Author Topic: The family taxi service - the revolution begins p.#29!  (Read 12488 times)

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Shopaholic

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The family taxi service - the revolution begins p.#29!
« on: October 22, 2012, 03:34:50 AM »
Last May I posted this:
http://www.etiquettehell.com/smf/index.php?topic=116128.0
In a nutshell, I was sick of being the one to chauffeur my Grandfather back and forth from family functions when any one of my siblings, cousins or aunt/uncles could help share the burden.
Since then I wasn't approached to pick up Grandpa and the one time someone started asking about it we couldn't because we had some stuff in the backseat.

A quick refresher + some BG:
I live an hour away from most of my family. DH and I own one car. Sister2 lives very close to me with her BF. They have a car but prefer catching rides/public transportation for the long ride to hometown due to the crazy price of gasoline and the fact that they are both students. DH and I always offer them a ride.
Aunt, mom's sister is  a piece of work. Mom invites her, but she never accepts. She only comes to Uncle's house. Last year Sister1 hosted a birthday party for her son, a very small affair, and didn't invite Aunt because they're not close. Aunt took this very hard, and gave Mom a thorough guilt trip. Yes, Aunt is a drama llama.

Two weeks ago Uncle hosted a family event to honor Grandpa's sister, Great Aunt, who was visiting from another country. I was asked by my mother to pick GA up from her daughter's house. Daughter's house is 30 minutes away from mine, a detour that also requires taking a toll road. Aunt lives two minutes away from GA's daughter, but when I asked my mom about it she said she didn't know if Aunt was coming, and due to things apparently I can't understand did not want to ask her.
Fine. A regular car with four adults (Sister2 and BF joined us) made a special detour to pick up GA. When we arrived we saw that Aunt and her husband did come, alone. It was assumed that we would also take GA back until I nicely asked Mom if Aunt was there, and they were only two people in the car why couldn't she do it? So Aunt did the return journey.

This week my sister is hosting her son's birthday. Mom told her to invite GA under the assumption she would not come, and Aunt because of all the drama she caused last year.

Today my sister called me, started by apologizing and then asked me if we could pick GA up again (apparently Mom spoke to her and she was very excited about coming). I didn't handle it well...
I know the smart thing to do was to say that we have other plans before/after the event, or that it just won't be possible this time.

Instead, I asked her if we were also bringing Sister2 and BF. I reminded her that we did it last time, and how ridiculous it was for 4 adults to make that entire detour when Aunt came from the same direction as well. I asked her what about Aunt.
Sister1 explained that Aunt hasn't RSVP'd, and usually if she is asked about giving Grandpa a ride, she claims that's the only reason she was invited.  ::)

Sister1 apparently felt bad enough about asking me, she started saying that she had nobody else to ask but eventually said she'll try to think of someone else.
I said if she found no one else to do it I'll help out but I'm getting the feeling I'll be the taxi service again.

Please, eHell - help  me polish up that spine I started cultivating last time. Can I do anything in the current situation?
Also - would it be rude to schedule a brunch with friends earlier in the day now that I know I may need to leave earlier than planned? It was something I was planning on doing anyway before I got my sister's phone call. Does it matter if I'm hosting the brunch or just meeting up somewhere?


« Last Edit: November 11, 2012, 01:05:25 AM by Shopaholic »

C0mputerGeek

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Re: The family taxi service - I've learned nothing
« Reply #1 on: October 22, 2012, 03:53:07 AM »
My best friend, "Ann," had this problem with her family. After making it clear that the responsibility would either be shared - or she would not do it at all - Ann drew up a chart; her family takes turns transporting her great uncle to and fro.

I had this same problem with my father's side of the family while my paternal grandmother - a thoroughly difficult and unpleasant woman - was alive. My father's side of the family is huge (he has 6 siblings) and none of them ever wanted to drive her because she was so unkind. They wanted her there, but did not want to be the one's responsible for her transportation.

For years, my parents (and then my father once my parents were divorced) were the only ones to go get her. My father has a degenerative disease. Eventually, he could barely get himself around, and yet no one would help him with my grandmother. Finally, my paternal grandmother was mugged one evening when my dad was too tired to get out of the car and walk her to her door. One of my uncles took over after that (and I mean one; he was the only one that would do it).

When move back to California, my father's side of the family tried to fob this task off onto me. I made it perfectly clear this was a responsibility we would be sharing. My aunts/uncles/cousins refused to share, so I simply stopped attending functions. If I am not there, I can't drive my grandmother to the event.

lovepickles

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Re: The family taxi service - I've learned nothing
« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2012, 04:03:35 AM »
Hey Shopaholic. I remember your chauffeur episode from May. I don't know if I commented but I think it is weird that the person not receiving the ride (like your mom or your sister) is discussing it with you. In my opinion it needs to be a direct request from the recipient. There is just too much malarkey going on with your sister or your mom ordering/asking you to pick so and so up. I say this for a few reasons: The person receiving the favor has to ask for it and they can better "feel" the favor so they don't take advantage of it. It also discourages them from turning up a more reasonable solution. Perhaps the only thing preventing them from asking the person that lives closer to them is that that they have to actually ASK them. Whereas your mother and your sister are probably offering you up as an extension of themselves without actually having to do any of the work. "Oh don't worry about it! I'll just have Shopaholic come and get you! It is no trouble at all!"

If I were you I'd tell your mom and sister that if someone needs a ride then to give them your phone number to call and ask. Something like "From now on I need to arrange any rides that I am to give. Let them call me directly if they need a ride." And stick to it. Don't discuss rides with anyone unless you have already been contacted by the person. If they ask you about giving so and so a ride in the future just say "Oh I haven't heard anything from them" and change the subject. Do not let them set up any rides after telling them not to or they will roll right over you.

This isn't a fool proof way of getting out of rides ... but it gives you the option to say directly to the requester what works and what doesn't. Cut out the middle man because they are really messing stuff up.
 

Snooks

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Re: The family taxi service - I've learned nothing
« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2012, 06:16:28 AM »
I might be missing something but why can't your great aunt's daughter bring her mother, or is she not invited to the family get togethers?

Shopaholic

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Re: The family taxi service - I've learned nothing
« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2012, 06:24:42 AM »
I might be missing something but why can't your great aunt's daughter bring her mother, or is she not invited to the family get togethers?

She's met up with my Grandpa and mom on a number of occasions, these ones are without her.
Her mom has been with her for a month now, maybe she just needs a break...

Roe

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Re: The family taxi service - I've learned nothing
« Reply #5 on: October 22, 2012, 07:49:41 AM »
All I can offer is what I'd do and I'd quit attending family functions until they learn to respect my time.  I also find it quite insulting that your mom and your sister were discussing this without your input.  Obviously, they feel they can dictate your time and effort.

They will not change until it starts to impact them.  And right now, the only way I can see impacting them is if you decide to "drop the rope."  Just rsvp in the negative and see what they come up with then.

secretrebel

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Re: The family taxi service - I've learned nothing
« Reply #6 on: October 22, 2012, 08:06:56 AM »
Sister1 explained that Aunt hasn't RSVP'd, and usually if she is asked about giving Grandpa a ride, she claims that's the only reason she was invited.  ::)

I think I would say. "Yes, I understand how that feels. Every time i am invited to a family event I am asked to drive a significant distance out of the way to pick someone up. It's making me feel as if I don't want to attend and that I am only invited as a taxi service."

Then wait for the other person to say "oh no that's not the way we mean it etc etc etc"

Then reply. "It's actually quite upsetting to always be asked and to feel like the bad guy for saying no. Do you realise that in 2011 I drove grandpa [insert number of times]? It feels as though I'm being asked because everyone else if 'difficult'. That makes me feel like being difficult myself.

Yentush

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Re: The family taxi service - I've learned nothing
« Reply #7 on: October 22, 2012, 08:47:43 AM »
"No"

Margo

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Re: The family taxi service - I've learned nothing
« Reply #8 on: October 22, 2012, 08:57:50 AM »
Hey Shopaholic. I remember your chauffeur episode from May. I don't know if I commented but I think it is weird that the person not receiving the ride (like your mom or your sister) is discussing it with you. In my opinion it needs to be a direct request from the recipient. There is just too much malarkey going on with your sister or your mom ordering/asking you to pick so and so up. I say this for a few reasons: The person receiving the favor has to ask for it and they can better "feel" the favor so they don't take advantage of it. It also discourages them from turning up a more reasonable solution. Perhaps the only thing preventing them from asking the person that lives closer to them is that that they have to actually ASK them. Whereas your mother and your sister are probably offering you up as an extension of themselves without actually having to do any of the work. "Oh don't worry about it! I'll just have Shopaholic come and get you! It is no trouble at all!"

If I were you I'd tell your mom and sister that if someone needs a ride then to give them your phone number to call and ask. Something like "From now on I need to arrange any rides that I am to give. Let them call me directly if they need a ride." And stick to it. Don't discuss rides with anyone unless you have already been contacted by the person. If they ask you about giving so and so a ride in the future just say "Oh I haven't heard anything from them" and change the subject. Do not let them set up any rides after telling them not to or they will roll right over you.

This isn't a fool proof way of getting out of rides ... but it gives you the option to say directly to the requester what works and what doesn't. Cut out the middle man because they are really messing stuff up.

POD.

It seem that the problem here is that other members of your familiy are volunteering you to do this, as it's no trouble for *them*.

I also think that it is reasonable to set ut what you need. So make clear that the rider will need to chip in for gas, and to cover the toll road fees if the *only* reason you're going to incur them, is to pick that person yup. Decide what time *you* want to arrive at, and leave the event, nad make sure that they know that you will b picking them up and dropping them home t0o fit with those times (and if they try to negotiate, you can respond with "As those times won't woprk for you, I'll leave you to make your own alternative arrangements for going to / returning from the event" and then stick to it.

I would suggest phoning sister back, telling her than unfortunately you won't be able to help out in this instance, and then 'go limp'. It's not your responsibility to sort this one out.

(Options - sister could arrange to collect her, sister could ask aunt, sister could tell GA that she will need to make her own arrangments, sister could inquire with members of the family to see whether people are willing to chip in to cover the cost of a taxi. But it is sister's event, so in so far as it is anyone other than GA's own responsibility, it is hers. And as it sounds as thogh she was invited because your Mom told sister to invite her, I think Sister could legitimately ask Mom to help out!)

kudeebee

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Re: The family taxi service - I've learned nothing
« Reply #9 on: October 22, 2012, 10:32:08 PM »
Say "It won't work for me to pick xxx up.  You will have to find another ride for xxx."

No more, no less.  Do not explain.  Keep repeating over and over. 

TootsNYC

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Re: The family taxi service - I've learned nothing
« Reply #10 on: October 22, 2012, 10:57:22 PM »
I think you have actually learned something! You've started politely pushing back.


And I agree that it's really appropriate for the rider to be the one to request.

However, you may find it harder to say no. It might be easier, actually, to say to your sister, "no, you can't volunteer me for that, it's too inconvenient, so find some other way." It might be harder to say, "I'm sorry, Great Aunt, but I can't pick you up."

One thing I don't like about these stories of the rides in your family (and in some others) is that there seems to be an assumption that all the responsibility for the elder person's travel falls on the younger generation--to the point where the person seems like a package. And it seems as though the invitation is almost an imposition, which requires the inviter to go through ALL the work.

Sure, when people get old enough, they may not be able to travel on their own, and they do need to rely on their families, etc.

camlan

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Re: The family taxi service - I've learned nothing
« Reply #11 on: October 23, 2012, 09:52:16 AM »
Shopaholic, the reason your mom and sister called you first is that you made the experience pleasant for them. You almost always said "yes." Calling your other family members to find rides isn't as pleasant, because people say "no," and they hem and haw and have lots of reasons why they can't give Grandpa or Great Aunt a ride to that particular event. It also saves the caller time, if there's one person who usually will say "yes." Then they don't have to call and chitchat with two or three people.

Just say "no" more often.

You could also try to be a bit proactive. I'm assuming that you wouldn't mind giving rides on occasion. So if you can and if you want to, you could state when you *are* willing to give rides. "Nope, I can't drive Grandpa to Sally's birthday party. But I can drive him to Thanksgiving dinner, if someone else will give him a ride home." "No, I can't drive Grandpa to Sunday dinner. I'm driving him to Thanksgiving. Have you called Uncle Mitch? I don't think he's given Grandpa a ride in months. It'd be a good chance for them to catch up on things."

That way, you get to pick and choose when you do the driving, so that you can do it at your convenience and at the frequency you prefer. Of course, if you'd rather not drive anyone at all, that's perfectly fine. You've done your share of driving people around.

I think you are doing a good job. It's hard to break habits. You are having the easier time of it, because you really want to break the habit of saying "yes" all the time. It's normal to have a few setbacks when trying to break a habit of many years standing. The rest of your family is having a harder time with this, because they get no benefit from your change in habits. It makes things a little harder for them, so they are inclined to push you a bit to go back to your old ways, because that is what works for them.

I have an elderly aunt and uncle--Uncle can't drive at all; Aunt can't drive temporarily due to back surgery. Two of their children live near enough to provide rides. I live closer to Aunt and Uncle than any of their kids. My two cousins work out the ride situation between themselves, and they also use dial-a-ride when possible. Despite the fact that I've volunteered to drive them, I've been asked exactly once in three months, and it was what I consider a "need," in that Uncle needed to get to a doctor's appointment, as opposed to a "want." My cousins and their kids who are old enough to drive are doing the driving, and they work it out so that no one person is inconvenienced more than necessary.

Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn


Shopaholic

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Re: The family taxi service - I've learned nothing
« Reply #12 on: October 23, 2012, 01:58:25 PM »

And I agree that it's really appropriate for the rider to be the one to request.

However, you may find it harder to say no. It might be easier, actually, to say to your sister, "no, you can't volunteer me for that, it's too inconvenient, so find some other way." It might be harder to say, "I'm sorry, Great Aunt, but I can't pick you up."
.

This is what I'm thinking too.

I feel like such a terrible, ungrateful person. It's not like I'm being asked to donate a kidney. The older generation do deserve the respect they get. They're not toxic or very unpleasant. GA lives on the other side of the world and only visits once every few years.
I spoke to my BFF and this is the way they do it in her family too - and she doesn't see why I am so angry about it. It seems perfectly fine to her to drive grandparents when her siblings are never asked to do it.

Shopaholic, the reason your mom and sister called you first is that you made the experience pleasant for them. You almost always said "yes." Calling your other family members to find rides isn't as pleasant, because people say "no," and they hem and haw and have lots of reasons why they can't give Grandpa or Great Aunt a ride to that particular event. It also saves the caller time, if there's one person who usually will say "yes." Then they don't have to call and chitchat with two or three people.

Just say "no" more often.

 The thing is - I feel that this is a situation that I just cannot say no with any reason short of a hospital visit. Heh, maybe my mom brought me up with proper Jewish guilt , er, respect for the elderly.

Maybe if there wasn't all this stuff with my drama llama Aunt it wouldn't bother me as much.
I do know that I've spoken to Mom and Sister1 since and neither of them has brought it up.

BeagleMommy

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Re: The family taxi service - I've learned nothing
« Reply #13 on: October 23, 2012, 02:09:54 PM »
Shopaholic, you mentioned that your sister and her BF don't drive because they are students and the price of gas is too high.  Do they give you gas money for the rides you've provided? I'm sure the price of gas is no easier for you.  Has anyone even offered to reimburse you for gas (or tolls for that matter)?

Part of me thinks that if you requested gas money the requests would stop.

JenJay

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Re: The family taxi service - I've learned nothing
« Reply #14 on: October 23, 2012, 09:09:52 PM »
What you need to be asking yourself is why do your relatives issue invitations under the assumption that YOU will be available to shuttle everyone around? What if you weren't going at all? Would they opt not to invite that person, ask someone else to give them a ride or offer to go pick them up? THAT is what they need to do. Remove you as an option and plan accordingly. I'd tell them so.