Q: My girlfriend and I have started sharing my car. We decided that having two was an unnecessary expense, so she sold hers. We work opposite schedules, which wasn't supposed to be a problem, because she was planning to take the bus to and from her day job.
Lately, she has been asking me for rides to work in the morning, because it's too cold or she's tired and wanted to sleep in, etc. I work nights, so I kept my car since buses don't run in our neighborhood after bar close and bus stops tend to be safe during the day. I'm fine with giving her rides every once in a while, but I cannot keep disrupting my sleep to drive her to work four hours after I go to bed, then come home to maybe fall back asleep before I get up to start my day.
I can see this becoming a pattern. I brought it up and she got mad, saying I should be concerned for her safety riding the bus. We don't live in the nicest neighborhood, but I say riding the bus with the commuter crowd is safe. I am so exhausted some days. I need to bring this up again but I don't want another fight. Am I being a bad boyfriend or is she in the wrong here?
A: Thousands of Twin Citians take the bus to and from work every day without incident, save for the occasional wino with no concept of personal space bubbles. Even in the event of such an unpleasantry, your girlfriend is probably surrounded on the bus by dozens of hardworking 9-to-5ers who wouldn't hesitate to tell a fella to back off if they noticed he was harassing a nice young lady. For that reason and a few others -- according to the National Safety Council, riding the bus is 170 times safer than driving a car -- using good ol' Metro Transit is a very sound method of transportation.
Your girlfriend shouldn't get angry at you for voicing your concerns, especially when they're related to your physical and mental well-being. Being exhausted can cause all sorts of problems, like falling asleep while driving or spacing out at work and ending up in the ER while a doctor stitches your fingers back onto your hand. Lack of sleep can also alter judgment, make you cranky and trick your body into thinking it needs more calories. A 2010 nutrition study found that men who slept only four hours a night consumed more than 500 extra calories the next day compared with after sleeping a full eight. Being tired makes you fat!
Before those morning rides develop into a habit and you become too worn down to say no, have a sit-down with your girlfriend and don't be afraid to argue the above points. I am 100 percent on your side; you guys had a deal and she's not making good on her end. Ditching the car was more of an inconvenience than she expected, but she needs to accept the decision that you made together. Buy some Beats by Dr. Dre, stash some pepper spray in her purse, do whatever it takes to make her feel comfortable and safe on the bus.
Show her again the budget that the two of you worked out, and point out how much money you're saving. Ask if she's willing to sacrifice other luxuries to be able to have a second car again. Is it worth it to her to stop dining out or, heaven forbid, give up alcohol? Probably not. How about if you bused to work, would she get up in the middle of the night to pick you up? Doubt it, yet she asks you to do the same.
Stick with the plan. She just needs a little time to adjust, which will be easier once the days turn warm and sunny. Don't fall for the damsel-in-distress bit and remind her that you decided on this together. For the sake of a nest egg, a trip to Thailand or whatever goal you're saving toward, such a small sacrifice will be worth it.