I worked for a small company in an intimate office setting.
On the day I gave my boss my 2 weeks notice, he announced to our team of 4 that he wanted to take us all out for a farewell lunch on him in my honor to the restaurant of my choice. I chose the place and it worked out best for all of us to go together the day before I was to leave.
When I arrived at the restaurant I was told by my coworkers that they had just been told by our boss that he was not going to be able to make it to lunch. I was really surprised since we had planned this far enough in advance that we could all make it, but more so because it was my good-bye lunch. I wondered how then the lunch was going to be paid for, but I felt it would be tacky to ask and since I had brought money, I let it go. After our meals, the waitress asks how the checks should be divided and before I could say anything, one of my co-workers stated that she was covering my meal. I was grateful, but very embarrassed that this had to fall to her unexpectedly and so I made an attempt to say that I could pay, but it was clear she wanted to do this for me so I let her. I was really upset at my boss for putting us all in this position.
At lunch, my co-workers also presented me with a modest going away gift for which I was very grateful and expressed my thanks to my team both for the gift and for coming to lunch.
When we returned to the office one of my co-workers confided in me that my boss didn’t send money for lunch nor did he offer to reimburse anyone or make mention of lunch at all which I thought was awful considering it had been his idea and he had made the offer to pay initially which then fell to my co-workers. Not only had he stiffed them on lunch, but they had notified everyone on my team, including our boss, that whoever wanted could chip in for the gift. All of my co-workers generously chipped in, but my boss never responded to their email and never gave toward my gift. I certainly didn’t expect anyone to do anything for me and was grateful for everything my team was willing to do. Personally, I’ve always participated and contributed to team events and gifts because I feel that’s just what you do when you’re part of a team even if what you can give is not much.
I felt I had to and did apologize to my co-workers for them paying for my lunch, but they were very understanding and willing to do this for me. I just felt embarrassed and very hurt that after working for my boss for over 3 years he was unwilling to come to the lunch he arranged for me and put the burden of the cost of lunch and a parting gift on my team.
Later that afternoon, he came to my desk and I stupidly assumed he was going to apologize for not making it to lunch. No, he just wanted to ask what time I was planning to leave the next day (my last day). Huh? Not one word about my lunch at all. I was just floored. 07-31-08
In three years of employment, there was no hint that the boss would act like this? Well, the damage is done because your fellow co-workers now have no illusions as to how their investment of time, talent and energy is going to be honored at their leaving. It’s tempting to ask the question of why one would bother to do a job well if the boss will eventually diminish the efforts. The answer really is that we should work hard if for no other reason than our own self respect for giving an honest day’s labor for an honest day’s wage.