I go to lunch outside of office everyday. One of my colleague wants me to buy a take away for him while I return from a hotel. He gives money to buy lunch for him, I don't like this and I am getting because I believe it isn't fair. I walk about half an hour to go have lunch and I also have to pick up his as well but I don't want to hurt him. He can't seem to be able to understand that it isn't polite bothering a person daily for his very own basic need.

  • How I am suppose to maintain a healthier relationship meantime not being a helper boy?
  • Neither can refuse and hurt nor wanted to buy him a take away daily.
  • What I should do If I have decided to not to do this help for him daily?
  • I don't think you should be feeling as servant. What kind of relationship do you have with your co-worker (i.e. friendly or just a guy sitting nearby)? Anyway, you could ask him to come with you when you go out for lunch.
    – Leri
    Commented Jul 24, 2013 at 7:39
  • We don't have a good friendship, like we don't even site near by each other, it's just like he approaches me only for this favor and nothing else.. He says that he is not ready to come along since he is lazy. Otherwise, he chit-chat and do stuff...
    – Neocortex
    Commented Jul 24, 2013 at 7:46
  • 4
    "I don't know how to refuse a request. What should I do?" doesn't sound like a question about 'the workplace and other career-related topics', unless perhaps this person is your boss.
    – AakashM
    Commented Jul 24, 2013 at 8:10
  • 2
    Yes this is a work related topic and has relevance to workplace. The matter of doing a favor or refusing it may affect the work, can create misunderstanding, since he is dumb and don't know to differentiate between work and other friendly relationships.
    – Neocortex
    Commented Jul 24, 2013 at 9:20
  • 2
    Tomorrow when he comes with his order, before he can even say, you give him your order and say 'Can you do this for me today please' Commented Jul 24, 2013 at 20:51

3 Answers 3


"Sorry, I'm not going to the restaurant today", and Brown-Bag it for a week?

After a week of not getting his lunch, he'll make other arrangements.


Although you may not want to hear this, you're in this position as you have let it go on for however long without showing anything apart from a willingness to be the delivery boy.

You need to explain to him that you no longer feel comfortable collecting his lunch everyday and even offer that he can join you on the walk to or past there so it would not come across that you're shutting him out altogether. You need to understand he may be accustomed to you doing this and may even expect you to do it now. This expectation needs to be altered.

Unfortunately you can't have it both ways as he may be offended by this but yet you wouldn't have to get his lunch. There wouldn't be a win win situation unless he does not mind you ceasing collecting his lunch.


There are several approaches to this.

  • Tell him he should be responsible for getting his own lunch. Though that might not work. You have to start with this. You know this is not a part of your job responsibilities.

Assuming that he ignores your announcement that you are no longer going to get his lunch, you might have to be passive-aggressive:

  • Switch to packing your own lunch. Tell him you need to save money.
  • Change where you go. Pick a place that makes it impossible to go past the place he likes. Though if the issue is that he likes bossing people around, then he might adjust to the new direction. Or even might like the new place you go.
  • Change the time you go to lunch, leave early enough so that you get there just as the restaurant opens. Or go late enough so that he is starving.
  • Start delivering his food cold. Get his food first, let it cool down before you return to the office, then run an errand in the building and deliver it to him about an hour after you get back.
  • Mess up his order. or forget his order.
  • Volunteer for a project or meeting that impacts your lunch delivery service.

At this point if he doesn't stop, then he is a bully and you should complain to HR. Of course the issue will be that he will now be searching for a new victim. So you might have to go the HR anyway.

While I have not seen this exact situation, I have witnessed a case where one person was oblivious to the fact that they were trampling over another person. They didn't even consider that somebody had done this to be be nice. When told to stop they thought the victim was joking. Only when the the victim pulled the plug did they wake up to the fact that it wasn't a joke.

  • 7
    The problem with being passive-aggressive (apart from coming across as pretty immature to other people) is this: if he doesn't realise that his food orders are being deliberately subverted, it is likely nothing will change or he will adapt. However, if he does realise, he'll be a lot more angry with the OP than if the OP had just had the courage to say no. Commented Jul 24, 2013 at 12:11
  • The author could simply not pickup the order. When asked about the author simply says "I forgot" eventually when the colleague goes hungry for a few days they will in theory simply stop asking.
    – Donald
    Commented Jul 24, 2013 at 12:26
  • There are several victims and I am one among them but escalation to HR is something can be localized and solved within ourselves.
    – Neocortex
    Commented Jul 24, 2013 at 13:57
  • @BannedfromSO You class yourself as a victim..? Commented Jul 24, 2013 at 14:36
  • Michael - I don't class myself as a victim but a person who don't want to lose a value, a friendship for a matter that I don't like.
    – Neocortex
    Commented Jul 25, 2013 at 7:16

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