friend toward me, and her failing to do so, that would be painful, not the riding for a dollar. get rid of the expectation and take it on its own terms but don't give more than you're getting.
posted by macinchik at 7:49 PM on July 5, 2006


I agree that the best thing to do would be to let it go. Think of the $1 as a payment for good karma.

Alternately think of the $1 as a reminder that your roommate, while a friend, is always looking out for herself first. Some people are just wired that way and don't understand that while "logically" it makes sense, it might not feel equitable to other parties.

In the humorous, wild suggestions category, you could always wait until she's booking a trip somewhere and then ask if she's going to physically stop you from sleeping in her hotel room. Though if you're in the "poor" student category that's unlikely.

More realistically you could see how much of your laundry you could get her to do by saying "Well as long as you're doing a load, could you throw this in?"

I think those sorts of confrontations are more trouble than they're worth, especially in a situation as trivial as this.
posted by ODiV at 7:52 PM on July 5, 2006


If I said "Do you want to share the cost of the van?", roommate would say "No, but if you decide to take it anyway, I'll tag along." In other words, great idea, I've tried it before, it didn't work. If I said "No, you have to split it with me if you want to come.", she would say something like "are you going to physically stop me from getting in the van?"

Yikes!!! I take back what I said before. This clarification changes the complexion of the problem. Before I imagined your roomate as an affable freeloader. Now I think she's a bloodless cur. It is hard to believe that this kind of nastiness doesn't manifest itself in other situations. Are you sure this van dispute is your biggest problem with her?
posted by Crotalus at 8:38 PM on July 5, 2006


You should offer to pay her way, it's only a dollar and would resolve the stupid conflict and buy you some good will. By paying the dollar for her you are saving two it would normally costs for her alone. The two you save would bring your ride done to only one dollar. If you made the ride cost four dollars, you might decide it isn't worth it and walk, which would probably be better for you. Is your peace of mind and the good will of a friendship worth a lousy buck? Have you heard its better to give than receive? The problem is when you need something from a woman, they will give you everything except what you need. Be a man and spring for the buck and change your luck.
posted by zackdog at 10:39 PM on July 5, 2006


I don't think she wants to "be a man" or hear about the problem about what you need from women.

If you were evil, cilantro, you could always get her to give you the dollar up front, and then use it to make up your three dollar fare, leaving her to pay the driver or walk.

Of course, you could probably only get away with this once, and you might just wake to find your hand in a bowl of warm water some night.
posted by Sallyfur at 12:57 AM on July 6, 2006


You're paying $3 whether she's in the van or not. If she never orders the van herself (because she can't afford more than $1 for transport to work or she's not as lazy as you or whatever), then I don't see why she should pay more than her $1 fare. You are ordering the van and are obviously prepared to pay the $3 (since you call the van whether she wants to come or not), so pay it and consider it a bonus that your friend gets a discount. It's not like you have no choice but to call the van - if it was your only way into work, then yeah she's being a bitch by making you pay the higher fare every time. But it's not and you can easily walk instead - so $3 is the price you pay for chosing to be lazy.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:47 AM on July 6, 2006


The next time you call the van, don't tell her. Be ready to go when she is and walk out the door. 100 yds into your walk, act as if you've forgotten something; tell her to go on & you'll catch up. Return home and take the van.
If she complains, tell her that since her reason for not paying $2 was that 'you couldn't prevent her from getting on the van', which is obviously not the case. Then ask if she wants to revisit her decision about paying the extra dollar when the van is called.

Or just get over it. Doing the above may give you a measure of satisfaction but it would take you down to her level.

Think of that $1 as consideration tax. If she was a considerate person, she'd pay the tax. That's what's really bothering you here. Legally, she's in the right. $1 is all the van company is asking her to pay & she's paying that. But a considerate person would at least offer to pay half, which she won't do.

Take the moral high road and pay the extra dollar. That's your lesson learned tax. For $1, you've learned that your roomie is an inconsiderate person. That's cheap as long as she's meeting the other financial obligations you two share.

Just realize that your roomie's nitpicking here is probably indicative of her personality and refrain from doing any mutal investing with her without clearly defining all terms.

I once lived with a guy who (long story short) pitched in $25 for a couch for the common living room. The rest of the house paid $50 each but $25 was all Cheap Guy said he could afford. When Cheap Guy left six months later . . . he tried to walk out the door with the couch's decorative pillows because that was 'his share' of the couch. That's when the concept of 'ass tax' was introduced to him.
posted by jaimystery at 4:17 AM on July 6, 2006


You have an edge in this situation. You know whether or not you've called the van. Some of the previous answers have said not to tell her you've called the van. No, don't do that. The way to exploit your knowledge is to frequently tell her that you've called the van when you have not and occasionally call the van and tell her that you have.

When you have not called the van wait until the last minute possible and start walking to work. When you have called the van wait until the last minute, start walking to work, and double back to catch the van. Do this enough times and your roommate can no longer tell when you have actually called the van. This does two things; she can no longer hover around waiting to see if you've called the van and you have something she needs, you know whether the van is really on the way. If she's amenable you can negotiate to become reliable.
posted by rdr at 4:36 AM on July 6, 2006


Oops... Looks like I was partially repeating the previous post.
posted by rdr at 4:52 AM on July 6, 2006


I think the folks saying that it's only a dollar are missing the boat. cilantro is in a position where she thinks a true friend would offer to split the cost, and the roommate did not offer to split the cost, thereby sending a subtle signal that they are not friends.

Bingo. They are not friends; the roommate is a manipulator who uses cilantro's generous feelings of friendship to get her way, and I'm sure this isn't the only circumstance in which she does it. It's clearly not just a matter of not having the money, because if she had honor and no money she would walk if she couldn't afford to split the fare.

cilantro: Don't do anything that would make you feel sleazy, but if you feel taken advantage of, do whatever will make that feeling go away, without regard to the possibility of "ruining" a friendship that exists only in your mind. If she were your friend, she wouldn't treat you like that.
posted by languagehat at 5:44 AM on July 6, 2006 [1 favorite]


I would do what others suggested and ask her if she wants to split the van 50/50 before calling for it. If she says what you think she will, that she'll only go if she only has to pay $1, then I'd go ahead and walk to work. After a few times, it will have shown her that the ride is only worth $2 to you, and you'll find out what it's really worth to her. But you have to follow through. If she knows you'll call the thing anyway, you hold no ground.

If after some time she shows herself to be stubborn enough to keep walking, then you can either keep walking yourself and save some money, give in and keep letting her mooch your ride, or be stealth about taking the ride on your own, excluding her. Or you could prearrange to split the ride evenly with other coworkers--enough to fill the thing.

Or you could just start carrying exactly $2 with you all the time.
posted by lampoil at 7:49 AM on July 6, 2006


Cilantro, does she always (or almost always) take the van when you do?
posted by radioamy at 9:42 PM on July 6, 2006 [1 favorite]


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