Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Life...in general => Topic started by: CrazyDaffodilLady on September 16, 2013, 09:18:02 PM

Title: How long am I on the hook for something I offered? Update #34
Post by: CrazyDaffodilLady on September 16, 2013, 09:18:02 PM
My acquaintance Hazel doesnít have a car.  Her grandchildren are in foster care in a town 90 minutes away (donít get me started on that).  There is some relative there who works in our city and could drop the kids off at Hazelís, but they are not willing to do so. 

A month ago, I stupidly made a spur-of-the moment offer to drive Hazel down to pick up the grandkids and bring them back for a weekend.  I assumed it would happen either that weekend or the next.  For one reason or another, it hasnít happened, and Hazel assumes that Iíll do it whenever itís convenient for her and the kids.

Iím tired of having this hanging over my head, and I donít want to do it anymore.  It feels like I have to leave room in my schedule every week, although I told Hazel that I would need advance notice.  To her, that probably means two days.

I am now dreading the trip, which I expect to be a disaster for me.  I fully expect it to turn into a full day of me running them around to pick up things, or getting drug into long family drama conversations that delay the drive back to our city.  (The plan is that someone else will pick up the kids here and drive them back home.)

Would it be rude to withdraw my offer?  What would be acceptable reasons for me to announce that Iíve changed my mind?
Title: Re: How long am I on the hook for something I offered?
Post by: CharlieBraun on September 16, 2013, 09:24:31 PM
Your good heart led you astray.  Happens to all of us.

I do think you need to bring this up again - might I suggest an email?

"Hazel - I haven't heard back from you about traveling to Other Town to see your grandchildren.  I have a lot of weekend obligations that will be taking my time in the coming months, so I wanted to let you know that my availability is limited now.  If the occasion arises in the future for you to have your grandchildren, please send me a note early in the week (or by Wed or by whatever deadline suites you, CDL) so I can see if my schedule is clear enough to be able to help.

Best to you,

CDL"
Title: Re: How long am I on the hook for something I offered?
Post by: TootsNYC on September 16, 2013, 09:25:23 PM
Offers are not permanently open-ended.

I would say, bring this up to Hazel, and define the parameters under which you might be willing to do this big favor for her. Or, rescind it.

"We never did that trip with your grandkids back when we hoped to. I would have had time, that month. I'm sorry to say, I can't offer to do it anymore--my weekends are just to uncertain lately, so I'm going to have to bow out."

or, "I'd still be willing to do it, but my weekends fill up a lot now, and you will need to ask me at least a week in advance if you want any hope of catching me before I lock in my plans."

Title: Re: How long am I on the hook for something I offered?
Post by: Raintree on September 16, 2013, 09:35:14 PM
You're certainly not obligated to leave room in your schedule, nor interrupt a weekend of planning to relax and do nothing. I like the above suggestions, or just say you would have been able to do it had it been the weekend you offered, but "I'm afraid it won't be possible" now as your weekends are filling up.
Title: Re: How long am I on the hook for something I offered?
Post by: Promise on September 16, 2013, 09:37:56 PM
What a nice thing to offer! I was a foster parent and children in foster care suffer many different types of grief and stress. Being able to see their Grandmother is a wonderful thing.

If you only feel able to do one trip, give her two choices. "Hazel, I'm only going to be able to pick up and take back your grandchildren one time since each trip will be a minimum of 3 hours roundtrip. I have two choices of weekends and times and I'd like you to pick one. I can do it either xx/xx or I can do it xx/xx. Which would you prefer?"  I know it was spur of the moment and it certainly is time and gas from you. However, I know it will be meaningful to the children as well as Hazel.
Title: Re: How long am I on the hook for something I offered?
Post by: gramma dishes on September 16, 2013, 09:42:23 PM


I'd permanently rescind, explaining that you had a few weekends relatively free at the time you offered and had erroneously assumed it would take place during that time period, but since it hasn't your weekend calendar is just too full for you to be able to commit to doing it now or in the future.

I think most of us have been there.  We do something spontaneously out of the goodness of our hearts and people interpret it to mean "forever".  It takes lots of practice to remember to say, "Well, I could do it this weekend or maybe next, but after that it just won't be possible."
Title: Re: How long am I on the hook for something I offered?
Post by: *inviteseller on September 16, 2013, 09:49:38 PM
If Hazel is approved for visitation, she can talk to the kids social worker and see about arranging transportation for them.  When my DD was in a group home/school for kids with mental health issues there were numerous kids in the foster system there.  Their workers arranged transportation for their weekend visits with family.  And also, because she hasn't made concrete plans with you or brought it up, go ahead with your life and if she says anything, just tell her that because she didn't take you up when you offered it, you figured she had made other arrangements so you also made other plans.  Are you sure she is approved to take/have these kids for visitation?  Usually, they try to place kids with a family member so there may be reasons she can't have them that also preclude her from taking them for weekends.
Title: Re: How long am I on the hook for something I offered?
Post by: Winterlight on September 17, 2013, 08:38:08 AM
Offers are not permanently open-ended.

I would say, bring this up to Hazel, and define the parameters under which you might be willing to do this big favor for her. Or, rescind it.

"We never did that trip with your grandkids back when we hoped to. I would have had time, that month. I'm sorry to say, I can't offer to do it anymore--my weekends are just to uncertain lately, so I'm going to have to bow out."

or, "I'd still be willing to do it, but my weekends fill up a lot now, and you will need to ask me at least a week in advance if you want any hope of catching me before I lock in my plans."

Agreed. It was kind of you to make the offer, but you are not required to put your life on hold. Feel free to set limits on what you're willing to do!

Also, when someone does you a favor, I think it's incumbent on you to work with their schedule. If she wants the lift, she needs to work out how to do it with minimal inconvenience to you.

Title: Re: How long am I on the hook for something I offered?
Post by: gen xer on September 17, 2013, 09:07:21 AM
 I don't think you even need to formally rescind it....nobody can expect you to keep all of your weekends open on the chance she may need you.  If she happens to ask on a weekend where you can then great....but if she asks and you can't / don't want to and she is upset about it you can always have that baffled response ready :

"Well I can't keep all my weekends free"  Anyone with any sense would know that.

This is not something I see a need for a pre-emptive strike for.  I would just let it ride and deal with it if it came up.  If you can't give her a ride then it at least has the benefit of making her aware that people don't live to do others favours.
Title: Re: How long am I on the hook for something I offered?
Post by: m2kbug on September 17, 2013, 09:17:33 AM
You made this agreement a month ago.  You did not agree to put your life on hold indefinitely.  Go ahead and make your plans.  You will have to tell Hazel that you have other obligations and you are no longer available to make this trip.  If you are still willing to do this, you need to nail down a specific time and something that works for you.  You probably need to specifically put the date down and she will have to make arrangements around the date you specified.  "I can be available on the 20th."  I wonder if you need to speak directly to the social worker.  In any case, you do not need to put your life on hold for this, and it's okay you are no longer able to make this trip. 
Title: Re: How long am I on the hook for something I offered?
Post by: esposita on September 17, 2013, 09:27:56 AM
Your good heart led you astray.  Happens to all of us.

I do think you need to bring this up again - might I suggest an email?

"Hazel - I haven't heard back from you about traveling to Other Town to see your grandchildren.  I have a lot of weekend obligations that will be taking my time in the coming months, so I wanted to let you know that my availability is limited now.  If the occasion arises in the future for you to have your grandchildren, please send me a note early in the week (or by Wed or by whatever deadline suites you, CDL) so I can see if my schedule is clear enough to be able to help.

Best to you,

CDL"

I really like this response. If you feel that she thinks its an open-ended offer, I think a pre-emptive email is an excellent idea.
Title: Re: How long am I on the hook for something I offered?
Post by: Miss Tickle on September 17, 2013, 09:46:19 AM
What has caused all the panic?  Now you are dreading a disaster, did something happen? From your post it sounds like you didn't say this weekend or next, so how was Hazel to know? You seem to be freaking out because your assumptions weren't met. That's not really fair to your friend.  If you asked her when she wanted to go and she blew you off, you were free at that time to say this wasn't at her whim, and she needed to let you know asap.   

You think you should pick a weekend a few weeks out, so you have plenty of time to mentally prepare yourself and tell Hazel you will do the visit then. You have time to go, get them and drop them off with her, then return and drive them back, and that's all you will be able to do. If that doesn't work for her, then you are free to regret the impossibility of completing the favour as promised.
Title: Re: How long am I on the hook for something I offered?
Post by: FoxPaws on September 17, 2013, 10:13:25 AM
I agree with gen xer. I would let this go unless Hazel brings it up and then let her know the statute of limitations on this particular favor has expired:

"Oh Hazel, I'm so sorry. When I offered that back in August, I assumed you'd get back to me in a couple of weeks. When I hadn't heard anything from you in over a month, I figured you no longer needed help and made other plans. Maybe you could speak with the children's social worker about arranging transportation for you or them. Good luck."

It might be that she HAS made other arrangements, which is why she hasn't called on you. Whatever the case, 30 days seems like a reasonable deadline for a casual offer. Consider your obligation null and void.
Title: Re: How long am I on the hook for something I offered?
Post by: JenJay on September 17, 2013, 10:36:27 AM
I would neither rescind the offer nor keep my schedule open to accommodate it. What I would do is carry on with life as usual, making plans where I want/need to, and not worry about it. If Hazel happens to call one day to see if you can take her to pick up the kids you can either say yes (if you want to and feel up to the trip) or "I'm sorry but I'm afraid I'm not available this weekend." as necessary.
Title: Re: How long am I on the hook for something I offered?
Post by: gramma dishes on September 17, 2013, 10:48:05 AM
I would neither rescind the offer nor keep my schedule open to accommodate it. What I would do is carry on with life as usual, making plans where I want/need to, and not worry about it. If Hazel happens to call one day to see if you can take her to pick up the kids you can either say (if you want to and feel up to the trip) or "I'm sorry but I'm afraid I'm not available this weekend." as necessary.

Makes sense!!   :)
Title: Re: How long am I on the hook for something I offered?
Post by: veronaz on September 17, 2013, 11:50:21 AM
Quote
A month ago, I stupidly made a spur-of-the moment offer to drive Hazel down to pick up the grandkids and bring them back for a weekend.

How/why was this stupid?  At first I thought it was a nice offer, but your choice of words (stupid, dread) shows your heart wasnít in it.

Unless youíve discussed specifics with Hazel, you donít know what sheís thinking or if sheís assuming anything.  I donít understand the ďhanging over your headĒ remark.

If your offer was sincere, you should have specified a weekend and made arrangements.  Since you didnít do that, and since itís obvious you really never wanted to take her and donít want to be bothered with it, forget it.  If she brings it up, say you canít do it.  She will have to find another way.

Itís like vague offers people make Ė ďAnytime you need a ride to (wherever) just let me know.Ē  Meaningless; they just want to sound like theyíre a good person doing a good deed by making the offer, but itís empty.  Later they can't be reached or don't have the time.
Title: Re: How long am I on the hook for something I offered?
Post by: LazyDaisy on September 17, 2013, 12:27:46 PM
I gather from your statement that "Hazel assumes that Iíll do it whenever itís convenient for her and the kids" that she has actually said something to that affect. I could be wrong but I imagine that each week she is saying something about possibly seeing her grandkids soon. When she brings it up, just let her know that your availability has changed since you made the offer and you won't be able to do it. If you have been hearing about her ongoing family troubles for over a month, I can understand why you changed your mind.

If you do end up driving her..."I fully expect it to turn into a full day of me running them around to pick up things, or getting drug into long family drama conversations that delay the drive back to our city."...then just don't run errands for her. If she says she needs to run to this store or that -- "I'm afraid that isn't possible. I offered to pick up/drop off only and you'll need to arrange for a bus or taxi ride for your errands." She can't make you drive her around. You are in complete control of what you do and where you go, she is the one who is dependent on others.
Title: Re: How long am I on the hook for something I offered?
Post by: gellchom on September 17, 2013, 12:31:19 PM
I'm sorry to say it, but I have to agree with the posters who suggest that perhaps your heart just really isn't in wanting to help with this.  You had an impulse of generosity, which you later regretted.  I'm not saying there's anything bad about that -- we've all been there, and it does sound like it would be a big job.  I don't, though, think your "heart led you astray"  -- there is nothing wrong with being kind and helpful -- maybe it just led you to a nobler place than you are prepared to go at this time and for this person.

But where is all this stuff coming from:

... Hazel assumes that Iíll do it whenever itís convenient for her and the kids.

Iím tired of having this hanging over my head ...  It feels like I have to leave room in my schedule every week, although I told Hazel that I would need advance notice.  To her, that probably means two days.

I am now dreading the trip, which I expect to be a disaster for me.  I fully expect it to turn into a full day of me running them around to pick up things, or getting drug into long family drama conversations that delay the drive back to our city.

Why do you expect "disaster" and "drama" and a fully day of errands?  Why do you think she expects you to be at her beck and call?  I mean, maybe Hazel has said things that make the you think this.  But this is also the kind of narrative that spins through our brains when we feel a little guilty or selfish: we want to get out of doing what we offered to do, because it is a lot of work or inconvenient, but we don't want to think of ourselves as less generous and kind as we felt when we made the offer (or, as vernoaz puts it, as if we were just making empty offers to make ourselves feel good about ourselves), so we start projecting onto the other person to sort of make it their fault that we want out. 

I know whereof I speak!  I offered our home to some acquaintances for their wedding reception for 50-75 people ages ago, and now they are planning the wedding, and the reception will indeed be at our house.  I have to resist feeling slightly annoyed or put upon when they ask questions or for advice, even though they are being absolutely lovely and totally undemanding.   So if I ever feel like it's too much, that's on me for offering more than I really wanted to do, not that they are doing anything wrong.  And the truth is, I really am glad to do it. 

This reminds me of a string some time ago about someone who offered to host someone coming to her city, and then, once she realized she didn't want to do it, was irritated by every little thing her friend said and did.  Offering favors and hospitality isn't for everyone.  It is hard work and inconvenient.  If you don't want to do it, that's fine.  But either way, you have to be gracious about it -- either decline politely, or do it wholeheartedly.  Don't turn on the other person.  (Of course I am not talking about people who abuse the situation.  But I don't hear where Hazel has done that here.)

I agree with the posters who say just to let this ride until it comes up, if it even ever does.  And if and when it does, don't let Hazel have it, a la "Well, I can't keep my life on hold for you!  What made you think the offer was good forever?" etc., as if she were at fault for simply believing you.  Just say something like, "Oh, Hazel, I'm really sorry -- I had a lot more time back in the summer, but my schedule has gotten much busier.  So I'm afraid you won't be able to count on me now.  I hope you won't have too much trouble making other arrangements"  or use one of the other polite formulas others here have given.  Don't try to get her to agree how reasonable and faultless you are being and how huge an imposition it would have been. 

The point: no, you don't have to keep offers open forever, and you don't have to drive if you don't want to.  But if you do decline, then do it graciously.  Just say no politely and express regret for any inconvenience the failure to button down the timing has caused her.
Title: Re: How long am I on the hook for something I offered?
Post by: gen xer on September 17, 2013, 01:14:27 PM
 Count me in with everyone who has made offers I secretly hoped wouldn't be taken up!!  Helping move comes to mind.  I did it but I remember resenting being asked to get up at 6:00 am on a weekend!  And I had hoped it wouldn't take all day but it did.

When it comes to favours there are those people who you give an inch and they take a mile and then you end up feeling taken advantage of.   OP you mentioned that if you do drive Hazel it would end up being a whole day of errands and drama.  There is nothing wrong with saying up front that you can do it but you don't have all day - that you want to go and come back.  It's not rude to put limits on what you can offer.

I have to say though - while it is up to us to enforce the limits of what we will and will not do the people asking the favour need to really think of what they are asking and try to minimize the imposition if possible. 
Title: Re: How long am I on the hook for something I offered?
Post by: Hillia on September 17, 2013, 01:25:15 PM
Just say no politely and express regret for any inconvenience the failure to button down the timing has caused her.

I'm guessing that the OP has learned from experience that a drive with Hazel will result in hours-long rehashing of the family drama, multiple 'Oh, can we just stop...' type errands, etc.  I could be wrong, but that's my guess.

And any inconvenience Hazel suffers is on her own head, not the OP's.  Hazel asked for a favor; it's Hazel's responsibility to schedule it appropriately.
Title: Re: How long am I on the hook for something I offered?
Post by: TootsNYC on September 17, 2013, 02:06:33 PM
I don't think you even need to formally rescind it....nobody can expect you to keep all of your weekends open on the chance she may need you.  If she happens to ask on a weekend where you can then great....but if she asks and you can't / don't want to and she is upset about it you can always have that baffled response ready :

"Well I can't keep all my weekends free"  Anyone with any sense would know that.

This is not something I see a need for a pre-emptive strike for.  I would just let it ride and deal with it if it came up.  If you can't give her a ride then it at least has the benefit of making her aware that people don't live to do others favours.

The only reason I suggested a pre-emptive strike is that it would hopefully make the OP able to relax about the issue. The "confrontation" would happen; the disappointment would be faced and in the past. There's value in that sometimes, and the OP's description of the problem sounded as though she wouldn't be able to relax.

As for the "turning into a day of errands, etc.," the OP should remember that if she DOES drive Hazel, she can totally say, "sorry, no, I don't have time for that." And she can say, before they go, "I'm not going to drive you all over everywhere--I'm driving you there and back, with potty breaks and stops for food. This isn't a shopping trip--I don't have time or energy for that."

It's important to be able to say no, and to not blame other people because we let them take advantage of us. Not fair to leave them with the impression that you're helpful and willing, and secretly dislike them for it. At the *very* least, be crabby and recalcitrant when they suggest something more than you're willing to do--drop them SOME kind of hint, if you're not self-actualized enough to say, "No, I don't want to do that, it's too much. It makes me feel like a commercial taxi you've hired--and I'm not. So I won't stop at that store, etc."
Title: Re: How long am I on the hook for something I offered?
Post by: gellchom on September 17, 2013, 03:01:50 PM
Not fair to leave them with the impression that your helpful and willing, and secretly dislike them for it.

There it is.  That's what I was trying to say, much better and in just a few words.
Title: Re: How long am I on the hook for something I offered?
Post by: veronaz on September 17, 2013, 03:28:32 PM
Not fair to leave them with the impression that your helpful and willing, and secretly dislike them for it.

There it is.  That's what I was trying to say, much better and in just a few words.

This.

I also think it makes a difference whether someone asks for help/favor vs. whether the other person volunteers their services.

Iím not sure which applies to OP situation, but sometimes people will volunteer their services/time then get irritated or make up some excuse when the other person wants their help.  If you donít want to do something, donít agree to do it and donít pipe up and volunteer while inwardly hoping they never take you up on your so-called offer.
Title: Re: How long am I on the hook for something I offered?
Post by: Hillia on September 17, 2013, 03:53:02 PM
When the OP made the offer, she had a picture in her mind of what the favor would look like: a short trip, either this weekend or next, down and back with no side trips.  Over and done, everyone's happy.  Hazel essentially rejected that favor by not scheduling her trip or even checking with the OP to see when it would be convenient for her.  As far as side trips, family drama, etc, we don't know if that's a valid concern or not.  But the OP is now left feeling that if she's not available on short notice, whenever Hazel decides to take this trip, she's somehow reneged on her offer, and that's not true.  It was never meant to be 'I'm available at short notice whenever you feel like going', but that's how Hazel is treating it.
Title: Re: How long am I on the hook for something I offered?
Post by: veronaz on September 17, 2013, 04:07:02 PM
When the OP made the offer, she had a picture in her mind of what the favor would look like: a short trip, either this weekend or next, down and back with no side trips.  Over and done, everyone's happy.  Hazel essentially rejected that favor by not scheduling her trip or even checking with the OP to see when it would be convenient for her.  As far as side trips, family drama, etc, we don't know if that's a valid concern or not.  But the OP is now left feeling that if she's not available on short notice, whenever Hazel decides to take this trip, she's somehow reneged on her offer, and that's not true.  It was never meant to be 'I'm available at short notice whenever you feel like going', but that's how Hazel is treating it.

Did OP specify "this weekend or next?"  Since OP made the offer, she should have, regardless of what she chose to picture in her mind.  Yes, Hazel could also have said "How about this weekend?", but since she didn't the onus was on OP to set a date/time.

I'm not seeing my OP feels she's on the hook, and I'm not seeing where Hazel is treating it like OP should be available on short notice.  There's nothing keeping OP from asking Hazel "When?".

OP admitted that she made assumptions and she feels Hazel has made assumptions.  It would be easy either set a date/make a plan or just say "after next weekend I'm booked up with other plans".
Title: Re: How long am I on the hook for something I offered?
Post by: TootsNYC on September 17, 2013, 04:59:47 PM
When the OP made the offer, she had a picture in her mind of what the favor would look like: a short trip, either this weekend or next, down and back with no side trips.  Over and done, everyone's happy.  Hazel essentially rejected that favor by not scheduling her trip or even checking with the OP to see when it would be convenient for her.  As far as side trips, family drama, etc, we don't know if that's a valid concern or not.  But the OP is now left feeling that if she's not available on short notice, whenever Hazel decides to take this trip, she's somehow reneged on her offer, and that's not true.  It was never meant to be 'I'm available at short notice whenever you feel like going', but that's how Hazel is treating it.

Or, that's how the OP is *fearing* that Hazel is treating it.

But the OP should feel confident in clarifying or even rescinding the offer.

When you give someone your word, you should keep it. But no contract is open ended or forever, and when you must go back on your word, you are only dishonorable if you leave them in the lurch.

So to say no, before Hazel starts making plans with other people, "I can only take you on this weekend" / "I might not be able to take you at all, you need to check with me before you start making plans" / "I won't be able to take you after all--my weekends are too full lately" is a completely honorable and reasonable thing to do.

Title: Re: How long am I on the hook for something I offered?
Post by: LazyDaisy on September 17, 2013, 05:15:23 PM
We don't know the circumstances of the original conversation with Hazel. It could just have easily been Hazel who began with, "The social worker says I can see my grandkids this weekend but I don't have a car to go pick them up," and then OP said, "Oh, I could drive you," but it turned out Hazel, for whatever reason, couldn't go that weekend and has made noises about "next weekend" or "soon". I always assume that there is enough history not presented that when any OP speculates that a person will act a certain way, I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. Just because OP didn't specifically say "this weekend or next" doesn't mean she had an unreasonable expectation. If someone offered to drive me some place, I wouldn't assume the offer stood forever until I called it in.

Hindsight is always 20/20 but in the course of a casual conversation with friends, I doubt anyone is so precise to lay out all of the terms and conditions of a favor. It just would be strange if someone said, "I'd be happy to drive you there and back...between 9:00 am and 3 pm Saturday, August 17, 2013, as long as there is a maximum of two 10 minute bathroom breaks, you can't roll down the windows, no changing the radio station, and no talking on the phone or texting." I think we all make assumptions about how a favor will go without writing out a contract. Sometimes that turns out badly when we realize we may have inadvertently volunteered for more than we originally planned. It's really difficult to then say that wasn't what we had in mind.
Title: Re: How long am I on the hook for something I offered?
Post by: veronaz on September 17, 2013, 05:59:11 PM
We don't know the circumstances of the original conversation with Hazel. It could just have easily been Hazel who began with, "The social worker says I can see my grandkids this weekend but I don't have a car to go pick them up," and then OP said, "Oh, I could drive you," but it turned out Hazel, for whatever reason, couldn't go that weekend and has made noises about "next weekend" or "soon". I always assume that there is enough history not presented that when any OP speculates that a person will act a certain way, I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. Just because OP didn't specifically say "this weekend or next" doesn't mean she had an unreasonable expectation. If someone offered to drive me some place, I wouldn't assume the offer stood forever until I called it in.

Hindsight is always 20/20 but in the course of a casual conversation with friends, I doubt anyone is so precise to lay out all of the terms and conditions of a favor. It just would be strange if someone said, "I'd be happy to drive you there and back...between 9:00 am and 3 pm Saturday, August 17, 2013, as long as there is a maximum of two 10 minute bathroom breaks, you can't roll down the windows, no changing the radio station, and no talking on the phone or texting." I think we all make assumptions about how a favor will go without writing out a contract. Sometimes that turns out badly when we realize we may have inadvertently volunteered for more than we originally planned. It's really difficult to then say that wasn't what we had in mind.

Written contract?  What are you talking about? ???

I said nothing about a written contract or x number of bathroom breaks or changing the radio station or anything of the kind, so please don't attempt to twist my words and frame it as if I did.  I also don't see where anyone else made such an inference.

When offering a favor such as a ride/transportation (even during casual conversation), I feel that it’s common sense to talk about a date or at least a rage of dates (this Saturday, any evening next week) and to ask the other person what would work for them.  That prevents misunderstandings and resentments such as presented in the problem here.

If the other person needs a few days to make a decision, fine, but then the ball is in their court.  But if the person who made the vague offer gets frustrated and makes assumptions about what the other person might be thinking without trying to firm things up, they're creating their own problem - especially if they didn't really want to do the favor to begin with.


Title: Re: How long am I on the hook for something I offered?
Post by: LazyDaisy on September 17, 2013, 06:32:13 PM
We don't know the circumstances of the original conversation with Hazel. It could just have easily been Hazel who began with, "The social worker says I can see my grandkids this weekend but I don't have a car to go pick them up," and then OP said, "Oh, I could drive you," but it turned out Hazel, for whatever reason, couldn't go that weekend and has made noises about "next weekend" or "soon". I always assume that there is enough history not presented that when any OP speculates that a person will act a certain way, I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. Just because OP didn't specifically say "this weekend or next" doesn't mean she had an unreasonable expectation. If someone offered to drive me some place, I wouldn't assume the offer stood forever until I called it in.

Hindsight is always 20/20 but in the course of a casual conversation with friends, I doubt anyone is so precise to lay out all of the terms and conditions of a favor. It just would be strange if someone said, "I'd be happy to drive you there and back...between 9:00 am and 3 pm Saturday, August 17, 2013, as long as there is a maximum of two 10 minute bathroom breaks, you can't roll down the windows, no changing the radio station, and no talking on the phone or texting." I think we all make assumptions about how a favor will go without writing out a contract. Sometimes that turns out badly when we realize we may have inadvertently volunteered for more than we originally planned. It's really difficult to then say that wasn't what we had in mind.

Written contract?  What are you talking about? ???

I said nothing about a written contract or x number of bathroom breaks or changing the radio station or anything of the kind, so please don't attempt to twist my words and frame it as if I did.

When offering a favor such as a ride/transportation (even during casual conversation), I feel that itís common sense to talk about a date or at least a rage of dates (this Saturday, any evening next week) and to ask the other person what would work for them.  That prevents misunderstandings and resentments such as presented in the problem here.

If the other person needs a few days to make a decision, fine, but then the ball is in their court.  But if the person who made the vague offer gets frustrated and makes assumptions about what the other person might be thinking without trying to firm things up, they're creating their own problem - especially if they didn't really want to do the favor to begin with.
Why do you think that I was responding directly to you at all Veronaz? I didn't quote you and you're not the only person who feels like the OP should have specified a date for her favor. But since you directed your comments to me I'll respond.

You seem to think that the responsibility is all on the offerer not to make assumptions. I disagree. I think the person doing the favor gets to set the rules and it's actually incumbent upon the asker to give all of the details of what they are asking/needing and they should never assume that an offer for a favor is good forever or includes anything else.

OP didn't say she never wanted to do the favor to begin with -- she said since the favor didn't happen in a reasonable time, she has since thought about it and changed her mind.
Title: Re: How long am I on the hook for something I offered?
Post by: veronaz on September 17, 2013, 07:21:14 PM
Quote
You seem to think that the responsibility is all on the offerer not to make assumptions.

No. 

Making assumptions is the problem here.  OP made assumptions about when the trip would take place, then she made several assumptions about what Hazel is thinking.

When OP made the offer, she and/or Hazel could have discussed a date.  So she has spent a month being frustrated.
Title: Re: How long am I on the hook for something I offered?
Post by: TootsNYC on September 17, 2013, 07:43:30 PM

Hindsight is always 20/20 but in the course of a casual conversation with friends, I doubt anyone is so precise to lay out all of the terms and conditions of a favor. It just would be strange if someone said, "I'd be happy to drive you there and back...between 9:00 am and 3 pm Saturday, August 17, 2013, as long as there is a maximum of two 10 minute bathroom breaks, you can't roll down the windows, no changing the radio station, and no talking on the phone or texting." I think we all make assumptions about how a favor will go without writing out a contract. Sometimes that turns out badly when we realize we may have inadvertently volunteered for more than we originally planned. It's really difficult to then say that wasn't what we had in mind.

Written contract?  What are you talking about? ???

I said nothing about a written contract or x number of bathroom breaks or changing the radio station or anything of the kind, so please don't attempt to twist my words and frame it as if I did.  I also don't see where anyone else made such an inference.



That's exactly LazyDaisy's point, however!

Her point is, we offer favors, and we make assumptions (both giver and recipient) about what involved, precisely BECAUSE we don't sit down and work it out as if it were a written contract.

And that's what gets us into trouble.

She's not saying anybody (let alone you!) DID have a written contract. She's not even saying there should BE one.

She is contrasting the nature of "favors offered off the cuff" with the nature of many written contracts. They are different

That's her point.
Title: Re: How long am I on the hook for something I offered?
Post by: lkdrymom on September 17, 2013, 07:54:49 PM
I think the OP needs to contact Hazel and tell her that when she made the offer she assumed it would be taken up in the next week or so and now over a month has passed and her weekend schedule is filling up......so does Hazel still need a ride or not?  If so please give her a date asap or she won't be able to accomodate her.  You made the offer so I think you should follow through however I get that you don't want this offer hanging over your head for the next few months either.

And if she wants to run errands, just say no. It isn't that hard. I was just out to lunch with my father. Now I only get a 30 minute break from work and lunch already took an hour....and then he wanted me to take him grocery shopping.  The "no' just flew out of my mouth.
Title: Re: How long am I on the hook for something I offered?
Post by: veronaz on September 17, 2013, 08:11:51 PM
I think the OP needs to contact Hazel and tell her that when she made the offer she assumed it would be taken up in the next week or so and now over a month has passed and her weekend schedule is filling up......so does Hazel still need a ride or not?  If so please give her a date asap or she won't be able to accomodate her.  You made the offer so I think you should follow through however I get that you don't want this offer hanging over your head for the next few months either.

And if she wants to run errands, just say no. It isn't that hard. I was just out to lunch with my father. Now I only get a 30 minute break from work and lunch already took an hour....and then he wanted me to take him grocery shopping.  The "no' just flew out of my mouth.

This is very good advice.
Title: Re: How long am I on the hook for something I offered?
Post by: CrazyDaffodilLady on September 18, 2013, 11:35:58 PM
O.P. here.

Thanks for the replies, everyone.  My etiquette question was whether or not it was rude to cancel an offer that was not intended to be open-ended but was taken to be so.

A comparable situation would be if Hazel complained about not having money to pay her bills, and she gladly accepted an offer to write her a check, but then said, ďOh, donít write it now because I canít get to the bank this weekĒ.  Then the following week she called and said the same thing, and then did it again the week after that and the week after that.  Obviously she expects to get the check in the future when itís convenient for her.  But meanwhile, Iím realizing that she has close relatives who could help her out, and Iím realizing that giving her the money would be a bigger sacrifice for me than I originally thought and that I feel like I have to keep the money available until she decides she wants it.

Iíll probably hear from Hazel tomorrow, and Iím going to bring the matter up and let her know that the offer is no longer on the table. 

It hadnít occurred to me that Hazel would need permission to take the grandkids.  That may be the real reason behind the dawdling, but she doesnít want to say so.
Title: How long am I on the hook for something I offered? Update #34
Post by: CrazyDaffodilLady on September 19, 2013, 01:16:31 PM
UPDATE: I did speak to Hazel today and told her that I wouldn't be able to make the trip in the future.  Her response was very weird.  She wasn't upset or disappointed.  She just seemed flustered.  I'm definitely starting to think that there's more going on than she's telling. 
Title: Re: How long am I on the hook for something I offered? Update #34
Post by: HenrysMom on September 19, 2013, 07:12:14 PM
UPDATE: I did speak to Hazel today and told her that I wouldn't be able to make the trip in the future.  Her response was very weird.  She wasn't upset or disappointed.  She just seemed flustered.  I'm definitely starting to think that there's more going on than she's telling.

Then you're well out of it.