Drop Off Etiquette
July 10, 2018 6:56 AM   Subscribe

I agreed to drop off a neighbor at least twice a week at the university where I work. The neighbor is not differently abled but has complained about not liking to walk -- I think it is quite an effort. Is it uncouth to not drop her off at the door, but make her walk 800 feet up a long, slightly steep hill?

She needs to go the library, which is close to where I work. I could drop her off at the front door of the library (where she needs to go) but due to construction and general campus traffic this will take me about 5-10 minutes more of driving in a circle from/to where I usually park. My parking spot is equidistant from my work and the library.

If I was just dropping her off once or twice, I would make the extra effort to give her door-to-door service. But it will be an every-week thing. Still, should I take into consideration the challenge that walking presents her and sacrifice those extra minutes?
posted by theefixedstars to Human Relations (24 answers total)
I think driving her to your parking spot is more than enough.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 6:59 AM on July 10 [11 favorites]

As someone who's gotten and given many rides, I would be 100% fine with you going into your usual parking spot for a car pool type of situation. You could go as far as to ask if she needs you to go to the door in case she does have a disability she isn't sharing, but I wouldn't expect that from someone who is already doing me a huge favor.
posted by tchemgrrl at 7:01 AM on July 10 [9 favorites]

Can you ask her? "Are you able to walk up the hill, or do you need me to drop you closer?"
posted by lazuli at 7:01 AM on July 10 [24 favorites]

An extra 5 - 10 minutes is not reasonable. If you are feeling it, you can comment Unfortunately, because of the construction, I won't be able to drop you at the library entrance. The ride itself is a favor, extra time on your way to work would be a great inconvenience. I am older and have arthritis and would still walk the 800 feet.
posted by theora55 at 7:03 AM on July 10 [6 favorites]

And I'm reading this question as more, "How do I make sure I'm accounting for a potential invisible disability?" not "How would able-bodied people want to be dropped off?" By asking, it takes you away from having to make assumptions either way, and gives her the chance to be a bit more explicit about her needs.
posted by lazuli at 7:03 AM on July 10 [37 favorites]

I'm pretty sure you park your car and each go your separate ways UNLESS you can slyly determine your assumption that this person can walk but doesn't like to is incorrect. Sometimes people have hidden physical pain. IDK how to successfully navigate finding out what the true deal is. In general, most folks would not make you slog through 5 to 10 min of traffic for 800 ft. How steep is the hill?

YMMV, but I think that's the framing and the formula. Generally you would park in your designated lot or drop the person at the bottom of the hill, avoiding the construction.
posted by jbenben at 7:04 AM on July 10

I'll be honest and say that not too long ago I would have said to park where you park and let that be the end of it.

Now I am inclined to say that not everyone's ability is assessable at a glance or through casual conversation. I like lazuli's phrasing.
posted by veggieboy at 7:04 AM on July 10 [4 favorites]

Actually, yeah - I guess no need to be "sly" - you can likely be kind while asking directly with the right script. Then you can be certain!
posted by jbenben at 7:09 AM on July 10

You're giving her a lift, asking her where she needs to be dropped off is well within the parameters of social interactions you can have when giving someone a lift & not come across as a jerk. Even a simple, "I park over near x is that going to be OK for you?" It's also OK to change drop off spots if needed as construction work progresses, just talk to them about it.
posted by wwax at 7:17 AM on July 10 [3 favorites]

I am a person who is not visibly disabled, and who most days would be in the "walking up the hill is a bit difficult but do-able and you are doing more than enough of a favor by giving me the lift to your spot" camp, but there are other days when I am in entirely invisible physical pain such that it would be an extraordinary kindness if you were willing to take me to the door. In your coworker's shoes, I would be extremely grateful if you asked, and gave me the opening to ask for that extra consideration on days when I really need it.

That said, I wouldn't think you were rude or uncouth for just going as far as your parking spot. You're not doing anything wrong by doing so.
posted by Stacey at 8:10 AM on July 10 [21 favorites]

If she doesn't have limited mobility, she's asking you to trade your time for hers with the extra driving. If you're already giving her the ride as a favor, my view is that if she has a specific reason why she needs to be dropped off there that it's incumbent on her to let you know and if it's just that she doesn't want to take a walk to respect your time. I have a bad knee that's not obvious and normally doesn't prevent me from doing most normal activities but when it's acting up I'll let people giving me rides know why I might need to be dropped off close that day.

Is there a campus shuttle bus stop that you could drop her off at without extending your commute that would solve the hill problem?
posted by Candleman at 8:15 AM on July 10 [6 favorites]

I've been quite anemic while still looking very healthy and some days an extra uphill walk would make me miserable for hours. I say be kind and drop her at the door (unless you're occasionally running horribly late or something).
posted by pseudostrabismus at 8:55 AM on July 10 [2 favorites]

She’s already “complained about not liking to walk”, to the point where you believe it is “quite an effort”. I think she’s already answered the invisible disability question in the affirmative. I would drop her at the door.
posted by corb at 9:04 AM on July 10 [7 favorites]

Can you ask her? "Are you able to walk up the hill, or do you need me to drop you closer?"

I think you have to decide what you are willing to do before asking this. If the extra driving times multiple times a week is too much of a burden, just let her know what your parameters are and she gets to decide if she will take you up on whatever you are offering. It's kind of you even to just drive her to your parking spot (exploring whether a shuttle stop would work is a good idea too).
posted by JenMarie at 9:24 AM on July 10 [2 favorites]

She is the judge of whether she’s able to walk up a hill, so definitely ask. If it’s noticeably “quite an effort” and she complains about it, that sounds like disability even if it’s not a disability you recognize.

Are you willing to do the extra 5-10 based on her response? If not, that’s okay. (Thought experiment: Would you be willing if the person had a different, more visible sort of disability?)

Also, for anyone interested, to misquote the Big Lebowski: differently abled is not the preferrred nomenclature, dude.
posted by kapers at 9:28 AM on July 10 [3 favorites]

Please, "not liking to walk" is NOT the same as having a disability. Some people are just lazy and entitled.

Having said that, she may or may not have a disability. There is nothing wrong with being kind and doing her this favor if you don't mind and won't resent it. If you need the extra time due to your own busy schedule, don't feel bad about telling her that it won't be possible. Remember that you are the one doing her a favor.
posted by seesom at 9:33 AM on July 10 [5 favorites]

Yup, short of an actual disability (age or infirmity would count in my book but that's me personally) this person would be walking their grumpy little legs up the hill to their destination.

Seriously, if someone was giving me a lift from Point A to Point B because Point B was their normal, intended destination then be damned if I'd complain or otherwise hint that said person should take me to Point C (where C is not between A and B) instead. Fuck that, it's rude. Period. I'd appreciate the ride then move on.
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:56 AM on July 10 [4 favorites]

Please, "not liking to walk" is NOT the same as having a disability. Some people are just lazy and entitled.

This. Speaking from experience.
posted by Amy NM at 10:06 AM on July 10 [5 favorites]

Please, "not liking to walk" is NOT the same as having a disability. Some people are just lazy and entitled.

Sure, that’s true for some. But as a disabled woman I can imagine saying this as a way to “cover” or “hide” my disability because we get judgment from strangers and endless questions and misunderstandings if we appear able bodied. So “I don’t like to walk” may mean “I’m lazy” or it may mean “I have an illness that makes it difficult to walk but I don’t know how to talk about it or I’m embarrassed by it because I want people to think of me as able bodied and not judge me or make me have to PROVE it to receive accommodation.”

100% of the both visibly and invisibly disabled people I know including myself have talked about the mask we wear in public nearly constantly. Even asking means she may lie because of all of these issues surrounding illness and appearance.

Yes, 5 to 10 minutes extra sucks. But it may suck worse for her. To me, giving someone a ride means to their destination if they seem unable to get there. Wouldn’t you want someone to do that for you? Would you do it if they used a cane or wheelchair?

So clearly I’m projecting my experience. But invisible illness is extremely common and not having to walk could greatly increase her energy for the rest of her day.

Or she could be lazy and you can give yourself extra gold stars for going a little out of your way from the kindness of your own heart.
posted by Crystalinne at 11:22 AM on July 10 [18 favorites]

Is she aware of the parking situation? "So my parking spot is [here], 800 ft away from the library, does that work for you?" could be a way to start the conversation. It sets the expectation that you will park where it's convenient for you, but indicates your willingness to work with her needs.
posted by doift at 11:45 AM on July 10 [1 favorite]

Please, "not liking to walk" is NOT the same as having a disability. Some people are just lazy and entitled.

I suffer from pretty bad back pain, to the point that an extremely steep hill would be hell for me. Is some of it because of my weight? Sure. Is some of it because I have physical, uncorrectable back problems? Absolutely. Does it count as a disability? Well, the US Army seems to think so.

I think that healthy, able-bodied people for whom extra walking is a mild inconvenience really don't get to be the ones saying that other people avoiding walking are just 'lazy'.
posted by corb at 1:03 PM on July 10 [3 favorites]

I think that healthy, able-bodied people for whom extra walking is a mild inconvenience really don't get to be the ones saying that other people avoiding walking are just 'lazy'.

The reality is that "not liking to walk" is a preference and is not the same thing as having a disability.

We only know from what the OP has written that friend does not like to walk. Just because someone does not like to walk does not automatically mean that they have a disability. We do not know if the friend has a disability or not, which if I were OP would impact how I handled the situation.

The reality is that some people do not like to walk because they are lazy. Your personal situation that you describe having a government recognized disability is not the same thing as "not liking to walk".

Finally, you are making another assumption that I am healthy and able-bodied, which may or may not be the case.
posted by seesom at 1:43 PM on July 10 [2 favorites]

[Folks, this needs to not get into a back-and-forth of speculating about whether the neighbor has a disability or not. OP can clarify if they want, otherwise just give your constructive suggestions and leave it at that.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:52 PM on July 10

As a result of living with an invisible disability, anytime I give people rides, I try to give door to door service.

Do you dislike having this person in the car with you? Were you asked to do this and felt like you couldn't say no? Are you extremely busy? How bad will those extra 5-10 minutes be?

Speculating exactly how disabled a person is, or whether you judge their disability to be valid or not, is just a terrible road to go down.
posted by ethical_caligula at 8:54 PM on July 10 [3 favorites]

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