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FlyingWolf's avatar

Can you help with this carpool etiquette question?

Asked by FlyingWolf (2435 points ) April 28th, 2014

We carpool with one other family in the neighborhood, for the last two school years they have taken the kids to school and we have picked up. I have one son in middle school with her boy, and another who goes to the high school nearby. The starting and ending times are perfectly staggered so they can all be dropped off and picked up in one trip. We also watch their elementary school daughter in the morning before school starts. With about a month left of school, our carpool partner took a new job with hours that don’t let her pick up or drop off, so as a result I am driving all of our children both ways.

This evening my son informed me that their child has a meeting after school and needs to stay an extra hour. He would like me to come back and pick him up at that time. My son in middle school would stay the extra hour, but I would still need to pick up the high schooler. I know for sure the father works hours that make it possible for him to get his boy after the meeting.

I am inclined to say no to having my son wait and making the extra trip. But I am not sure if I am bound by common courtesy or carpool rules to say yes.

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12 Answers

Yetanotheruser's avatar

If it were me, I would expect such a request to come from the boy’s parents. If my child came to me with such a request, I would contact the other parent(s) and have a friendly discussion about it. I would not feel obligated to do so, but being the “nice guy” that I am, I would probably do it anyway.

GloPro's avatar

Once they were no longer contributing through rides they should have offered gas money. Maybe you should all get together, watch the sunset, have a drink, and iron out the expectations in general.

dappled_leaves's avatar

It sounds like you haven’t been asked by the other parent, but like your child is expecting you to do the pickup. Is it possible that it hasn’t occurred to the other parent to offer (if they even know about this)? Can you not just phone and ask them if they are free to do it? Then they can either say, “Yes! I’d love to help out.” or “Ah, unfortunately I have tickets to a show tonight.” Or whatever.

Juliasmile's avatar

Would you be driving your own children back and forth if you didn’t have this arrangement or would you have them ride the bus? If you would be doing it anyway, keep taking the other children, it’s only a month and you’re going that way and spending the time and gas.
As for the meeting after school, maybe this once it’s not too much of a burden for you. Think of it as a nice gesture that will be appreciated (hopefully) by a mother with a new job that could use a hand.

FlyingWolf's avatar

Update: I sent the mom a text to see if she was in the loop on this with her son. She was.

When she took the new job I knew I would be expected to drive both ways and since, as @Juliasmile mentioned, I would have to make the drive anyway (with the bonus that there are only four weeks left of school) I have no problem with that. @GloPro, they did offer gas money but again, since we are making the drive anyway, we haven’t taken it.

I’ve been thinking about it and I think the fact that it seems to have been assumed that I would make the extra trip is what is rubbing me the wrong way.

Coloma's avatar

First you should take some form of compensation, it is a responsibility that deserves compensation. Secondly, if there is an extra trip involved, all the more reason to take some compensation. Last of all, it is up to you to set your boundaries and communicate with the other parents. Sadly, most people will take advantage of a good thing so, to save yourself resentment, you need to take some gas money and let the other parents know that you are not available for special, extra trips, above and beyond the regularly scheduled situation.

Situations like this get dicey, ya gotta set clear boundaries.

Coloma's avatar

@FlyingWolf Oh man, you have no idea how many times I was taken advanatage of with other parents when I was raising my daughter. People suck…I swear, they WILL let you do as much as you will until you call them on it.
OMG! Over the years I have had parents leave their kids with me for hours beyond the agreed time frame, I taught a class and parents would dump their kids siblings on me like a free babysitter..uh, this is a CLASS, not a daycare, parents would show up hours late after the designated pick up time for parties etc. stated CLEARLY on the invitations.

It took me forever to realize that others were not as conscientious as I was. Pffft!

Buttonstc's avatar

Since you know that the Father’s hours would not prevent him from coming the later hour FOR HIS KID, why not request that they do so?

But if you do end up doing it anyhow, you should definitely (in a nice way, of course,) let them know that you’ve reconsidered their offer of compensation for gas money.

Even if its just a small amount, it sends the signal that you don’t mind helping out but you don’t want to be a “patsy”.

Even tho there’s only a month left for THIS school year, it will set a good tone of clearer understandings and appropriate boundaries for next year.

I perfectly understand why it annoyed you so that they just automatically assumed that you’d be free for that extra hour required by their child. Suppose you had a Dentist appt. for your own kids (or whatever)?

It is the inconsiderate manner of their assumption which rankles. They could have communicated directly with you rather than just making that assumption.

jca's avatar

My opinion is that since you are taking the trip anyway for your own child, it’s a very nice favor that you are doing, taking their child without anything in return. I would probably feel the same way you are, in regards to the issue of them assuming you would take the additional ride for the one time.

You said the mom was in the loop about the additional ride. Was she going to let you know or was she assuming that your child was the messenger? Her husband who could have done that trip – was he discussed as an alternative to you making a second trip?

Hopefully, if you need a favor in the future, they will reciprocate. I wouldn’t take any gas money at this time, since it’s only for a month and you are taking the trip anyway, driving your own child the same route. I look at what you are doing, picking up the slack for one month, as being neighborly. They did offer you compensation, after all, so it’s not like they’re totally taking you for granted. It seems the issue is this one extra trip on one occasion, like you said.

Life sometimes throws us unexpected stuff, and for them, the mom getting this job offer was unexpected. Next school year, in September, you guys can make another plan or you can agree to some gas money or other reciprocity if you feel it necessary. Maybe over the summer they will reciprocate in another way, like taking your son on some outings with their family or something.

rojo's avatar

My feeling is that you are not obligated to make a special trip. Anything outside of the scheduled pickup and dropoff is the responsibility of the individual parents. However, if you want to, then do it.

dappled_leaves's avatar

I agree with @jca. This is a small thing to risk creating a rift between the families over.

FlyingWolf's avatar

I ended up telling the mom that I had to pick my kid up at the high school so I would get my middle schooler as well. When I offered to go back for her son she said she would make other arrangements for him to get home. I don’t think she realized I would have to make two trips and once she did she didn’t want me to have to go back for her boy.

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