Within an au pair cluster, there are always some host families with relaxed car guidelines and even some families that don’t care at all what gets done with their au pair’s car. And, there are always some au pairs with significant constraints– their driving is bad, their host parents have only one car — and these au pairs need help getting one place or another.
Unfortunately however, these situations combine to create what’s called the Cluster Taxi— the one au pair car that ends up doing all the mileage for a group of au pairs.
And, the Cluster Taxi ends up creating a Cluster Cabdriver— the au pair that ends up with the responsibility and also usually the costs of driving everyone else around.
Don’t allow your au pair car to become the Cluster Taxi.
Don’t allow your au pair to become the Cluster Cabdriver.
If you provide your au pair with a dedicated car (or the frequent use of a family car), help set some guidelines for when s/he can and can’t use that car for driving other au pairs around. Even though curfews, mileage limits and the like will put some constraints on car use, talk about the Cluster Taxi Problem directly. Help your au pair suggest to her or his friends that they all take turns driving and providing the car for their shared outings.
Don’t expect another au pair or another family to provide transportation for your au pair.
Au pairs can and should share rides, to make things efficient and fun. But no au pair or host family should provide transportation when you are unwilling to provide for your au pair yourself.
I admit that, as the host parent who provides her au pairs with a dedicated ‘au pair’ car, I’ve often resented being taken advantage of by host families (and au pairs) who did not and would not provide safe, reasonable and convenient transportation themselves. I’m all for the idea of ride sharing, and car pooling, but I’ve resented it when it’s always been our car. I don’t want my generosity, or my au pair’s generosity, taken advantage of.
And, I’ve especially resented it when it’s become our au pair’s extra burden to pick up and drop off 3 or 4 other au pairs when they go out, adding extra work for her. At one point, one au pair “friend” asked my au pair to drive her and her boyfriend to the movies, and my au pair was so sweet and kindhearted she felt she couldn’t say no. So I did– I told the au pair “friend” that our au pair would no longer provide her with rides.
Sometimes the host parents do have to intervene to help the au pairs save face.
As iMom writes:
I have also been frustrated by other host families not being considerate of the needs of their AP to get around, which ended up being inconsiderate to my AP and to me because my AP had to drive her around.
Case in point, one family would not set their AP up with direct deposit of her paychecks and yet did not provide transportation to the bank for her to deposit her checks!
I really don’t know what they could have expected except that someone else would have to drive her. MY AP usually ended up driving her to the bank every Friday. Perhaps I should have said something, but I never did. My AP didn’t mind much because they usually spent time together Friday evenings anyway, but it was still a hassle and very inconsiderate!
What have your experiences been with the Cluster Taxi?
Have you come up with any ways to avoid abuse, while creating a nice situation of ride sharing?
Image: Three Amigos from timsamoff