I tend to be a doormat for friends and acquaintances, but I think I’m at my breaking point. I have a friend/former work colleague who has essentially demanded that I drive him to the airport every week. The airport is about an hour or hour and a half from our city, where the train takes you directly to the airport in approximately one hour and for a little over $10.

His only reason for not taking the train is that he’s “too good for it” and “taking it is not reflective of (his) status.” This reason is not good enough for me to put more miles on my car (quickly approaching 100K) and to continue wearing out a tire that will need to be changed soon.

He justifies his demand to me by paying for a nice dinner before I take him to the airport. I’m uncomfortable and it’s inappropriate (he’s married). How can I get through to someone who keeps talking me into this and making me feel like he has no other alternative? Can I just say “NO!”?

By the way, this bothers me on another level because I’m single with no children, and people feel it’s my automatic obligation to do favors because I have nothing better to do.

GENTLE READER: Apparently you can’t just say no, or you would have done so long ago.

Miss Manners hopes you are not suffering from the erroneous idea that there is no polite way to do so. If manners required doing everything anyone asked, it would soon wipe out morals.

There are two possible answers when asked a favor: “I’d be happy to,” or “I’m so sorry, but I can’t.” The key is to remember that you need not give an excuse, even if urged, and you certainly do not need to devise an alternative. Anyway, you could hardly hope to match your friend in fatuousness.


My boyfriend of 10 years and I were out of town and met up with his two female friends from school. He and his female friends had not seen each other in 15 years. We all met up at the hotel-casino where we were staying. One of the females had her husband along and the other was single.

After drinking and talking, it was time for the friends to leave. The female with her husband walked out of the casino by themselves after saying goodbye. The other single female stuck around for a few more minutes.

After that time, my boyfriend stated to me that he was going to walk her to her car. He did not state to me, “Come with me to walk her to her car” or, “Do you mind if I walk her to her car?” Is this correct for my boyfriend to have done this?

GENTLE READER: Of course it was correct of him to walk a lone lady to her car at night. Miss Manners hopes you do not think that he required your permission to be a gentleman. She only wonders why, if you wanted to go along, you didn’t say so.

Visit Miss Manners at her Web site,, where you can send her your questions.

2011, by Judith Martin

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