Summary: Can it be viewed as unprofessional/suspicious to hand small amounts of money to a colleague in an office setting?
On two different occasions, when I was working in an office, two coworkers have asked to borrow money from me to get lunch. They didn't ask me to cover their lunch (which I consider to be much more acceptable). They asked to borrow money from me, with multiple people around. The reason that was given was "I forgot my wallet at home".
One of them had a family. I find it unusual that someone with a family at home wouldn't be able to pay their own lunch. In later interactions, he was quite arrogant and I found his other behavior rather strange.
I've always wondered how exactly this can be interpreted from a bystander's point of view. They see person A handing money to person B in an open office, but they don't know that the person A had asked to borrow it with the plan to repay the next day.
- Can it be interpreted as bribery or fraud?
- Would it be obvious that it's just a loan for lunch?
- Is there a possible ulterior motive being assessment of camaraderie / collegiality?
- Is this a trick or is it normal behavior?
- Are there specific rules against this behavior?
- Is this behavior acceptable?
Note: The situations occurred in Romania, but I'm curious how this is viewed in other countries, too.