I’m a relatively high-level manager at work and I’ve started to become friends with the woman who does payroll. We text, have lunch together, and generally spend a few minutes chatting every day. I’d like to become “real” friends outside of work, but I’m nervous because she knows I make about $100K a year more than she does. We’re both single moms with kids around the same age and have a lot in common, but I worry that she’ll judge me for making more money than she does.
Last month she helped me out on a huge project. I’m not in a position to secure a raise for her, so I bought her child a new summer wardrobe. I didn’t tell anyone at work, as I didn’t want to embarrass her, but she helped me so much I wanted to return the favor. If I ask her and her child to accompany me to the zoo or to a movie, is it OK to offer to pick up the tab for all of us? Is that being insulting?