A reader writes:
A coworker just asked me to give him rides to several offsite events that we both work on in the next month. The coworker has a car, but usually bikes to work. This person is at the same level as my boss and works closely with him. However, the coworker is not in charge of me and is not part of my group.
I reluctantly gave the coworker rides last year, mainly because my predecessor had already agreed to it. However, I’d really rather not this time. Being a taxi service is not in my job description (though the events are). The events are first thing in the morning and it’s 20-30 minutes out of my way to pick the coworker up beforehand. Plus, I get very nervous having anyone else in my car.
Is it reasonable to decline this request? Is there a tactful way to do so?
Sure, especially since he has his own car. If he didn’t have a car, you’d still be entitled to decline, but it would be a nice favor to do for someone, especially since it sounds like it’s only a few days. But if he has a car and just doesn’t want to drive, and instead is asking you to drive 20-30 minutes out of your way in the morning, you can decline without any guilt.
Just say something like this: “I’m sorry, but I need to be at home until 8:30, so I can’t leave early to pick you up.” (And that’s the truth, even if all that’s keeping you there is your desire to get your usual amount of sleep.)
Some people will go with white lies in this situation (“I need to drop my spouse off in the morning, in the opposite direction”), but I’d just not get specific about why you can’t do it.
Now, all of that said, are there political ramifications to this in your office? In a normal office, there wouldn’t be. But you’ll have to decide if your office is normal in that regard or not.
As for what’s reasonable, though? It’s certainly reasonable to decline, and reasonable people wouldn’t take issue with that.