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Background: To get a technical diploma I started to attend school last week again and will be there till may next year. I'm currently 22 yo and I'm generally a very agreeable person. The school is about 35 minutes of driving time away from me and has very few parking slots.

I knew beforehand that one other very shy guy (Bob) from my small town would also visit the school, so I planned to carpool with him.

On the first day everyone introduced themselves. A third guy (Steve) heard us talking about where we were from and asked if we could drive together. Picking him up adds about 5 - 10 minutes of detour to the overall drive.

It was the first day and not knowing anyone yet but Bob I thought I'd be fine and maybe even a good opportunity to make a new friend. Steve didn't tell us he would not have a car the majority of the time for the next three months till the next day after we already agreed on it but told us, he'd give us money for the time.

Now after a little more than a week, I don't feel like it's really working out. The extra minutes of detour would be fine if the ride itself was fun. It's not really because Steve doesn't talk much and only looks at his smartphone. Steve also comes across as arrogant and judging from the few stories he told me as a somewhat vengeful or narcissistic person (proudly talking about how he was almost fired for ignoring his superiors orders).

Even worse at school he does ignore Bob and me (avoids eye contact, walks very far behind or in front) and only talks with his clique. Which is weird because while I don't talk much with the people in his group I have no problems having a normal conversation with them - and for that matter I'm doing fine with most people there. He didn't even know my name after a full week even though we had to introduce ourselves 3 times at that point.

TL;DR

Steve's behaviour feels unacceptable and disrespectful to me. While he doesn't have to acknowledge my presence I also don't have to drive him to school. He's is depended on Bob and me, because the bus, his only alternative aside from Bob, takes over an hour and will put him at school 40 minutes early. (So 1h 40m of time while being expensive.)

I want to avoid getting personal because he will still be in my class for the rest of the year.

How do I tell him politely I won't drive him anymore without making him an enemy?

Thank you.

Edit: Bob and I take turns driving our own cars.

  • I'm not quite clear on the carpool arrangement, is it that you and Bob take turns driving your own cars, or are you the only car owner? Have you talked with Bob about this? – Em C Sep 19 '18 at 13:49
  • We both take turns driving our own cars. I did talk with Bob a little bit about it. He's not very happy about the situation either. If I pull out he most likely will also do it. – John Brown Sep 19 '18 at 13:54
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Excerpt from the comments, serves as a TL;DR

Steve is paying for his lack of providing a car for 1 out of 3 trips, right? Assuming it's a fair compensation, he's not really getting a favor (nor are you providing a service) from you as much as he's contributing equally.
From the looks of it, Steve's a bit more practical about your arrangement and doesn't quite see friendship as part of the deal. Regardless of why he chooses to approach the agreement this way, I see nothing wrong about what he's doing.

As I said, you're free to end the agreement, but I'm not convinced that Steve's behavior is a valid justification for doing so.


This maybe isn't what you want to hear, but I would consider dropping an agreement because of Steve not meeting an (unspoken) agreement of being your friend is not a valid justification.

That doesn't mean you can't change your mind. The agreement was not set in stone and you can change or revoke it. But if Steve were to be upset about it, I'd say he's got a fair point of view (unless he exagerates).

The extra minutes of detour would be fine if the ride itself was fun. It's not really because Steve doesn't talk much and only looks at his smartphone.

While I can understand you being disappointed that Steve's not partaking in conversations, I don't think you can require him to do so either. If he doesn't want to talk, he shouldn't be forced to.

Your carpool agreement does not bind him to be your friend.

Steve also comes across as arrogant and judging from the few stories he told me as a somewhat vengeful or narcissistic person (proudly talking about how he was almost fired for ignoring his superiors orders).

Is he actively arrogant (or otherwise unfriendly) towards you, or is he simply talking and revealing things about himself that show he is an arrogant person?

If the former, you have a valid complaint about Steve's behavior.

If the latter, you're effectively judging Steve based on his personality. This by itself is not a valid reason to break the agreement. Not everyone's character is flawless, not everyone is able to remove/hide/counteract their personal flaws.

If Steve is not actively acting out against you, I don't think you can really judge him for misbehaving. At worst, you can consider this a clash of characters rather than misbehavior on Steve's part.

Even worse at school he does ignore Bob and me (avoids eye contact, walks very far behind or in front) and only talks with his clique.

If he's specifically avoiding you or talking about you behind your back, that is a slight.

However, if he's simply hanging out with his friends instead of you, that's perfectly fine. Just because you carpool doesn't mean he needs to hang out with you during the day. He did not sign a friendship contract.

While he doesn't have to acknowledge my presence I also don't have to drive him to school.

While I get your point, do keep in mind that you came to an agreement where you drive him to school. Steve didn't particularly agree to hang out with you during school hours.

I want to avoid getting personal because he will still be in my class for the rest of the year.

You're judging him based on him not meeting unspoken expectations, and his character. While you're of course entitled to your opinion, you have made it personal (at the very least to Steve's point of view).

The only way to avoid it getting personal would be by lying about your reasons to end the agreement, and lying is inherently not a good interpersonal solution.

While your assessment of Steve's personality may be accurate, even if it is spot on, it does not inherently invalidate the carpool deal that was made, as long as Steve is not actively being a dick to you.


How do I tell him politely I won't drive him anymore without making him an enemy?

If Steve were already being actively disrespectful towards you, as per your claim, how would you expect him to stop doing so after you cancel the agreement? I doubt it's going to get better.

You can't guarantee that Steve won't mind you breaking the agreement. However, that doesn't mean you're not allowed to change or cancel the agreement. The best you can do here is be polite, explain that it's a mismatch of characters and do not resort to namecalling, criticizing or judging. Don't make statements that imply he is the problem. Focus on the fact that you and him are a bad fit, rather than one person being "bad".

Offer him a reasonable notice period so he can make arrangements. I can't tell you how long; that very much depends on Steve's situation (and general behavior towards you during the notice period). Talking to him might even be enough to shake him loose and address the issues you've experienced - if you're willing to give him a second chance at least.

Whether Steve takes offence or not, depends on Steve. If he does get upset (within reasonable boundaries), you can't really hold that against him.

  • I appreciate different takes on the topic. I don't want him as a friend. I just expect at least mutual respect for going out of my way to help him. – John Brown Sep 19 '18 at 14:45
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    @JohnBrown what would that "mutual respect" look like? What are your expectations of how he should behave in order to continue to be part of your carpool group? To be clear, it sounds like you initially included him because you thought you might become friends, but when he talks you don't like it (he sounds vengeful and narcissistic to you) and when he doesn't talk you don't like it (it seems to you like he's ignoring your presence). – De Novo Sep 19 '18 at 16:58
  • Sure, as for almost all decisions one has multiple reasons that factor into it. The possibility of me making friends with him was certainly one of it. There were other reasons like having the benefit of having three different drivers to save gas and stress or personal goals like trying to be open for new opportunities. It was also a decision that was made within 5s after hearing his question. The core issue is getting treated like a stranger by someone you provide a service to every day. So I'd be nice if he would not pretend I don't exist outside the realm of the car. I mean, is that wrong? – John Brown Sep 19 '18 at 17:36
  • @DeNovo (2/2) The issue is not him not talking per se. It is him not talking even though he seems very talkative with other people. To be clear he does talk, but he uses minimum word responses that stop conversations. My judgement is definitely not completely accurate, but I can only base it on his actions including his body language and my experience. Also I'm not responsible for the fact that he doesn't own a car. So with the benefits removed, I don't see a good enough reason to continue the carpool group which at the end of the day only makes me feel bad and costs extra time. – John Brown Sep 19 '18 at 18:17
  • @JohnBrown sorry, just trying to clarify in these comments. It sounds like your response (you expect mutual respect) suggests there is a way he could change his behavior that would make you happy with the arrangement. Is there? What would it be? Maybe this comment exchange would be better in response to your question, but it was in response to your statement in a comment here. I'm trying to clarify your problem to help improve this and other answers. – De Novo Sep 19 '18 at 18:28
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I think there are two issues here, firstly, there seems to be a difference in expectations between you and and Steve. You see picking him up as a favor, he sees it as a fair trade of services(I assume this), since he is paying for it. How much he is paying determines which is really the case, but that does not mean both of you see it that way. He may genuinely think a small amount is enough to make you happy about it.

The second issue is that you seem to have very different characters. You see it as very rude to be in a small space with someone you know and not engage in some small talk (I also think it is a bit rude), but he may not see it that way. Some people are not really in to small talk, and only want to talk about things they are very interested in. I doubt Steve means to be disrespectful to you because not getting a ride would be quite inconvenient for him. I also get the feeling a bit that you believe your way of doing things is superior to his, he may see you as arrogant too.

I think there are two ways of trying to solve this. The easy way is making sure you get paid enough for it to be worth the trouble. His share of the cost plus wages for half an hour a day. You could say: "Hey Steve, picking you up every day takes a lot more time than I thought, I think it would be fair if you pay XXX, is that ok with you?". You could check how much the bus costs, and use that as an argument if he complains. Then make sure he sits in the back, and just enjoy the time with your friend. If you are happy with the financial arrangement, and don't expect anything more from him, there should be nothing to feel bad about anymore.

The hard way would be to tell him you don't want to drive with him anymore. You would also miss out on a nice opportunity to practice getting along with people who are very different that you are, that is a very important skill in life for most people. You will probably have to work together with them later, and communicate with them in all sorts of situations. Avoiding a possible conflict should not be a reason to drive him though. If you really don't want to do something, you should always stick up for yourself and not do it. Then you just say something like: "Hey Steve, I'm very sorry, but picking you up every day is much more difficult than I thought, I would prefer to drive with Bob only". This is assuming that Bob feels the same as you though, it seems you are in this together, so you need to solve it together too.

I was not there, so I can never fully understand the situation, but I have the feeling that the best thing to do would be to think a bit about what you expect from him, and why his behavior annoys you so much. The only thing we can really control in any situation is our own behavior. Never waste your time thinking about what others should do differently, that is their problem, if it is not right, it will catch up with them sooner or later. Just let people be how they are, and think about what reaction will work best for you in the end.

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Just be direct with him:

I am sorry Steve, but I can no longer carpool with you. You will have to take the bus or find some other means of transportation going forward.

You don't need to give a reason, it is your car and your time and you are not his personal driver ( and based on your description of Steve, he is not much of a friend ). If that makes him an "enemy", that is his problem not yours.

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    Can you elaborate a little more about why you feel this would be a good idea, and wouldn't make an enemy out of the OP. What would happen if Steve did get mad, what would the OP do to help defuse the situation? Or resolve it? – ElizB Sep 19 '18 at 14:46

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