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I have 2 work colleagues who from time to time ask for a lift home when they're stuck to get home. In the current climate I don't want anyone in my car mainly to protect my family from Covid and also both are a little out of my way, it's an extra 8 miles and 15/20 minutes longer. Especially at 1:30 in the morning when there are no buses, should I feel so guilty by saying no.

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Neo
    Feb 1, 2021 at 13:53

3 Answers 3

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If you tell them when they're really stuck without warning then yes you will probably feel a bit guilty as you have left two people without a way to get home in the middle of the night.

Inform them first, say you can't take them home anymore, so they'll have to make sure they're organised in future. You can make up an excuse or just tell them the truth, it's your car, not theirs.

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    Thanks I just feel there users. Backsides on any seat sort of people. During Covid don't want anyone in my car to mainly protect my family but also there out of my way. Just because I travel down a certain motorway they ask me to come off and go around villages to get them home. Petrol money or not i don't feel comfortable and worry that my bosses will get involved and I will feel really guilty.
    – ozco
    Jan 31, 2021 at 9:20
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    I don't blame you, at 1:30 in the morning after a shift at work I would have zero interest in an extra 15 minutes driving regardless of gas money. More importantly my wif wouldn't be happy. No need to be antagonistic about it to them though. Just tell them you can't do it anymore.
    – Kilisi
    Jan 31, 2021 at 10:41
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    If you don't feel comfortable explaining it to them, then instead of making up an excuse, it's better to still tell the truth, but just in a way that's really vague and indirect. Feb 1, 2021 at 1:53
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I've had this problem myself in the past, including with a colleague I didn't really like on a personal level.

I think it's the civil thing to do to help people out now and again if something unexpected has happened - a car breakdown, for example - but it should be once in a blue moon, and for a maximum of a few days in a row.

As I also once explained to someone who suggested alternate car-sharing to work, I like the time in the car to relax and wind down. I find that shared transport creates inflexibility and a constant need to coordinate - if the designated driver would be leaving early, late, on holiday, or not going directly home. The value of saved fuel is a trifle compared to the hassle.

If you're being asked more than once or twice a year - and adding many miles and 20 minutes on top of your commute - I'd definitely be prepared to have the conversation next time they ask, that this is the last time for the foreseeable future, and they need to think about making other arrangements that don't rely on goodwill.

If it's not even an emergency as such, but an awkward Sunday night shift when the buses don't run, or some other foreseeable requirement, then it's up to them to have the conversation with the employer about shift patterns, or find another job - or get a car, or pay the going rate for a taxi as part of the cost of working.

At the end of the day (literally), you're also tired at 0130 in the morning, and are not running a taxi service on top of your day job.

So no, I wouldn't feel guilty about setting limits once you've already done a number of good turns.

Edit: @gidds below notes that I do not make any mention of Covid. That's because I've chosen to address my answer to the timeless aspects of this problem.

The colleague who is asking for assistance runs a symmetrical risk in relation to Covid by being in the car, and they are presumably in the same workplace all day, so I'm not sure the OP would get the mileage he wants out of that argument.

Moreover, I don't really think the OP wants to go down the road of treating his colleagues like lepers. He wants to have a conversation about the fairness of fulfilling such repeated requests, and how the colleague is coming to rely on his goodwill as part of his overall transport solution which is hitch-hiking, rather than rearranging his affairs (in whatever way) so that he probably doesn't have to ask again.

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    Thanks Steve just feel like I am the come to guy when there lift is working overtime or off. I now feel it's not my responsibility for someone getting to and from work especially if I do go out of my way for them and at times just feel used. As long as my employers can't get involved I am happy with that. They need to get a bus, taxi or learn to drive because at the end of the day I am not employed to be a chauffeur.
    – ozco
    Jan 31, 2021 at 12:47
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    My responsibility for me is too keep my wife and son safe from Covid and I don't want anyone in my car. Yes it's a mixture of that and driving out of my way. I am a guilty person and worry about what people will think of me but at the end of the day there responsible for themselves and shouldn't rely on others.
    – ozco
    Jan 31, 2021 at 18:06
  • @gidds, see my edit.
    – Steve
    Jan 31, 2021 at 20:44
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    @ozco, I wouldn't feel guilty. You've done your bit, others are likely to think you've already been exceptionally helpful, and if your colleague is habitually hitch-hiking a ride to work, then his finances are sure to stretch to paying for a taxi from now on. It may be that your colleague does not feel entitled to your help, but has simply asked and has been given a yes answer, and will be equally content to accept a no answer without grievance, especially if on the next occasion you make it clear that it is the last occasion, and then he has time to consider alternatives.
    – Steve
    Jan 31, 2021 at 20:53
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    Even though the risks are roughly symmetric, people's perception of — and appetite for — them seems to vary hugely!  (And, judging from how fast the virus is spreading even when people are supposed to be locked down, taking the more cautious line seems entirely sensible.)
    – gidds
    Jan 31, 2021 at 22:02
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Neither you nor the commenters have suggested it, but just in case you were considering it:

Be very cautious if you consider starting to charge them for it, as a dis-incentive.

Obviously, the issue for you isn't really that it's leaving you out-of-pocket, but you still might be tempted to think "If I tell them they have to pay, then they might ask less often!"

Unfortunately there's been research into such interactions (done in Israel, and made famous by Freakonomics) which found that as soon as you start to implement a financial penalty, the moral and social costs get removed, and the other parties feel free to use the service as often as they like:

Being late meant relying on the generosity of one teacher, who would inevitably stay late to look after your child. Being late meant facing that same teacher and having to apologize to her for the inconvenience of waiting.

All of which prompted us to wonder: what would happen if these day care centers stopped relying on generosity and started relying on a financial incentive — like a fine — to discourage parents from showing up late? Few would have predicted what we found: introducing a financial penalty for showing up late actually caused parents to do just that. Parents stopped showing up on time entirely.

Ultimately, taking this approach might make things worse, and the money wouldn't actually fix most of things that bother you about it.

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  • This is good advice and I upvoted it. That being said, you should edit your answer to fit appropriately the question "should I feel so guilty by saying no?".
    – Ramon Melo
    Feb 1, 2021 at 9:34
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    I agree that that's the literal words in the Original Post. But if that were really the question, then this would belong on /r/aita. IMO, the actual question being asked is "What should I do in this situation?" (Which is what the other answers reflect, too)
    – Brondahl
    Feb 1, 2021 at 10:17

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