What is a reasonable carpooling arrangement?
October 3, 2010 6:06 PM   Subscribe

How do I, or can I, make my carpooling situation less annoying?

For the past six weeks I’ve been driving a good friend to work two to four days per week, and I really, really hate it. And I also hate that I hate it.

I hate doing this because of the added time (between 10 and 15 minutes per morning), because I’m generally crabby in the morning and don’t really want to talk to anyone, and because I don’t always know exactly when I want to go to work. I leave pretty early – before 6 am, so we have to arrange a pick up time the night before.

I pick my friend up at his house instead of having him come here because he doesn’t have a car, and I don’t want to sit here waiting for him, or feel awful about him walking here in the rain. Also, we both work pretty far from where we live, and it would take him around 1.5 hours to get there on the bus.

I am planning on telling my friend that I can only give him rides twice a week. I’m pretty sure that that’s about as much as I can do – considering that I would prefer zero times.

So here are my questions: 1-Does two days a week seem reasonable? 2-Am I being really crabby and selfish? I feel like a real bitch for not wanting to do this when it helps my friend, which is why I’m looking for feedback before I discuss this with him.
posted by shrabster to Human Relations (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Can he chip in for gas, or coffee? Or you can tell him you just want to listen to music in the morning, and no chit-chat? Can he take the bus to your place? If he's not meeting you halfway in some form, I can see why it'd make you crabby. There's only so far a favor goes. Short version - he needs to do something in return for you, it's only fair.
posted by shinyshiny at 6:13 PM on October 3, 2010 [7 favorites]

It is selfish, sure, but maybe give him a chance to work around what you want? Just tell him - 1. I'm crabby in the morning and honestly just want to ride into work without chatting, and 2. I don't know when I'm going in exactly, so if you want a ride, be ready and waiting by X o'clock and I'll be by at some point after that. If you could leave when you like and he agreed to shut up, would that work? Because it'd probably be worth it to him to go along with that, and you'd get to do a really good deed for a friend with minimal effort on your part.
posted by moxiedoll at 6:15 PM on October 3, 2010 [6 favorites]

Yeah, he's paying you, right? You're saving him an hour-and-a-half on the bus, that's gotta be worth something. Come up with a price that offsets your extra time and the annoyance factor.
posted by sageleaf at 6:16 PM on October 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

lead by example:

have him drive your car while you bring a book and read.

make it clear what you're doing, explicitly: "Would you mind driving because I've been reading this great book and I just want to get through it."

Do that 3 times and the conversation will slow down unless he is a truly obsessive, clueless talker (we all know the type) in which case you're going to have to white lie your way out of it.

and yes, you are being selfish. forgive yourself for this one and move on.
posted by victors at 6:26 PM on October 3, 2010

Does this arrangement have an end date? Is he saving up for a car or to move closer to work or something? If it were me, I would be most stressed out by the open-ended nature of it. So tell him 2 days a week, or tell him 2 months and you're done, but yes, do something to set a limit.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 6:27 PM on October 3, 2010

You are not obligated to drive your friend around. If you want to do zero times, or make it just a special occasion thing, it's totally up to you. FWIW, I disagree with all of victors advice- let this dude drive YOUR car??? No way. You are not being selfish. You are allowed to set your own boundaries.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:30 PM on October 3, 2010 [7 favorites]

1-Does two days a week seem reasonable? 2-Am I being really crabby and selfish? I feel like a real bitch for not wanting to do this when it helps my friend, which is why I’m looking for feedback before I discuss this with him.

Well, I think that all depends on what you're getting out of this. Is he chipping in for gas? Does he do anything for you in return? It's hard to answer your question without these details.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 6:37 PM on October 3, 2010

I'm surprised at all of the "you're being selfish" responses. Come on, guys, really?

If they're the one that asked to be carpooled, I'd have no problem setting down some ground rules for the ride - whether that includes silence, gas money, coffee, etc.

If you're the one that offered, perhaps just let them know that the routine is turning out to be a little more than you initially bargained for and if it were to continue at the regularity that it is now, they are going to need to meet you at your place at x time (and if you're like me, just unlock the doors for them so they can hop into the car instead of wasting more of your time trying to chit-chat while you get ready). Tell them if they're unable to meet that criteria, you can only offer to give them the ride two times a week, if at all.
posted by june made him a gemini at 6:38 PM on October 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

I agree with ThePinkSuperhero that you are allowed to set your own boundaries.

That is not selfish, that is just respecting and protecting your own needs.

But I am also wondering if any of the following would work for you:

a) Your friend pays 50% of the petrol (gas) and parking and tolls; and/or

b) your friend is ready to go at X time (where X = the earliest you would want to pick them up) every morning. If you swing by at X time and they are not ready to go, you wait no more than 5 minutes before leaving without them; and/or

c) you set an end date to the arrangement; and/or

d) you agree to do this once or twice per week, not 5 times per week; and/or

e) you agree that car time is quiet listening to music or podcast time, no talking allowed.

You need to find a solution that works for both of you, or you will just feel more and more resentful, and it will damage your friendship.
posted by Hot buttered sockpuppets at 6:46 PM on October 3, 2010

Thanks for all of the answers so far. He does give me some gas money, but I would feel weird asking for more than 1/2 of the cost of the gas to get to his work. As far as an expiration date, I'm planning on moving closer to work this spring - and I'm assuming that he'll want/need rides until then.
posted by shrabster at 6:48 PM on October 3, 2010

I guarantee we are not all using the word "selfish" in the same way.

If a friend is in need and I have the opportunity to help and I don't for no other reason than my personal benefit/pleasure/preference then I consider my actions to be "selfish." I don't want to derail with hair splits about "selfish" vs. "greedy" vs. "sacrifice" - the OP asked:

Am I being crabby and selfish?

The bottom line: whatever decision you make, if it involves not driving your friend anymore, he will probably not like it. Either he is a cool person and will understand or hold it against you. No matter what, you can feel OK about the decision and not apply any guilt to it.
posted by victors at 6:48 PM on October 3, 2010

Maybe it's just my definition of "friend", but your actions easily fall within the normal quid pro quo that friendship encompasses. I can understand how even friends can be irritating under some conditions, but - hey, headphones are cheap, and not overtly rude.
posted by Neiltupper at 7:01 PM on October 3, 2010

The hassle of pre-arranging a time bothers you a lot, and it takes you 10-15 minutes to get there. Can't you give him a call when you leave instead? If you know you usually leave between a rough time frame of between 5:30 and 6 am (or whatever), then he knows to be prepared by a given time and will just wait. Beats riding the bus for an hour and a half. If you're not feeling great the night before, then let him know he's on his own the next morning because you don't know if you'll be coming in or not.
posted by ergo at 7:12 PM on October 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

This link might give you some ideas slug line etiquette.

Slug lines in the DC area are a way for single drivers to pickup extra passengers (slugs) so that they can use the HOV lanes. The etiquette rules in the link may give you ideas on how to best manage the carpool experience. Obviously this is your friend and not a stranger you've picked up, but some of these rules might make your carpooling experience more enjoyable.
posted by BigVACub at 7:12 PM on October 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Listen to podcasts (or whatever you normally listen to) on the ride in.

Tell him he must be quieter than recently, because while you enjoy doing the favor, you need the quiet/listening time to prepare mentally for your day.

Write off that 10 or 15 minutes as "Good Karma Credits." I mean that. Just be thankful you have a car and you are in a position to do this.

Lastly. Think about what it is like to be in his shoes. Not having a car and always bumming rides feels really really shitty.

You are the lucky one here.

(If your friend super sucked, my answer would be to dump the favor. But you didn't say that, so I'm going with the answer that seems the most Win-Win.)
posted by jbenben at 7:12 PM on October 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

You should get more than 1/2 the gas because 1) you're driving 2) you have to leave home earlier to pick him up, and most importantly, 3) you're incurring the cost of maintaining a car, which he doesn't have to do.
posted by elpea at 7:30 PM on October 3, 2010

Casual carpool has a "no talking" protocol precisely because so many other people feel like you do about early morning chit-chat. So don't feel bad. And use that as a conversation starter?
posted by salvia at 8:39 PM on October 3, 2010

Your friend might be more flexible than you expect. You're feeling guilt because you're imagining yourself imposing conditions that would result in you withdrawing the ride, but maybe your friend would be perfectly willing to meet those conditions (e.g. walking in the rain). Maybe he can offer you something that would make this a better arrangement for you? For example, he walks to your place; he agrees to not talk; he brings podcasts or music to listen to; he brings you breakfast or lunch; he does some of the driving so you can rest or even nap. Your friend would probably love to do something to improve your day in order to thank you for helping him, if you give him the chance to.
posted by PercussivePaul at 8:57 PM on October 3, 2010 [3 favorites]

Selfish is if your friend has an emergency and you could help, but don't because you don't feel like it. You could even maybe call it selfish if your friend's car broke down and he couldn't afford a rental while it was in the shop, but you refused to give him a ride for a couple days. It's not selfish not to want to be your friend's chauffeur--you're not carpooling, you're driving him to work.

I'd suggest you decide which will give you better peace of mind:

- Telling him, "After October, I can't drive you anymore," and continuing to drive him every day through the end of the month
- Telling him, "Beginning next week, I can only drive you Mondays and Thursdays," and continuing to drive him every Monday and Thursday until you move in the spring

Pick one. Don't give him an explanation beyond, "My situation changed and it just won't be possible anymore"--more detail than that and he's likely to try to find a workaround ("What if I changed my schedule?" etc.). Offer to drive him around to look at new apartments next weekend if you're feeling really generous.

I feel for your friend: I don't like driving and didn't have a car until I married someone who already owned one. But at the same time, it's his responsibility to get himself to work, and it's not a reasonable long-term plan to expect a friend to be willing to drive him every day. If he likes having a 1.5 hour bus commute, it makes sense for him to stay where he is, but if he's using his 1.5 hour bus commute as an argument for why you should be driving him to work, he needs to move.
posted by Meg_Murry at 7:04 AM on October 4, 2010

so we have to arrange a pick up time the night before...

My adorable neighbor and I car-pooled for two YEARS and he has a similar "don't know exactly when" thing, but usually within a 15-20 minute range. He texted me just before leaving, so if I left, we showed up at the car at the same time.

But you should never feel obligated to do this, and if it's such a negative experience, you need to tell your friend before you hate him just for being associated with it.
posted by whatzit at 10:02 AM on October 4, 2010

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