I went out to lunch with my coworker recently and she discovered she had left her wallet back at the office. I offered to cover her meal until we returned to work since we had already been seated. She agreed and we went on to order lunch. It wasn’t a particularly fancy restaurant but with her drinks, an appetizer, and an entree, my coworker ended up with a $60 total after tip. When we returned to the office, I followed her to her desk where she announced she didn’t have any cash. I asked her to please make sure to bring it the following morning. She agreed and I left it at that. The next morning my coworker didn’t approach me, so I went to her and asked for the money. She said she would not be able to pay me until payday and then it would only be half, the other half would come the payday after that. Lola, I do not know what to do! I have a feeling she will not pay me on our payday and I’m torn on how to handle it if she declines to do so. While I can afford to absorb the cost of her lunch, I really dislike the idea of someone not being honest with me and feel I should push the issue.
Dear Lunch Lady,
Let’s start by looking on the bright side. You obviously like this coworker since you eat lunch together. Plus, you had a lovely lunch and hopefully some great conversation. Unfortunately, this has all become a bit tainted by the dishonesty that followed the meal.
It’s like a dine-and-dash, without the dash!
My gut reaction is to tell you to lay waste to your coworker because money is king and no one should be screwing you out of your hard-earned dollars. However, I have sometimes thought my gut reacts in this manner because it’s feeling a bit hollow.
Let’s have a snack and regroup afterwards.
Alright, now that we’ve all had a moment to satiate our bellies, let’s rethink how to best deal with your currency complication. To be frank, it might be best to let this matter go. You like this coworker, at least you did prior to this incident. I imagine that someone would have to be in a hard situation if she is willing to use deception to score a free meal from someone she sees on a daily basis. While it would have been much nicer for her to admit she couldn’t pay prior to arriving at the restaurant, she didn’t.
The past cannot be changed, but the future sure can!
From now on, you may want to consider declining any lunch invitations. If you still want to dine out with your coworker, you need to be vocal about reminding her to bring her wallet before you leave the building. There is an old saying about fooling someone once and you’ve already been there and done that.
However, all this indigestion could be a moot point.
Your coworker may surprise you by paying promptly on payday. Give her the morning and then send a quick text reminding her of the lunch debt and her promise to pay back half on that day. Then resolve to let the matter go entirely, whether she repays you or not. Sometimes the nicest thing you can do for someone is feed them a meal when you can afford to do so.
You never know when you may need the favor returned.
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