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Dec 9, 2006 11:15 PM

Ever gone to a out of town conference and co worker makes you eat big dinner w/them?And you don't want to?

( I posted this on the local board of the place I am going but I need general advice)
Where to start? This hound is going to Oahu. we are going to a conference. sweet. anyway locally and in my travels, I prefer fereting out ethnic, public transportation accessable,affordable haunts no matter how seedy or unhip. A colleague (not a client) cornered us and insisted on going to dinner when there. we do not eat dinner or socialize with this individual in our home town(although this individual tries to get us too). So why when on business?Does anyone have to deal with this??? This has happened a number of times in many cities.Not "do you want to go to dinner" but "we have to go to dinner tell me your available night". You can only lie so many times (" oh,I am visiting my {fictional} cousin in Hoboken" etc). Said individual prefers over hyped,expensive, touristy, places (ie Bobby Flay, Emiril type places). Us: for very special celebrations we will splurge for the fine, perhaps fois gras spiked, offerings of an earnest local chef. The kinda guy you would sit and have a beer with. But for this. no. I won't- not a painful experience that must be endured. Anyway there is no getting out of this. This individual has made clear how lonely and sad they we must. I do not wan tto blow the budget on suffering through a $300 meal. do we go to this person's crappy lackluster budget buster or insist they go to the little grungy gem that will knock your socks off? I have to make sure and let you know this is NOT expense account ocvered or some business account will be lost if you do not go out to dinner with this person. It is purely karmatic obligation/ pity. what would you do?

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  1. Be proactive and invite them to dinner with you, at the place of your choosing, in a price range you are willing to spend.

    "I am dying to go to X-- would you like to join us? I understand it has the best carnitas on the North Beach."

    "Wow- let's have dinner but I really want to go to Meglo-Expense House."

    "Sorry- that really isn't in my price range."

    Repeat. It helps if you plan your schedule in advance and have another person to accomodate.

    1 Reply
    1. re: JudiAU

      Exactly...invite him to a place you want to go. Why not say, "the group has decided on so-and-so, why don't you come along." OR, "well we already planned on this place, why don't you come along." If he's lonely why would he refuse and you are including him socially. Just make sure you have co-workers or other colleagues there to be mutual buffers and spread the pain around.

    2. If you really don't want to go and it is a financial burden why not say you just can't afford it. You could then, in the spirit of human kindness invite them to come with you to a place of your choice. If that doesn't work and you do find yourself stuck in an "overhyped, expensive, touristy place," perhaps you could chalk it up to experience and look for some things on the menu that do look interesting. Perhaps you might find an appetizer more appealing than the entrees.

      I traveled 40 -45 weeks a year all around the country - and parts of Europe for 18 years for business. I had many meals in hyped touristy places that were actually wonderful, I also enjoyed places off the beaten track.

      Maybe your co-worker will come with you to one of your favorite spots and find out they enjoy themselves. Stranger things have happened.

      Good luck.

      p.s. I once had my boss insist on going to a very expensive steak house in New York. He left before the end of the meal and stuck me with the bill. He then wouldn't approve it on my expense report . So I do sympathize.

      1. "I am sorry, I can't afford X, and the company won't pay for it. Would be happy to go with you Y instead. I hear it is really good, and not at all pricey"

        Repeat as often as necessary. If you have to repeat more than twice, say;

        "I'm awfully sorry, as I said, I can't afford X. I guess we will have to have dinner together some other time instead, when we get home. I am going to go to Y. Have fun at X though!"

        I suppose it is possible they will offer to pay. If they do, you can accept only if you are sure they won't later try to back out. If you are worried they might, or just don't want to waste a meal at X, you can always say, "that is very sweet of you to offer, but I wouldn't feel comfortable with that. Have fun though!"

        2 Replies
        1. re: susancinsf

          I am grateful for the advice pouring in. it is hard to say I can't afford something when indeed I suppose I could but choose not too. While not rolling around in the $, I am able to meet my needs w/o debt (due in part to contant throughtful expenditures, thus my angst over this whole thing). As I mentioned, slurges are for special occasions not stilted dinners marred with psychodynamics. I LOVE the advice of inviting the person before they invite you. Brilliant. you know they will corner you at some pt so beat them to the punch. IN this case it is too late. I have no doubt that some of the places the person will recommend will be good, but I prefer such lush dinners involve clinking a glass and nuzzling my love than watching an ego maniac holding court, while struggling a plastered smile and wishing that it would end. i might as well be eating at applebees b/c I want it to end NOW. to make matters worse I will add this person will say to the wait staff " split it equally" when they order the most expensive items on the menu. also despite my thriftness, I am a 20% ++ tipper and have to make sure the staff is taken care of. this person sees every little thing is as a slight by staff and starts deducting...

          1. re: lyn

            All I can say is that there is more than one definition of "afford" and it sounds to me like you are wrong when you say you can afford it! Sounds to me like you really can't afford to eat at the places this person is recommending, at least from a psychic standpoint! Indeed, you really can't afford it financially either, if you want to keep to your goal of not going into debt.

        2. "Thanks for wanting to include me, but all of my free time is booked." Why would you let yourself be bullied into spending time with someone you'd rather avoid?

          3 Replies
          1. re: pikawicca

            ^yeah. it is good but I already have done that lie many times over a few conferences. this time the person hit us the instant the conference was booked. hence the high intensity of this chowhound challenge. remember if you act like a total a-hole you have to face this person at work. I still say...should you tell the person you are going to the rat infested dive and they are free to join you?after they said "lets go to dinner and I want the 7 hour tasting menu" "oh and the cab ride split up is only $30" . lest I sound like an insensitive jerk....or on the other spectrum a pushover, I am somewhere in between like the rest of us-an assertive yet empathetic,compassionate person. So keep it the advice coming!

            1. re: lyn

              This is not a lie: You have already decided how you want to spend your time, and it is not with this person. This person is trying to manipulate you into doing something you don't want to do -- he/she is the "total a-hole," and everyone of your co-workers knows it.

              1. re: pikawicca

                ok pikawicca -darned if you didnt call this one. I mean the total a-hole part

          2. Rx, repeat as needed:
            "I'm sorry, it's not possible".

            There are no excuses that invite argument. No reasons or lies that will trip you up later. It is simple and 100% guaranteed. (you can thank my late MIL for this one - a very hard-earned lesson over many years of extremely manipulative behavior)
            "It's not possible" as often as necessary.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Sherri

              This is actually a better suggestion than mine, even, because it doesn't invite argument. as you say, repeat as often as necessary. after all, OP is arguing with herself! How can she expect to stand up to arguments from the person she wants to avoid?

              1. re: Sherri

                This is exactly the response recommended by the marvelous Miss Manners, my go-to guru on all etiquette questions. Even if (or especially if) he keeps badgering or interrogating you, stick with the plain and simple response.

                It's your time, money and stomach. Don't let some bully usurp your control.