Charitable Dining Of A Different Sort

by admin on June 9, 2014

I’m afraid that I may have sent myself to E-hell recently.

My husband and I regularly attend charity dinners. We pay between 20 to 50 dollars for a plate then listen to a speaker or watch a performer and are usually asked to donate more at the end of the evening as well. We prefer these to more normal date-night activities because we feel we have a nice time and our money is put to good use.

I regularly have lunch with four female coworkers, but I consider them causal friends and we’ve never spent time together outside of work. I’ve talked about the dinners my husband and I go to before, and one of the women “Kate” expressed an interest in attending one and asked me to tell her about the next one so she could go with her husband.

So the next time my husband and I decided to attend a charity dinner I told her about it. I told her the date, where it was going be held, that it would be $30 a plate, and you could pay ahead of time or at the door. She thanked me for telling her and said that she looked forward to seeing me there. When we got there we greeted each other, introduced our husbands, and headed inside. When we got to the check in table the person didn’t have their name on his list. I had informed her that tickets were available at the door and assumed she had chosen to pay when she knew she would be attending so I told her we would see her inside. They sat at the same table as us, but seemed cold throughout dinner and the speaker’s presentation. Afterward I asked them if they would like to join us for coffee before heading home, but they declined and left.

The next day I received an angry phone call from “Kate” berating me for not paying for their dinners. She claimed that when I told her the price over the phone she thought it was “tacky” to put a price tag on a gift but hadn’t wished to call me out on it because she didn’t want to “embarrass” me by pointing out my lack of manners. She hadn’t realized I had been “so poorly raised” that I would expect guests to pay for their meals but that’s what she gets for trusting people. Finally she informed me that she and her husband had not donated a cent to the charity (not that I asked) and hoped that that would “teach me a lesson in manners” before my next etiquette misstep cost me a friendship with someone “less understanding of my faults.”

I’m a little stunned. I didn’t invite her over to my house and try to sell Tupperware or invite her to my wedding and pass around a hat. I certainly didn’t hide the fact that the event was based around giving money and honestly didn’t consider myself a hostess at all. Finally I’m peeved that she thinks denying money to people who need it is somehow supposed to punish me. 0607-14

How amusing that Kate initiated and arranged the gift of dinner you were supposed to give her and her husband.   You inadvertently got bamboozled by a sweet little con artist who cleverly tried to arrange for you to pay for her evening date with her husband.   At the point where Kate brought up your “tacky” mention of the price of the gift, you could have said, “Whoa!  Wait a minute!  Are you telling me you thought this was a gift from me?  What ever gave you that impression?   As I recall, you asked me when the next event was and I passed on that information to you.  At no time did I ever offer to pay for your dinners and I am at a loss as to see you could have misconstrued my information.”   What you would have done is to have taken the faux pas back to its origins, namely her presumption that by merely asking about these charity dinners means you would be paying for her and hubby to attend one.

 

{ 115 comments… read them below or add one }

kristin June 9, 2014 at 8:59 pm

I completely agree that the OP did NOTHING wrong at all. (Also, good on them for making it a regular habit to attend charitable functions.)

If Kate somehow, SOME WAY, actually did misunderstand the OP and think that they were being treated, that’s one thing. I’d have sympathy for them if they’d either bowed out at the door (“Oh, dear, I believe I left the coffee pot on!”) or paid for the meal they ate and sucked it up as a lesson learned.

But she loses all sympathy and any benefit of the doubt with that phone call.

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David June 9, 2014 at 10:22 pm

With the latest OP updates I hope keeping Kate at arm’s length becomes standard.

She’s a con artist. She may not be focusing her talents on selling the Brooklyn Bridge, but she definitely is trying to get your money.

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NostalgicGal June 10, 2014 at 12:43 am

There’s one here in the annals… woman had gone to major metro, and was living a good life, but she had it rather tight and knew it. Friend she hadn’t seen in a few years came to visit, with her mother; mother is rather well off. Mother made several comments that indicated there was probably going to be later trouble… and finally invited the woman to lunch at this really hideously expensive (but good) restaurant. Mother invited her to join mother and daughterfriend for this lunch. She took what she had free for the week fundage wise; ordered very minimally so as to be able to afford her OWN meal (dinner salad and tea, period) and tip. Mother ordered well, appetizers and entrees, dessert and wine with meal; friend followed her mother’s lead. Bill came, and mother sat there and sat there and sat there and finally asked the woman why she hadn’t picked up the bill. Mother was expecting her to pay the bill for all three. With grace and a spine she explained that she hadn’t invited them, they had invited her; as she could barely afford what she had… (she takes out the money she had and puts it by her plate) that’s all she has for her entire week for eating. Mother is extremely affronted but gets out the credit card. Her friend the daughter is embarrassed at least; poster said she got up and left, and she wishes she would have given her money directly to the server as she bet the mother stiffed the tip.

Kate hasn’t hit this point but, her place is reserved in e-hell, especially if she manages to wrangle another pass at ‘let’s go out together to XYZ’ with the OP….

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Calli Arcale June 12, 2014 at 11:32 am

Magnificent polite spine in that story. ;-) It’s amazing, both the gall and the obvious practice which mooches have. It’s bad enough when they invite people out and then expect them to go dutch, or conveniently show up at the same event so as to claim a misunderstanding had occurred, but to go this far and actually invite the victim that they expect to pay for their lavish meals? Wow. Impressive gall.

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AnaLuisa June 10, 2014 at 1:31 am

Wow…. (picking my jaw off the floor). Did she think they were poor and the charity was FOR THEM?

But, jokes apart… I wonder what would have happened if you confronted her right on the spot during the lunch while she was boasting to your coworkers?

Something like: “Kate, I cannot believe my ears. I am still confused from your phone call after the dinner when you seemed very disappointed – to put it mildly – that we did not foot the bill for you and your husband, told me that I was poorly raised and rude not to do that, and you even told me that you did not pay a dime for the charity to punish me for my rudeness.
Now you are all smiles and wanting to go with us AGAIN? Why would you do so if you think we were rude? Do you expect us to pay this time?
For me, it was such an incredibly unpleasant experience I would NEVER go with you again.”

I know that “creating drama” is viewed badly here on e-Hell. But is it really the right thing to do to pretend as if nothing happened and let the people with such an incredible gall just get away with it?

I just cannot imagine me throwing a hissy fit – and a completely unsubstantiated at that – and the next day pretend as if nothing happened, AND EXPECT THE OTHER PERSON TO BEHAVE AS IF THERE WAS NO FIT AT ALL? If I was inclined to throw such fits I would be afraid that this person would say: “Oh WT..? Are you CRAZY or what? What do you think of yourself? etc., etc.”

I do not think that conflicts should be avoided at any cost because these little mooches count on it as your foible (that you’d better give them what they want than create a “scene”). Why not let them taste a bit of their own medicine. No fit at all, of course, but a cold confrontation with what they have done.

And as I know myself, I would stop going out to lunch with her – I just would not be able to act around her as if nothing had happened. And I find it a bit tiring to watch out for someone who is ready to stab you in the back in any time convenient for them.

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The Elf June 10, 2014 at 7:23 am

“I know that “creating drama” is viewed badly here on e-Hell. But is it really the right thing to do to pretend as if nothing happened and let the people with such an incredible gall just get away with it?”

No, but remember that this is a co-worker. Responding as you suggest *is* going to end up coming back to you. What you do is you do not respond the voice mail, you act coolly professional to the woman, and if she attempts to bring it up you change the subject (unless she brings it up to apologize for her behavior, in which case you graciously accept the apology) and NEVER give her the details of another event. Not going to lunch with her is fine, and it is also fine to explain this (if they ask) to the other co-workers in the group by saying that you had a disagreement and felt that a little space would be needed. This is not pretending nothing happened. This is taking the high road.

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LadyLelan June 10, 2014 at 9:48 am

I couldn’t agree more.

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Elizabeth June 10, 2014 at 10:58 am

I suggest a hand-written note: Kate, I think you mis-understood the outing. You asked me to let you know of the next event, which I did. I was not extending an invitation to host your attendance.

(and good riddance – her reaction to your behavior tells you everything you need to know about this person)

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Ashley June 10, 2014 at 11:14 am

I just am bewildered by this, how on earth could she have thought it was a gift? You mentioned the price and where/how to get tickets, that alone should make it obvious that she’s on her own to pay for this.

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Barbarian June 10, 2014 at 4:41 pm

My flabber has been thoroughly gasted! Kate is the loser all the way around. If Kate does not have any problems trying to extort OP to pay for the outing in her horrible voice mail, one can only conclude she is a loose cannon in other aspects of her life. Sadly, Op’s workplace is one of them. OP should now be on her guard in all dealings with Kate. Someone with Kate’s morals and values may find it easy to falsify company documents or mistreat clients and coworkers if thing don’t go her way. If OP answers the voice mail in any way, she engages the crazy. If Kate asks OP again to pay for the dinner, then send a written note in the style of E or Mya’s post. It might not even be a bad idea to skip up to a week of lunches to let the issue die a natural death.

Every now and then coworkers will hear about local events I attend and ask how they can go or hint they want me to reserve a spot for them. I refer them to the website or change the subject. It is difficult to draw boundaries between our business and personal life, but we have to do it for our own peace of mind.

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LizaJane June 10, 2014 at 5:38 pm

Of COURSE you weren’t asking her to be your guest. If you were, you wouldn’t have mentioned the price because that would be tacky.

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Rebecca June 10, 2014 at 10:28 pm

She’s probably expecting the OP to be so embarrassed after “being called out” for “rudeness” that she will surely get a free meal out of it next time, if she can embarrass her further by being sugary sweet and nice about it.

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Enna June 13, 2014 at 9:22 am

If I was the OP I would be very tempted to tell the colleagues in front of Kate in a neutral way what really happened.

“Kate, that’s not the impression you gave me during the evening or the following day in your rude telephone call. I am sorry that you misunderstood what I said about paying in advance or on the door but at no point did I offer to pay for the meal. Not donating to the charity only harms the charity and calling me “tacky” and “poorly raised” as well as having “a lack of manners” is not a good precident for going out again.”

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