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My girlfriend and I bought a used car together a few months ago. Although it wasn't too expensive, it is in a good condition, we take care of it, and like it very much.

I participate in a team sport in the suburbs and I usually drive my teammates downtown after practice. Unfortunately, some of the guys simply do not respect our car as we do. They have already made minor scratches on the dashboard and visibly make themselves at home. I would like to stop it once and for all.

How to handle this without an embarrassing conversation?

One more thing: I joined the team a half a year ago, but most of them know each other for many years.

  • is there anyone else who drives that can take them downtown? or are you the only person available, normally? Like if you said no, can they just go to someone else? – Bradley Wilson Sep 5 '17 at 20:21
  • There are two cars usually for 8-10 persons so they don't fit in one car. Furthermore some of them doesn't do anything wrong and I like to take them. If I say no to others, I should say no to them too. – user4900 Sep 5 '17 at 20:25
  • are you close to the other driver? – Bradley Wilson Sep 5 '17 at 20:28
  • Slightly more than to others. But he is not a "let's talk about it" guy at all. – user4900 Sep 5 '17 at 20:34
  • What are some things you have seen them do? – Tycho's Nose Sep 5 '17 at 20:34
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You have three choices:

  • in the moment that a person disrespects your car, such as putting their feet somewhere inappropriate, ask them not to. You can use casual language such as "Dude, seriously?" or you can be funny by imitating your mother "young man, were you born in a barn? Feet belong on the floor!" or you can be more straightforward, but either way you are clearly asking them not to do that in the moment that they do it.
  • when it's time to give rides, choose the people who respect the car. Don't say why, just say "I have room for A, B, C, and D in my car." This is awkward if A and B don't live anywhere near C and D and you're rejecting E, who does, but if you are all headed to roughly the same place, it's cool. Probably no-one will ask why you chose those 4, but if they do, you are actually under no obligation to answer.
  • put up with the rough treatment and ruining of your possessions and consider a cost of being accepted in this group. That's what you're doing now. The sad thing is that none of the rough-and-tumblers probably feel any gratitude or happiness about being allowed to wreck your stuff. They don't even know they're doing it. So there is very little benefit accruing to you from putting up with it.

Me, I would politely request specific actions to stop, but would not give a speech about respecting property. And since you can't fit everyone in the car, I would also deliberately choose the people you would rather take. It's nothing to be ashamed of or feel guilty about.

(For an extreme offender, you might want to do what I did once when my car, driven by my youngest, arrived at my house with a huge smeary greasy print of a bare foot on the inside of the windshield. I asked my youngest "who was in the front seat?" and handed that young man a roll of paper towels and a bottle of window cleaner, and sent him out to make it right. I never had to do anything else like that again and my car stayed much cleaner.)

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    Good answer. The emphasis on "in the moment that they do it" is really important. – Tycho's Nose Sep 5 '17 at 20:46
  • You are right, I should just skip the emotional education part about respect to avoid that sweaty conversation. – user4900 Sep 5 '17 at 21:44
  • I don't think "Dude, seriously" would work unless the people KNOW their behavior is unacceptable. (In which case, they are dicks for still doing it anyway). A simple "Please don't put your feet there" might work a lot better. – Erik Sep 6 '17 at 8:17
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As a car owner and observer of people, for many years now, some of this can be corrected, some won't. I can use a metaphor. I

My girlfriend and I bought a house together a few months ago. Although it wasn't too expensive, it is in a good condition, we take care of it, and like it very much.

We have a lot of friends and a busy social life. We often have people over to our house as they all have apartments and such that are too small to accommodate the gatherings. Unfortunately, some of them simply do not respect our home as we do. They have already made minor scratches on the counter, stains in the carpets and visibly make themselves at home. I would like to stop it once and for all.

Here is the issue where I say some can't be stopped. The more people you load into a car, the more it's at capacity, the more likely things will get damaged. There is also the issue that you are loading a bunch of men (likely young?) with the energy of just coming off a sporting event to travel to another location enclosed in relatively tight space, and likely their behavior will be a bit exuberant.

So I would say there are likely two things here. You can for sure try to minimize the wear and tear on the car from giving these rides, but you won't eliminate it. The more people you put into any space, the likelihood of damage goes up exponentially. The more energetic/pumped up/exuberant the passengers, again, another risk factor as people are distracted and overly rough with their bodies when excited.

So I would simply say it before loading in the car. As I walk toward the car with the people I am going to transport I'd say something like

Hey guys, please be a little careful getting in & out with your gear. There have been a few accidental dings and scratches and I might want to resell this thing. You all are awesome, but transporting 5 sweaty athletes isn't likely going to ever be a selling point.

And expect some damage. You really have to. It's part of life. We have hosted lots of parties. When we first bought a house I used to find it so frustrating how impossible it seemed to keep such issues at bay. Eventually I realized you can't. It's part of agreeing to host (I don't mean horrible stuff, but stuff, like a scratch in your wood floor) and that I was either going to need to accept that as part of the deal or stop hosting. I like people and parties too much to choose to stop, so instead I chose to stop sweating the small things and enjoy it (and fix as much as I could after & call the rest "home character").

My car also shows plenty of signs of all the people that have ridden in it. I have kids, I had this same car with older kids, I have transported adults, babies, kids, teens, mostly my own, but also plenty of others. It's going to show. You have to adjust what you expect so you aren't being unduly stressed by things you cannot control. AND just to be clear I don't even allow food or drink other than water in my car, and still, it just shows wear. That isn't because we don't take care of it, it's just because lots of people have been through it.

  • I agree with the "it's part of life" but I have to say two things: Firstly, I respect other people's stuff more than mine if they do me a favour. I might be a patsy (I don't know if it's the correct word) but I would require this from others. Secondly, I understand that amortisation is an inevitable consequence of usage but scratching the interior and playing with the window buttons like a child does not belong to "regular usage". Although, me and my gf use our car more often than my team mates (by definition), we erode it less than those guys. – user4900 Sep 6 '17 at 10:26
  • I understand, but you are talking about a lot of people in a small space who seem to be rather rowdy at the time of entry. This isn't a book club you are transporting, hence the expectation is adjusted. As far as playing with windows, etc, again, this is something I have seen when I am transporting loud, gregarious people. They are distracted by their focus on the conversation, cracking jokes, carrying on and they loose track of their social etiquette. I doubt any one of those people transported alone would act similarly, it's the group setting that is likely your biggest issue here. – threetimes Sep 6 '17 at 10:57
  • Oh & "patsy" means someone you can easily take advantage of or blame things on. I am not sure what you were meaning. If what are doing is giving them a ride home after your event, are you being compensated for gas and such by them? I would think that is reasonable to expect in return. – threetimes Sep 6 '17 at 11:01
  • I meant they take advantage of me without showing enough respect to my property. Isn't "patsy" a good word to describe this? – user4900 Sep 6 '17 at 11:10
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    It would be if that is your intent (hence I said I wasn't sure what you were meaning - in that case, yes, that is the correct word). Do you know these people well enough to know how they take care of their own things? They could in fact be taking care of your things better than they take care of their own. I have seen some young people that show very little regard for their own things, even when they don't have a lot of money. – threetimes Sep 6 '17 at 11:20

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