DEAR ABBY: One of the perks of my job is receiving free or discounted meals at local restaurants. Last week I was invited to dine at one of the best restaurants in town. I thought that "Tess," one of my co-workers, might also enjoy it, so I invited her to share the meal with me. I warned her that we would probably be expected to pay for part of the dinner. She said that would be fine.
Halfway through the meal, our server informed us that we would be expected to pay 50 percent of the bill. Tess told me she had forgotten her wallet, and asked if I'd pick up the tab. She promised to pay me back, so I agreed. Then she said she could afford to pay me only $1 from each future paycheck, and asked if it was all right for her to order a $10 dessert as well.
Abby, I was so shocked I could hardly respond. At that rate it will take her a year to pay me back! I understand that people are having a hard time in this economy, but Tess and I are paid the same. I don't exactly have a bundle of money to spare either. How should I handle this? -- FLABBERGASTED IN OREGON
DEAR FLABBERGASTED: Keep meticulous records, put your hand out every payday -- and pray she gets a Christmas bonus.