DEAR MISS MANNERS: Several months ago, two co-workers and I started a monthly tradition of "girls lunch" out of the office. At the time, we didn't know each other very well, and it became apparent almost immediately that one of the co-workers was going to be a problem.
She is rude and demanding to the wait staff and always sends her meals back. At our last lunch, she actually banged her fists on the table while screaming at the waitress. By the time we paid our separate bills, the poor waitress was holding back tears. She is a lousy tipper to boot, and I always overtip to compensate for her stinginess.
Needless to say, the two of us want nothing to do with any future lunches out with this co-worker. The problem is that we still need to retain a cordial work relationship with her. How do we diplomatically tell her that from now on our lunch trio is only a duo?
GENTLE READER: Make it a duo dinner.
Not only is there no diplomatic way to tell her that you are firing her from lunch, but there is no way to escape being seen by her if you go off to lunch together.
Miss Manners notes that you can, however, suspend the regular lunches and resort to meeting on the side, on your own time, as others do who have even stronger reasons not to be observed.
(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, email@example.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)