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I found myself in a developing carpooling situation as a daily driver.

My colleague approached me the other day and asked if I could drop him off. He doesn't live far away from me and doesn't expect me to drop him off at his place. Of course, I had to say yes and dropped him off. However, I can feel an expectation that this could be - even should be a regular occurrence.

To be fair, I am not changing which route I take to go home, etc. so I understand why he probably finds this reasonable to ask. However, I do have social anxiety and generally, terrible stress management. Even if I do not change the route I take to go home, it prevents me from making additional stops or plans before going home.

For many people this probably is not an issue but, I get stressed knowing that my plans (personal plans and after work) have to be in accordance with someone else's schedule.

Mind you, I absolutely do not care about sharing the costs or anything else that is material. This has become a burden on me, a socially challenged person, who frankly doesn't truly enjoy the company of the colleague either. I mean, having a professional relationship is okay, but I have people in my life I truly care about and I really do not want anyone else in my life in any capacity.

Hoping that I have not digressed too much, to my question; how could I go about this to stop this from developing any further without being rude to my colleague? For context, we are similarly aged and he is not in a hierarchically higher position, if anything, it is the inverse.


Addressing a question in the comments:

Just for clarify, how many times has this happened? Do you have any reason to suspect this will be a regular thing? It reads like you were asked once?

Yes, you are right, this has happened once. However, he mentioned anecdotes of other colleagues not picking him up on the road even if they saw him and how rude that was, or other colleagues driving him sometimes and how helpful that is, etc. So there has been a foundation of not having a car and its difficulties and the outright expectancy of the "help" of colleagues who have cars. That is the reason why I got stressed even after a one-time encounter.

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  • 7
    Just for clarify, how many times has this happened? Do you have any reason to suspect this will be a regular thing? It reads like you were asked once? Sep 22, 2022 at 12:13
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    "Of course, I had to say yes..." You didn't have to say "yes", it just felt like you did because your brain was being a jerk. Just because something is a reasonable request doesn't mean you can't say no to it and you don't need a reason beyond not wanting to.
    – BSMP
    Sep 22, 2022 at 15:42
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    I won't pretend to know you or your situation, but have you considered that, if you were wanting it, this might be a low-stress entry into allowing a very small amount of dependency on others into your life, maybe eventually reducing your social anxiety and improving your stress management? Sep 22, 2022 at 16:05
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    I’m voting to close this question because this is about interpersonal skills, not the workplace. We have a site for that called Interpersonal Skills Sep 22, 2022 at 16:07
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    The title doesn't quite reflect the question. Not wishing to repeat something which happened once is very different to if you've been in a regular carsharing arrangement for some time (weeks, months). Those arrangements are awkward things to get out of for sure!
    – funkybro
    Sep 23, 2022 at 11:45

7 Answers 7

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how could I go about this to stop this from developing any further without being rude to my colleague?

The next time your colleague asks you to drop them off you reply with:

Sorry, I can't today.

No explanation needs to be given, and if they continue to ask and you don't want to do it you reply with the same statement. There is nothing rude about refusing to be a colleague's personal chauffeur and any reasonable person will understand this.

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Kilisi
    Sep 25, 2022 at 22:23
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This isn't the first time we've had this kind of question.

It's possible at this stage that you're catastrophising - one lift is hardly a "developing carpooling situation".

But if you're asked, put it as plainly as I would: I like the time alone in the car to wind down and transition between work and home, and I also want to be able to alter my journey or schedule in future without having to coordinate with colleagues.

There is no effective argument against these points - nobody could seriously argue that you shouldn't enjoy some time alone in the day, or that you should be obligated to enter into arrangements with others for the use of your own property.

And I wouldn't feel as though this is being unreasonable - I'm paying good money to have the facility of personal transport.

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    This answer would do it for me, and be the absolute truth. I stop and park at a train station on the way home from work every day now and spend 15-30 minutes doing absolutely nothing. I watch trains, if any go by; I am not bothered by coworkers; and I have not yet began my evening of parental/spousal responsibilities. Quite relaxing.
    – CGCampbell
    Sep 23, 2022 at 13:53
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    This. The time in the car is the buffer, which is completely eroded by giving a lift. You can even be self-deprecating about it and call it your anti-social time. Sep 23, 2022 at 17:21
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You say this person has gone on in the past about other people being rude for not picking him up when they saw him out and about. That seems to me like a pretty wild expectation--if one of my coworkers at any of the jobs I've worked, especially one that I wasn't particularly close to, got upset with me for not offering them a ride when I saw them around town, I would think they've gone off the deep end.

I don't have all the facts, of course, but given what you've told us this person has weird expectations about what other people should do for them, and therefore you shouldn't feel like you're being rude for saying no. Next time they ask you to drive them, just say you would rather not. If they push you on it, then (1) tell them you were happy to help them out once but you don't want it to become a regular thing, and (2) they're the one being rude at that point, and you shouldn't feel bad about shutting them down.

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  • I agree that OP is maybe overthinking the whole issue. I actually think that the one having "social issue" is the colleague, given his commentaries on being left on the side of the road
    – EarlGrey
    Sep 23, 2022 at 14:55
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    TBF, I've found that when I'm just out and about taking a nice walk, people I know will indeed pull over their car and offer me a lift. For some people (likely particularly here in the middle of the US where cars are kind of a necessity), people just assume that anyone walking is only doing so as a last resort. I wouldn't be at all shocked if someone in that mindset gets upset when others aren't as charitable as they.
    – T.E.D.
    Sep 23, 2022 at 20:07
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There's a good answer already. My addition is to do with politeness.

If asked just say you have things to do so you won't be going straight home. It's just a little bit of social grease that's a bit more polite then an outright refusal without explanation.

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Kilisi
    Sep 24, 2022 at 21:52
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Even if I do not change the route I take to go home, it prevents me from making additional stops or plans before going home.

Then stop doing that! Don't act as a taxi driver for your coworker, don't change your plans, just let him take drop off opportunity. Just make it clear what your plans are. eg.

Today I'm leaving 5-10 minutes for 17, because I'm in hurry, I need to visit [X] on my way home, it'll take up to 30 minutes, if it's OK for you, just wait for me at 16:50 near my car

It should be clear to them that pick up opportunity requires the same time discipline as using public transport. It's not taxi.

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    Not what I'd recommend, because there is always the chance that is WOULD be good for him.
    – CGCampbell
    Sep 23, 2022 at 13:56
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    @CGCampbell but in that case, the extra cost for you is so minimal, there's no good reason to refuse (except you really hate people) Sep 23, 2022 at 14:28
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    The first half of your answer was good enough :D ! With the second half you are actually offering a guaranteed ride from work to home at a specific time, you are digging deeper in the problem the OP would like to avoid.
    – EarlGrey
    Sep 23, 2022 at 14:59
  • @DanubianSailor It's not about hating people, it's about personal freedom. Maybe the coworker is not someone with which you want to develop a particular relationship and you want to keep things strictly professional. A one time ride could be OK for maintaining a good work relationship, but the coworker could develop an expectation that you are OK to make this a regular thing. In a work environment you don't need to be friend with everyone. There is a wide range of situations between hate and "best buddies". Sep 24, 2022 at 11:48
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One further detail, is the car trip longer than 20 minutes? Do you use the freeway/motorway to get home? If the commute takes longer than 20 minutes, it would be easier to rebuke a polite request; after all the two of you are not friends in real life.

However, in a real carpooling situation, riders would contribute to the running of the vehicle and the cost of the journey, e.g. toll, petrol/gas, car insurance etc.. If the trip is longer than 20 minutes, asking the colleague to share the cost might dissuade him from asking in the future.

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If he asks more than a few times, offer to help him go shop for a car so he can drive himself.

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    This is just passive aggressive. Sep 24, 2022 at 2:34
  • Sometimes PA is needed.
    – mxmissile
    Sep 27, 2022 at 15:09

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