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Pitching In Gas Money

Recently, several of us were invited to a mutual friend’s birthday party. The party location was approximately 60 miles away. I told my husband I would be happy to stay sober to safely drive him home. A couple days before the party, another couple contacted me and asked if we could ride together. I said that since I’m already the designated driver, I didn’t have a problem driving more people. My car only seats two, which they know. On the day of the party, I hadn’t heard from them whether or not I could use one of their larger cars (I realize I should have simply come out and asked), so I borrowed an unrelated friend’s larger car. We go to the party and have a good time. Before making the hour and 10 minute drive back home, I tell them I’ll have to find a gas station. This elicits a whole conversation from them about the high price of gas, and how the borrowed car gets horrible gas mileage. Yet no one pitched in a couple of dollars.

While at first I thought that I should simply have asked for the money, they were the ones who brought up the gas prices while I was filling up the car. Clearly, they knew that gas costs a lot right now, and saw me putting gas into the car that gets poor mileage. I am curious as to why a simple $5 wasn’t forthcoming, yet for me to ask about it felt as if I were being too blunt at that point. To me, it’s like when I am invited to a friend’s house on a hot day, and after waiting around for 20 minutes or so, I have to ask for something to drink. I feel uncomfortable indirectly pointing out what a person should be doing. But perhaps I’m the rude one, since it’s not like people are able to read my mind and magically know what I expect.

I welcome your opinions! 0305-12


{ 103 comments… add one }
  • essie March 7, 2012, 6:48 am

    Okay, here’s my opinion. (1) When they first asked if you could ride together, I think you should have said, at that moment, “I’d love to, but my car only seats 2.” That gives them the option of offering one of their cars or saying “Oh, never mind, then.”

    (2) YOU were the one who borrowed your friend’s car, not them. Although it would have been courteous of them to offer something towards the gas cost, it wasn’t required.

    (3) Bluntly, your friends are moochers. They didn’t want to spend the money to get themselves to the party. They didn’t offer the use of their vehicle, although (according to you) they knew their request to ride together necessitated one, which made you feel obligated to provide it for them. They didn’t offer to help with the fuel costs of the trip. They wanted (and got) free taxi service.

    (4) Beggars can’t be choosers. Since they expected YOU to accommodate THEM, they had no right to complain about the car you provided for them, whether it was the fuel efficiency, the color/make/model, the lack of spaciousness, the smell, the hard seats, the squeaky springs, or the quality (or lack) of the sound system.

    The fact that they complained about the car being a “gas hog” suggests to me that, even if you had asked them to help with the cost, they would have claimed they shouldn’t have to pay for it because (A) it’s not their car and (B) their own car is so much more fuel-efficient (as though it wouldn’t have required even a drop of gas to use their car).

  • josie March 7, 2012, 6:48 am

    When they asked to ride along, you should of just pointed out the obvious and say “my car only seats 2, what do you suggest?” Why you borrowed the friends vehicle, gas hog or not, its yours to take care of. You guys need to speak up!

  • Jojo March 7, 2012, 6:56 am

    There really are a lot of people out there who are expected to be mind readers. It seemed like a fair deal to say to the couple that if OP was giving them a lift it would be best to use their car. It sounds like the couple who asked for a lift just didn’t think about the logistics or perhaps know about the size of OP’s car?How were they meant to know what the situation was if it hadn’t been brought up directly with them by OP? And why would you borrow someone else’s car entirely? Why not just say that you’d love to extend an invitation but there’s not enough room in your car and allow them to offer a solution?
    As for petrol, the general convention we have in our family is that the person who borrows the car fills it up with a little extra petrol before returning it. Yes, the other couple should have offered to pitch in but at no point was it indicated to them that this was expected. Were they told OP had borrowed a car to get them to the party? I think it unlikely. Yes the other couple could have done a bit more than mooch a lift and not pay their way but not indicating there was an issue in the first place just leads to resentment on the part of the OP and confusion on the part of everyone else.

  • NotCinderell March 7, 2012, 7:09 am

    I think it was pretty thoughtless of them not to at least offer, and I think you did the right thing by not asking for gas money. Kind of like the quote in the movie Winter’s Bone, when Ree tells her brother, “Never ask for what should be freely given.” I would never ask for someone to pitch in gas money because 1. You were going that way anyway, 2. Who knows what their financial situation is, and 3. It sounds like you’re charging a fare, which would be rude. However, to ride 120 miles in someone’s car and not offer gas money is rude.

  • Bint March 7, 2012, 7:24 am

    I think the way to handle this is to say, “Yes, that’s fine – are you ok to split the petrol costs?” That way there’s no room for misunderstanding. Some people don’t offer because they’re rude, others just don’t realize, as you guessed, that you expected it.

    “On the day of the party, I hadn’t heard from them whether or not I could use one of their larger cars (I realize I should have simply come out and asked)”

    Well, yes, of course you should. They asked you for a ride, you said yes. Why would they offer their car? I don’t understand the thought process here. You’re driving – the natural assumption is it’ll be your car. Why didn’t you ask them on the day when you realized, instead of borrowing someone else’s? (As an aside, to me in the UK this is very odd. You borrowed an unrelated friend’s car instead of the car belonging to two people actually going? That’s a tad bizarre, if not a bit cheeky to the friend).

    They sound slightly thoughtless about the petrol side of things, but otherwise it’s just about communication. “Of course I’ll drive – can we take your car and all pitch in for fuel?” would have sorted all this out from the start. We’re all caught out by it.

  • Aunty Em March 7, 2012, 7:36 am

    In my circle of friends (middle aged), if someone offers to drive, that would include paying for the gas themselves and using their own car. If you don’t have a car big enough, then you might have said, you would be happy to be the designated driver but would have to use their bigger car since yours only seats 2. I don’t really understand how you can offer to drive if you don’t have room in your car for other people. My friends tend to trade off driving depending who is inviting, most convenient, etc. so it isn’t one person always driving and paying for gas. Pooling gas money would be more of a “road trip” kind of thing and then I would expect that would be discussed beforehand. A distance of 60 miles wouldn’t be a road trip to me.

  • MellowedOne March 7, 2012, 7:36 am

    OP, I believe your mistake began when you agreed to give someone a ride when you didn’t have the proper vehicle to do so, and compounded it by not making specific plans on whose car to use in order for you to be able to transport extras.

    As regards your guests, who knows what they were actually thinking. You say they knew of your 2-seater status. Could they have ‘assumed’ you would talk to them about which of their cars to use? Is it possible they thought because you said nothing because you didn’t want to drive one of their cars and chose a gas guzzler instead? Did they fill their cars’ tanks with gas, thus ‘paying’ for the cost of the trip? Who knows?

    I do agree they should have at least offered to chip in for the gas. It would be the proper thing to do, and it would allow you to graciously decline if you so desired. However, the biggest blunder in all of this was your agreement to provide a service that you could not provide without 3rd party help and then not taking the initiative to ‘make it happen’.

  • L.J. March 7, 2012, 8:20 am

    Ask for what you want or you won’t get it. Also, don’t do favors for that couple again. They are moochers who will never appreciate you.

  • Shannon March 7, 2012, 8:21 am

    I generally say something like, “Hey, would you like us to kick in for gas?” Though in my group (professionals, mid-30s), nobody ever takes me up on the offer.

    The truth is most people are pretty oblivious by nature. It doesn’t occur to the majority of people that they should 1. offer up their own car, and 2. kick in for gas. This is where a polite spine becomes important: “Hey, friend, I’m happy to drive, but my vehicle is a two-seater. Are you comfortable with me driving your car?” Their car, their gas, less of a headache for you.

  • Jelly Rose March 7, 2012, 8:31 am

    Whenever I ride with someone, regardless of how far we are going I like to give them something for gas… Sadly this gesture has only been returned a couple times to me in return when I practically had to chauffeur my non-driving friends around yet I hate to ask them.

  • Edhla March 7, 2012, 8:38 am

    This may be regional, cultural or relative to my age group, but in my circle, if you are the designated driver on a long journey, you are the one who DOESN’T pay for gas/petrol. Your passengers compensate you for your time and effort/thank you by making sure you’re not paying anything in literal cash.

    As for whether you should have said something, it’s a tough one without knowing these people personally. If it ever came up with me, I would definitely tell a relative to pitch in, but as for a friend, it would really depend on how well I know them.

    Also, I guess it’s fair to say that if you have to ask someone something like that, be prepared for it to potentially break the relationship. So there’s that.

    The fact that they actually brought up the price of gas without offering you a cent is pretty appalling. I’m wondering if they weren’t partaking of the particularly awkward social ritual of opening up dialogue without actually offering. They clearly did not want to part with their money, but in their own minds, the fact that gas prices scored a mention means that they gave you an “opening” to directly ask. In terms of etiquette, I don’t think anyone should directly have to ask others to donate money. It’s crass.

  • alex March 7, 2012, 8:55 am

    I agree that they should have pitched in for gas whether they mentioned the gas prices or not. They asked for you to drive them. I also think they should have offered their car since they knew yours only sat two, or you really should have asked them if you could take their car. What is done is done but next time maybe mentioned about gas up front? I just always offer, so I forget that some people don’t. 🙁

  • lkb March 7, 2012, 8:55 am

    The OP was not rude but it probably would have been best to settle which car to use and how to divvy up the gas costs beforehand, especially as the OP ended up borrowing someone else’s car.

    Is the OP sure that the passengers did not tuck some money somewhere in the car, or the OP’s coat pocket or purse? (It’s what I do in that situation with a close friend of mine to avoid the regular “Here, let me pay for gas.” “Oh no no no! That’s not necessary” dance. I make sure to put the money in a place where she won’t see it before I leave but will certainly find it soon after.)

  • Ripple March 7, 2012, 9:12 am

    You need to grow a spine. First, when the other couple asked if they could ride with you, you should have said yes, if you could use their car as yours wasn’t large enough. No need to get a third party involved with a borrowed car. But as you didn’t, then you should have told the other couple you would drive but they would have to pay for gas as you would want to return the car with a full tank. That’s only fair as they basically got a free ride and were able to drink at the party. Sometime people have to be told specifically what is expected of them, especially if they’ve been drinking.

  • The Elf March 7, 2012, 9:21 am

    With us, we take turns being designated drivers so it all more or less works out in the end. I joke that we just end up passing the same $20 back and forth. For a one-time thing, it would be nice if they offered. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it was rude not to, but certainly it would have been nice. But having not offered, since you didn’t lay out ground rules first, and this is a one-time thing, just let it go. Take it as a lesson learned for next time.

  • AMC March 7, 2012, 9:24 am

    It would not have been rude or unreasonable to ask for them to chip in for gas, but it’s something that should have been sorted out beforehand. Your friends were aware of the cost of gas, but it sounds like maybe they were waiting to see if you would ask for them to chip in or not. You didn’t, so they got a free ride. The term “polite spine” often appears on this site, and I think that’s what was required in this situation. You can’t expect people to read your mind or to always give you what you require if you don’t ask for it.

  • Rowan March 7, 2012, 9:24 am

    In my opinion, it’s only polite to offer to contribute to fuel costs if someone else is driving, especially if it’s quite a difference. However, I think there’s a difference between people being a bit thoughtless (and possibly inconsiderate) and them being rude. You say you feel uncomfortable pointing out what should be done, but you’ve no way of knowing whether other people think that’s what they SHOULD be doing because you haven’t asked them. I do think that the whole petrol-cost issue is one that could have been brought up before the night out. “I’m happy to drive you both, but please could you let me have a few dollars for gas?” Also, you definitely should have asked them about the car – I’m curious as to how they thought you’d drive 4 people in a 2-seater. Maybe they just assumed you’d sort it without them having to worry, in which case they ARE taking advantage.

    Out of curiosity, if you hadn’t needed to fill up, would you have compensated the car-owner for the petrol that you used? And, if he/she had to ask you for the money, would you think that they were being rude to ask you? I don’t think that you’re being rude expecting people to mind-read, but you are making trouble for yourself. Polite spine time!

  • Rowan March 7, 2012, 9:25 am

    Ack, quite a DISTANCE, not difference. Sorry, admin.

  • AS March 7, 2012, 9:25 am

    OP, IMHO you could have told them that you’d like to split the cost of the gas. 120 miles to and fro would be about 3.5 to 4 gallons of gas even on my sedan which gives a pretty good milage. I am assuming it would be quite a bit for a gas-guzzling big car.

    As you said, people cannot quite read your mind. Though they should have offered themselves without your asking them. But it might be helpful for you tell them frankly, when the topic of car pooling is first raised, that you’d appreciate splitting the gas bill. You are doing them a big favor by staying sober, so don’t feel delicate about asking. Even if you think that it is obvious, it is always good to let people know if plain language what your expectations are. If even after your telling them the friends are not willing to split the bill, you’ll know what to expect from them, and you can make your future decisions accordingly.

  • GroceryGirl March 7, 2012, 9:26 am

    This is something I have often wondered about myself. I don’t drink so DD usually falls to me – which is no problem at all but no one has ever, ever, EVER offered me gas money! And I do this a lot and usually for the same people. I’ve never been sure if I have the right to ask for money since I volunteer to drive (if I volunteer to cook dinner for my friends I wouldn’t expect money for the food). I have never been sure how to handle this either.

  • Wink-n-Smile March 7, 2012, 9:31 am

    I think this is one of those cases of chalking it up as a life lesson, and just not carpooling with these people again.

  • Serenity S. March 7, 2012, 9:31 am

    The other couple should have offered to help pay for gas, especially as they asked OP for a ride.

  • starstruck March 7, 2012, 9:33 am

    yes its simple. you have to be more assertive. you can be that way and still be polite. a simple hey since we rode together you mind chipping in a couple of bucks? if they say no i wouldnt give them anymore rides. i used to be afraid to speak up to . ten years ago i wouldnt have but now at 29 i have no problem with it.

  • TheVapors March 7, 2012, 9:34 am

    While I think it would be lovely to live in a perfect world where everyone pitches in gas money, I believe that these situations would be avoided if the person doing the driving would just say well ahead of time, “Sure, I’ll drive, but I’ll have to ask for some gas money.”

    Or, “I don’t mind driving, but my car can’t hold more than two people. If we can use your car, then I’ll absolutely stay sober for the party to be the designated driver.”

  • Coralreef March 7, 2012, 9:44 am

    The main problem here was lack of communication and undivulged expectations.

    I think the first mistake was not telling the friends that your car cannot hold four people, even if they knew. From that point, there can be only three outcomes : 1) friends do not want to supply their larger car, therefore absolving you in saying “I’m sorry, it won’t be possible.” 2) friends offer their own car and take your offer to be the designated driver. In the second scenario, I’m pretty sure you would have offered to pay for part of the gas. 3) if a car had to be borrowed or rented for the four of you, it should have been clear upfront that cost was to be split between everyone. Unfortunately, that was not made clear.

    Although it seems rude to talk about cost sharing, I personnaly prefer to know who pays for what and why. I do not like suprises when it comes to money and I think most people don’t either. Friends were a bit on the cheap side here… They knew the cost of gas (whatever the type of car was, they could have taken their own if that was such a sore point) and offered at least a token amount. Maybe more clueless than rude.

    So my verdict is to take this as a teachable moment : never assume people will behave the way you do. Being clear in what you can offer and expect is not being rude.

  • acr March 7, 2012, 9:47 am

    Am I the only person who thinks it was pretty doormatty of the OP to borrow a car from a friend, when two of the people she was driving had a car that could fit the party? Compared to that, the whole gas money thing is minor.

  • CaffeineKatie March 7, 2012, 9:57 am

    If you were going any way, and had room for them, I would say gas money would have been nice but not mandatory. BUT since you ghad to borrow another car, they should have pitched in. Of course, the whole thing could have been avoided if you had simply said “my car only holds TWO people, but I’d be happy to drive all of us in your car” instead of waiting for them to offer their car. (This seems to be a pattern on here–people expect their friends/coworkers to be psychic!)

  • Mjaye March 7, 2012, 10:04 am

    When I was much younger, about 20, my cousin who lived in Mass. called me. Her parents were coming home to NJ by train and would be stuck at the Trenton station waiting for a bus. I lived outside Philadelphia and the drive was about 30 minutes since it was Sunday night. I drive to Trenton, park my car at the $5.00 lot and met them. They are surprised and pleased to see me and get a drive home.
    We are leaving the lot. I go to pay the money and my Aunt says she will pay. I, being polite, said no, I will pay expecting the ” I insist”. That never came so I paid the money and drove them home, about 20 miles give or take.
    When I help them in with their luggage, my Aunt again asks if I would like gas money. Without thinking, I tell her it is okay, thinking again she will insist. She did not and I drove home kicking myself for being a moron.
    Years later, I am driving to Disney from Philly with a friend. We are taking my car. First gas stop, I pay. Next gas stop, I look at friend and say, your turn. Friend looks shock but paid. I was not about to get fooled a third time.

  • Gracie C. March 7, 2012, 10:05 am

    Your first mistake was not saying:

    “I’d be happy to drive, as I was already planning to be the DD, but as you know our car only seats two so we would have to take your car. It wouldn’t be a problem for us to drive to your house so we can all go together and husband and I will drive home in our car after dropping you off at the end of the night. Let me know if that will work for you and we’ll finalize the plan.”

    You should not have borrowed another car as they have no stake in the gas in that car. If you had been in your own car (which I know wasn’t possible), then you at least have the benefit of the gas that you put in. If you had been in their car, I can’t imagine they’d have let you fill it up on your own dime, although, if they had it would have been fair since they’d have paid for the gas on the way there, and you on the way back (assuming you merely replaced the gas used).

    Those are my thoughts on the situation itself. As for whether they were rude to not offer gas money, I don’t know that it’s rude, but it’s certainly inconsiderate.

  • Malinda March 7, 2012, 10:06 am

    Having only recently gotten my license, I’ve been driven around for a good portion of my life. Every time someone gives me a ride, I offer gas money or some sort of equivalent, be it coffee, lunch, ect. In my opinion, the other couple was rude in this case. You went out of your way to provide them a ride to this event, the least they could do was offer to pay for gas.

  • JillyBean March 7, 2012, 10:12 am

    I think they should have offered gas money either way, regardless of what car you’re driving. However, to avoid future situations, talk to them upfront when they are asking to carpool. Considering the distance, it is not unreasonable to ask to share gas costs, even if you’re already driving that way.

  • Daisy March 7, 2012, 10:28 am

    Sometimes people are notably obtuse when it comes to opening their wallets. As you pulled into the gas stations, , you could have said “Since there’s 4 of us, $10 each ought to cover it” in a happy, expectant voice, as though you’ve never considered that they wouldn’t be chipping in. That puts the onus on them to explain why they don’t think they ought to pay up, instead of on you for thinking they should. And there is NO reason they shouldn’t be splitting the costs. That’s not just good manners, it’s an economic reality.

  • Harley Granny March 7, 2012, 10:29 am

    “Since it’s not like people are able to read my mind and magically know what I expect”

    Here’s your answer right there.
    Next time say something to the effect of “Great idea to share a ride! We can each share in the gas expense!”

    Problem solved.

  • MoniCAN March 7, 2012, 10:30 am

    GAH! I feel your pain, OP! I didn’t drink for years and years, and I was ALWAYS the driver. Not once did my friends pay for my dinner, my $1 waters at the bar, my admission to the venue or for a full tank of gas. There were rare offerings of a few bucks for gas, but they were, as I said, rare.

    And lots of these “friends” wonder why I’ve stopped hanging out with them.

    Because of years of being taken advantage of, I’ve learned to get things spelled out clearly in advance whenever possible. Some people are just too selfish and/or dumb to know what they *should,* by all decent people’s standards, be doing.

    Usually when coordinating any sort of ride along, I open the subject of gas money up front.
    I’d say when the other couple contacted you asking for a ride you should have said something about the car space and gas divisions.
    That way the tag-alongs have no incorrect assumptions that the ride is your treat.

    In your case, the next time there is an event this other couple is going to, I’d say you call them and ask for a ride, and casually mention something like “Since I covered the trip last time” or “then we’ll be even-Stephen after the ride I gave you to X party” so they have no assumptions you’ll be pitching in for gas.

    It might be a little rude and tacky in some people’s minds to bring up cash right away, but at least you’re not ripped off.
    It’s not a small matter that you can just let go.
    I easily spent thousands-yes THOUSANDS- of dollars in gas and car wear & tear driving drunk idiots around with no thanks. Doormat no more.

  • badkitty March 7, 2012, 10:39 am

    If I need/expect someone to pitch in for gas I make sure to mention that when I agree to the carpool. My general rule is that if I’m not going out of my way then they don’t owe me anything for gas, but obviously this rule doesn’t apply if carpooling involves using a larger and less fuel-efficient vehicle. That said, I do tend to offer up gas money when riding with someone even if they haven’t asked for it up front but I also forget to do so pretty frequently and only remember later (feeling like a selfish thoughtless jerk when I do) when something reminds me of it. This is because I’m caught up in the fun of being with my friend and the fun thing we’re off to do together; in this case it sounds like people had also been drinking and so were probably not terribly alert. If it bothers you then mention it, but if not then let it go and remember to spell out more details (need car, need gas, etc.) up front so that your friends know what they’re getting into and you don’t have to have an awkward conversation at the end of an otherwise fun evening. Basically, this whole incident just wouldn’t have happened if you had communicated your needs to your friends directly instead of passively waiting around for them to figure stuff out.

  • Shalamar March 7, 2012, 10:45 am

    It’s too late now, but if this situation ever comes up again, my advice is to get back in the car after filling it up and say “The cost of gas was $xx, so $x from each of you guys should cover it.” I drive out with friends to a ladies’ retreat once a year to a location approximately 4 hours away from our homes, and that’s how we handle it.

  • Nina March 7, 2012, 10:49 am

    If it’s a short distance or a one-time thing – whatever. If it’s a 1 hour trip, I usually talk about splitting gas the moment they ask if they can get a ride.

    Gas prices ARE high, so why should you fork the entire thing?! It’s kind of ironic and even hypocritical that they pointed out how expensive gas was, but weren’t willing to graceously pitch in a dollar or two. You should’ve determined this ahead of time, maybe, but them being cheap and not offering also says a lot about their character.

  • Xtina March 7, 2012, 10:53 am

    This is one of those things where people SHOULD know to do the right thing and pitch in for gas, but sometimes don’t, whether it be cheapness or rudeness–or it might be that they are presuming you’re OK with providing the ride and the gas. Presuming that you know these people–and especially if they are friends, then what’s wrong with asking them to pitch in a few dollars for gas?

    Kind of sounds like the other couple was sort of boorish to begin with; I mean, they imposed upon a person who they KNEW had a too-small car, ignored a polite request to use one of their cars (ironically, to transport themselves), and left the OP to work out how she was getting them all to the party, and then didn’t help with gas (and yes, the OP could have refused/spoken up and by asking, they are not obligated to let someone else use one of their cars–just saying that the people were kind of rude IMO).

    Sorry this turned out this way, but I guess the lesson learned here is that unless you work out all the details in advance, presume and expect nothing, and I probably wouldn’t do those people any favors in the future.

  • Cobbs March 7, 2012, 10:57 am

    I discovered after years of feeling used to speak up. It is possible to get what you want if it is done with a smile and positive attitude. Don’t frown and imply the other party is wrong or lacking good sense in any way. Use a smile and happy, polite attitude. It works.

  • DGS March 7, 2012, 10:57 am

    Sure, they were rude for not picking up (at least, partially) the tab on gas. However, I think that with all due respect the OP needs to grow a bit more of a backbone and engage less in mind-reading while engaging more in appropriate assertiveness and asking others to do what she would like for them to do, like paying for gas or using their car to drive them around. A lot of times, people who are too passive tend to struggle with the idea of being “too blunt” and are afraid of coming off as too aggressive in asking to get their needs met. A simple, “yes, gas is quite expensive, so it would be lovely if you guys would be willing to split this tank of gas with us” would have sufficed. Also if they were going to be using OP as a designated driver, she could have asked them “and might we use your car for those purposes, since my car seats only two”.

  • blueyzca March 7, 2012, 10:59 am

    Yes, they should have offered, BUT they did not. So why was it so hard to open your mouth and say with a big smile, “Hey guys, mind pitching in a few bucks for gas?!”

    I don’t think ANYONE in this scenario was rude. Your friends may have been dense for not realizing on their own that they should have automatically handed you some money for gas, and you weren’t rude for hoping that they should read your mind. But YOU should have womaned up and made request for money firmly and politely. You did state that you are all friends, why would have they denied your polite request?

    It’s always a shame when people don’t act exactly as we hope they will. But that doesn’t mean you need to be a doormat.

  • Editrix March 7, 2012, 11:01 am

    I don’t understand why you were comfortable with asking to borrowing someone else’s car, but not with asking one of the passengers to use theirs. It seems like that would have made the gas issue a moot point, or at least would have taken you out of the position of having to pay for gas upfront, since the owner of the car would be riding in it. Since this happened on the way home from the party, it makes sense that the other passengers might not have been totally on top of things, as they’d been drinking.

  • Molly March 7, 2012, 11:03 am

    Yeah, the polite spine comes in handy here. If the couple are good enough friends, they shouldn’t be upset if you ask them to volunteer their car (or their money), if they aren’t good friends, you shouldn’t really care what they think of your asking to use their car. Same thing with gas. A quick “pony up” done in a breezy manner “Hey guys, can everyone chip in 5 (10, 20) for gas?” or give them the heads up before taking off for the evening (“I have no problem driving tomorrow, but gas is expensive right now, could everyone please chip in a bit for the trip?”) so as not to put them on the spot when they might not have cash at hand.

    I am from the Planet of Obliviousness, so I need someone to come out and say “Money. Now.” I have 0 problem paying if I have participated in the activity, I just don’t think to offer. One friend in our group hates how we all drive so she is always the one driving on our trips to the city. She hasn’t ever asked for gas money, but usually if there are parking fees, one of us will grab that. But we are good enough friends that I am confident that if she wanted gas money, she would let us know.

  • Cat Whisperer March 7, 2012, 11:07 am

    How many, many feuds, tiffs, tearful misunderstandings and broken relationships would be avoided if people would just say, plainly, what their expectations are of other people?

    OP borrowed a large car that got poor gas mileage because she was willing to act as designated driver for friends. But she wanted them to pitch in for the gas. So why not call the friends and say, “I’ll be happy to be the designated driver, but I’ve got to borrow a friend’s car. It’s bigger and more comfortable than mine but it gets lousy mileage. Can I ask you to pitch in “x” dollars and I’ll be the designated driver?” Problem averted!

    It’s not an etiquette crime to tell people what your expectations are, as long as your expectations are reasonable and you are polite in the way you ask. And, of course, if you’re polite if you meet with a refusal: “Oh, it’s not convenient for us to go together? That’s fine, I’ll just drive myself and see you when I get there. I look forward to seeing you! Have a nice day.”

    One of the worst etiquette crimes you can commit against people who you profess to care about is to have expectations of them, fail to tell them of those expectations, and then harbor resentment against them for failing to do what you expected. It’s okay to ask for what you want as long as it’s reasonable and you’re polite, and you’re reasonable if you meet with a refusal.

  • Helen March 7, 2012, 11:08 am

    1) They asked if they could get a ride with you. The right response would have been to say “I would love to, but my car only seats two people. If I could use your car, I’d be happy to be the designated driver for the evening.” You just said yes. That put the onus for making it possible on you.

    2) You were the designated driver. You may well have been the only sober person in the car. People who have been drinking are not always the arbiters of etiquette that you would like them to be. So yes, they should have offered gas money, but they didn’t. If it was an issue, you should have spoken up and asked.

    There’s a saying: “expectations are resentments waiting to happen.” If you’re going to wait for people to offer to do something, you will be disappointed if they don’t. Stand up for yourself. Have gumption. You will feel better about it in the long run.

  • Another Laura March 7, 2012, 11:13 am

    The friends who asked to ride along should have offered up front to help cover the cost of gas, but when they didn’t, you should have clarified the whole issue. Friends: “Can we ride with you to the party?” You: “I would be happy to drive, since I won’t be drinking, but as you know, my car is only big enough to seat DH and myself. If you like, I can drive one of your cars and we can split the cost of gas.” Then it is up to friends to agree to the deal or let you drive yourself and DH while they find an alternative solution.

  • Margaret March 7, 2012, 11:30 am

    Definitely should have dealt with this when they asked for a ride. “I’d love to, but my car only seats two. Unless you want me to drive your car?”

  • Cady March 7, 2012, 11:46 am

    Immediately upon agreeing to drive her friends, OP should’ve said, “My car only seats two people. We can drive to your house the night of the party and leave our car, and then we can take your car to the party.” At that point, if they didn’t want to use their car, they could’ve said so, or they could’ve mentioned if they wanted OP to chip in for gas. My point is, in situations like this, just hammer out the details right away. It will only take a couple minutes, and then no one is put on the spot by having to ask for or being asked for gas money.

    Also, if I were in the friends’ position, I would have just assumed OP would be driving my car, and if she showed up in a less fuel efficient car, I’d be annoyed at her asking me to pay for gas, not to mention totally baffled as to why she brought some unrelated person’s car to drive us to the party when mine would’ve fit all of us.

  • Mom of 3 Teens March 7, 2012, 11:50 am

    When I was in my teens and twenties, sure, it was normal for people sharing a ride to pitch in for gas money. Happened all the time, and no one was shy about asking.

    “OK, you can ride with us but please chip in five bucks or so for gas.”

    Now that I am in my fifties, we don’t do that. It’s considered “petty” to ask for gas money, and I always refuse it if offered. What we do, instead, is share the load.

    “You drove last time, let me drive this time.”
    “You drove out here, let me pick up the dinner check.”
    “I got you this nice calendar as my way of saying thanks for picking up my mail while I was on vacation.”

    To the OP: You really should have asked about using their larger car right from the get go.

    “Can we ride with you? We both want to drink alcohol and know that you stay sober.”

    “Sure, but our car only seats two. I’d be happy to drive if we can take your larger car.”

    I can’t imagine going to a third party and asking to borrow their car so you could do a favor for someone else.

  • gramma dishes March 7, 2012, 11:52 am

    My opinion?

    Well, let’s see.

    They invited themselves to join you so that you could be their driver knowing you had a two passenger vehicle. But even though they knew you couldn’t take them in your own car, they didn’t offer their own larger one, causing you to have to inconvenience yourself to go about borrowing one of suitable size.

    Then they don’t chip in a cent for gas even though they clearly know gas is quite expensive. Then they also have the audacity to openly complain that the car you borrowed — solely for their convenience — gets such poor gas mileage!

    My opinion? Never drive these people anywhere again. That should solve the problem. They’re insufferable leaches, and whiny ones at that!

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