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Woman Receives a Luxury Watch for Her Early Retirement, But When the Office Realizes They Made a Mistake and She Still Works There They Demand She Returns the Gift.

A woman becomes the center of a multi-layered misunderstanding stemming from her weight gain being mistaken for pregnancy. A gift intended for a new mother pushes the Original Poster (OP) into an uncomfortable spotlight, making her a hot topic of office gossip, and puts her in a difficult position of deciding whether to return the expensive watch she receives as a gift.

A Farewell Faux Pas

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OP informs her boss of her intention to quit her job as a paralegal in order to relocate with her husband across the county. Surprisingly, her boss offers her the option to remain an employee and work part-time remotely. On her last day in the office, a senior partner at the firm presents her with a thank you present, which she discovers is a $2,000 Movado watch.

The Start of A New Life

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That week OP rents a U-Haul with her husband and begins the three-day trip from the East to the west coast. Despite the distance, her professional ties with her previous workplace remain intact. As part of the arrangement with her former colleagues, she would continue to do some work remotely part-time.

An Unpleasant Reunion

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Two years later, OP is visiting her old city and meeting up with old friends for the night. By random chance, she runs into a former coworker from the law firm. The coworker inappropriately points to her stomach and asks if she’s pregnant again. She boldly states she is not and never had been before. The interaction becomes an embarrassing and awkward experience for both of them.

Misconceptions Multiply

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The coworker misconstrues OP’s weight gain as pregnancy, causing OP to feel self-conscious and humiliated. OP realizes that the lack of direct communication with her former coworkers has started a chain of misunderstandings.

The Office Buzz

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As OP is still working for the firm part-time, news of the misunderstanding spreads, and OP’s lack of pregnancy becomes a hot topic of office gossip. The colleague’s error and OP’s embarrassment make her the center of attention, albeit for reasons she finds unpleasant. The situation is quickly spiraling out of control.

HR’s Intervention

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HR becomes involved and communicates a request from another coworker: the return of the farewell gift. Apparently, the gift was intended as a maternity present, a fact that was unknown to OP, who assumed it was a going-away gift. The coworker reported the news to the senior partner, who felt deceived by OP and interpreted the situation to be that she had tricked him into thinking she was pregnant.

Money Matters

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Despite the unpleasantness, OP is asked by HR to return the watch, which was gifted by the partner under the pretense of a maternity gift. Although HR cannot enforce the return, the pressure is on OP.

The Farewell Card

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OP, perplexed, also recalls the farewell card simply saying ‘Congratulations.’ The significance of the message was unnoticed before, but now it seems to suggest it was not based on her move or shift to remote, part-time work. However, she asserts that no explicit message about pregnancy was present in the card.

The Insecurity Exposed

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OP is feeling crushed, upset, and insecure about her body image due to the ongoing situation. The confusion and misunderstanding highlight an insecurity she has been dealing with. Despite her husband’s reassurances, this ordeal is a blow to her self-esteem, and she is devastated.

A Financial Decision

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OP considers if she should return the watch to stay in good standing with the company. She mentions that she currently works about 10 hours per week and believes she could easily replace the job and had already considered returning to full-time work, now that the couple is comfortably moved into their new life in Sacramento. It’s a tough decision, especially considering the watch seemed to originally be meant as a farewell gift.

Old Boss Steps In

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OP decides to email the senior partner who sent the watch, outlining the misunderstanding. She is notified that he gifted the watch as a “maternity gift,” not realizing she was not returning to the office full-time.

OP escalated the issues to HR, fully explaining the confusion and awaiting a response; she is left in a state of suspense.

A Unraveled Misunderstanding

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OP now realizes her remote work agreement and exit from the office were misinterpreted by her coworkers as maternity leave, which led to the gift and the misunderstanding. The coworker’s mistake about her “maternity leave” resulted in the whole staff contributing to the “maternity gift.”

Unasked Questions

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OP is upset that not a single coworker has confirmed her supposed pregnancy. The baseless assumption and lack of direct communication are the root cause of the misunderstanding. If only someone had asked, OP thinks, this messy situation could have been avoided.

The Wait for Resolution

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With the ball in her court, OP debate whether she should give back the watch to stay on good terms or insist on keeping the $2,000 Movado timepiece. She reached out to a popular internet forum to ask for advice on what the appropriate measure would be. She also emphasizes her inclination to keep the watch and find a new job, severing the strange office mishaps forever.

What Should the Woman Do?

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The readers in the forum had a lot of mixed views on the matter. Here are some of their responses:

Forum Responds

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One reader said, “If I gave someone a gift because I assumed she was pregnant, and then she wasn’t, the last thing I’d do is ask for that gift back. That’s just rude. As if their assumption is your fault.”

Another Commenter Thinks

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Another responder wrote: “Remind HR that this whole discussion could constitute sexual harassment as reproductive choices are personal and private.”

A Third View on The Story

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A different person states, “I wouldn’t return a single penny. They made an assumption, and the senior partners need to step up here.”

A Final Perspective on the Matter

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Another viewpoint on the story: “Honestly, they should be ashamed for even asking. Don’t let them make you feel bad about your body.”

What Do You Think?

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What are your thoughts on their actions?

What would you have done in this situation?

This story is inspired by a Reddit thread.

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