Sounds like she was guilting you a little. Were the last 4 times also last-minute with no notice? What does she expect if she doesn’t let you know ahead of time?
Something about this whole thing is frustrating me. This whole situation could have been prevented if your friend had planned a little better by letting you know ahead of time that she would be in town, yet it sounds like you are getting the blame here and you are out $30.
If you’re only going to make last minute plans, you shouldn’t expect others to juggle their schedule and goals around for you. Here her poor planning ended up costing you $30 and that is NOT FAIR.
Yeah, that’s pretty much my point. There was no thinking ahead of you, just this expectation that you’d jump at the chance to see her, enabling her lack of advance communication and costing you $30 to boot.
No one else finds this frustrating or thinks there’s something upsetting or dysfunctional about this dynamic? No one else thinks it’s unfair or that payment is not being properly allocated here?
And it’s not just about money. In my mind, while this is a non-legit derailment, it’s still a good idea to pay because of slippery slopes. So her failure to let you know in advance, combined with the apparent guilting, could have started you down a dangerous slope.
I really like @olimay’s suggestion that there are two types of goals: “never fail” increasing pledge goals and “ok to pay to fail” capped pledge goals. But that second type of goal can end up unfairly costing you when someone else’s failure to give you advance notice ends up putting you in a position where you have to turn them down or pay for derailing.
So the moral is, when setting up a goal of the second type, beware that it puts you in a situation where you might have to pay when it should be someone else’s responsibility.
I see three options here:
Suck it up and pay. This just seems unfair and enables someone else’s bad behavior. But maybe having to pay when this happens is good motivation not to enable.
Call it a legit derailment. The bright line here is “I should have known earlier but I didn’t because someone else didn’t plan ahead - if they had, I would have made time and kept my goals.” I think this is reasonable, but the concern is that it’s too easy to slide down a slippery slope here - that is, maybe this isn’t a bright enough line.
My preferred option - properly allocate the penalty. The penalty should properly be paid by the person who was in a position to be aware of the issue and plan for it (in the US, this is a general principle of tort law).
So if you’re in a situation where someone asks you for something, and their failure to think ahead puts you in a position where you might derail, consider telling them you’ll only agree if they pay the costs of their failure to let you know earlier.
Since apparently some people find discussion of money and payments in situations like this unusual or socially unacceptable, another option might be to ask them to help you out in a non-financial way by helping you with a task or doing some kind of favor. I feel like this kind of casual bartering is fairly normal.
Also see the “notorious example” of @dreev and @bee allocating household tasks by making payments: