DEAR MISS MANNERS: My workplace holds somewhat frequent luncheons for various occasions -- appreciation events, semi-annual staff gatherings and others. I have several unusual food allergies and prefer not to ask others to accommodate them for catered events.
It doesn't seem proper to bring a bag lunch to eat at the event when everyone else is eating what was catered. So instead, I usually bring my own lunch to eat before or after the event, and join the event for social purposes only.
What is the proper way to indicate to others why I am not eating at the event? I sometimes say something like, "Oh, I have some odd food allergies so I ate before I came. I just wanted to come see everyone," but I'm not sure that is the best approach. What do you recommend?
GENTLE READER: Most people who ask about your abstinence are not much interested in the answer, Miss Manners assures you.
This is, after all, a company social event, a gathering that, despite its supposed "team-building" properties, is generally apt to be awkward and dull. (The non-dull parties can be very exciting, and are usually followed by even more exciting disciplinary, if not legal, proceedings.) It is enough to explain that you ate before the party, but wanted to see everyone. Unless you have run out of better topics for discussion with your co-workers while holding a warm beer, you should omit mention of your allergies.