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Social Graces: How to turn down a ride-seeker

By Hannah Herrera Greenspan, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Home and Consumer News

Q: How do you turn down a friend or acquaintance asking for a ride in your car?

A: In response to this question, many people will come up with reasons to get out of giving the ride - going in the opposite direction, errands, no gas, etc.

Why should you have to make up excuses for something you don't want to do? We do this because saying no is difficult for most of us. The fear of being considered mean or rude paralyzes us and forces us into saying yes. We need to learn to worry more about ourselves and less about what others think of us. A true friend will not hold this against you.

Someone is asking you for a favor. Honesty is the best policy. Simply tell the person that you can't. Most people who ask for a ride actually need the ride, and when you decline, they will continue looking elsewhere. They have moved on. You should move on as well and not let your decision drag you down.

Thanks to the existence of ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, this question should be asked less and less. Of course, COVID-19 has made this much easier because the simple answer is I can't; for your safety and mine, I'm practicing social distancing.

- Jules Martinez Hirst, etiquette expert

A: It's time to level with your friends. Normally, I would come up with a list of reasons why it's OK to do it or excuses you could legitimately have if you really didn't want to.

This isn't about "want" anymore. "Want" was an adorable notion that left with time and outside clothes. 'Tis gone.


We are coming up on the two-month mark of social distancing (for most of us), and we're all wondering if and when we're going to show symptoms. Look your friend in the eye via FaceTime/Zoom and say, "Nope."

If friends or acquaintances cannot understand your position, they're not taking this pandemic seriously enough. And frankly, they don't have to understand it, but you have to make the boundary for yourself and others.

But, if friends are disabled, immunocompromised or elderly, and need safe transportation for basic needs, consider asking if you can run the errand for them. Wear gloves (or plastic baggies), maintain your 6 feet, bring whatever they need to the doorstep, come home and light everything on fire (Fine. Or wash it. I guess.)

Another alternative is to let your friend use your car if you haven't been in it in a while and if you aren't using it for the next ... well ... long, long time. You can sanitize the keys. This option is for emergencies and people you trust to drive your car.

Otherwise? We need a "flatten the curve" emoji we can send as shorthand when someone asks to be in our breathing space.

- Corrbette Pasko, actor, writer, professional swearer, Write Club host

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