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Man rejects dinner with coworkers because he 'prefers his wife's company;' AITA?

Man rejects dinner with coworkers because he 'prefers his wife's company;' AITA?

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Being forced to donate precious unpaid time of your life for a work conference can be a burden, but sometimes it's necessary to force a smile and nod along in order to progress in your desired career...

Is there anything worse than a 'team building' or 'morale boosting' weekend excursion on your personal time? So, when a frustrated employee decided to vent to the moral compass of the internet otherwise known as Reddit's 'Am I the As*hole' about shutting down with coworker's request for a final conference dinner on his free time, people were eager to help weigh in.

AITA for telling my coworkers that I didn't want to go to dinner with them again because I prefer my wife's company to theirs?

Unfortunately, I [47M] was roped into going to a work conference recently. I am a remote worker, but sadly I was told that I needed to attend a conference that many of my coworkers go to each year due to how integral my duties were to this year's presentation, I suppose.

I am not buddy-buddy with any of my coworkers or my boss, but I am professional with them. This was the first work conference I had ever been to, so I did not realize how much these things consume the entirety of the time spent there.

The first three nights of the conference there were different dinners I 'had' to attend after typical work hours and when over 8 hours had been spent doing work related things at the conference already.

Now, I don't really mind attending the actual conference that much, what I mind is the expectation that I spend any more time with my colleagues than necessary. In my opinion, if I've spent 8:30 - 5 at a work conference with coworkers attending work-related sessions and giving a work-related presentation, past 5 o'clock I am no longer 'at work.'

I was already rather peeved that this was not the expectation at the start, but I was at least informed of these three different formal/scheduled dinners once the conference schedule was released.

The fourth and final night of the conference I expected would be completely mine because there was no conference-wide scheduled dinner.

As such, the night before when I called my wife, I asked her if she wanted to eat dinner together (i.e. video call each other and eat together, then spend as many hours as possible chatting before going to bed), and she said that sounded lovely.

We made plans to call at 7 our time (6 where the conference was), and I was really looking forward to it, as obviously I love her and her company.

Unfortunately, at lunch on the final day of the conference, my coworkers (my boss included) mentioned going to a specific restaurant. They asked if I was excited to go, and I said I was not going, but I hoped they enjoyed themselves.

They acted like I smacked them, and asked what I meant. I told them I'd made plans to call my wife and eat dinner with her.

I was then informed that, apparently, there is some tradition of all my coworkers eating dinner together the last night. I said I wasn't informed and we had already eaten dinner together every other night, but I hoped they enjoyed themselves.

My boss then said it was something I had to attend, then some of my coworkers agreed and said it was an important part of the conference.

I told my boss and coworkers that it was outside work hours, unpaid, and not scheduled, plus I prefer my wife's company to theirs, so I was not going.

They then told me I was being rude and an a$shole, and that I should have expected that we would all dine together the final night.

I said that was ridiculous, but my boss implied that not attending would have repercussions, so I called my wife and apologized to her, and sadly attended this stupid dinner. AITA?

Here's what the jury of internet strangers had to say about this one:

Cultural_Section_862 said:

Incredibly naive but NTA, that's how confrences go. more career moves are made at those dinners than in the conference room believe it or not.

CajunKC said:

NAH giving you the benefit of the doubt since this was your first work conference. Basic dowlow: this is what these conferences are generally like, at least every single one I've been to over a 30 year career.

Especially the out of town ones....dinners and lunches with coworkers and probably the boss every day. This is your chance to 'network' in a forced setting. Welcome to the corporate world!

DoraTheUrbanExplorer said:

Soft YTA. Yeah it sucks being a salaried employee and having to travel in and do all this social crap. I'm a remote employee too so I can really feel where you're coming from.

That being said- you're a remote employee. This was an opportunity for you to network, show you're a human, team player etc. Lots of older execs don't like remote work hence why they do these silly week long in office type things. They're happy they get to see you're real, and you get to keep working from home.

Your little stunt might have cost you a future promotion as now you don't look like a team player at all and you aren't taking the little time you have to get to know your co workers face to face.

Obviously you'd rather hang out with your wife- but telling them that was an AH move. Best of luck OP. Hope they don't hold it against you!

Due-While5294 said:

NTA. Completely unrelated but I love the way you love your wife, your relationship sounds amazing.

pbd1996 said:

YTA. You were correct in what you said… but it was an as$hole-y thing to say. Sometimes you have to filter the sh#t you say and not be SO direct.

A simple “I’m not feeling well” would’ve been a way better to get out of that dinner. Better yet “I think I have food poisoning from last night’s dinner” lol.

cro0kedFingersss said:

NTA but a bad call. Conferences have different expectations and should be avoided at all costs for these very reasons. But, if you’re there and want your career to progress…gotta play the game.

THAT’S NOT TO SAY work should come before family. But skipping one virtual dinner is a small sacrifice for the greater good.

Aggressive-Mind-2085 said:

YTA. You told your boss and your coworkers you did not want to have dinner with them. While you are FORMALLY right (It was not paid time, and not mandatory) you estranged all your collegues - so: Nobody will want to work with you, others that actually have social capabilities will be prefered and promoted over you.

Which is fine and a good thing: Because they can not risk letting you near customers - what if you estrange them, too? Start looking for another job. You don't have any friends there, and nobody will speak up for you - because you insulted them, and they will remember.

So you went to a conference and managed to insult and estrange your boss and all of your coworkers. Expect them to care as little about you as you let them know you care about them.

Note to anyone planning on setting a boundary between their personal lives and professional lives: perhaps be gentle before telling your coworker's you don't enjoy hanging out with them? Sometimes we all must endure a work-related dinner...

Sources: Reddit
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