'I'd Rather Save My $5': Internet Backs Employee Who Skipped Work Cookout

The internet is rallying behind an employee who lied to her boss about her reasons for not eating at the company cookout. Though she said it was because they stopped eating meat, the worker confessed online that they simply didn't want to pay the $5 the company was charging to attend.

Posting to Reddit's popular r/antiwork forum, u/I_am_Tanka_Jahari—taking her username from an Impractical Jokers sketch—explained the situation, writing "I lied to the president of the company." The post has received over 10,000 upvotes and 750 comments in six hours.

"The president of the company asked me why I didn't want to join in the company hamburger cookout at lunch. I politely said, 'oh, thanks, but no. I have actually stopped eating meat,'" she wrote.

"The truth is, everyone had to pay $5 to eat, but I feel like I would rather save my $5 for something with more value to me than a hamburger, like a gallon of gas for my car or a gallon of milk. The president is a millionaire and probably would not understand," she continued. "I am sitting at my desk in peace and quiet, reading r/antiwork instead."

She clarified to Newsweek that though she could afford the $5, the president of the company knew that and wouldn't accept it as a valid reason.

"He would turn it around on me and say, there's plenty of food for everyone, you don't have to pay. That would make me feel bad, if I ate. Plenty of my younger coworkers should not be spending $5 for one meal, but they do," she said.

"I choose to make $5 last. I buy stuff to make my own lunch everyday, like a 3-week supply. I bring a sandwich, yogurt cup, and juice, and this makes the daily cost less than $5," she continued. "Where I live, a gallon of milk is $4.75 and a gallon of gas is $3.75 and up."

office party work cookout employees pay burger
Some companies make employees pay for work social events. Drazen Zigic/Getty

While many employees would expect management to pay for these sorts of work social events—after all, it's team building and morale raising—this isn't always the case. On the Workplace Stack Exchange forums, when the question comes up about making employees pay for social events, the users, who are both in management roles and not, argue against it.

Requiring payment for a team-building event can cause backlash against management. Depending on how much employees are paid and how much the event costs, it can also put workers in an awkward position of having to tell their bosses they're not paid enough to afford going. But most importantly, while employees may have a good time at the event, it's ultimately in service of management—and thus, the company should pay for the event.

The original poster's fellow Redditors agreed—and a few shared their own stories of being expected to pay for work social events.

"When I was hired I was told I had to set up a monthly $5 auto transfer to fund the mandatory staff holiday party. Where was this glamorous party I helped pay for? The banquet room at Jubitz.... A truck stop. This was in 2006, a company that was 'too big to fail' required employees to foot the bill and attend a work party on our day off. Good times," u/Worldly-Abroad2858 wrote.

"A boss once told me those things are this cost of being an employee. Like chipping in to get the manager a birthday gift. I played along the first year because I was new. Then when it was my birthday and I got nothing I said loud enough so she could hear that I thought I was insulting that I had to pay $40 for her birthday gift and I got nothing for my birthday," u/Time-Influence-Life wrote. "To this day I refuse to participate in any type of gift/party that doesn't directly benefit me such as being on company time or involve me getting something in return."

"The place I used to work would make us pay $20-$30 for a summer 'office morale' day and another $40-$50 for the office Christmas party. The summer one was at a location an hour away from work at a horse race track that was absolutely slammed. Full of tourists and absolutely miserable traffic. We'd have to pay anywhere from $10-$50 to park and walk up to a mile to get there," u/Bobo3006 wrote. "Then, once inside, you weren't allowed to gamble or drink, had to sit with everyone from the office and eat whatever food from a s****y caterer they hired. It got so bad that people stopped going so the director said if you didn't go, you had to use your PTO."