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by Abigail Van Buren

Office Lunches Are Double Benefit For Mother With Teenage Boys

DEAR ABBY: Our office has breakfast and lunch brought in every day for the staff, clients and visitors. They are nice lunches -- steak, baked chicken, sandwiches, pizza and barbecue -- and almost every day there are leftovers.

There are only five employees, and I am the only female. I earn less than half of what the men here do. I am also the only one who has teenaged sons. Most of the time when we divide up the leftovers to take home, I get more than my fair share. Sometimes it's by default -- nobody wants them. But sometimes it's by design. The boss says, "Take most of it -- you have kids."

I appreciate the extra food. With an added salad or some extra vegetables, dinner is ready in short order when I get home. (Plus, it saves me hundreds of dollars each month in groceries.)

But I'm starting to feel funny about it. Is it an act of kindness, or could it have a negative impact on my status in the office? Or am I looking a gift horse in the mouth and worried about nothing? -- AMBIVALENT DOWN SOUTH

DEAR AMBIVALENT: It appears you work in an office with unusually considerate people. I can't see how accepting the leftovers would in any way compromise your status in the office.

What would happen to the food if you didn't take it? Would it be wasted? As you said, this is saving you hundreds of dollars a month in groceries. I agree you may be looking a gift horse in the mouth, and that ain't hay.

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