TL;DR: I drive to work at my own expense. My friend gets a free ride from me, saving her money and time. I say "don't be late" sometimes, and she freaks out.

So I live in a metropolitan area and have a vehicle. I have a friend/coworker who ditched her car when she moved here so she takes the metro by default. She has been late before but I have too, and I have a history of oversleeping as I am a heavy sleeper. Sometimes, and infrequently, I will simply say when I will plan on picking her up from the metro (as she takes a much shorter metro ride to my place to get carpool ride vs taking the metro all the way to work) so will say something like "I'm leaving at 600. Don't be late!". For whatever reason, she freaks out that I have the audacity to say "don't be late" when I have overslept before, which I said last night and overslept today. I tried to explain that I'm not being a hypocrite and only say it as a friendly reminder, as we are not infallible but she's not having it.

Some details:

  • I have a car, she does not
  • My commute is 20-30 min in my vehicle, her commute on metro is about an hour, her commute when carpooling is about 25-35 min (short metro ride and then carpool)
  • I spend a minimum of $70 in gas a month just commuting, she would spent at most $160 a month ($8 round trip per day x ~20 work days in a month) BUT she's part of a subsidy program for mass transit users which has a max allowance of $245/mo but I don't know how much she's receiving.
  • She does not pay me anything, ever. I don't ask but she never offers anything more than a "thanks".
  • Half the time, she doesn't even ride home with me because she decides to stay later to build credit hours at work or will make me wait for her
  • I was a GS-07 and she is a GS-09 (roughly $45k/year and $55k/year respectively, but I am a 09 now and she is becoming an 11 ($55 and $65 respectively). This is only relevant because she complains about money and not being able to afford the metro (despite the subsidy).
  • She also has another coworker that gives her rides (same situation but he lives close enough that he picks her up directly and she doesn't need the short metro ride over).

It's not my fault she GAVE her car to her sister back at home.

Just an example of how she acts, this one time she asked to stay 15 min later to build 15 min of credit hours, which is ridiculous if you ask me. I said I didn't want to but she insisted so I said okay and said I'll work on my project. I needed 15 min more than she did and when the first 15 min passed and she said she was done, I said I need 15 min more and she acted like that was ridiculous and she didn't want to have to wait for me, so we ended up staying 30 min past the work day.

How do I let her know that she's the one benefitting at my expense for something that is completely voluntary by myself and only serves to help her?

I refuse to stop asking her not to be late or to take back what I said before because I think I'm being perfectly reasonable. She thinks me saying that is "disrespectful and dictatorish". I'd prefer for this to not be the reason to end a friendship but I won't stand for disrespect. I don't mind this arrangement but I do mind her attitude. I think I'm only doing her a favor.

Sure I oversleep sometimes but I literally have 35+ alarms set over a 60 min period between my phone and 5 different clocks. I know, ridiculous. So it's not like I try to oversleep. I have a half-hearted apology which I could do better but the reason I don't drop the subject is because she demands respect and acts like only she's in the right (mind you I don't have to give her rides at all and they're free for her).

  • 22
    Apart from doing someone a favour, what do you gain from this carpool setup? What will you lose if you stop it (aside from an unhappier colleague)?
    – user8671
    Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 11:53
  • 2
    It's nice to have company but I don't feel the requirement for it. We work in the same building but that's it. We do grab lunch sometimes. I suppose another question would be that, how do I terminate this informal carpool arrangement? I expect a rebuttal along the lines of "I need this (which she has said). There's no reason why you can't wait 5 min total every day to drop me off and pick me up. The metro stop is literally on your way to work".
    – Greg
    Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 11:54
  • 1
    Thanks, I changed it. I'm not only looking for a yes/no but if my thoughts are justified. I assume because of the nature of the situation (hence why I gave the other details), aside from seldom oversleeping, she has no right to be moody when I simply say "don't be late".
    – Greg
    Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 12:01
  • 1
    It may be relevant that this takes place in Washington, DC. where there is a small subculture of "slugging" (casual carpooling). Commented Sep 7, 2018 at 18:49
  • 2
    You say you spend $70 on gas per month, but that's only part of the cost of a car. A better measure would be mileage. Let's assume you use the standard IRS mileage compensation values, currently 54.5 cents per mile. If your commute is, say, 8 miles one way, you're spending about $189 a month on your commute, considering the cost of gas, maintenance, replacing your vehicle eventually, etc.
    – Kyralessa
    Commented Sep 9, 2018 at 16:19

7 Answers 7


I don't think you're being unreasonable at all. There are many reasons why this arrangement is to your disadvantage, and there seems to be no benefit to yourself.

Regarding the fact she sometimes makes you late: you mention that you are sometimes late yourself even without her. Well, almost everybody is sometimes, but would you agree that most people know how much lateness they can afford? Irrespective of whether you need to be in work by a time stipulated by your employer or because it suits your own schedule, if you can be "late" yourself then you probably can't afford for someone else to make you late too. It doesn't matter whether your colleague thinks you are a hypocrite for asking her not to be late, fact is that she could make you late when you can't afford to be. This fact alone would make many conclude it might be better for you each to be responsible for getting your own selves to work on time.

Regarding her lack of contribution: well, this is a matter of her etiquette, not yours. Perhaps she reasons that as there is no additional cost to you (the details you give suggest you don't go out of your way, and she meets you en route) that she isn't costing you anything so there is no need to contribute. Of course, this isn't really in the spirit of carpooling. It is supposed to be a sharing of resources to save money and be more environmentally friendly among other things. Most people would offer to share the costs, especially if a fair percentage of your fuel costs is less than their public transport costs. Also, I believe your two incomes are completely irrelevant to the situation. Sure, the fact she earns more than you does make her complaints about her salary and also her lack of contribution to you a little more insulting, but even if the salaries were the other way around it would only be good etiquette to offer you a contribution.

Considering all of this, and after further discussion with you, to be honest I don't think what you have with this colleague even fits the definition of "carpooling". There are no shared savings from the arrangement. In fact there isn't much of an arrangement either - she rides with other people or you as and when she feels like it. It seems that what you do is entirely for her benefit.

This isn't a site for telling you what to do. Rather we try to help address problems in an interpersonal way. Whether you choose to end the arrangement or try and fix it you would need to talk to her. In either case, we advocate honesty and you should just be straight with her to avoid any ambiguity.

If you want to end the arrangement you could perhaps say:

I've been thinking about our car pooling, and it seems that on the whole we have different schedules. I want to be in work by 06:00 each day because this supports my preferred finishing time. Sorry, but that means it isn't possible for me to give you a ride anymore.

Alternatively, if you feel the situation could be rescued you could say:

I've been thinking about our car pooling, and it seems that on the whole we have different schedules. I want to be in work by 06:00 each day because this supports my preferred finishing time. I'd be happy to continue giving you a ride if you can fit in with that preference.

And see what she says. She may choose to get a ride with the other colleague instead, which is win-win.

You don't owe it to anybody to take them into work. Your employer will see you all as individually responsible for getting to work. What you have been doing for her is a kind gesture, even if she contributed, because you do not have to do it. I believe the approach above which focuses on your preference to be in work on time will be better received than if you tackle her about her attitude or lack of contribution. Getting her to see it from your point of view may even prompt her to address the latter.

  • 5
    Being late isn't a diciplinary issue actually. We are both now on a flex schedule so being late just means I have to stay x minutes later. Before I wasn't though so if we were late, I'd have to use time off. I guess there's also an assumption that I'm willing to drive her places like to some stores or get groceries, which I have. I helped her move and she had me drive here and there without disregard for my time/gas. She wanted to build credit hours so asked me to get her key, which there were problems all because she didn't want to do it herself. I feel she's just being disrespectful overall.
    – Greg
    Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 13:37
  • 1
    @Greg Okay. I still feel my answer is valid on this point though. Remember our Q&As here are to help other people in similar situations too. Even though you may be on flexible working time yourself, you make decisions on when you can leave early/late, and the uncertainty you experience from giving her a ride seems to be taking some of that flexibility away from you. There may be occasions when you still can't afford to be "late" by your own standards if perhaps your hours were in deficit?
    – Astralbee
    Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 13:41
  • 3
    She has 3 options: Metro, ride with me, or ride with other dude. She would simply ride with the other guy or take the metro if I didn't have my car. Today she said "I need rides from you because the subsidy doesn't pay enough". She seems to take whatever is convenient for her. I am thinking about ditching as i go in at 0600 now and she can't arrive at the metro until 545 and it's a 30 min drive, 20 with good traffic, speeding, and green lights.
    – Greg
    Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 13:59
  • 1
    @Greg Okay thanks Greg. I've made some changes. I hope you find the answer to your question, although I suspect you've already made a decision and are just looking for some support on it. I'm of the opinion that all decisions are easy - we just sometimes need some help believing in the decision we have already made.
    – Astralbee
    Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 15:39
  • 4
    Thanks, well I did give a better apology to her with an explanation (the same one I gave before) but also suggested we arrange our own transit. She accepted and agreed but we also agreed that I can give rides in circumstances such as weather or emergency. I believe most issues are simple too. I wanted to make sure I wasn't being unreasonable.
    – Greg
    Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 16:09

I have been in a similar situation with carpooling but we were always 3-4 people going together.

The system that we used was quite simple. If you were not where you are supposed to be on time you got left behind as it is not fair for 3 other people to be late if you can't make it.

At the end of the day you are the one doing a favour to that person. You set the rules. If she is not happy she doesn't have to carpool with you. Just stick to your schedule and offer rides if she wants them. You are under no obligation to stay late and wait for her or leave the moment she wants you to leave.

I can tell you that nobody was late more than once as we were carpooling to a nearby town and it was generally a pain to get there if you missed the car.

  • 1
    We kinda do that. She may say "I'll be there in 7 minutes" when it's already time to leave, which won't affect arrival time much and would be rude of me to just not wait 7 min. And it's just the two of us. If I was driving more people, I feel I could get away with leaving her . I mean I could either way, but to me it would seem ruder. If she misses a train, I leave. If she's late, I'll wait. Maybe I need to be more strict?
    – Greg
    Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 13:04
  • 1
    @Greg It wouldn't be terribly harsh to leave her, given that she can still take the Metro all the way to work; it just takes her longer. It sounds like her hours are pretty flexible anyway, given this "credit hours" business. If she's a minute late to catch the Metro, it's not going to wait for her; she'll have to catch the next one. If she's a minute late to your car, and you don't wait, there's not a next one...but on the other hand, riding with you has a lot more value for her than taking the Metro, so she should be more conscientious about being on time.
    – Kyralessa
    Commented Sep 9, 2018 at 16:23

Train here. You want to ride... I vow that I will never leave the station early. That, I can control.

As for "late", you gotta understand. Stuff happens, paperwork, responsibil-- ok look, at the end of the day, it's because I'm the train and that's how it is for trains.

That might seem unfair, that she owes you timekeeping and you don't owe it back in equal measure, but that is a reality when you are the train.

So from my perspective... if she's at the agreed place at the scheduled time, and you're not, the only possible reason is that you're late. You didn't leave early - you wouldn't. So she can wait a few minutes and along you'll come.

And then, you do your fair level best to stick to timekeeping. End of the day, if your best isn't good enough for the customer, this mode of transport may not be for them. Main thing is: You do the best you can do, and don't worry about it.

Since you only have one passenger, lucky you, you're free to negotiate of course. If she runs late and calls you, and you're agreeable, you can wait if you want, but you don't owe her that. Just stick to what works for you. In your case, your friend always has a plan-B to get home, so she's not dependent.

One more thing, I'll tell you a secret. Running a couple minutes late actually helps stragglers. Even with cell phones pulling time off satellites, not everyone's phone is synchronized to the second. Happens all the time where a straggler rolls up to the station with their watch showing 7:00 and mine says 7:01, and I'da been gone. Let the schedule slide a minute or two, and a bunch of passenger complaints just go away.


You are absolutely right and it is not your job to take her to work everyday. That situation for waiting 15 minutes is ridicules and I am pretty sure she is a selfish person and only interested in her own feelings. Discussing directly the issue with her will looks like you got fed up and now don't want to do it anymore. I wouldn't do that, first - since the nature of your relationship was not established in such a way and second - you will not gain neither lose something except relief sometimes accompanied with guilt maybe.

To me it looks like she have one of those "skill" to be always-in-control over the situation. Expressions like "I need this", "I need that", "I am not going to do that" are strong example of turning the situation in her favour due to the fact that they will makes you feel bad if you don't do something. On the other hand, I think you are giving too much explanation to her. You have absolutely no need of doing that! Your problem maybe currently is with this coworker, but my guess is that can be applied to any other situation.

What you should try instead is to give short responses/answers on any situation that makes you even little discomfort, and make sure they know that you'll feel bad otherwise. For example, you are waiting in the car her or on your way but you know she is late, try to call her before and say only "I am in a hurry and I need to go, if you won't be able to make it in 5 minutes just know that I am gone. See you latter." She might insist on you waiting for her and probably ask what you need to do so urgently but just insist that you are in a hurry or say something short without giving any information that will justify your need to go.

You can also tell her in a totally not related situation that you want to change your lifestyle and that you put some rules to follow. One of them will be also to be consistent in going to bed and leaving to work with your "new time schedule". Your focus should be to slightly move out of the situation that you are currently in, if you want to keep the friendship. Otherwise she might take it personally.

In any case you need to work out on your skills to express emotions in a subtle way so others wont use your soft side of the heart. Next time when she told you to wait for her 15min credit hours - tell that you feel trapped or depressed or whatever that you need to spend any minute in the office. And remember - it's your life, you define what you are doing with it.

  • 1
    She does have a bold personality and makes it a point that she doesn't tolerate disrespect. I supposed I haven't really shown disdain for her tardiness and could do that more. I have said things like "Where have you been?" or "I've been waiting for 10 min" or simply "I hate waiting and want to go home".
    – Greg
    Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 13:38
  • 1
    @Greg Remember: You are the one with the car.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Sep 8, 2018 at 14:03

If you want your colleague to be on time

First off, try to always be on time yourself. It's much easier to demand other people to be on time if you set an example.

Second, stop calling it "carpooling". What you do is not really a case of car sharing, instead you give her a ride. Use this exact wording, e.g. "sorry I can't give you a ride tomorrow" or "I can give you a ride at 6:30". That should serve as a reminder that your colleague is the one to benefit from the arrangement.

Finally, announce the hours which suit you often and make her agree: "I'm driving to work at 6:30 and plan to drive back at 5:00, is that OK?". If she says "no" you simply tell her she'll have to use the subway. If she agrees, that gives you a fresh argument against her being late in the morning or wanting to stay late in the evening.


Consider asking her to contribute to the rides. If you split gas expenses 50/50, perhaps it wouldn't be so much of a problem for you to occasionally wait for her 5-7 minutes in the morning when she's late, and stay 15 extra minutes in the evening when she has something urgent to finish.

  • 2
    Actually, you don't split the cost of gas, you split the expenses. There is insurance, there is wear and tear on the car, and so on. In the UK, if you can deduct travel cost from taxes, you can deduct 45 pence per mile for the first 10,000 miles a year.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Sep 8, 2018 at 14:01
  • @gnasher729 I see one big issue with that though. At that point, she would want split use of the car, and if she argued that, I would agree with her. Money is nice but it's not a priority hence why I allowed this arrangement in the first place without compensation. It's the disrespect without monetary compensation that I can't stand. If she paid but was late, that's a whole other story.
    – Greg
    Commented Sep 10, 2018 at 16:20
  • 1
    @Greg I would argue that if she only contributes 50% towards gas which was used to drive you both to work, and you keep paying other expenses like insurance and repairs, she has zero claim for a split use of the car. But you can of course choose the first alternative. Commented Sep 11, 2018 at 7:04

Your arrangement is operating on the basis of social norms, and it isn't working out because she's not taking care to be socially acceptable.

I suggest you change your arrangement to operate on market norms.

As I noted above, even your $70/month for gas doesn't reflect the true costs of owning a car:

  • gas
  • maintenance
  • insurance
  • wear-and-tear (eventually requiring the purchase of a replacement car)

A better reflection would be a standard mileage rate, such as the IRS mileage reimbursement rate of 54.5c/mile for 2018.

I'm going to guess that your commute is about 12 miles one way. At 54.5 cents per mile, that's $6.54 per one-way trip. On that basis, commuting by car is costing you about $283/month.

Now you know the cost of her ride: $3.27 per one-way trip.

And now that you know that, you can decide how you want her to pay. One option is for her to pay when she rides with you, but not when she doesn't because she's late. That way she can be less upset about being late, because she's saving $3.27 each time.

Another option is to allow her to continue not paying, but impose a penalty whenever she's late. How much would be enough to leave you happy to be getting the extra cash rather than upset about the lateness? Perhaps $2 per 5 minutes of lateness, for example. Her 15 minutes of extra "credit time" would net you $6 in exchange for waiting for her, and she can decide if it's worth $6 to her to get credit time and make you late.

Sometimes it's a bad idea to replace social norms with market norms, because it allows people to shamelessly pay to continue to engage in bad behavior. But in this case she doesn't seem to have any shame (in fact, she's trying to shame you!), so you have nothing to lose here.

  • This is good. The only issue for me is it's totally not a thing I would actually do. Granted I got the car for free from my parents, it certainly isn't cheap to maintain. This was one of those situations where my sense of business irks me enough over friendship, especially when I'm being freeloaded off of. For people who don't have a problem with collecting money, I'd recommend this.
    – Greg
    Commented Sep 10, 2018 at 16:19

Desperate times require desperate measures.

Here I make assumption that your pooling buddy doesn't really react well to verbal pleads made in "good will". And also due to their personality/identity/character your buddy fails to realize that this behaviour is not acceptable.

Basically your buddy is getting a "free ride" and doesn't "feel pain" of being late or smth. Basically we need your buddy to start feeling the "pain of responsibility". And IMHO the best way to do it - to introduce "financial responsibility" or so it "hurts financially".

Asking for .50$ per mile is pointless, as it doesn't really give you any advantage. Now when the person is late - they can claim that they pay you for mileage and you're still bugging them with being late and "do not hold on to your side of responsibility" (that would be cheeky, but some people don't have boundaries... and twist situations to their advantage...)

The idea of @Kyralessa is good, but $6 for being late still feels like a free ride, plus actually the actual process of getting paid (finding notes, finding change, will be annoying and taxing to you).

I would proppose, that you introduce "carpool driver respect deposit". The deposit may be "topped up" in the beginning of the month. Your buddy gives you $100 as the deposit (yes, it can't be small money like $10). Remember that this money is NOT "payment" for the ride (you still hold the claim that you give them the ride for free and maintain leverage). The purpose of the deposit - is to give your buddy flexibility to be late when they want, but under given conditions and with the price to pay for being late. (Again, remember, that the ride is still free!)

Now the interesting part: The Being Late Tarifs

  • every time buddy is late [1min-5min] from the deposit is deduced a $5 fee
  • every time buddy is late [6min-10min] from deposit deducted $20 fee
  • every time buddy is late [11min-15min] from deposit deducted $50 fee
  • [16min+] you can either just charge $100 or just take off

The purpose here is to use exponential raise in tariff to drive necessary behaviour from your buddy:

  • If you're little late (happens to all of us, once a week you can afford to pay $5)
  • if you're late - shell out $20 and try harder next time
  • if you're very late - well, the annoyance one feels shelling out $50 bucks for being late should make person feel the pain you feel when being very late.

Also on shaming, etc. Important part is that - you still offer the ride for free, so you have the upper hand. No one can have any decent arguments against you, as you're giving person free rides.

It's them paying for the "disrespect" or "being late" or whatever you prefer to call them. They're absolutely free to arrive on time and get free ride.

The only "iron rule" you should define since the very early stage and stick to it:

No money in the "driver respect deposit" - no ride

The argument you can make: "You want a free ride - show me some respect!"


ps. Of course such financial ways of motivation may look from first sight weird and awkward and shouldn't occur when people respect each other's time. But as I wrote in the opening: desperate times require desperate measures.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.