I am by no means well-off, but I do like to share what I have. So when I got a car in 2011, I was more than happy to give my friends rides all over town whenever I could. It feels odd to say it, but I wish I had considered the kinds of boundaries I was setting.
As it turns out, if you’re one of the only people with a car in your friend group, no one realizes how much energy, money, and time it takes to cart your friends around. It’s not that they mean to impose. I think they just don’t think about it.
For example, let’s say we’re having a get-together somewhere. If I did not have a car, everyone would just get there by public transport and no one would realize the difference. But because I have a car, people almost always ask me for a ride. If I don’t give anyone a ride, it would take me 20 minutes to get to the meeting place. Then 20 minutes back home. But if I give just one friend a ride, I have to spend 40 minutes getting to my friend, then 20 minutes back to the meeting place. Then 20 minutes to drop the friend off, and 40 minutes all the way back to my home. That’s one hour and 20 minutes more than I would have spent sitting in my car struggling through traffic. That’s gas I used doing all of that driving, which means that’s money that my friends often don’t even realize I’ve had to spend. After a while all of that time and money adds up.
Recently I began to realize why I felt like I was always driving around. I didn’t want to begrudge my friends asking me for rides, but I didn’t feel good about it either. So I learned to set boundaries. “I’m sorry, I can’t,” and, “I don’t have time.” Those were not phrases I liked to use much, until I realized that my resources are just as valuable as theirs. If they have to spend an hour and $4 getting to and from a meeting place, I shouldn’t feel guilty about refusing the ride. It was a trade-off. I would have spend an hour and twenty minutes and gas to pick them up.
If you have a friend with a car, please be considerate of their resources.
If you have a car with car-less friends, please be aware of your needs and your boundaries.
Setting boundaries on both sides helps everyone in the situation.