Carpooling with Machiavelli, Playing 'Chicken' with Strangers, and Other Questionable AdviceS

Welcome to Thatz Not Okay, a regular column in which I school inquiring readers on what is and is not okay. Please send your questions to caity.weaver@gawker.com with the subject "Thatz Not Okay."

I write this to you after having done the despicable and the unforgivable. The other day I lied to a guy I was carpooling with about how the carpool no longer exists (and it totally still does) just so that I could stop carpooling with him.

A couple months ago, I asked a guy I worked with if he wanted to join this carpool I was already in. He was elated (I should have known then when he got so excited that this was going to be effed up) Anywho, the first couple of weeks things were going fine. Then, the douchiness began. He began asking me questions like "How should I break up with my girlfriend?" or "What should I cook for dinner?" Then, to the rest of my ALL MALE carpool, "Did you see that game last night?" or "Wow look at that truck!"

If you're not catching my drift, I'M NOT OKAY WITH TRADITIONAL GENDER ROLE STEREOTYPING.

Then other stuff started, like making me climb into the back seat when I had a skirt on, which of course had my ass sticking up in the air to high heaven. Or, when I had my hands full, of coffee, my purse, my laptop, he never opened the door for me into work....ever. Or, when I'm running late to meet him in the lobby of our office, he thinks it's appropriate to go on an office-wide search for me and tell my other co-workers that he's "just looking for a woman that's running late."

After the holiday he texted me and asked me who's driving this upcoming week. I told him that the carpool is not happening due to scheduling conflicts. His next text talked about how much he enjoyed carpooling with me and he hopes that it's nothing he did.

I'm thinking…why would anyone say that unless they KNEW they were guilty??? So far, I haven't regretted telling him this because the past week has been BLISS. The other guys I carpool with didn't like him either, so really I feel like the martyr in this situation. Is that okay?

Thatz not okay.

First of all, I must compliment you on your unique and beautiful definition of the word "martyr (n.): one who betrays another (but just so you know that other person is allegedly not liked by some people)." By this definition, Judas Iscariot is a martyr. The Book of Acts should be rewritten until it is one long story about a carpool slowly unraveling. Crucifixion, being burned at the stake, manipulating carpool composition: these are the most common pathways to martyrdom.

However, I must point out that, at least in the traditional sense of the word, you have to die in order to become a martyr, so unless this story takes a real turn for the macabre, you are not one.

(Also, while I guess there's nothing strictly prohibiting you from identifying yourself as a martyr, it does seem a little gauche to self-nominate. Like buying your own "#1 Dad" mug.)

From your description of his crimes, it sounds like your former carpool buddy was very guilty of not being smooth. Holding the door for a woman and moving so that she doesn't have to go mountain climbing over car seats are both things a polite gentleman should do. However, they are also examples of TRADITIONAL GENDER ROLE STEREOTYPING, so maybe you're okay with it when it directly benefits you? (Also, girl, going behind a guy's back to get him fired from the carpool because he hurt your feelings in an abstract way, then writing a letter to another girl to ask if it's okay? Come on, you LIVE gender role stereotyping. But I love you for it. Thank you for bringing me into your world.)

While it was perhaps a little overbearing on his part, and certainly embarrassing for you, to have him run out in search of you every time you were late to carpool, I don't know that it's right to fault him for describing you as a "woman" when he was looking for you. Would you have preferred he identify you as "a person?"

"What are you doing here, man I've never seen before?"
"I'm looking for a person who's running late."
"Man or woman?"
"Just a person."

I suppose he could have gone with a racial description: "I'm looking for a White who's running late."

In any case, the way to avoid him careening around the back halls of your office was to Not Be Late to Carpool. That's rude. At least give your fellow passengers a heads up via text. Carpool is a bus, and you're thinking of it as a limo service.

While we're analyzing his alleged bad behavior, how exactly did he make it clear whether he was addressing the men of the car or The Woman while observing the many fine trucks of the road?

"BOYS ONLY, look at that truck! Jessica, cover your eyes, it'll scare you. It's like a giant car!"
"GIRL ONLY, what should I make for dinner tonight?"

Were you upset that he didn't want to talk to you about sports because you actually love sports? Insert yourself into those conversations. Were you upset he was talking about sports because sports are a snoozeroo? Bring up another topic.

Yes, it sucks that he asked you how he should break up with his girlfriend, because that conversation is both awkward and boring to have. But is it possible he felt comfortable engaging you with personal topics because he felt closer to you, the nice girl who invited him to join her carpool, than to the herd of two-year olds who greet every new truck—WOW LOOK THAT TRUCK—like it's something they've never seen before?

I suppose it's your prerogative to disinvite him from your carpool (with the approval of everyone else in the carpool, whose gas fare he was partially paying), since you're the one who invited him. Polite? Moral, on the grounds that he sort of bugged you: no.

Moreover, it's definitely not okay to have lied to him about it, if for no reason other than: THIS IS THE MOST UNTENABLE LIE, EVER. For one thing, you've written in describing your set of very specific circumstances to an online gossip column on a reasonably popular website. Even if you hadn't, don't you think he might notice that you and the old team always seem to arrive at and leave work together? That only one of you ever has a car at a time? That all the guys are talking about that great truck they saw on the way in—classic truck, very big, what a beaut—? Mightn't he suspect that you all still belong to the carpool that doesn't exist?

I don't think his saying "I hope it's nothing I did," is an admission of guilt. I think it's his way of saying "I understand that you are lying to me and I am not sure why." Because, again, your lie is very, very easily debunked.

I guess you're just lucky he didn't convince the other guys (and why didn't they like him? It's not clear. Do they hate amazing trucks?) to ditch "the girl" first.

As we all know, walking is a way of life in Manhattan. But the sidewalks these days are filled with people walking while looking downwards reading/texting/checking their various handheld devices. This drives me insane. Have we really reached a point where it's common and acceptable practice to walk down the street, face pointing downward, essentially oblivious to your surroundings? To me it's a giant fuck you to the rest of us. Lately I've begun my own little protest by declaring to myself that, should I encounter someone occupied by their device coming right toward me, I will not swerve to avoid them. Sometimes I simply stop in my tracks and yell "look up" right before impact rather than make contact. If we slam into one another so be it. I, obviously, will have the benefit of bracing myself before impact while the other party will not. We're not talking a major collision here - no one has fallen down and now one has gotten hurt. The collision is technically avoidable, but I feel the other party should lose the benefit of the doubt for treating the rest of us like a collective after thought. Is that okay?

Thatz not okay.

(lol omg TNO #smh)

Here's what's going to happen if you continue to bump into strangers on purpose: you're going to get your ass kicked (I'm assuming you won't just target people smaller than you, right? You have Honor.) or someone is going to fall. I know you've already decided that no one is going to fall. However, someone still might fall.

I'm not a lawyer, but I'm pretty sure bumping into someone on purpose constitutes some form of assault, even if no one is injured. Like, hitting another car with your car because your foot slipped off the brake: that's an accident. Hitting another car with your car because that other driver seems pre-occupied and you want to teach them a lesson: that's illegal and also crazy.

For the record, I take issue with your use of the word "technically" in, "The collision is technically avoidable." No adverb needed, hero. These collisions are regular avoidable.

I suppose your goal in purposely bumping into your fellow pedestrians is to get them to put away their phones; to appreciate the architecture of every block; to doff their cap to the greengrocer and greet every passerby with a warm howdy-do? Maybe word of your vigilante justice will spread throughout the city, and the mayor will erect a statue of you (posed mid-stride, chest puffed out to brace for impact) in the middle of a busy pedestrian thoroughfare. Maybe people will get to know their neighbors and start painting their picket fences with gleaming white lead again.

But probably what will happen is that the bumpees will look up for a second, mumble "Sorry," and then start writing a tweet about how some lunatic just bumped into them on purpose.

If you're determined to let people know that you hate their handheld devices, I suggest sticking with your "Look up!" plan. It might not work every time, but it will probably work some of the time. When it does, the person will stop, look up, feel chastised, and maybe take better note of their surroundings for the rest of the walk. The key here is to use shame rather than brute force to change their behavior.

While I do empathize with your frustrations about people who walk and text (especially if they're walking slowly too, urrrrrgh WALK FASTER), the cops who one day stop you after bumping a girl's phone to the ground and shattering the screen are more likely to sympathize with her, an innocent pedestrian, than you, a crazy person.

(And what does it say that the less ridiculous of these two plans involves screaming at strangers? Come on.)

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