“Little Baked Pieces of Heaven” Elicits Drooling

by admin on March 15, 2012

A few years ago I began a new job. One of my coworkers, we’ll call him ‘Jim,’ was a nice man who took me under his wing right away. I was around the same age as Jim’s daughter and he felt the need to protect me and show me all the ropes at work.

I have an enormous sweet tooth and spend my extra money on gourmet chocolates like some people might budget money for their hobby or going to sporting events. I seek out special bakeries, order custom goodies online and have even taken themed vacations for chocolate connoisseurs. I work hard for my special treats.

One day I was in a rush for work and I didn’t have time to pack my afternoon cupcake treat, so I grabbed the whole box of four. Oh, I’m sorry, did I only say cupcake? I meant delectable, dark chocolate fudge ganache filled extra moist cupcakes with whipped buttercream icing and French chocolate shave sprinkles that I had waited in line at the bakery an hour to get because they were a one-time special recipe I had been looking forward to for months. I had a planned date with each cupcake over the next few days and was so very excited about every ounce of that gourmet chocolate!

The box was sitting on my desk. I was about to dive into dessert paradise and munch on one of the cupcakes when Jim walked up with the look of a hungry puppy.

“Boy, do those look good,” he says as I made a futile effort to hide the box under some paper.

I hadn’t intended to share these and I wasn’t flaunting the cupcakes around the office, but since Jim was so helpful to me and was staring at the cupcakes like he was about to dive mouth-first into the whole box, I decided to offer him one.

He said he’d love one. As I carefully wrapped the little baked piece of heaven in some napkins and handed it over, its moist chocolate gleaming and sparkling in the florescent office lights, my heart aching a little to see it go but happy it was going to a good and deserving person, Jim said

“Thanks, my dear wife will just love this!”

I had never met Jim’s dear wife, and I’m sure she was a nice lady, but at that moment it took quite a bit of restraint for me not to fly through the air and ninja kick the cupcake right out of her husband’s hand.

The special treat was for him! Not for someone I’ve never met!

It was obvious by Jim’s skip in his step as he walked away with my treasure that he had been blind to his statement making my jaw hit the floor so hard it bounced.

Jim was the obliviously happy and ridiculously wholesome type who only sees the good in people. Think Brady Bunch character with an extra helping of positive thinking and honesty. He was also the type to be mortified if he did something that might upset someone, so there was nothing I could have said at the time without making him feel terrible.

A few weeks later, forgetting the pervious re-direction of my generosity, I offered Jim a piece of the small cake a coworker had surprised me with for my birthday. It was made from scratch and was magically delicious. I did not search Jim out to share the cake. I had intended to take the last piece home with me. It was more like Jim walked in the room and kept staring with giant puppy eyes at the remaining piece of delicious sugar and coco powder mixed into birthday joy. He accepted my offer, only to produce a Tupperware container and plop the little confection into it. He mentioned something about keeping it fresh for the dear wife.

It wasn’t long after this second ‘beg’ and switch that it became clear there was a long standing pattern of Jim spiriting away sweets from the office out to The Dear Wife.

One of the more memorable stories involves a large tray of gourmet chocolate truffles leftover from a catered meeting. My boss and I couldn’t wait to finish our afternoon call so we could try the sweets everyone had raved about. We finally get to the break room. The tray is gone. As we mourn the loss for being too late, another employee walks by and lets us know there was still plenty left; Jim had just gone to his car with it. Not just one or two truffles, oh no, The Dear Wife gets the WHOLE tray!

But wait! There’s more! My boss explained to Jim she was upset because she didn’t get to try the truffles as well as that it was inappropriate for an entire tray of office-funded leftovers to be taken to an outside person without permission. Jim felt really bad and had The Dear Wife bake some cookies for the office to make up for it. They were….. The WORST. Cookies(hard to call them that)… EVER. Of ALL TIME! It wasn’t just me; everyone who tried them spit them out in the trash. How could Jim take all these amazing treats home to a woman who couldn’t possibly have a single taste bud???!!!!!

Funny side story- Jim was excited to go tell The Dear Wife how much we loved her cookies, so he started asking. They really were bad enough that we couldn’t even lie, but no one had the heart to tell Jim. Cue the most hilarious sitcom-esque afternoon of people pretending their phone was vibrating, suddenly realizing they were late for meetings and diving behind file cabinets as Jim walked by….

Back to the baked goods-The incident with the truffle tray didn’t seem to sink into Jim’s head. Every catered meeting, every office party, every employee who happened to walk by with an extra treat in their hand: if there were sweets offered, out came Jim’s little sandwich bags and Tupperware container(s). Giving sweets to Jim was like donating to one charity only to find said charity is sending your money to a different organization that you know nothing about.

I understand everyone occasionally takes home their share of office sponsored treats to give to the spouse or the children, but with Jim it was an epidemic.

Jim was on the TMI side of sharing, so there was no health or mental reason he didn’t eat the sweets offered to him (people did ask). He said he made a choice to avoid the sweets he loved because he’d rather save the calories to use on a good steak dinner. He stated that he gave The Dear Wife any sweets he received to keep him “out of the doghouse.”

Our office was never lacking in healthy alternatives. Any office party or catered meeting always had lots of healthy items I know Jim enjoyed. But he would fill up on fruits and veggies and then, without fail, wonder over to the cake or cookies tray and grab a share or more for The Dear Wife.

I understand the concept of “once you give a gift you can’t dictate what is done with it,” but these sweets and treats were not gifts given specifically to Jim to do with as he pleased. Often, it was an office party with a cake paid for by employee pitch-in for the enjoyment of all coworkers. However, a large majority of the time it was as described in my first story, with Jim hanging around in a way that gave you no choice but to either offer him a share of your personal dessert or to just continue to rudely eat in front of him.

When you caved in to the stares and offered to share your dessert, Jim usually said “Oh, I’ll take it to The Dear Wife…” before you handed it over, which in theory gave you an out to say, “Well, in that case you can’t have it, I purchased this for people in the office only.”

I tried that once and poor Jim just looked so upset and embarrassed I felt bad for the rest of the month. Also, there were usually clients or other coworkers around who were unaware of Jim’s sugar smuggle racket, so you couldn’t exactly deny Jim what you had already offered without looking like a jerk.

What Jim was doing drove me and several coworkers berzerk, but we couldn’t think of an exact “rule” he was breaking, etiquette or business-wise. Should his behavior have just been accepted?

A supervisor did once tell Jim he shouldn’t take anything he wasn’t going to eat himself as this wasn’t a take-out bar, but Jim, in a surprising retreat from his usual sweetly naïve rule-following ways, said something along the lines of “well, it would be gone if I ate it, so let’s just pretend I did.” 0312-12

 

Regarding those four “little baked pieces of heaven” cupcakes you purchased, my suggestion is that you simply ignored the obvious drooling and silent begging by Jim and beandipped him by redirecting the conversation away from his focus on your cupcakes.   His comment, “Oh, those look good,” was an opening gambit, a hook with bait on it, to see if you would bite and offer him a cupcake.   There is nothing rude in ignoring the bait.   Just because someone compliments us about something we happen to own does not mean we are obligated to offer all or part of it to them. For all Jim knew, those cupcakes were to be a gift for another person and he had no right to presume his drooling would be rewarded.

As for Jim’s penchant for taking office goodies home, in my opinion, what he does with his share is his business, particularly if the treat was paid for by each employee pitching in to pay for it.   If he wants to take his share of the treat he helped pay for home to eat later or share with the wifey, so what?  However, what Jim does with more than his share as an employee is a matter for management to curtail.

{ 108 comments… read them below or add one }

Cobbs March 15, 2012 at 5:02 am

I think these office “treats” are akin to the too common “collection” for some co-worker who has a birthday or engagement or some other event to celebrate. They are out of place in the work area. I know of several companies that ban such things from the office or plant. It is a good policy.

Reply

lkb March 15, 2012 at 5:17 am

Hmmm, I wonder if Jim has some sort of eating problem: Doesn’t want to be seen actually eating the food so he says he’s bringing it home to Dear Wife when he’s really eating it himself elsewhere. Maybe he himself baked the horrible cookies too but didn’t really know how.

People who are self-conscious about their weight or are dieting will do this. (Who me? ;D) If no one sees him eat it, he didn’t, right?

Reply

Kristen March 15, 2012 at 5:22 am

“ooh… Those look good.”
“I hope they are. They’re from the bakery down the street. They’re running a special on them today only, and knowing how much you like to bring your wife sweets, you should stop and get her one on your way home! How about that memo to put cover sheets on our TPS reports?”

(my money’s on him also being the guy who eats lunches out of the shared office fridge.)

Reply

Monroe March 15, 2012 at 5:36 am

I wouldn’t deny him his share of a company funded group dessert, but anything else is just over the top. (The WHOLE tray of truffles? Is his wife a dragon who will gobble him down if he doesn’t offer tribute?)

I currently try to avoid sugar as much as possible, but I work in an office where people are constantly offering sweets, even going so far as to guilt you into partaking if you refuse. When that happens I do tend to take it home so my husband can enjoy it. In that case I would assume the food is a gift and you could do with what you like, or am I mistaken?

Reply

josie March 15, 2012 at 5:46 am

The cupcake situation was an easy one….if you don’t intend to share, put the box in your drawer and out of sight.

Reply

Bint March 15, 2012 at 6:13 am

Jim’s cheeky – and the truffle tray was when he overstepped – but otherwise I think the OP is going wayyyy overboard. Don’t offer him things if you don’t want to. You don’t have to. You certainly didn’t have to do it more than once – polite spine! You all know he takes them home to his wife, so deal with it or don’t offer.

Also, the part about his wife’s cooking was pretty spiteful. Assuming she has no tastebuds is rude (many people who can’t cook appreciate good food!). It’s not her fault anyway – did she demand Jim take your cupcake? Did she ask him to steal the tray? She had to bake cookies for her husband’s office to make up for his behaviour, and she may well have been mortified, knowing she can’t do it well. The sneering tone here isn’t necessary. I feel sorry for her being put in that position, and I bake for my husband’s office myself.

Really, this whole post is that a man is offered goodies and takes them home to his wife, occasionally goes too far, tries to make up for it, then falls back into it again. Annoying, true, but to be honest I think the OP’s attitude makes him/her come off worse.

Reply

LiLi March 15, 2012 at 6:51 am

I agree that Jim taking his fair share of any sweets home to his wife is perfectly acceptable.

Him taking an entire tray or all the leftovers is not. Begging for treats like a puppy is not.

Reply

Michelle March 15, 2012 at 7:17 am

@Kristen — love your nod to “Office Space”!

Jim might be a secret eater. You know how some people “use” their kids to get out of stuff? Like, “I’m afraid I can’t help you move this weekend. Junior has a cold.” Jim might be using The Dear Wife to actually get into stuff, like delicious office treats. This way, he doesn’t look like a greedy eater – “The Dear Wife” does. Other than that, he does sound like a very nice man.

Reply

Michelle P March 15, 2012 at 7:19 am

I agree with Admin. Yes, he’s borderline rude for taking more than his share, especially with the whole tray of truffles, but when you and others offer him anything, you can’t get mad that he takes it. Once you give a gift, which you did with the cupcakes and others, what he does with it is his business. You said yourself he was a great guy who’s helped you; so he takes home treats that (I assume) he pitched in for, and others that you offered. Let him, or don’t offer then complain later.

Reply

aka Cat March 15, 2012 at 7:31 am

Too bad you didn’t know about Jim’s snack re-purposing back when he saw your cupcakes! I understand the impulse to give in and share with what appears to be a fellow sugar-junkie in need. And it’s surely difficult to think of a graceful way of retracting the offer of a treat when your jaw is on the floor.

But why on earth didn’t your boss insist that the tray of truffles be returned to the break room ASAP? Surely that wasn’t the first time she had encountered Jim’s habit of regifting snacks?

Reply

catwoman2965 March 15, 2012 at 7:34 am

Wow, Jim really has some big ones, doesn’t he? It’s too bad management can’t crack down and let people know that while its ok to SHARE and enjoy any leftovers, taking the entire box or tray home is not acceptable behavior. I will admit this practice irks me as I have a co-worker, actually a boss, who does the same thing. she really doesn’t eat sweets, and while she only takes her share, she will alwasy say she’s taking it home for her daughter Maybe its me, but if there’s something in the office, for the employees to enjoy, it should stay in the office. I’m ok with a co-worker taking something and taking it home if they haven’t had a cahnce to eat it, but it does bother me when people specifically take things to bring them home to others.

Reply

Sarah Jane March 15, 2012 at 8:01 am

I agree with Josie…put away the extras, for Pete’s sake.

If someone came into my office and I had four cupcakes sitting on my desk, I’d be inclined to offer them one out of sheer politeness, whether they gave the “puppy” look or not. That’s why, if I had no plans to share, they’d be out of sight.

I don’t like Jim’s taking more than his fair share of office party snacks, but he’s entitled to as much or as many as everyone else, and I don’t care if he brings it home to his wife who can’t bake or his dog. (Okay, maybe not chocolate for a dog.)

I can see how Jim might be a little annoying at work, but as a husband, he sounds like a peach.

Reply

alex March 15, 2012 at 8:15 am

At first when the story was just about your cupcakes I would have let it slide. Once you gave it to him (which you didn’t have to, I would have said something about how they were gourmet, expensive, etc.) he can decide what to do with it. Now for taking all the treats from work related things? He can have his share and decide what to do with it and if that means bringing it to his wife that is fine. But as for taking a while tray? The boss needs to tell him that is unacceptable.

Reply

Jojo March 15, 2012 at 8:15 am

Preempt, preempt, preempt. It’s time to make Jim’s wife the office joke. I would think of it like a deity that needs a tribute – always cut a small slice for her at the beginning and lay it aside. You can make Jim aware of it and it means that the rest is left for everyone else. If he tries another truffle stash, then it means people are entitled to say they’ve put aside ‘Jim’s’ share already and the rest is for everyone else.
As for your own individual food, MAKE HIME FEEL AS GUILTY AS POSSIBLE. I never feed my dog left overs because they’re bad for her and I have a duty of care, if Jim’s wife has too much chocolate she’ll just get diabetes and who wants that? You’re doing a public service by denying Jim the chance to over feed his wife.
Also agree with Kristen – tell Jim where you got it from and that he can pick it up.
Like lkb, I am also suspicious that these treats may not actually make it home to the wife. Some people are strange about food and have many issues surrounding the consummation there of. I’d almost be tempted to throw a big event to invite her to and see whether she heads straight for the goodies!

Reply

Jay March 15, 2012 at 8:16 am

> Is his wife a dragon who will gobble him down if he doesn’t offer tribute?

Pretty much exactly what I was thinking :)

Reply

JillyBean March 15, 2012 at 8:27 am

I think that taking 1 piece should be fine. But just 1, that’s it. He had the opportunity to have his share, and if taking a dessert home to whoever, is his share – so be it. However, the truffles – no way, uh uh. He should have taken 1 and no more. The whole tray? That is unacceptable. And replacing with cookies? No – he should have bought just as many truffles to replace. If he can’t afford it – he shouldn’t have taken the whole tray. That was simply greedy on his part – doubly so, because he took away from so many people, he took MORE than his fair share, AND he received thanks from the Dear Wife, and thus was the “good guy”.
*He should also never ask for things that aren’t offered. That is also very greedy.

Reply

VltGrantham March 15, 2012 at 8:30 am

I wouldn’t have caved on sharing my treats and I definitely think taking the entire tray is rude; but I could care less what people do with their “share” of office treats. I keep candy on my desk; I don’t ask people to consume it in front of me or what they intend to do with it. I could care less if they eat it later that afternoon or take it home to their child.

I get a lot of baked goods, pies, cakes, etc., here at our office–many times a share is left on my desk. Sometimes I eat them, but more often than not, I take them home to either share or give to DH and DD.

I really don’t think it’s anyone’s business to dictate how the food is used. If it’s meant for all, then all should be welcome to a share, whether they intend to eat it or throw it to a pack of hungry wolves in the parking lot.

Reply

Just Laura March 15, 2012 at 8:39 am

I know last week a few of us complained that some of these verbose submissions grow a bit tedious after the 8th paragraph…
Not this one. I enjoyed every well-written word. Thanks, OP, for this bright spot in my day!

Reply

Huh March 15, 2012 at 9:00 am

When we have had office lunches, I have on occasion taken home my dessert – a piece of cake or two cookies – for my kids. But the truffle thing was beyond rude – if he wanted to take home a truffle or two that would have been his “piece” for his wife, that’s fine, but to take the whole tray when other people at the office could have eaten it? Rude. And to go around staring at people until they offer pieces of their cake/cupcakes/whatever, just don’t feed into that behavior anymore. Even if he mentions that it looks good, I’d just say, “Yep. I’m going to enjoy it as my dessert tonight.” And talk about something else. You don’t have to give it to him just because he’s staring at it. Or better yet, “Yep. My mom/dad/brother/sister/best friend is going to enjoy it!” Because everyone has relatives at home they could be giving goodies to!

Reply

The Elf March 15, 2012 at 9:02 am

Leftovers are leftovers, even when someone takes more than “his share” for whatever reason.

But……

1) When he takes something while the event is in progress for Dear Wife, that’s a no-no. It’s not leftovers. It’s food for the event. Wait until the food is being cleaned up; then it is a leftover. In our office, we have a common place to put treats when there isn’t an event going on, and it is understood that it isn’t “leftover” until close of business.

2) Once it’s in full “leftovers status”, you snooze you lose. I know it sucks to be the one who missed out – been there! – but it’s fair game at that point. Since OP was close to Jim, she could have expressed sorrow to Jim that she missed the truffles and hope that he ponies up since he had taken the rest of the whole tray, but that doesn’t seem likely that he would.

3) When Jim gives you the puppy dog eyes, say No! You can refuse politely. You can eat in front of him. This is an office, not your home. You are not hosting.

So, I think Jim is the rude one here, but he’s not totally out of line. His primary fault is one of timing. If management doesn’t want to step in – and for something like this I wouldn’t blame them if they avoided the issue – just be aware that his “treats” will go to Dear Wife and don’t give him any of your special stuff.

Reply

Wink-n-Smile March 15, 2012 at 9:09 am

“Cue the most hilarious sitcom-esque afternoon of people pretending their phone was vibrating, suddenly realizing they were late for meetings and diving behind file cabinets as Jim walked by…”

That was hilarious, OP! Thank you for that.

As for dealing with Jim, I’m sad to say I recommend not sharing with him at all, except on certain planned occasions. On those occasions, bring the treat, pre-wrapped, and deliver it to him with a smile and your compliments to his Dear Wife. Then, if he should do the puppy eyes at the rest of your treat, you can smile sweetly, and say, “Oh, did you forget? I already gave you some.” And then ignore his begging.

Mind you, only do this when you really do want to share with him and his Dear Wife. Otherwise, your food is yours.

Now, since you did not plan on bringing all four cupcakes, and he saw them just as you were getting yours (it could have been out of sight all day, but he just happened along JUST THEN – sigh. Life happens), well, you could always have a coughing or sneezing fit over the open container, just as you see him coming, but before he has a chance to make puppy eyes. “Oops.”

Or, just learn to beandip and ignore. It takes nerves of steel, but I’m sure you can develop them, eventually.

Reply

Wink-n-Smile March 15, 2012 at 9:18 am

Office treats, whether paid for by the office or by collection, should stay at the office, and everyone have a fair share. Once everyone has had a chance to have a treat, people can go back for seconds – for themselves. If they choose to bring their own share home with them to consume later, that’s fine. If they should decide, once they get home, to pass it on to their Dear Wife, that’s their business, and no need to announce it to the world.

Take your share, only. The only time it is OK to take more than your fair share is when the party was at 4:00 on a Friday afternoon, half the office is gone, and the other half is heading off to a fancy dinner and doesn’t want to spoil their appetite, and the boss is saying, loudly, “Will someone please take this home? I don’t want it to go to waste! It’s not like we can eat it tomorrow, and it won’t be good by Monday.”

Yes, that scenario has happened, and yes, I did bring a treat for every member of my family, with my boss’s blessing and thanks. He had paid for it out of his own pocket, and as a single man, didn’t have anyone at home to share with.

Reply

SouthernBelle March 15, 2012 at 9:20 am

Regarding the first cupcake, you gave it to him to make him happy. It did. It made him very happy by giving it to his wife. I really don’t see the problem. He certainly shouldn’t swoop down and take full trays of food. But if he wants to give his share to his spouse…

Reply

wowwow March 15, 2012 at 9:35 am

The only breach of etiquette I see is when he took the rest of the tray out to his car.

In that case, a mature, rational adult would simply say, “Hey Jim, I need you to go back out and bring those truffles back in, many of us are not done with our share.”

Otherwise I would suggest fruits, vegetables and dip to be the main stay of the office offerings and everyone else’s personal stash padlocked in their drawer. :-)

Reply

Elizabeth March 15, 2012 at 9:37 am

VltGrantham, the food is meant for employees, not ‘all.’ Dear wife is not an employee and an employee is missing out because Jim is trying to stay out of the doghouse.

Reply

Library Diva March 15, 2012 at 9:39 am

The truffle thing was definitely out of line, but I think OP and her co-workers should tone down their outrage a bit. I’ve worked with so many people who are backstabbers, incompetent at their jobs, credit hogs, totally lazy, and extremely rude that this sort of seems like…not that big of a deal. Especially since Jim’s a nice guy otherwise. I simply don’t understand why people care so much.

I don’t think you should tolerate his passive-aggressive begging, though. Just don’t give in. Like admin said, nothing wrong with ignoring Jim’s bait. They’re your cupcakes, not his. Or try to head this off at the pass. Just don’t bring personal treats to work, eat them only when he’s not around, or don’t bring enough to share.

Reply

Serenity S. March 15, 2012 at 9:49 am

I agree with Admin. I think the only rude thing Jim did was take the tray of truffles. He can do what he wants with his share of other company sponsered treats or treats offered to him by co-workers. OP you don’t have to share your personal treats with him, but it would make you feel less rude and awkward to keep extras out of sight in future.

Reply

LonelyHound March 15, 2012 at 10:09 am

@lkb- My mother used to say if no one saw you eat it the calories didn’t count. ;)

Personally, I would say that Jim is not only rude but a thief. At all the places I have worked there were four policies when it came to food. 1. When an employee potluck occured the food brought is the property of the bringer, who is choosing to share with the co-workers, so any leftovers, unless the bringer approves of you taking it, belongs to the bringer. 2. Any food brought for a specific purpose (ie. birthday party) belongs to the celebrant and they get first dibs on all leftovers, then the bringer and then the rest of the office. 3. Office funded lunches/dinners/parties means the food belongs to the office and only when specifically told by the managers can food be taken home to family. 4. Any leftover food not claimed by the celebrant/bringer the next day is considered fair game for all.

I remember a potluck that occurred around Thanksgiving when I was in the military. All officers were required to cook and bring a turkey and the enlisted personnel were required to bring any side dish they chose. I had a training class that morning so was a little late to the party. As I arrived I saw one of our squadron enlisted squadron members taking a untouched turkey to his car. He came back and proceeded to eat two helpings of the meal (I had volunteered to serve the food as well). Being young and lacking a filter between my mouth and brain I asked why he was allowed to take a whole uneaten turkey. My CO overheard me and demanded to know what person had done that. The next week I heard that same person had been reprimanded for stealing from the Squadron. My CO’s logic was this: a. the person who took the turkey neither made the turkey nor asked to take it; and b. the person who did make the turkey made it for the Squadron and therefore he stole from not only the bringer but the Squadron. Was this logic off?

Reply

Stepmomster March 15, 2012 at 10:13 am

His obligatory cake sacrifice to his wife reminds me of a Robin Williams sketch, where Williams comes home to a PMSing wife that is hissing and growling at the door, and then he whips a tub of ice cream from behind his back to appease her, before attempting to go into the house.

Personally, I think this is more about the fact that the guy discovered an easy way to make his wife really happy, and he does this for a different type of “Kudos” at home. I adore the “Preempt” suggestion from an above poster, how funny would it be to hand him a piece of cake/candy with a sticky note stating his wife’s name!

Reply

kristen March 15, 2012 at 10:22 am

Jojo, I love the preempting suggestion.

It might also be time to discuss as an office if there’s a snack policy. For instance, after X pm, employees may help themselves to a single serving of any remaining shared office treats for consumption at a later time. Otherwise, food in communal areas is intended for consumption while in the office.

Reply

David March 15, 2012 at 10:31 am

I am going to approach this from another perspective – maybe Jim has given you a clue in something he said. “He stated that he gave The Dear Wife any sweets he received to keep him “out of the doghouse.””

I once had a girlfriend who was friends with two of my coworkers. My coworkers would mention office party treats to her and if I had not brought her some home on that day, she would go ballistic. I learned after the first couple times that if I wanted sleep I needed to be proactive and bring her my share. Which I did by taking a small piece and saying I was saving it for later. No one ever got upset and I didn’t hog anything.

Jim should never have taken the whole plate of truffles, that was incredibly rude. As was staring at the cupcakes.

And I agree with Jojo, preempt his continuing depredations. Don’t give him any of your personal treats, tell him where he can pick one up – and cut a small piece for him for his wife.

Reply

Cat March 15, 2012 at 10:31 am

If I don’t wish to share something, I keep it in a place where other people cannot see it. If someone sees it, I am glad to give them the recipe or the address of the business which sells them.

Office food is tricky. I like to bake and was annoyed with one security officer who ate ten of the twenty-one cupcakes I had brought for all to share. He didn’t take them home for a dear anyone, he just ate ten cupcakes himself. If one person deems it appropriate to run out to the car with a whole tray of anything, he should be reminded that he is entitled to his share and no more. I had one man take three dozen free-range eggs I had brought in for the office to share on the grounds that he had “company.” After that I handed the eggs out individually.

Reply

Wendy March 15, 2012 at 10:36 am

I echo what others said about the cupcakes, but maybe adding, “Gee, I hope they are…I’ve been saving for a while for them and plan on making them last as long as possible since they’re a one-time thing!” then move on…but under the circumstances, what could you do?

But the rest? Wow. Just…wow.
We have occasional office parties for birthdays or other special events here. It’s usually pot luck. At the end of the day, if there’s lots left of one particular treat, some of us occasionally take a bit home. But we WAIT until the end of the day when EVERYONE has had a chance to try it, and even then, one person taking it all home unless directed to is just not done. We especially wait to see if the person who brought it leaves it here (a signal to let the rest of us parcel it out or put it back in the fridge for tomorrow) or takes it with them.

As I was reading the story I wondered two things about Jim and his “dear wife.” The first was, is Jim trying to sabotage her in some passive-aggressive way? Or is she some kind of controlling dictator type person easily appeased with treats? Then I wondered if she even really exists…

I would say that in the future everyone needs to ignore the puppy eyes and for group events the suggestion to “put aside something” for Jim’s “dear wife” is an excellent solution. It saves him the bother and I suspect he’ll eventually get the message. (Although after the truffle incident, that’s probably doubtful.)

Reply

acr March 15, 2012 at 10:42 am

I really don’t have a problem with Jim taking home his share to the wife. If every employee gets 1 cookie, and Jim chooses to save his 1 cookie for his wife, that’s fine. But taking home the whole truffle tray? That’s just really rude. I think it would be okay to have taken home a few of the truffles for the wife.

I think I might just start saying at EVERY request, “Oh, these are only for the people who work here. I’m afraid your wife will have to procure her own treats!” in a laughing kind of way.

It does strike me, how ever, as REALLY RUDE to request something from a person to offer to a person who isn’t even there.

Reply

Chocobo March 15, 2012 at 10:54 am

Admin is spot-on with this one.

“Once you give a gift you can’t dictate what is done with it.” This is true. You really can’t complain that he’s taken your gift and given it to someone else. It is tactless of him to say that to your face, so that is a faux-pas on his part.

In the future, the proper response to the opening gambit is:
“Oh, those look good.”
“They are. Did you get that report I sent over?”

Also, do you not have a drawer for these things? Leave them in your desk or under your desk and out of view and it will not be such an issue.

Reply

Cat Whisperer March 15, 2012 at 11:12 am

Personally, I find OP’s description of her co-worker Jim endearing, and if the worst thing about this person is that he takes treats home to his wife, I’d like to introduce her to some of the people I got to work with during my 38 years in the workforce before I retired:

Shirley the Born-Again Buddhist, who once actually told a co-worker mourning the loss of baby niece that the baby had died because “she made a bad cause” and was experienceing Karmic retribution;

Pam the Program Manager’s Wife, whose husband was a big noise several levels up on the org chart, and who spent her mornings leisurely reading the newspaper at her desk and her afternoons on the phone gossiping with friends and family, while charging her time to overhead and making the rest of us pick up the slack for work she didn’t do;

Mort the alcoholic, who would drink himself into a stupor at lunch, retire to the men’s room and roost in one of the stalls loudly snoring; our manager appointed a “minder” to make sure that when a higher-level manager was visiting our building, Mort was kept out of the way during the visit.

The Clean-Up Crew, a group of four engineers who magically appeared at the tail-end of every food event to fill plates of food to take home, and who never, ever, ever contributed to the cost, or brought anything in to share, or helped out with set-up or clean-up.

Jim sounds like a stand-up kind of guy who is helpful, pleasant to be around and maybe just a wee tad clueless in a very harmless way. OP sounds like she needs to meet a few really malignant co-workers, the kind who will actually do harm to other people because they are virulently and actively malignant and hateful. I can guarantee that if she’d met some of the people I worked with during my time in the workforce, she’d hail “Jim” as a miracle of niceness and a paragon of fairness.

Some advice: if you’re that protective of your precious cupcakes, then don’t bring them to work, stash them at home and eat them where you’ll never be asked to share them. If someone taking their share of communal treats to a spouse instead of eating them himself bugs you, consider the possibility that you’re suffering from envy that nobody loves you enough to sacrifice their share of goodies to bring them home to you. And re-read your post and think about how you might appear to your co-workers. I’ll bet there’s someone in your work area who could write a pretty good eHell letter about “the snarky cow-irker who gets snitty at Jim, a nice guy who helps her out and whose sin is that he takes his share of office treats home to his wife.”

Seriously, OP: think about how you might be coming across to other people you work with, because I’ll bet a stale donut to one of your heavenly cupcakes that “Jim” is probably considered a nicer guy to work with than you are. JMO.

Reply

Calliope March 15, 2012 at 11:25 am

Wow, I felt like this story kind of flew off the rails. I can’t say I’ve ever seen someone quite so worked up over chocolate, except maybe Jean Teasdale over at The Onion. Admittedly, I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, and maybe that’s why I don’t understand why any of this is such a huge problem that it warrants a screed like this one. I figure that when an office provides treats for the employees, it’s understood that each employee will take at least one. What difference does it make if Jim takes his home to his wife instead of eating it himself? Sure, taking the whole tray of truffles was rude–and weird–but aside from that, I don’t see that he’s done anything wrong. I do think it was pretty terrible that the others in the office couldn’t even muster some tact about the quality of his wife’s cookies, though.

Reply

Calli Arcale March 15, 2012 at 11:43 am

I only started taking goodies for my kids after repeated urgings from coworkers, and only after everyone has had their shot at the goodies. And even then, it’s only an occasional thing, and only ever something small and easily transportable.

We did have one meeting recently where the items ordered turned out to be MUCH larger than anticipated — there was over twice as much food as we needed. Everybody was encouraged to take seconds, grab some for tomorrow, get enough to feed the spouse and kids, whatever. And even then there were leftovers. ;-) That was cool. Doesn’t happen very often, though.

Reply

Hemi March 15, 2012 at 11:44 am

We have several “Jim’s” at my office.

While I agree with Admin about what Jim does with his share of office goodies is his business, but at my office the “Jim’s” are often the ones who do not contribute to a chip-in but are always the first in line to get a cupcake, piece of cake, candy, etc. and are always the first ones to descend upon the leftovers to take home to Dear Spouse or Dear Children.

I do wonder what Jim is doing to get in the “doghouse” so often that he needs to bribe Dear Wife with sweet treats??

Reply

Kim March 15, 2012 at 11:51 am

Well, sharing food does have a significance beyond just “this is the portion you are officially entitled to and you can do whatever you want with it”.

Eating together symbolizes a bond of trust and caring. That’s why, traditionally, people who were officially acknowledged to be enemies would refuse to “break bread” together. It’s a gesture of respect and generosity to offer to share some of your own food with someone else in that way. For them to say, in effect, “I’ll take this but I won’t eat it” is a bit of a snub.

And for someone to come around hinting or asking for a share of your food merely so they can give it away to somebody else isn’t sharing: it’s scrounging, mooching, plain and simple. If Jim wants to bring his wife treats, let him put his hand in his own pocket and buy her some, rather than trawling for handouts at the office.

Reply

Shalamar March 15, 2012 at 11:56 am

That reminds me of my former job. Every Wednesday was Doughnut Day, when a higher-up would bring in a huge box of doughnuts, croissants, and other baked goodies for the office. There was an implicit understanding that, if there were any leftovers at the end of the day (and there usually were), they’d be left where they were for people to eat the next day. They were usually a bit stale, but no big deal.

One day, “Harvey” was seen taking the entire box of leftovers to his car. Our secretary confronted him, and he said “Oh, I’m taking them home for my kids.” (Without asking, I may add.) Secretary, who never minced words, said “Put. Them. BACK. They’re not for your kids; they’re for the office.”

Reply

Serenity March 15, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Honestly, aside from the cupcake incident which as others have stated, OP could have politely ignored the “begging”, and the tray of truffles, it seems to me that OP is paying far too much attention to what Jim does with the sweets he takes. As long as everyone in the office has had their share, it is not your concern what he does so long as he is only taking his portion. Me thinks you’re just annoyed because *you* are missing out on taking extra home with you.

Reply

Clair Seulement March 15, 2012 at 1:05 pm

CatWhisperer, I think your criticism of the OP is very harsh. It’s not just her–the rest of her office seems to agree, and the *boss* has chastised this person repeatedly. Absconding with an entire tray of office food before everyone has had a chance to have some is worse than clueless.

I worked with a woman like this. When my boss brought our department bagels in honor of my 30th birthday (this was done for everyone at some point), the Food Absconder came around about a half hour after we’d helped ourselves and asked me if I wanted “another bagel.” When I said no, not right now she packed up the bag for herself to take home. She neither purchased them nor was she the “recipient of honor” of them, nor did she even let them sit there very long. To top it off, the long-accepted office culture was to put the uneaten department food in the company kitchen for other departments to enjoy later. She was eventually confronted by a particularly outspoken co-worker when she was caught carrying an entire pizza from the stack ordered for the company out to her car (this woman left work really early). She claimed that she was bringing it home to “put in Tupperware,” and amazingly the next day the pizza was back in the office freezer (in foil). From then on, since she’d been got wind of she changed her tack–she would try to organize department lunches in which the fee was $10 per person. For Chinese takeout, which in our area anyone could get for themselves on Lunch Special for between 6 and 8 dollars (plus you had to order from a list of what she wanted, which was bizarre). Since I suspected her of pocketing the money I always declined.

There’s one in every bunch, it seems.

Reply

Shoegal March 15, 2012 at 1:06 pm

If there is a lunch meeting at my office – any leftovers are left in the kitchen and anybody can take what’s left – even if they want to take them home. Cookies around Christmas are put out for whoever wants them – I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone whip out some tupperware or a baggie to bring it all home or make a special trip to the car to stash it away to make sure it gets there. At the very least, this guy is entitled to his fair share of the goodies that he pitched in for – and it is no one’s business what he does with it but his antics have caught the attention of the entire staff and well – it sounds a little weird. Anybody ever meet this Dragon wife who needs constantly appeased with regular sweet offerings?

The OP also seems to have an over the top sweet tooth! : )

Reply

Leigh March 15, 2012 at 1:29 pm

I worked with a man who used to take things home to his sister: cookies, chips, sodas. Our company put food in the breakroom for all the employees to share all the time. This guy would package up two dozen cookies at a time, take 4 out of 5 bags of chips, or tuck as many cans of soda into his lunch bag as he could, and smuggle it out. It was irritating, but no one really complained. One day we had an company cookout, which only happened once a year. Since we worked third shift, a number of steaks were cooked and packaged up for us, exactly one per person. When we went upstairs for our lunch break three steaks were missing. The man had warmed one up for himself and had gone off to his normal lunch spot away from the break room. The night shift manager and I had a feeling we knew where the missing steaks were, and I decided to ransack his lunch bag. Two steaks tucked in there, presumably for his and his sister’s dinner the next day. I took them back and put them in with the rest of the steaks so everyone got their share, but I let him have an earful about it when he complained to me about someone stealing out of his lunch bag. I also complained to one of the highest ranked managers in the company about it: the guy who made sure we each got a steak this year. (Our food from the previous year’s cookout had been taken home by day shift employees looking for free leftovers.) The manager put a quick end to the employee’s food stealing, and his lunch bag was inspected by a loss prevention employee before he left every day.

Reply

Xtina March 15, 2012 at 1:52 pm

Jim’s behavior is kind of odd and it would also be a bit off-putting to me to know that it was all going home to the wife, but admin has it right–he can do what he wants to with his fair share. Note the words–fair share. To comandeer an entire plate of food or ALL the leftovers to take home for yourself or your family without permission from the rest of the group is NOT right.

This past Christmas, my group at work had a wonderfully catered luncheon that my boss paid for out of his own pocket–everyone knew this and it was his gift to us. We ended up with a LOT of leftovers–so much that we could have easily had another full banquet the next couple of days, so we carefully packed the leftovers in their containers and put them in our floor refrigerator for us to re-gather the next day and chow down again. Imagine our surprise the next morning to discover that ALL the food had disappeared overnight–yes, that would be about 4 full turkey breasts, 3 hams, and gallons of green beans, mac and cheese, and sweet potatoes. Someone helped him or herself to all that food and presumably took it home as a free Christmas dinner for their family, even though everyone had been informed of our intentions with the food for the next day. I never had the heart to tell our boss that it was taken. How perfectly awful.

Reply

Amanda Kate March 15, 2012 at 2:07 pm

I agree with not taking the bait. “boy, those look good.” “Yes, they’re delicious! Would you like the address of the bakery?” *munch munch*

Reply

Bint March 15, 2012 at 2:12 pm

I think the OP was very unkind about Jim’s wife. Making fun of her poor baking skills…the poor woman, probably forced into it by her husband and knowing they’d be awful. There was no need for that in here and it just sounded catty.

Reply

NoSugarForMe March 15, 2012 at 2:19 pm

6 years ago, I stopped eating sugar, flour & wheat, in all their various forms. When there is an office “treat” that I don’t eat, I don’t feel bad taking what I would have eaten in my former life (i.e. one piece), and taking it home for my sugar-eating family to share, IF there is any left over. I want the people for whom the treat was intended to at least get their fair share. I would never take more than my share though, unless someone were to specifically offer it — “here, I don’t want to take all this home, take some home for your family” after a holiday party or something.

Reply

CaffeineKatie March 15, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Reading all of these postings makes me glad I work from home. It sounds like a lot of you get very little work done–you’re too busy monitoring food.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: