Core Decorum

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Dear Decorum,

I am a freshman with a car on campus. I don’t mind giving rides for outings to Walmart or 3 a.m. Whataburger-runs for friends; in fact, it’s a lot of fun. Even so gas is not cheap, and I am a college student. Not many friends ever give me gas money. Is it wrong of me to want them to help me out? How do I speak up and get contributions from friends without nagging?
-Hot Wheels

Dear Wheels,

As a freshman with a car, you truly are a hot commodity – but, as you already understand, you will get burned out by friends who never shell out the dough for gas. With the price of gas, you would not sound rude asking for money. They were rude by not offering first of all.

Each and every time you take a drive, the situation will be different. Ask yourself a few questions: Did you offer your friends a ride, or did they ask you for the ride? If you offered to take your friends out, then the neighbor is not necessarily obligated to pay you anything. After all you made the offer. However, if they keep bugging you for rides to the grocery store or a night on the town, they should contribute.

However, you should lay down the rules. You can still lay down rules, even at this point. Say something such as, “I’m glad I’ve been able to help you out, but with gas so expensive, I’d like some help going forward.” Give them a chance to say what they can contribute, but also be ready with a counteroffer. You don’t have to be a warlord when asking, but don’t be a mouse either. Establish that you mean business, even in times of fun.

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