I made a blunder today, and I'm not sure what I could have done differently once I realized it.
An out of town client came for a visit today, and after doing some work, we went out to lunch, along with several of my staff and one of his staff who had accompanied him. When we go out for lunch, this client typically pays, as he considers us an extension of his staff.
Today I thought it would be a nice idea to pick up the check for a change. I quietly asked the server that I be given the check. When the check arrived, I quickly gave my credit card. The client did not see this, and after the server walked away with my card, the client asked if anyone wanted dessert (something we typically do not get). It was at that point I realized he meant the lunch to be a special holiday lunch, but the server had already walked away with my credit card.
When the client realized I had paid, he said he was disappointed that he did not get to treat us to lunch. I could tell that it really bothered him. I told him it was my pleasure to treat him for a change. But I felt terrible, because I did not mean to get in the way of his good intentions.
Was there anything I could have done at that point, or was it just too late? Should I speak to him about it, or just drop it?