DEAR ABBY: I work as a staff assistant in a large department of a Fortune 500 corporation. Every year, prior to Staff Appreciation Day, each staff assistant in my department receives a formal invitation to lunch that reads:
"In appreciation for your hard work and dedication, you will be given an extra half-hour to attend the staff appreciation lunch. Location: (A fairly expensive restaurant that takes a half-hour to get to and from.) Time: 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Why: Because you deserve a long lunch." (The extra half-hour is our "gift." We are responsible for the cost of our meal.)
Is there a tactful way to point out to the powers-that-be that inviting employees to an "appreciation lunch" at their own expense, at a restaurant the honorees would not normally choose because of the cost, and then suggesting that the extra half-hour taken up in travel time is a gift, is more than a little offensive?
Believe me, I'd beg off, but I feel pressured and obligated to attend. What else can I do, Abby? -- LOST IN DILBERT'S WORLD
DEAR LOST: From your description of the "generous" policy, I think I know why it's a Fortune 500 company. It would be interesting to know what kind of performance rewards their executives get.
If it's company policy, I don't think there is anything you can do about it -- except, perhaps, to gently confide to your boss that the whole thing is a bit of a farce.