Make It Stop: “I’m Stuck Giving My Neighbor Rides Every Day”

Make It Stop is a new weekly column in which Anna Goldfarb — the blogger behind Shmitten Kitten and Shlooby Kitten — tells you what’s up. Want a fresh take on a stinky dilemma? Email [email protected] with the subject “Make It Stop.” She’ll make it all better, or at least make you laugh. Girl Scout’s honor.

First up, how to dump some who uses you as a personal taxi service:

How do I get out of driving my neighbor to and from work? She has lived next to me the whole three years I have lived in my condo, but for the last year or so she took a job in the same town I did. It’s about 40 minutes away. We don’t work at the same place, but about 10 minutes away from each other. The thing is, she’s from NYC, where you don’t really need a car. But now she’s in her late 30s and has lived in this state since she was 16 and never got her license! I’m happy to carpool in theory, but driving her everywhere just gotten old. She’s always late in the morning or takes forever to pay me. Last week she told me they changed her schedule at work and now she has to be there earlier than I do, so she got someone else to take her. I was so excited. Now she wants a ride home a few times a week but I need to get home to let my dog out who has been inside nine hours. How do I just tell her no more rides?

It’s a shame you can’t just tell her, “I hate driving your cheap, lazy ass and I don’t want to do it anymore,” even though I’m sure that would feel really liberating to do. I wish you could write that on a cake and have it delivered to her office. Could you imagine how many Tumblr notes a picture of that cake would get? It’d be hilarious.

Listen, the key with getting out of this carpool from hell is to be concise. She might beg, whine, or try to negotiate if you give her too much info. You want to avoid having her weasel her way back into your passenger seat at all costs.

For instance, if you say, “I have to run home to let my dog out so this arrangement doesn’t work for me anymore.: She could come back with, “Oh, is there a better time to pick me up? I’m totally flexible. I can ask my supervisor to let me out a bit early.”

My fear is that she’s not going to make this easy for you. She wants this ride. She will fight for it as much intensity as me when I’m PMS-ing and want nachos. You can’t let that happen. And, by the power of Bruce Jenner’s ponytail, you gotta shut that shit down.

I would say, “Just to let you know, I can’t carpool with you anymore as of [give date]. Best of luck!” That “best of luck!” is a conversation ender. That’s like an upbeat middle finger. The giving of a date is optional, because it’s a courtesy.

Do you still want to be friends with this woman or at least cordial? If so, then I would call or tell her this in person. If you never want to see her unlicensed ass again, then sending her a short text message is fine. Is it shitty? A little. But she’s been shitty to you, so I give you a pass.

Enjoy your solo rides from now on and if you ever offer someone a carpool again, set a deadline! Say, “I’m happy to drive you for two months but then you have to work something else out.” Godspeed!

I am one of three kids. I live in Boston proper and every holiday for as long as I can remember, I have traveled to various relatives’ houses to celebrate. (They’re scattered around suburban Boston.) In the past few years, my brother got divorced, and my grandparents have passed away — so my sister has hosted ALL the holidays at her house. For everyone else, it’s a 20 minute drive, but for me, it’s about two hours away. Last Christmas, I invited everyone to come to my apartment in Boston and my sister got very upset. She had all kinds of excuses, mainly the drive would be too much for HER to handle and claiming our parents are too old to travel into the city. (Mind you, Mom and Dad visit me probably twice a year and are just fine.) Also, I have a guest bedroom, it’s not like anyone who didn’t want to drive home would have to get a hotel room. I relented, but I was really annoyed about it.

This year, I invited everyone for Thanksgiving and my sister had the same response — she put the kibosh on it by claiming it’s too much of a hassle for others. Mind you, her only child is 15, hardly a baby anymore. Frankly, I am getting sick of being expected to do so much traveling for every holiday when they get to stay at home. What about the hassle for ME?!  When do I get to host a family gathering? My brother tells me he truly does not care where we go, he’s happy to come into Boston, and he thinks my sister is just being controlling and lazy. My parents would do whatever us kids want to do. I agree, she IS being controlling, it’s hard not to feel insulted, and I really don’t know what to do.  Please help.

I’m going to tell you what my therapist told me when I complained about my family obligations: you are an adult. You can do whatever you want.

Your sister insists on hosting for the holidays. Here are your choices:

1. Opt out. If the thought of trudging two hours during the holidays makes you want to burst a blood vessel, then don’t go. Stay and celebrate with friends in Boston. Say, “Unfortunately, I can’t make it this year, but I’ll be there with you in spirit.” Your family can deal with celebrating the holiday without you and perhaps next year, they will be more willing to take up your invitation.

2. Propose a compromise. Say, “Let’s work out a system. You pick either Christmas or Thanksgiving and I’ll get the other.” See what she says.

3. Travel the two hours and accept that this is the price you pay to see your family and keep the peace.

Is it possible that there something your sister’s not telling you? Is her kid the one who refuses to travel? Do either have health issues that preclude them from traveling and the thought of not being able to control their surroundings gives them anxiety?  Maybe there are some other issues at play that you aren’t clued into. Sure, maybe she’s a total monster, but I’d give her the benefit of the doubt.

As for having everyone over at your house, keep in mind that hosting a controlling person is a hassle too. You’d have to hear all about what a schlep it is for her to get to your place. She might criticize your neighborhood — “Is it even safe to park here? — or your house— “It’s really drafty in here, FYI” — or your furniture — “Why is everything from IKEA?” — or your cooking — “This turkey is way too dry.” The list is endless. At least when you go to her house, she’ll be more likely to “play nice.” She’s the hostess so she’s more likely to want to please you, which is a bonus.

If the thought of missing out on the festivities is too upsetting to consider, then suck it up and go to your sister’s. Being a team player and showing up for your family is the most loving thing you can do.

If I were you, I’d go to my sister’s. Sure, I’d be super annoyed at traveling and you better believe I’d swear up and down the entire way to her place, but I’d also realize that being the best sister and daughter is what the holidays are all about. Well, that and napping, wearing sweatpants around the clock, and eating leftover pie for breakfast.

One day, you will host your own holidays with your own family that you’ve created. And it will be awesome. But since that day isn’t here yet, just let your sister deal with the dirty dishes.

Anna Goldfarb is the blogger behind Shmitten Kitten and the author of Clearly I Didn’t Think This Through: The Story Of One Tall Girl’s Impulsive, Ill-Conceived And Borderline Irresponsible Life Decisions. (She is, however, thinking through the responses to these questions very seriously.) Follow her on Twitter!