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Office birthday luncheons: Do I have to attend?

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Question: “Our department acknowledges birthdays by taking the birthday person out to lunch. The person gets to choose where to eat and the entire department leaves for an hour-and-a- half, at least. The problems that I have are: I have to surrender my lunchtime; the company doesn’t foot the bill; I have various food that I cannot eat; we take turns driving in groups, which means I have to put extra gas in the car if it’s my turn to drive. I am beyond busy with no slack time. I would rather decline these excursions and acknowledge the person’s birthday directly on my own. How can I tactfully decline without appearing unsociable and not part of the group?” — Anonymous, Los Angeles

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It sounds like you're being very negative. I don't know how limited your income is but I can't imagine that it would break your bank or your lunch time to sacrifice a little time and mone...(register to read more)

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Free From Workplace Potlucks August 18, 2011 at 11:10 pm

I don’t think people should be forced. I work with a lot of overweight women who refuse to eat my dishes, which are salads, during our potluck. I spend as much money or more on salad as they do on buckets of KFC or enchiladas, lumpia, pancit, fried bananas, honeybuns, jelly rolls but they said they don’t want to eat rabbit food. My dishes go untouched so I stopped bringing them. I bring my own meal and enjoy the company. Now they are making me out to be unsocial because I don’t want to eat the dishes. Well I had a coworker say loudly that if I didn’t give them money I couldn’t eat at their belly busting potlucks. Its all petty and no one should be forced to eat as long as you show up and pretend to like them. And who wants to be forced to eat cake 30 times a year right after lunch on a full belly. Why do managers consider it unsocial if you don’t want to eat 15 servings of food? I don’t understand all this workplace etiquette rudeness.

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