coworkers want money from me for a lottery

A reader writes:

I just started a new job a few weeks ago. I recently learned that my coworkers gather an office lottery pool about two or three times per week. Since everyone contributes to it, my coworkers added money in my absence and asked me to pay them back.

Is it wrong to feel a little insulted by this, especially since they didn’t even ask me if I wanted to contribute in the first place? I am helping take care of a sick relative, which I don’t plan on telling my coworkers, so I prefer to keep all of my discretionary income for myself or my family. How can I politely say that I’m not interested? (I am already aware that it will look bad that “the new girl” is the only staffer not contributing.)

I answer this question — and four others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

{ 112 comments… read them below }

    1. Augusta Sugarbean*

      Holy cow. I thought yours was just some random comment or a joke I didn’t get until I caught up on AAM posts! A few bucks seems minor in comparison.

  1. The Cosmic Avenger*

    As I like to say, “No” is a complete sentence. You have zero responsibility to justify your answers, and in fact, doing so often indicates to pushy people how they can argue against your reason(s). So, if you want to mix it up a bit:

    No, thank you.
    I’d rather not.
    It’s not for me.
    Not interested, thanks.
    Thanks, but no thanks.
    Please stop asking.
    I’d rather not discuss it.

    1. Spooky*

      This was one of the hardest things for me to learn. The fact that you could simply say things like “no thank you” or “I’m sorry, but I already have plans” without having to explain yourself when turning something down blew my mind. I’m still not very good at it.

    2. Artemesia*

      I think putting the money in for you while you were new and out was a gesture intended to make sure you were included. I’d pay for this time and then let them know that lotteries are not your thing and to not include you in the future. Can’t we imagine a situation where a newbie is writing ‘they all do the lottery together but leave me out.’

      1. JessaB*

        Then you put the money in as a gift to welcome the new person. You don’t however, spend my money without asking me first. If you want to include me in your lottery thing before asking me if A: I want to, B: I can afford it or C: I’m ABLE to, then you put that money in and put my name on the list and that’s it.

        An expectation that someone who may have $2 in the bank due to prior unemployment, may hate lotteries because of a history of gambling abuse, or may religiously be constrained to not gamble, etc. Is just wrong.

        Also, you can always tell the new person, we usually take up this thing (coffee $$, a lottery, a doughnut fund, whatever,) are you in? The next collection is on date, the amount is $x, and if you can’t afford it we’ll float you til Monday after payday cause, hey new job and all.

        But in no way is it on to spend another person’s money without advance warning and permission.

    3. Florida*

      And one for the lottery, specifically… No thanks, I understand statistics.

      In all seriousness, this is good advice. Often, it’s better to not give an excuse. That’s not rude at all.

  2. Case of the Mondays*

    I would pay them back for this lottery but tell them that you won’t be participating going forward. If going forward someone puts in for you, then I’d say “I already told x that I’m not participating” and then don’t pay in. I think since you are looking to preserve good will here, a small contribution (assuming this is under $5) one time will likely avoid ill will (since it was already paid on your behalf) but just make clear that you are not in on it going forth.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Actually, you have a good point. They made an assumption that was presumptuous, but it could be said that they were trying to be inclusive of the OP in a group activity. Sure, they went about it the wrong way, but if it’s a dollar a week for 3 weeks AND the OP is not scrounging between the couch cushions for gas money, I’d say it’s a good compromise to say something like “OK, I guess there was a misunderstanding. How about I just pay you back for what you previously put in for me and then we call it even?”

      1. neverjaunty*

        Yes, exactly. They were probably thinking it would be much worse if they won and had excluded the LW!

    2. mskyle*

      This is what I would do as well. The good will of your coworkers is worth a few bucks. Like, figuratively in that it’s nice to work with people who you’re on good terms with but also literally, in that over the course of your career it is expensive to alienate your coworkers.

      This is not to say that what the coworkers did was right – it’s super irritating, and even aside from the money aspect what if the OP were a gambling addict or their religion forbade gambling or something? – just that the smoothest way out is to pay up for what has already been put in for you and say no going forward.

    3. irritable vowel*

      I’ll add that if you still feel awkward that you’re the only one not participating and think that might cause grief (which it shouldn’t, but people are weird), maybe you could soften it by bringing in donuts or something once or twice. Just to show that it’s not that you aren’t interested in participating in the workplace community, or if you get the feeling that people think you’re a tightwad or something. (Again, that’s totally on them, not you, but you do have to work with these people and first impressions matter.)

      1. TootsNYC*

        that defeats the point! Which is to save money. It would probably cost more than the lottery.

        Better to be the person who says, “Listen, why don’t I do that task for you so you can get out a bit earlier for your son’s concert?” Or to say, “What order would you like me to stack these in so it’s easier for you to deal with it?” Or, “I’ll come with you and hold the doors so it’s easier.”

        Be a helpful colleague. It’ll go WAY further than helping with the lottery.

        1. Three Thousand*

          But with donuts, you get donuts. With lottery tickets, you get negative expected value.

    4. Menacia*

      I would not pay them back for this lottery because I was not asked if I wanted to be included. I think a stand needs to be made right up front (in a nice way), that I would prefer not to participate in these types of activities. I would not be surprised if there were others in your group who feel obligated as part of the group to contribute, but that’s a slippery slope, especially since you say it occurs two or three times a *week*? We only put in for Powerball when it gets really high, but again, it’s optional to participate.

    5. Grapey*

      At the same time, if it was truly under $5, I would assume the coworkers would be fine with me not paying them back.

      But who knows; I’m the type of person to not have assumed a new person would join in a lottery without asking to begin with.

    6. Rachael*

      This would annoy me in the extreme. First off, I don’t do office lottery pools because I play the lottery when I WANT to and not every week. I hardly buy a ticket and only do it in fun when it gets really high. Second off, don’t expect me to pay back any money that you spend in my place. That is just weird to me. I would never have the balls to walk up to someone and say “this is your share”. If anything, i would pay for them that first week and let them know they can contribute going forward.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      This is what I would do, and I would tell them I’m not going to participate in the lottery in future because I am not budgeted for it, but thank them for thinking of me. If they don’t like that, then it’s on them.

    8. davey1983*

      I wouldn’t pay them back for a few reasons:

      1) Gambling is actually forbidden by some religions (such as mine), and I wouldn’t feel comfortable paying for a lottery ticket under any circumstances. I don’t care what you think of my beliefs, but I do expect you to honor my choices as long as they don’t impact you (and vice-versa– don’t try to convert me, and I won’t try to convert you).

      2) This gives the message that you will go along with whatever they do– actions speak louder than words! In the future they may very well do something like this again since you went along with it before.

      3) What if I was a recovering addict? I wouldn’t want to pay, especially if I have been ‘sober’, and I shouldn’t have to explain my situation to my coworkers.

      1. Nicole Michelle*

        I like those three points a LOT. Particularly # 2 – if you let it go this time, they’ll think they can get away with anything.

  3. ...*

    Lottery OP: I’m sure she’s insulted because the coworker asked to be paid back BEFORE asking the OP if she wanted to participate first. Why should I have to pay you back, I didn’t authorize the transaction to begin with. That is definitely something that’d irritate me and/or be insulted by.

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I agree with Alison that “insulted” is a pretty strong emotion here. It’s not a synonym with annoyance.

      1. RoosterBooster*

        I have pretty strong feelings about the lottery. I would be insulted that my new coworkers thought I was the sort of math illiterate fool who would play the lottery three times a week, because that’s how I view those folks. The idea that I might be a part of that group is offensive. How dare they?

        Someone with different feelings about gambling/lotteries could be annoyed instead of insulted. That’s probably most people.. like I said I have strong feelings about this.

        1. Owl*

          Right but THEY are the sort of “math illiterate fools” who play the lottery a few times a week. So you shouldn’t feel insulted, because THEY don’t see anything wrong with that.

        2. TootsNYC*

          And maybe they don’t think it’s about the math, but about the fun, and the pipe dream.

          1. AMG*

            Exactly. The odds are there on the ticket. I can assure you Owl, that I am perfectly good at math and I still play. It’s not that they are illiterate, it’s just a game so no need to insult people. It’s their disposable income, not yours anyway.

          2. Chinook*

            “And maybe they don’t think it’s about the math, but about the fun, and the pipe dream.”

            Any place where I have seen this type of pool, it has been all about the pipe dream. I also know one CFO who joined in the pool because he didn’t want to come in the day the accounting department all quit because they won the lottery (he would rather be out celebrating with them). That type of logic makes complete sense to me.

        3. AMG*

          Hey, Rooster Booster, just wanted to let you know that this math illiterate fool just won a substantial amount of money last week! Good thing I have strong feelings about the lottery too!! Life is good!

    2. AMG*

      As someone who not only plays the lottery at wok, but also coordinates it, we do cover for others who are OOO. BUT only when that person is a regular player. We had one guy–the new guy–who didn’t usually play and nobody thought anything less of him. We looped him in once before we knew he didn’t want to play and he paid the person back, didn’t play again, and it was all no big deal. I would not have been offended if he had said, ‘thanks for thinking of me, but I didn’t actually want to play’ as grounds for not paying whomever back. It was a risk to loop him in, but we wanted to err on the side of inclusion and consideration.

      1. Brandy in TN*

        My mom also coordinates it in her office, and due to lawsuits, they have people sign an envelope when they play. And if people are out, its the same as with you, cover for them once they confirm they do want to be in but aren’t in the office.
        And luck to you, personally I won over $350,000.

        1. AMG*

          Nice! I sign each person’s name with the percent contributed (if it’s not equal shares) and take a picture of the front and back each ticket. Then I lock the tickets in a file cabinet in a secret envelope that is semi-hidden. If it’s unequal shares, have a spreadsheet that I attach with the pictures that have the distributions for each person. Feels very safe and comfortable for everyone. We have all agreed that we will use Boss’s lawyer if we win, and that we will take the cash option. No ambiguity for when we hit the big one!

          1. Brandy in TN*

            Yep, we scan the tickets and email to all. That way when we play our own tickets, nothing is said.

          2. Artemesia*

            All smart. There have been cases where the person buying tickets wins and claims it was on tickets they bought separately not the office tickets. Having a record that is with at least one other person is crucial here. Heck the guy who ran our building film club Oscar pool (which I won for a big 30 bucks, ta da) gave me his sealed ballot so if he won, there was a verifiable record of his choices controlled by someone other than himself.

            1. Chinook*

              The issue of who is in the pool the week they win is so huge here that the provincial lottery corporations all have contracts/agreements that you can download and have people sign to make it easier. The one organizing it then copies all the tickets and gives them to members to see what the numbers are.

        2. Dynamic Beige*

          Yeah, the whole “I was out of the office that week” or Wimpy has been continually pulling the “I would gladly pay you back Tuesday if you cover my lottery pay-in today” thing. Also, so many hard feelings if the pool people win and everyone else in the office doesn’t.

          In Canada, lotteries are different and considered a windfall, so they’re tax-free. There isn’t any structured payout or anything, which is partly why the jackpots aren’t Powerball sized. I buy one ticket a week, just for the pipe dream factor.

          I met someone last year who was in a lottery pool that won. I can’t remember what the jackpot was or how much each person won, but it was substantial. The kind of money that if I won it, I would retire on. But, when the Barenaked Ladies sang “If I had a million dollars, I’d buy you a house” that kind of doesn’t apply any more in Toronto. You’d just get the house. Not the furniture for the house, or the monkey. Maybe there’d be enough left over for the green dress and the Kraft dinners, but no one would be quitting their jobs because they’d need them to pay the property taxes! There was also someone in my neighbourhood who had won $12mil a long time ago, they built their dream home and then left a few years later.

      2. Kristine*

        Honest question: Why does “err on the side of inclusion and consideration” take precedence over spending someone’s money without asking their permission first? I feel like most people would not feel hurt to learn they were not automatically enrolled in an office-wide lottery game. Even if they wanted to participate, sending them a message explaining the game and asking if they want to participate seems like inclusion enough.

        I say this as someone who 1) has had this done to them before and 2) is an extreme penny-pincher. So it’s possible I’m more sensitive to stuff like this than other people might be.

        1. TootsNYC*

          Well, for me it would be because, as the organizer, if they didn’t want to play, I’d just cover that share. I’d identify that as my personal risk.

          And because god forbid we won, it would feel better if the newbie was in on the payout.

          I do agree that it’s probably better to say, “We didn’t put you in, since we didn’t have a chance to ask.” Or to send an email at the time, and hope you hear back in time to buy the tickets.

        2. AnonT*

          I think that it only takes precedence if whoever covered is 100% okay with not being paid back (if, like AMG mentioned, they came back and said ‘thanks for thinking of me, but I didn’t actually want to play’).

          Even then, though, it’s all in how you present it to the new person. “You owe me two bucks because I covered your office lottery entry (that you didn’t even know existed) last week” is not appropriate. “We weren’t sure if you wanted to join the office lottery, so I paid in for you just in case. Let me know if you’d like to participate going forward” is less presumptuous.

          1. AMG*

            Yes–I would never have asked to be repaid, nor do I think my coworker did. The new guy is just a nice guy who thanked us for thinking of him.

        3. AMG*

          I mean that I would rather lose the money than exclude the guy. It’s not spending HIS money, it’s spending mine or a co-workers. He was under no obligation to pay us back.

          1. AMG*

            We are a small group that works closely together and produces a ton of output. The camaraderie and rapport helps. Well worth $3.

      3. TootsNYC*

        “It was a risk to loop him in, but we wanted to err on the side of inclusion and consideration.”

        Yes! I would say that the OP should say, “Oh, I wish you’d asked first. I hate for somebody to be out the money. I don’t play the lottery.” And wait.

        How much is her share?

        My own philosophy is that if you don’t ask before spending someone else’s money, you need to be ready to cover it yourself. So, I hope that the person organizing would say, “OK, I’ll pay that part and we won’t ask you again.”

        1. JessaB*

          Not just ready to cover it yourself, but actually cover it. I think asking for it back is a problem. If you win that week, great, if you don’t, oh well, but it still should be “as a welcome to the department we counted you in our lottery thing. If you wanna be in it going forward it’s X.”

          It’s not actually the putting the new person in (although that can be fraught,) it’s the asking for the money back. Honestly unless it’s like a high amount of money (which you shouldn’t do without asking,) everyone chipping in a dime to cover the 3 bucks for the new person, is kinda the best way to go.

    3. Mockingjay*

      I didn’t authorize the transaction to begin with.

      Which is what I told MCI when they switched me from AT&T Long Distance in 1990.

      Basic tenet of life. You do not spend other people’s money without their permission.

  4. The 1%*

    Regarding the first number at the link: don’t scoff at your 3%. Our raises average 1 to 2.5%. Our performance evaluation matrix goes from 1 (worst) to 9 (best) and 5-6 is where hard-working, highly-valued employees are parked. To get 7 or above, you would have to have single-handedly brought in new million-dollar clients or be sleeping with someone.

    1. fposte*

      You have raises? Must be nice.

      (Hey, if we’re going to play this game, don’t go into the ring with the state employees.)

    2. Hotstreak*

      She went from being an entry level analyst to manager of a small team, and received excellent feedback from everyone she worked with. It sounds like she’s already moved up to the new job – why hasn’t the company increased her pay to reflect that? To quote the letter “I fully expected to receive high marks, a sizable raise, and possibly a promotion commensurate to my current role”. If she was still working as an analyst without all of the extra duties, then a 1-3% COL increase might make sense.

      1. The 1%*

        We had someone complete her master’s degree in soil biology (sought after skill for our work) and received no raise. Hard-working, good social skills, good writer, reliable, all sorts of other nice descriptors. She left and one month later was making $26K more.

        1. Artemesia*

          Always love stories of people who get screwed, say goodbye and are soon making 26K more. Wish there were more of them.

          1. Mononymous*

            I got a raise of $31,000 once (plus double the amount of paid time off). No new degree or qualifications besides a couple years’ experience in the ex-job–all it took was a move to a different company that pays market value, rather than peanuts. I don’t have on-call rotations any more, either!

            I didn’t really tell ex-boss those details, though, so they probably have no idea why I left. Bummer.

      2. Lily Rowan*

        Yeah, the key information is unclear in the letter — has the OP gotten a salary increase/new title commensurate with the bumped-up role yet?

      3. TootsNYC*

        And she wasn’t expecting a SECOND promotion; she was expecting a FIRST one.

        I would have been too; it’s quite common that an increase in role is followed by the promotion, but there is an expectation that it will be followed, not overlooked.

    3. Anon for this one*

      yes, we have “meets expectations” Most people who are doing well, A type work get that because “we have high expectations” 1.75%

      “exceeds expectations”- did amazing work, community service, national service, published, and brought in grants and/or renowned in your field. If you got this last year, don’t expect it this year. No one is that good. 2.5%

      “Extraordinary”- Basically “walks on water” don’t even think about it. 2.75 %

  5. sparklealways*

    #5 – I’m kind of dealing with the same thing, with a series of minor health things recently coming up. I think my boss thinks I’m job hunting (when I’m not!). Anyone have any experience in assuring your manager that you are not looking to leave (when they haven’t asked directly) and you legitimately have random health things showing up recently that aren’t serious without going into too much detail? There is a chance I am being paranoid, so I don’t want to bring it up if I don’t have to!

    1. Mando Diao*

      With management, you can use the script Alison provided. “I’m currently having some health issues that I’m fairly certain will be resolved soon. I’d like to make sure that my absences aren’t causing any hardship or inconvenience. What’s the best way to go bout this.”

      In my experience, the real issue is coworkers and team members. When you’re completely silent about absences that affect things on a peer level, it can trigger a breakdown in the chain of command. Management knows so it’s not a problem in the official channels, but it falls on the team when a project is pushed past its deadline because you were out or unable to speak with anyone. It’s the “group project” mentality. If there’s anyone who’s going to have to scramble or put in extra time due to your absences, you need to tell them your schedule ahead of time. You don’t have to explain the details – just say you’re dealing with a short-term medical thing.

    2. TootsNYC*

      Someone who worked for me suddenly was out of the office for “doctor’s appointments.” I thought she probably wasn’t fibbing to cover a job hunt (OK w/ me if she was fibbing, and if she was job hunting).

      I said, “I noticed you’ve had several doctor’s appointments lately. I don’t want to pry, so I’ll just ask, Do I need to be worried for you?” And she said, “No, I just have one of those doctors who likes to Test All the Things. He’s ultra thorough. It’s not particularly serious.”

      I said, “Good.” and went back in my office.

      You can also use scheduling, “All the separate specialists and all the different tests.”

      But I like the very short script from Alison.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I’m sure it depends on the relationship, but that makes me a little uneasy, on the grounds that if she wanted you to know she’d tell you and if she didn’t, now she either has to divulge or lie. But again, it could depend on the relationship; I just wouldn’t recommend it A Thing To Do.

  6. The Alias Gloria Has Been Living Under, A.A., B.S.*

    #1 – I did really well last year and got a pretty good review. And my raise… did not reflect that. It was 2.5% which I’ve heard is about 2.5% more than almost everyone else got. Still, it’s not exactly “We value you and want to retain you as an employee” type money. It’s completely demotivated me and I have a hard time putting in the same effort I used to. And I can’t even ask my manager about it because apparently she had her own issues with the company and literally up and walked out one day.

    1. MAB*

      Most of the time at my last job I would get a 1-2% raise annually. 2.5% would have been considered a fantastic raise there. I think I had heard of that happening once and that person got 4.5 or above out of 5 (and did earn every extra penny she was going to be paid).

      I personally was happy with my pay rate as it was competitive for my area and i generally got larger raises because they were trying to retain me.

      1. The Alias Gloria Has Been Living Under, A.A., B.S.*

        My main issue is that I had a really good review and my raise last year was better. Plus I don’t think I am paid fairly, I didn’t accept this pay rate for this job, I was pushed into it. If I got paid what I think I should be paid it wouldn’t annoy me nearly as much.

          1. The Alias Gloria Is Living Under, A.A., B.S.*

            Grows on trees enough that the company can name an NFL stadium after it.

    1. CMT*

      Oh, at first I thought you were talking about the doctors appointment letter, but no, that’s the lottery one. That does seem like an awful lot of lottery playing! And if they’re asking people to contribute ~$5 each time, that’s a lot of money!

  7. Phoebe*

    I’d do as other’s have suggested and pay back the money this once, but then I’d politely tell them that I don’t gamble and to please not include me going forward.

  8. Koko*

    I hope that if #4 quit, they told management that being unable to terminate an insubordinate poor performer was a significant factor in their decision to leave. Would love an update on that one.

  9. Crazy Anon for this*

    I actually have a related doctor question.

    I see a therapist weekly, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Because of their office hours that means I’m unavailable during normal business hours for ~90 minutes one day a week. This was no problem at all at my last job but I’m not sure how to ask about it at my new job, given that this is going to be the situation, uh, always.

    I work from home and lots of people have very flexible schedules. I can try to move the appointment so I just have to stop work 30 minutes early, but end-of-day appointments are in super high demand so that might take a while. I’m reluctant to disclose my mental health issues to my new boss because I don’t know her yet really, and they are well-controlled (in part due to all the therapy!) and do not affect my work in any appreciable way. :/ Possibly I’ll just say “I have a standing appointment on Wednesday that would take me away from my desk for 90 minutes, is it okay if I keep that and make up the time that evening?” and she’ll say “Sure!” but I’m worried she’ll ask what the appointment is for.

    Anyone have suggestions for how to navigate this? Scripts?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      That’s a good script, but say “standing medical appointment,” not just “standing appointment.” That way she’s unlikely to ask, and it’s clear it’s not, like, your weekly pedicure.

      1. Sparky*

        I have a similar question. I actually just *started* therapy this week. I don’t have a standing appointment time. It’s basically whenever I can get in, sometimes that’s 8 p.m. on a Monday, sometimes it’s 11:00 a.m. on a Tuesday. I hope to get some sort of regular thing going in the future, but for these first few appointments, this is how it’s going to be. How do I explain this sudden need to be gone at random times when there’s no regularity to it?

        1. Hotstreak*

          Just like any other medical issue. Imagine how you would explain it if you needed physical therapy for a while. “I have a medical condition that’s going to require ongoing treatment. This week I’m gone XX and YY, then next week ZZ and HH. After that I will have a regular appointment time every Thursday at 4pm”.

        2. AnonT*

          Seconding Hotstreak’s script.

          If you don’t know when you’ll be able to get a standing appointment, or if for some reason you’re never able to get a standing appointment time, it might be good to substitute the last sentence for, “I’m not able to get a consistent time, but I will have an appointment every week. Can you let me know ASAP if there are any times when you absolutely don’t want me to schedule this?”

    2. Koko*

      I think your proposed language is excellent. If she asks what the appointment is, just say it’s a recurring medical appointment. If she presses further, just say, “I’d prefer not to get into medical stuff at work. It’s nothing you should be concerned about, but I do need to keep the appointments.”

    1. Mickey Q*

      They would have cut her out of the winnings because she didn’t pay her share up front.

  10. Roscoe*

    As far as the lottery question, I wouldn’t be insulted, but I would chip in this time, and just tell them that you aren’t interested for next time. Even if you don’t see it, they were trying to be very inclusive of you when you weren’t there. That’s actually a nice thing. I mean, think of it this way. Let’s say I was out sick, and my office decided to get a big catered breakfast for the next day, and everyone was chipping in $5. I’d be more insulted that someone didn’t throw in for me than I would if they just completely left me out. Just let them know for next time.

  11. Mica*

    My workplace does this too, I just conveniently “forget” to bring cash to work the week they collect it.

  12. Rebecca*

    We only buy tickets when the jackpot goes above $250 Million, and we kick in $2 a piece. I can live with that, but that’s about all I’ll tolerate.

    1. Elle*

      Same. I’ve got myself convinced that the ONE time I don’t play, will be the time they win.

  13. Ineloquent*

    Another aspect of the lottery thing – certain religions (such as Mormons and Muslims) are forbidden from gambling, so it’s generally a bad idea to just include everyone willy-nilly when setting up an office pool. I think a statement along the lines of ‘I’m sorry, I would have told you had I known you were going to include me in this, but I don’t gamble for personal reasons. I’m afraid I won’t be paying for that ticket, but feel free to keep any winnings!’

    1. davey1983*

      This. I happen to be a part of a religion that forbids gambling, and I would not be happy if someone bought me a lottery ticket. I would be livid if they expected me to pay them back for it.

      If they had won big– good for them! I just don’t wont any part of that money.

      1. Big Tom*

        It doesn’t seem necessary to be livid if they asked you to pay it back as in the OP’s situation, if they don’t know about your religious restrictions. If you explain it to them and they still insist then that’s another thing and some lividity might be in order, but to be livid because someone tried to include you in something that, as it turns out, you aren’t interested in participating in is a little over the top.

        1. AnonT*

          I disagree. Some religious groups are very strict about what constitutes participation in things like this, and the situation the OP describes would be considered participating in gambling for some religions. The fact that someone else was the one who threw the dice or bought the ticket is irrelevant – you’re still being asked (borderline required, depending on how it is phrased) to participate in something you are not allowed to do.

          1. Worker Bee (Germany)*

            Oh come on. There is always a way around it! Tell that you can’t pay back in cash, as this violates your religion but you are happy to to invite her to buy her lunch sandwich for her or coffee for a smiliar value to make up the amount. This way you can reinforce that you don’t get gamble but that you do understand that it was meant as a nice gesture.

            1. JessaB*

              No. There is not always a way around it and there should not have to be. Don’t spend money for other people without telling them first. I don’t care if it’s meant to be a nice gesture.

              A couple of weeks ago due to the culmination of 5 months of long term family medical issues I literally had less than $5 in the bank. I could not buy someone a sandwich, I was eating buck a pack bologna and I needed that for myself.

              Now if you were my friend and were similarly broke, I’d give you half my sandwich, but that’s not the same thing.

              And some religions would count buying a sandwich to pay someone back for a gambling debt as gambling. So. No.

              Just don’t spend money for other people. Unless A: you tell them and they agree, or B: you have zero intention of ever asking for it back and you know they’re okay with what you’re spending it on.

  14. The Alias Gloria Has Been Living Under, A.A., B.S.*

    I’m not one to play the lottery, but at OldJob all the other Admins had a pool going and I just knew that if I didn’t play, they’d win and I’d be the only schmuck left to do all the work. :) I kept in it even after leaving. I only stopped because the organizer retired and I didn’t trust her replacement.

    1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

      The only time I play the lottery is when Powerball is huge and there is an office wide collection (so that’s a few times a year). I practically freak out to make sure my money is in or somebody covers for me, don’t leave me behind.

      So, not dreams of winning, fear of being left out!

      1. JessaB*

        Yeh, the peer pressure thing, or the fear of being left out when you’re the only one still there after they win. This is why I kinda do not like regular pools at offices (once a year football things, or Oscar things, I can live with,) but nowadays they changed the odds on the Powerball to make the pools larger, so the old we only play when it’s 250 or more is kinda useless, it pretty much becomes at least 2 weeks a month now.

  15. KR*

    Alison, I hate to be one to complain about ads but there was one with sound on this page that also got through my ad-blocker somehow. I didn’t get the link before I blocked it, but it was something about Queen Elizabeth II.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      They’ve changed that ad above the comments so that sound plays when your cursor is over it. I’ve asked them to develop a version that doesn’t do that, and it sounds like it will be changed very soon — but almost certainly not this week. (I removed it altogether last week when they first made this change to it, and site revenue plunged … so it’s back, but I’ve made it clear they need to fix this.)

    2. The Alias Gloria Has Been Living Under, A.A., B.S.*

      Yeah I don’t like it either. I can’t install an adblocker at work but I can get in trouble for streaming video.

    3. OfficePrincess*

      It’s also getting through my ad blocker, but luckily I always keep my computer on mute. I also see that my ad blocker has blocked 86 ads on this page in the 5 or so minutes I’ve been here.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Just so people with ad blockers know, there are not actually 86 ads on the page! There are a maximum of six. Something else is triggering that number (maybe page elements within the ads or something).

  16. RedSonja*

    I had something similar to the lottery thing happen when I started a new job near the holiday season. There was a voluntary Secret Santa drawing, and I chose not to participate because I didn’t know anybody well yet and didn’t feel like I’d be able to buy good, thoughtful gifts for a total stranger. Well, I got added anyway and, naturally, ended up with a guy I never worked with and knew NOTHING about. He was also fairly anti-social, so nobody else could give me much in the way of hints, either. It sucked.

    Even worse, they added someone else who had deliberately not signed up, and she was a Jehovah’s Witness! So she didn’t even celebrate Christmas. It was a mess.

  17. Ruth*

    I would say it like this: “Thank you for thinking to include me, but moving forward you can leave me out. Someone needs to be left to take care of the office when you all win and quit!”

  18. TMW*

    I think it was a nice gesture that your co-workers contributed to the office lottery pool on your behalf. And I wouldn’t have qualms about paying them back (even though they didn’t ask if you wanted them to contribute on your behalf). I mean, suppose the group won the jackpot??? But going forward, I would tell them that I’m not interested in contributing to any lottery pools and to please not put in on my behalf when I’m absent.

  19. boop*

    Woah. My workplace did the occasional lottery pool every month or so, and the small winnings pay for future pools. But 3 times a WEEK???

  20. Oignonne*

    In regard to #2- I’m always hesitant to be overly apologetic or act as though my perfectly normal behavior/desires are the result of being “neurotic” or things like that. I can understand why someone would want to use that language, to try to avoid unnecessary conflict, but I tend to prefer a polite, but matter of fact approach. “No, thank you.” “I’m actually not participating.” Or if she goes along this one time- “Please don’t add money for me in the future.”

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