A Wimpy Adieu From The Co-Worker

by admin on September 3, 2014

I worked for one company for 26 years. Over those years the business changed, moved offices several times, portions were sold off, divisions moved out of state and finally all that was left in my state was an executive office in a high-rise in a very high-rent part of town, occupied by my boss (the elderly business owner) and me. He spent a lot of time at his second home several states away, so much of the time I was working alone in the office. In order to justify staying in this upscale building and keeping his ocean-view office, he sub-leased half of the office to a friend, another semi-retired business owner, who occupied it with his part-time assistant. Since his assistant, Karina, and I were in the office alone together much of the time over the next several years, we became friendly and usually ate lunch together in the office kitchenette, but we didn’t really socialize outside of the office.

The time finally came when my boss decided to fully retire and he sold what remained of his business to a partner in the midwest, who decided to close down our expensive office and move everything to his state. I was not offered a job in that state, nor was I interested in moving there, so after 26 years I was laid off (albeit with a pretty decent severance package). I was assigned a final day, but then asked to stay several weeks longer to shut down our part of the office and have everything shipped to the new owner’s location. The other executive who was sub-leasing from us was able to take over the lease of the high-rise office for the final six months so they wouldn’t have to find a new office and move immediately.

As it turned out, the day that would be my last day working for the company fell while my boss was out of the country. Karina offered to take me out to lunch on my last day, and her boss suggested the two of us try an upscale restaurant nearby that was out of our price range. He couldn’t join us as he wouldn’t be in that day but he offered to foot the bill as his farewell gift to me. Having a nice lunch as a send off sounded great, working alone so much I had been worried that I’d just be locking the empty office door behind me on my last day and just walking away after so many years.

Every day during my final week Karina reminded me that the two of us were going out for our fancy lunch on my last day. We were both excited about the restaurant, had looked at the menu on-line in advance and found an article about the celebrities often seen there. When the day came, our lunch reservations were at noon, Karina started acting strange. Remember, her boss had authorized the lunch and was even paying for it, but she mentioned several times how busy she was. She said she’d try to take a quick break for lunch, IF I still wanted to. Of course I wanted to, I’d been looking forward to it all week! After we walked down the street to the restaurant, she told the host that we wouldn’t be needing our table, we’d just find a spot in the bar (neither of planned to drink). For lunch, she ordered only a cup of soup. Once she gulped down her soup, she sat and watched me eat my salad and made no effort at conversation. Once I’d taken my last bite, she said “are you done?” jumped up, slapped down cash and headed for the door. I don’t think we were out of the office for more than 35 minutes in total.

For the rest of the day Karina stayed at her desk and didn’t speak to me. Since she was part-time, she left several hours before I did. Strangely enough, she left while I was in the restroom down the hall, so I came back to an empty office and no good-bye.

Nothing odd had happened between us that week and we really weren’t close enough that she would be all broken up about me leaving and wasn’t dealing with it well. I’m still puzzled about what happened that day…   0828-14

We could fruitlessly speculate about the causes of Karina’s change of attitude until the cows come home and still be no smarter.   I would bid her and the office “Good riddance” and mentally flush the entire episode down the drain.   Karina has made it pretty easy for you to cut your losses and move forward with no regrets.

{ 83 comments… read them below or add one }

Yasuragi September 3, 2014 at 7:55 am

Let the wild, unsubstantiated speculation begin!

I hypothesize that Karina’s boss gave her a wad of cash for the lunch and she hoped to pocket as much as possible. Hence, trying to cancel the lunch altogether, only ordering soup at an upscale restaurant and rushing you out before dessert or coffee could be ordered.

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admin September 3, 2014 at 8:16 am

I hypothesize that Karina has undiagnosed Aspergers. Because everything can be blamed on Aspergers.

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ALM September 3, 2014 at 8:43 am

Would this be that Sudden Adult Onset Aspergers that comes on when cash is involved and never had a symptom in the previous years the OP and the ‘sufferer’ worked together?

I’m going to have to agree with Yasuragi on this, either the other boss gave his employee cash or a gift card to the restaurant (which Karina spent on something else) or forgot about his offer entirely and didn’t pay her at all.

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Ellie September 3, 2014 at 6:20 pm

I thought this too maybe, that the boss’ promise didn’t come to fruition (or maybe decided to reimburse later) and office-mate was going to have to foot the bill. Wouldn’t explain the leaving without saying goodbye, unless she was embarrassed.

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Goldie September 4, 2014 at 9:05 am

Yes, I think it’s one of those two as well.

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Steve September 3, 2014 at 9:00 am

Exactly. Plus Karina probably assumed that if the OP wanted more food for lunch, she would’ve dialed 911.

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LadyLelan September 4, 2014 at 1:59 pm

I beg to differ.

I feel pretty sure it is yet another trick of Lex Luthor. Or the Beagle Boys. Who knows.

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BellyJean September 3, 2014 at 8:16 am

+1 this theory.

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Stacey Frith-Smith September 3, 2014 at 2:21 pm

Ditto. The lady had no one to account to for the lunch and her antics were excessive given the ease of the task.

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JO September 3, 2014 at 4:03 pm

I hypothesize that the boss didn’t give Karina ANY cash, but rather backed out when she reminded him of the offer. Not wanting the OP to find out, Karina determined the only polite thing was to pay for the lunch herself, but hoped the OP would cancel and ordered light because the restaurant was out of her budget.

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Snowy September 30, 2014 at 12:49 am

I’m going with “The boss said he’d pay for the $100 meal, then only left her $30.”

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Steve September 3, 2014 at 8:08 am

Of course there is no excuse for her behavior. Karina was not only rude, she was a liar – pretending that your firm lunch plans were some half hatched idea. Even if she panicked at the last minute thinking she would be stuck with the bill, she should have explained herself. I agree that her behavior is too bizzarre to bother trying to understand it. Good riddance.

However, the person I would be really miffed at is your boss. Neither Karen nor her boss were your coworkers. They worked for a completely different enterprise that just happened to share your space. But you worked for your boss either directly or indirectly for over a quarter of a century! You were his last remaining employee, and you don’t even get a lunch, a card, a cheap bouquet? Thoughtless.

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Jared Bascomb September 3, 2014 at 9:35 am

Agreed. Loyal employee for 26 years and the boss does nada for a send-off?? Even if boss was out of the country on the actual date the LW left, he could have taken the time and effort to take her to lunch later.

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Lady Catford September 3, 2014 at 11:29 am

Yes, I do think after 26 years of service that Your boss should be doing a little something nice as a sign of his appreciation

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don't blink September 3, 2014 at 8:08 am

My first thought was that Karina’s boss reneged on his promise to pay and she couldn’t face telling you, so she tried to change an expensive luncheon into grabbing a quick bite.

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Dominic September 3, 2014 at 8:26 am

This is what came to mind for me, at least as one of the least awful options. It might explain why she was so put out, and then wouldn’t talk to OP or say goodbye.

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Yet Another Laura September 3, 2014 at 9:44 am

That was my first thought, too. Karina was probably embarrassed about it. I’d have told you and we could have gone somewhere else.

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magicdomino September 3, 2014 at 11:28 am

That was my first thought. I doubt if Karina’s boss gave her cash, since he wouldn’t be sure how much lunch would cost, but I can see him forgetting to give either Karina or the restaurant the credit card number. As long as we are wildly speculating, what if he had remembered, but just had a call from the credit card company saying that the card was maxed out.

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Princess Buttercup September 3, 2014 at 11:41 am

That was my thought also. She may have been having trouble getting the promised money or her boss may have changed his mind and said “why should I pay and not her own boss?”. Then co-worker feels embarassed that she is on the spot to explain that it turns out that no one cares and she can’t afford to keep her bosses promise.

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Laura Fortner September 3, 2014 at 8:10 am

It sounds to me as if the boss gave Karina cash for the lunch, and she decided she’d rather keep the cash than treat her coworker.

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DGS September 3, 2014 at 8:12 am

Not sure that there were any etiquette issues there, but simply a weird situation. Maybe, she didn’t want to socialize outside of the office at all; or, maybe, she was quite busy with a last minute project, or she could have been clueless about the significance of the day for you since she hadn’t worked for the same company or been privy to your extensive history with them. I am sorry that your last day was somewhat of a letdown, but I would imagine that the fault does not lie with Karina, but with your long distance boss whom you had faithfully assisted for years. He could have and should have done more to acknowledge your contribution.

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GEna September 3, 2014 at 8:17 am

I go along with the theory that the boss either told her he wasn’t paying for it, or he told her to pay for it and be reimbursed, and she didn’t have the funds to do so. She acted the way she did out of embarrassment.

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Yasuragi September 3, 2014 at 9:38 am

Also possible. I used to have an employer that took their sweet, sweet time reimbursing anything. Bring the receipt, file the paperwork, get it signed by the one boss that was around so infrequently he may as well have been a mythical being, wait for approval and you’ll have it in your next month’s paycheck. Oh, it wasn’t in your paycheck? Sorry, sorry. We’ll *definitely* make sure it’s in there next next month! But would you mind filing the paperwork again? Just a formality. Ugh.

If the restaurant was quite pricey I can understand Karina not wanting to be out a good chunk of money until who knows when.

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Cat September 3, 2014 at 8:33 am

I hate to believe this is true, but I have to agree with Yasuragi and Laura. Karina was part-time and may have been handed a lot of cash for an expensive lunch. Her greed may have overcome her good manners and she thought, “I could use this money myself. I won’t have much to eat and will insist on sitting at the bar so he won’t order an entire meal. I can go with the guy, whom I shall never see again anyway, he can have a lunch as he was promised, and I can keep this all for myself.”
If there is another reason, I cannot think of it. I fear this sort of thing is making me cynical. I would have thought more of her if she had said, ‘Let’s skip the expensive lunch and just split the money.” It’s not what the boss intended, but it would have been more fair to the OP.

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Vicki Cole September 3, 2014 at 9:10 pm

Interesting that you think the OP is male – my assumption was exactly the opposite, that the OP was female.

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Saucygirl September 3, 2014 at 8:44 am

I vote for cash she pocketed, her boss not following through, or her boss giving cc to restaurant and karina taking someone else like a husband or a good friend to the meal instead. Regardless though, I agree with posters above who said your boss is one most at fault for not planning something for a 26 year employee

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NostalgicGal September 3, 2014 at 9:00 am

Debating if funding had been withdrawn at last moment; and she couldn’t pass that along. Sounds like there’s a lot of hidden but probably simple explanation. Such as funding got pulled; Karina had a last minute something she got stuffed with; or … anyways the only one that could tell you is either Karina or her boss. I’d say that when she suddenly started acting strange that day it was due to the cost. And that funding probably got pulled. Move on from it as it sounds like more bridges could be burned than anything to be gained by asking further.

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Whodunit September 3, 2014 at 9:16 am

Ok, while this seems weird, I’m going to say that the whole etiquette situation here is OPs boss NOT doing anything much– even the meal was on the other dudes bill. I don’t know Karinas problem, but this was a whole lot of story to state the obvious– that it was YOUR boss who should have done something on ur last day, not the assistant for the sublease guy. That said, I would close the office door, remember the nice memories, wish everyone a happy life, and whistle down the street with that nice severance package ( cause let’s face it, it sounded like a pretty sweet job with a pretty sum of money) no hard feelings– life has some pretty hard things and this isn’t one of them.

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Marie September 3, 2014 at 9:25 am

I also immediately thought the boss had given Karina cash and she wanted to keep it. If he had reneged on his promise to pay, why wouldn’t she just tell the OP?

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Otter September 3, 2014 at 9:49 am

Karina’s behavior sounds guilty (pocketing the money) rather than ashamed (not having any funding). I vote that her boss handed her a nice sum and she decided to spend as little as possible on OP’s going away lunch. So sorry this happened to you OP. Nothing you can do except try to make sense of it and let it go. Twenty six years at a company is quite an accomplishment. Feel good about that if you can.

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Jewel September 3, 2014 at 10:28 am

Whether Karina decided to pocket the difference OR whether she lied about the boss agreeing to pay for the lunch and ended up being caught in a fib that she couldn’t afford, one thing is for sure: she knew what she’d done to you was wrong. That’s why she fled while you were in the restroom. Guilty people act that way. Embarrassed people act that way. People who’ve done nothing wrong don’t act that way. Too bad we’ll never know what really happened! I guess it’s just one of life’s mysteries!

Your story does remind me a bit of a weird interaction I had with a neighbor once. She has a son the same age as mine, although they go to different schools. We made arrangements to have a “get to know you” meet up the next week at one of those play places that serves pizza. We set the time for the dinner hour and discussed what kind of pizza to order. When they got there (20 minutes late), I asked if she’d rather order right away or wait for a little while.

Her replied still perplexes me to this day considering that we had clearly talked about ordering a pizza for the boys to share. She said, “(Son) had pizza last night so I don’t want him to have pizza two nights in a row.” So, a major part of the purpose of meeting-up was just blithely discarded without any consideration for us. Thinking it was a one-off, I just said, “Well, I guess I’ll just order for us while the boys play.”

Unfortunately, the evening didn’t get better. Right from the start, she acted like she’d rather have been anywhere other than with us (only reluctantly responding when I tried to make conversation, etc.). Her behavior was night and day different than it was when we made the arrangement the week prior. The kicker was when an acquaintance couple of hers stopped to say hello on their way out the door and her face lit up like they’d just thrown her a life-line. Having had enough, I cut the evening very short, collected my son, and left. I’ve given her the “cool shoulder” whenever I’ve seen her around the neighborhood since, but would love to know why she acted like she was being forced to be there, and why (if she didn’t feel like going after all) she hadn’t just called me and cancelled?

I guess it’s just another mystery, like yours!

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Steve September 3, 2014 at 5:45 pm

We once had a similar thing happened to us, which was unusual because most of our neighbors are wonderful. One couple welcomed us effusively, bringing over treats and promising future get-togethers, coffees, and lunches. Then suddenly, they gave us the cold shoulder, not even acknowledging us on the street unless someone else was around to watch.

It turned out to be a case of mistaken identity. They thought one of us was a very important local attorney. Once they discovered their error, they just hit the eject button.

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Rebecca September 4, 2014 at 12:15 am

Incredible. They don’t sound like the kind of people I like, who base their assessment of your personality and character and general friendship-worthiness, on perceived status.

I am a little leery of people who fall all over themselves thinking I’m wonderful (I’m thinking of clients here) because I’ve found that these are the same kinds of people who can do a 180 degree turnaround and be give you the cold shoulder for reasons that are impossible to fathom.

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Steve September 4, 2014 at 11:16 am

I had a client invite me to a family gathering the first time I ever met her. Later, when I called one of her coworkers about an urgent factual question that could not wait until she was available, I got a lecture about betrayal.

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Ellie September 3, 2014 at 6:26 pm

How bizarre!! Glad you got out of there after having enough of it!

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Vicki Cole September 3, 2014 at 9:12 pm

It doesn’t appear to have been a matter of Karina lying about her boss agreeing to pay – the way the OP put it, it sounds like the boss made that offer directly to her.

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Goldie September 4, 2014 at 9:17 am

I’ve had this happen too! A few years ago, in my previous relationship, my then bf was going to take an older female friend, who’d flown in from France, to NYC for a week to show her the city. He offered me to come along for the trip and I agreed. Our first evening together was great, the friend was very sociable and nice to me and spoke decent English. Next morning though, she switched completely to French, which I do not know, and spoke it in front of me and TO me for the rest of the week. (My bf spoke the language, so the two of them just chatted with each other over my head all week.) Occasionally in a conversation, I’d hear my name and have no idea why it came up. At least she was independent enough to go off and explore the city on her own on occasion. One day, when she was leaving on one of her solo trips, the three of us agreed to meet at a certain pizza shop at three PM. Bf and I were running late and had to literally race down the street to make it to the meeting place on time. When we arrived there, we saw our friend sitting in a coffee shop next door, finishing up her lunch. She then told us in French that she’d already eaten, waved good-bye, and left. One of the weirdest lunch dates I’ve had in my life! The whole trip remains a mystery to me to this day, too – I mean, the woman and I got along swimmingly on the first evening, and then for the rest of our time together, she acted like a completely different person. Back then, I was really mad at the woman, but now I think the blame is mainly on the bf. It was his friend, and he was the one who knew both French and English. At the very least, he could’ve acted as a translator between us. Some of the blame lies on me too, I should’ve said something in the very beginning, like “sorry I don’t understand this language yet”, unfortunately I hadn’t seen this change in her attitude coming, felt snubbed, and was too offended and shocked to reason rationally with this woman.

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starstruck September 3, 2014 at 10:29 am

it seems there’s more to this then just pocketing some exta cash. i mean ,we are just speculating anyway but for one, how did she know you were only gonna order a salad? what if you had ordered lobster or steak? and wine? you and her were both excited about the meal all week and it seems silly she would miss out on a great expensive meal just to get a few extra bucks. and second, she was already planning to buy you lunch anyway , so by getting a free meal she was already getting to keep her own money. it just seems silly to think she would go from paying for your lunch , to making a small profit off of it.

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NostalgicGal September 3, 2014 at 5:16 pm

I think OP got the salad when they didn’t end up being seated but went to the bar to eat… instead of a full meal.

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Kali September 4, 2014 at 11:20 am

I agree. I’m more inclined to think that the coworker suddenly found that she’d have to pay for the meal herself.

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Dyan September 3, 2014 at 10:37 am

I say cut your losses what loss it was since she was not a close friend …who needs her or her attitude in your life…

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Library Diva September 3, 2014 at 11:03 am

It’s sad how little loyalty there is on both sides of the employer-employee relationship. OP’s boss should have done more to recognize a quarter-century-plus of faithful service, a good chunk of it alone in an empty office. I hope that OP’s boss did do something and it was omitted as being irrelevant to the story, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the luncheon was it: nothing from her real employer and a gift which was essentially stolen by someone else who happened to know her professionally, given by someone OP didn’t actually work for but just wanted to be nice.

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Rebecca September 3, 2014 at 12:54 pm

If the funding had been pulled, surely Karina would have said, “I can’t believe this; the funding’s been pulled. He only gave us enough for a couple of salads.”

The idea that Karina kept the cash sounds more plausible. If we could go back in time, it would be great if the OP could have asked the restaurant for a copy of the receipt and somehow surreptitiously slipped it to Karina’s boss with a note, “Thanks for the wonderful lunch. Here’s a copy of the receipt to file for your records.” It does not sound as though the boss had intended for them to only have a bowl of soup and a salad between them.

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just4kicks September 3, 2014 at 1:14 pm

I’m in agreement with those posters who think Katrina was given money in advance for the expensive restaurant and either spent the cash already, or figured she is never going to see you again so she’ll just keep the money. The quick bite at the restaurant was a fast forward to “Of course I took her out for lunch on her last day!!!” Either way….onward and upward. :)

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just4kicks September 3, 2014 at 1:15 pm

….KARINA, not Katrina…..oops. Sorry.

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Angel September 3, 2014 at 1:20 pm

A very strange situation. I am wondering why if you both worked together for an extended period of time she couldn’t at least be upfront about what was really going on. The only reasoning I can think is that boss gave her the cash for lunch and she wanted to pocket as much as possible–so of course she didn’t want to tell you that. And she was hoping that you might forget about the lunch so she could pocket the cash for herself. Not only rude but that is downright despicable! You are well rid of her as a coworker. She is not a nice person or an honest person at all. If the boss pulled the funding at the last minute, she would have told you about it immediately–I think most reasonable people would have–so you could both bow out gracefully. She got the cash–just didn’t want to use it on you, a coworker she is not close to.

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MPW September 3, 2014 at 1:27 pm

Who deals in cash these days?

Unless Karina’s boss was very old school, chances are that she would either have access to a company credit card or would have been reimbursed for the expense. The key to the OP is whether or not she took the receipt. If not, there are financial shenanigans here as others have described. If she did take the receipt, she still may have claimed it as an expense. There are many other reasons not related to the OP which may have suddenly made her uncomfortable with going out to lunch with a male colleague. Karina’s boss could have made some comment to her about this – making sure it’s not not too expensive, or suspecting that you and her are too friendly, or that you take too much time for lunch, and so on. Either way, there’s something external happening here and it wasn’t just about money, but time and appearances.

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Vicki Cole September 3, 2014 at 9:17 pm

I’m curious as to why you think the OP was male. Everything about the story screams “female” to me – especially the fact that the OP ordered a SALAD at the restaurant. Sorry, but I don’t know many men that would be satisfied with going out to a nice restaurant and only eating salad.

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MPW September 4, 2014 at 5:43 pm

Don’t men eat salads? (There are many benign reasons for why the OP chose a salad – health concerns, weight concerns, actual medical conditions like diabetes – considering that the writer’s age is at least 50, any of these could be true. For the last 16 months I’ve been only eating salads when going out for lunch from work, down 50 pounds so far.)

What I got from the OP is that Karina had a fear of being seen in public with the OP. Sitting at the bar to eat may be faster, but it’s also more casual than two people sitting at a table. They never went out in public together – just ate lunch in the kitchenette.

I think about the money issue again – sure, Karina would have saved money by having only soup, but what was to say that the OP wasn’t going to order a full 3-course lunch? Karina seemed to have done her level best to discourage this from happening, but there were other options. She could have suggested a less formal (and less expensive place), citing that she was really uncomfortable with a place so out of her price range. She could have made more of her time constraints – too busy to have a long lunch – ahead of time. She could have even feigned illness. All three of these would work if she merely didn’t want to go. If it was the issue of pocketing money she had already been given for the lunch, it would have been easier to throw off suspicion and go somewhere else less expensive. But she still had no control over what the OP would order.

Is there something more from the OP that could shed some light on this?

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Livvy17 September 3, 2014 at 1:52 pm

I concur – I think Karina did something shifty. If her boss had simply reneged on the offer, she likely would have said so, and the two of them could have commiserated at a less expensive place, etc.

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Kimberly September 3, 2014 at 1:57 pm

I vote that Katrina either pocketed the cash herself or like another poster stated, her boss said to pay for the meal and he would reimburse her, and she could not afford to do this.

I don’t think the boss ditched you on the meal.

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Cecilia September 3, 2014 at 2:34 pm

I agree with many other posters- either boss reneged on the offer, forgot to give Karina $$ or gave cash and Karina decided to keep it for herself.

I think the new boss asked OP to stay and shut down the office , not former boss. Therefore, had no bond with OP, so new boss probably did not think to offer a nice “farewell” lunch at an expensive, upscale location.

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Anne September 3, 2014 at 2:48 pm

My guess is that she was feeling emotional and was scared to show it. Kind of like not knowing how to say goodbye. Sometimes our fears overwhelm good manners. Keep your fond memories and let the incident go.

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Kay L September 3, 2014 at 2:53 pm

Karina finally found out that the OP was a serial axe murderer responsible for the death of her childhood yoga teacher whom she had always had a crush on.

I figure if you’re gonna speculate, why not go all the way.

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AthenaC September 3, 2014 at 4:10 pm

+1. I like it!

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Steve September 3, 2014 at 7:54 pm

Plus she naturally assumed the axe-murdering OP had already eaten or else she would’ve said something. And there has to be a single mother in there somewhere.

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Cleo September 4, 2014 at 8:36 am

Plot twist: karina is the axe murderer and needed the remaining lunch hour to hide the body of her most recent victim. That’s why she was in such a hurry to get out of there and why the OP didn’t see her for the rest of the day.

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Kirstenh September 3, 2014 at 4:24 pm

Slightly off topic, but it is entirely likely that in addition to the very generous severance package, OP’s boss did do a lunch, or a gift, it just wasn’t on the actual last day and as it wasn’t relevant to the story it wasn’t mentioned.

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kingsrings September 3, 2014 at 5:34 pm

My question is why wouldn’t it have been okay for the OP to talk to Karina about this during the lunch? After all, OP was told by Karina’s boss himself that he was going to foot the bill. I see no problem with her politely bringing up those facts once Karina started to turn it into something completely different.

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MM September 3, 2014 at 5:57 pm

After 25+ years, an employer should say goodbye properly to a loyal employee. Not the tenant of the employer. That’s issue #1.

Issue #2: Whatever Karina did or didn’t do, if she was acting in good faith then she would have offered an explanation. “The money fell through, can we go somewhere else?” “My boss forgot to give me the corporate card so we have to pay for ourselves.”

Finally, nothing irritates me more than when you make plans with someone and they try to rewrite history by claiming the plans were up in the air but they can try to stop by or they can grab a quick bite. Clearly OP and Karina had solid plans and somehow she decided not to follow through.

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Steve September 3, 2014 at 7:56 pm

To your last point–exactly. You have to love it when people who are trying to stand you up act like they’re doing you a favor. Don’t people realize pretending doesn’t work if the other person already knows you’re lying?

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Schnickelfritz September 3, 2014 at 6:01 pm

My first thought – Katrina’s boss instructed Katrina to turn in the receipt on an expense report. She did not have the funds to pay for it in the first place. She was put on the spot, and did not know how to tell the OP, nor the NOT THE OP’s boss, she could not front the money for a fancy lunch (remember, Katrina was only part-time for the “other” business leasing space. She handled it awkwardly. It is interesting to me, how many people jump to the worst case scenario, that she stole the money. Most business expenses are handled on an expense report. Remember, Katrina and her boss did not work for the SAME company. OP did note she received a decent severence package, from HER boss/company.

Yes, Katrina was awkward the last day. It is often hard to plan a “send off” with just a couple of people, let alone one-on-one. Remember, they were not really even co-workers, they shared office space. Any blame is on Katrina’s boss, offering the BS lunch. Katrina’s boss put Katrina on the spot.

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Steve September 3, 2014 at 7:57 pm

I decline to recharacterize lying as “being awkward.”

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Jays September 3, 2014 at 6:03 pm

I’m surprised that so many people think the OP’s boss is at fault. I guess I thought bosses who would acknowledge such things were the exception rather than the rule.

My company once let go a 40-year employee, just told him he wasn’t needed anymore and to leave. He had gone excellent work over the years and was well-known and respected. I can say with some authority that he hadn’t done anything wrong, just got caught when they wanted to do a reduction. Walked out of the building (standard policy) without even a “thank you.” A bunch of us got together and tried to throw him a farewell party, but he was too heartbroken to want it, although he thanked us. :(

Do non-union employees really get severance?

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Vicki Cole September 3, 2014 at 9:21 pm

Yes, they do. I’ve never been a union worker (as I’ve worked mostly office jobs) and when I was laid off from a job a few years ago, in addition to being paid for my unused leave time, I was given a month’s salary, over and above payment for time I’d actually worked.

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Twik September 3, 2014 at 7:46 pm

Here’s my totally speculative theory. Karina’s boss expects to see a receipt for a lunch for two people. Karina thinks “but I could have lunch with my SO/BFF at Chez Trendy, rather than a boring business lunch.” So, she tries to get the OP to bow out, and when he doesn’t, makes it as cheap as possible. She then pays in cash, planning to go back later with someone else and charge it to her employer’s tab. She assumes he’ll not look too closely at the date on the receipt (and if he does, claim it’s some sort of glitch on the merchant’s behalf).

I think this might explain why she paid in cash, when, as others pointed out, it would be more common to use a business card.

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admin September 4, 2014 at 2:28 am

Ooo, your speculative theory is well thought out.

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MISSMINUTE September 3, 2014 at 9:07 pm

Have to agree with those who feel the most likely scenario is that the boss told her she would be “reimbursed” for the lunch and she didn’t have the money to cover it.

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MISSMINUTE September 3, 2014 at 9:17 pm

On a related note, I had an awkward experience at a business lunch once. A potential client invited me to a Yum Cha meal which we were expected to split. I was broke but I didn’t feel confident enough to turn down her invitation, and so I went hoping to just pay for one or two small dishes. So, at the lunch I took one small dish and rice, while she started loading multiple plates from each cart onto her able, clearing intending to feast. I had just a small amount of money to live on for the rest of the week, but it was hard admitting that to someone who might want to hire you. But to avoid a potentially disastrous moment when the bill came, I informed her politely that I was a few days from payday and I would only be paying for my own meal. She immediately stopped loading plates onto the table and looked very flustered. But she appreciated my honesty, and I got the job.

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ArtsBeatLA September 4, 2014 at 2:46 pm

Great story! You handled that well *and* it had a happy outcome. Brava!

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Jewel September 4, 2014 at 6:43 pm

It certainly says something unsavory about her character that she was willing to feast “high on the hog” with other people’s money but not when it comes to her own funds. I hope she turned out to be a half way decent client at least.

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K September 3, 2014 at 10:30 pm

This comment string is fascinating! I immediately assumed that Karina had just gotten very busy at work and decided not to prioritize OP’s farewell lunch — it wouldn’t have occurred to me that something more nefarious could be afoot! Of course, there’s no way to know what the real case is, but after reading all these comments I’m sure furious!

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Goldie September 4, 2014 at 9:27 am

I’d love it for the explanation to be that simple, but… she got so busy at work that she left early when OP was in the restroom? Doesn’t sound plausible to me.

I’ve gotten send-off lunches or happy-hour outings each time I left a job, too.

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K September 3, 2014 at 10:35 pm

Also, I’m realizing now how unusually I might have had it in my jobs — even leaving after only a year or two (quit amicably to move cross-country both times) I’ve always received a farewell lunch and some sort of small gift (flowers or wine). Heck, I got that treatment from a mid-sized law firm after leaving a six-week receptionist stint that I got through a temping service! Maybe I just pick companies that love to throw parties.

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OP September 3, 2014 at 10:52 pm

OP here, just a few quick points to follow-up:
1. My boss of 26 years did not take me out to lunch or anything like that, but he did give me 6 months salary and health insurance. No gripes here on that, much better than having to go to lunch with him, hee hee.
2. I am a woman, so the suggestion that she might have felt uncomfortable having lunch with a man was not the case.
3. Her boss made the offer to pay right in front of me, and I always found him to be a very honorable guy.
I never considered the idea that she might have pocketed our lunch money! It’s possible, but I seem to recall that she had a corporate card and I know she kept petty cash in the office. Whatever. You guys are coming up with much better scenarios than I ever imagined, you’ve made my day!

By the way, Karina and I have not been in touch since that day. We were Facebook friends for a while, but I cleared her out in a purge of people I didn’t feel any need to speak to again.

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Susan September 4, 2014 at 8:31 am

Hi OP,

Thanks for following up. It’s good to hear that you purged Karina from your life.

*If* you still had any interest in this, you could always mail Karina’s boss a nice, handwritten card to his home address, expressing the usual thanks (which seem deserved), but in the body of the letter mention that you appreciated his generous offer of lunch and say something to the effect of “while Karina’s busy schedule prevented us from enjoying no more than a light meal that day” that it was generous of him to think of you. If Karina truly did pocket the money (or take her boyfriend out later in lieu of you) as the other posters suggest, that will help bring it to light. The guy should be given a heads up that his employee engages in petty theft.

But if you’ve moved on, no worries. Enjoy that severance package!

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Kiki September 4, 2014 at 2:37 pm

OOOoooo! This is fun. After reading the OPs reply, I’m going to add my own fun speculative theory. What if she went to the boss and asked if he wanted her to use the card and he said, “no, use petty cash instead.” However, she had used up all the petty cash on something personal (aka embezzlement) and only had a little left to cover lunch. Uh oh, she’s going to get caught before she can replace the money. She tries at first to get the OP to change her mind, but that doesn’t work. Then, she comes up with a plan. I’ll be really cheap and not order anything, thus only using the little petty cash left. She goes back to the office raving about how awesome the lunch was and how much they ordered. He says, put the receipt with the rest of the expense receipts. She looks in her purse and oh no! *cue dramatic acting* It’s gone! He’s worked with Karina for awhile and is a good person. He says, “that’s ok. If you find it, put it in the file.” Or maybe she has a boyfriend take her out to Chez Expensive and uses that receipt.

Of course, she could have totally just changed her mind about lunch and didn’t really want to tell OP that, but where’s the fun in that?

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Jen September 4, 2014 at 12:41 pm

OK, well since we are speculating…

My theory is that Karina’s boss neglected to leave behind his credit card information or cash to pay for the fancy lunch. Karina was embarrassed and could not pay for the fancy lunch herself, so she cancel the seating and eats soup, hoping that the OP orders something that she can afford as well.

Since she didn’t want to tell the OP what actually happened, she was distant for the rest of the day, and left while the OP was in the ladies’ room.

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Abby September 4, 2014 at 3:44 pm

I’ve read through all the comments, and agree the most likely scenario is that Karina pocketed the money. It is possible that the boss told Karina to pay upfront and she’d be reimbursed, and Karina didn’t have the money, but if that were the case, since Karina offered to pay in the first place, you’d think Karina would fess up and ask OP if they could have lunch somewhere in Karina’s price range, rather than have Karina pay for an overpriced cup of soup and salad and silently sulk about it.

The other possibility that I have not seen brought up is perhaps the night before the lunch, Karina got some bad news (maybe her boyfriend broke up with her, a fight with her parents or a friend, etc) that was really personal and Karina just did not want to be social that day. She still handled it awkwardly, though.

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NicoleK September 5, 2014 at 3:40 am

I bet the boss changed his mind about paying and she had to pay out of pocket.

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Goldie September 5, 2014 at 11:39 am

I do not believe the version that the boss changed his mind about paying and stuck Karina with the bill. If that were the case, she would’ve just told OP so – why would the boss want it to be a secret, and, most importantly, why would Karina make herself look like a complete boor in front of the OP, rather than just tell OP the truth? Now that I think of it, this version of events doesn’t make much sense.

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Enna September 6, 2014 at 11:13 am

This does sound very odd. Sometimes people can’t take or say goodbyes very well – even if the OP and Karina weren’t that close. Now if her boss had stuffed her for the money then why not admit it? She doesn’t need to be mean about her employer, just say that the employer forogt or something had cropped up. Does sound rather fishie though only having soup and then hurrying up the OP.

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Cat Caillte September 9, 2014 at 10:42 am

She’s stealing from her boss.

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