The Double Whammy of Goodness and Graciousness

by admin on May 13, 2013

I had an odd experience where I offered a gift to someone, they refused, and then offered that gift immediately to someone else.

The first time I was at work, walking down the hall and I had a special treat with me, a caramel-filled chocolate bar in my bag. I spotted a work colleague from another department (I rarely see her at work but she is also a personal friend who I invite to dinner from time-to-time) and stopped to chat with her. In the course of the conversation, I offered to share the chocolate bar. She said thank you but no, and then said, “I’m headed to a meeting, I can share it with my group.”  And held out her hand for the chocolate. I was taken aback and said something to the effect of, “Well I want some too, I’m going to keep it.”  Then we were both awkward and she said she had to run to her meeting.

Then a few weeks later a similar thing happened. I had baked a bunch of muffins and brought them to share with some friends at a work convention. They were greatly appreciated and all but one were eaten which I tucked away for later. I was making the rounds saying good-bye to people and stopped to congratulate a woman who had run a successful presentation and I offered her the last muffin. She said no thank you, she was full from dinner and we hugged and I started to leave but she turned to a man sitting in a booth to the side and offered him the muffin. He said, “Eh, sure, why not?”,  and she turned back to me and gestured for me to give him the muffin. I didn’t know the man, had never seen him before but didn’t want to embarrass her so I handed it to him (I’m sorry to say not at all gracefully and without saying a word or even looking at him) and left.

In both cases, I offered a friend/work colleague an item I felt was special and wanted to share with them specifically and they first (politely) refused it but then gave it away to another person like it was their gift, not mine. I feel like it’s still my gift to keep and offer to someone else and not theirs to give away but am I wrong? What is the polite thing to do if I encounter this situation again?  0511-13

Would your attitude change any if the intended recipient of your food gifts had graciously accepted and almost immediately stated an intention to share it with others?   Once a gift is offered and accepted, the giver loses all rights to how their gift is used.

So, the issue is that your intended gift recipients decline the food gift but offer to regift it to someone else for you.    Simply decline saying, “I meant this for you. Perhaps another time.”   In the case of the muffin man, you got stuck in an awkward situation with no graceful way to decline. My thought on that is, why are you placing so much emotional and tangible value on a muffin?   In the grand scheme of things, it cost pennies to make yet its value lies in promoting your gracious generosity.  If I make food items I intend to give away to others, in the end it really doesn’t matter who ends up eating them as I have achieved my purpose in making and bringing them, i.e. I have blessed others with a small treat that cost me little to make.   It’s a double whammy of goodness if someone declines the food yet it goes to a second person who does appreciate it.   The first person has a happy glow that you thoughtfully considered them to receive a food gift and the second person benefits from a surprise treat.  Two happy people for the price of one muffin.

{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

coralreef May 13, 2013 at 6:31 am

When I give something, they can do with it whatever they want. However, maybe the recipient could refrain from re-gifting it within 5 minutes and in front of me? Or actually saying I’ll take it, I don’t want it but I’ll give it to someone else (and be the generous looking one).

The chocolate bar was to be shared between OP and her friend. The friend should not have expected to get the whole thing to give away to other people. The muffin…the other woman should not have offered it to someone else AFTER she refused it. OP, let the muffin go, but I may not be so willing to share in the future.

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--Lia May 13, 2013 at 6:48 am

Food as a gift can go in a different category than any other gift. I’m seeing what happened in both cases as a difference in interpretation.

When we offer a gift that’s a tangible item, a thing, then the recipient is welcome to do whatever they want with it after it is received. If I give you a book, a picture, an ice cream maker or anything else, you’re welcome to read it, throw it away, or sell it on ebay.

But when we offer an activity, it’s implied that the it’s something for us to do together. If I say I have 2 tickets to a concert, my friend would be in etiquette hell if he said he wanted the ticket but didn’t want to attend with me. If I invite a friend to a wedding, that friend isn’t allowed to give the invitation to someone else.

Here you’re offering the treat as an activity. You want to sit down and chat a little with your friend while you eat together. Your friends are interpreting it as a thing, something that they’re welcome to accept, thank you for, then do whatever they want with it. No wonder you’ve got an uncomfortable disconnect. It’s like you’re being told that your food items are okay, but your company is not, and they’re throwing your hospitality in your face, not just getting caught selling your gift at a yard sale but rubbing your nose in the fact.

So here’s what you do: When you make the offer, be a little more clear. When you’re chatting in the hall with the caramel bar in your pocket, say “I’d like to chat some more. Shall we find a seat and share this yummy caramel bar while we continue to catch up?” When you do that, it’s more obvious that you’re in it for the company. If your friend were to say at that point that she wants the candy but not you, it would be an undeniable wrong.

It’s a little trickier with the muffin, but the principle applies. You could say “oh, I meant it as a special congratulatory treat for you, but if you’d like to introduce me to your friend, we could all enjoy it together,” anything to make it clear that the food is really about the relationships that come with it.

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Wendy May 13, 2013 at 6:57 am

In the first case I can see why you may be upset you offered to share the chocolate with your friend not give it to her, she was essentially saying no I don’t want to share with you but I will share it with my other work mates (she may have misunderstood your intentions however). In the second case however I feel you may be over reacting you said yourself you bought the muffins to share with others at a convention and that there was one left over your friend may have just thought you were trying to get rid of the last muffin so you didn’t take it home, unless you specifically said I saved this for you it wouldn’t be an unfair assumption.

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Jane May 13, 2013 at 7:11 am

In the first scenario, the whole “recipient can do as they like with a gift” thing does not apply. The LW wasn’t gifting the chocolate bar, she was offering to share the chocolate bar with her, as in they both eat some. The friend asked for the entire chocolate bar in order to give to strangers. That’s rude. Anyway I disagree that etiquette-wise recipient can do anything they like with a gift. If someone spends weeks making me an exquisite hand-crafted shawl and I immediately chuck it into the dog’s basket, I might be within my legal rights, but it’s still rude and hurtful. Though in this situation personally I’d be happy for anyone around to have a muffin.

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Abby May 13, 2013 at 7:52 am

I agree there is a difference between situation #1 and #2. On top of that, it’s just weird to bring in a candy bar to be shared between 4+ people. Although I also think it’s a little weird to say, apropos of nothing, hey, I have a candy bar in my bag. Want to split it with me? Particularly when you don’t know them that well. Regardless, the woman’s response, of *I* don’t want it, but maybe you can give me the whole thing and I’ll bring it to my meeting, was pretty thoughtless and I don’t blame OP for being taken aback.

Number 2 is way different. The woman who was offered the muffin probably thought OP was just trying to avoid having to throw the last muffin away and looking for someone who would want it. I think OP is getting a little worked up about that situation and the woman probably thought she was being helpful.

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Carol May 13, 2013 at 7:53 am

I think the main point in this story is both people turned down the gift. Therefore it was not theirs to do with what they liked, it was still under the ownership of the OP.

The chocolate bar, as someone else pointed out, was meant to be shared between the OP and the other person, so I honestly don’t see how that person jumped to ‘give me all your chocolate so I can give it to other people.’ That is just weird.

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Huh May 13, 2013 at 8:01 am

I don’t understand the first scenario. You offered to share the chocolate bar and she said, no thank you, and then said, she’d take it to her meeting and share it with them? If that’s right and I’m not misunderstanding, I’m not seeing any way that she wasn’t rude.

The second scenario I read it that you were going to eat the muffin, and the lady thought you were trying to get rid of the last muffin. Which really, if it’s the last muffin that you brought in and no one’s eaten it, just go ahead and take it.

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hakayama May 13, 2013 at 8:02 am

Totally agree with the ADMIN on the principle of “getting over it”: it’s a silly (tempted to say something that would not pass editing ;-)) candy bar or muffin, even if said muffin were made lovingly. Interesting, possibly telling, touch here: it was “left over”, not “saved”.
However, so often food=love, so there might be a tinge of rejection involved in both situations.
In the case of the candy bar, the lingering question is how big was it, as to be shared with a group…

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kjr May 13, 2013 at 8:38 am

Hmm. Part of me was thinking “REALLY? This big a deal over food you intended to give away anyway?” but as far as each scenario: The chocolate bar – I assume it was offered not as a “I don’t want this” but a “I know this is a tasty treat so I’ll offer some to be nice” so in that case, it was odd that her colleague wanted to give it away at a meeting. As far as the muffin – those were intended to be eaten/given away by others and you happened to have one left. The person you offered it to probably assumed you were looking for takers since you made them for other people and not yourself.

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BethRD May 13, 2013 at 9:00 am

I personally think the disconnect is that the letter-writer is seeing this as a gift and the potential recipients are seeing it more as the letter-writer getting rid of something unwanted. Even with material objects, I would feel a different responsibility if a friend gave me a necklace saying, “I found this for you! I know you’ll love it!” as opposed to “Hey, I have this necklace I never wear, do you want it?” I don’t usually offer to share my food with an individual person in the workplace unless a) they have given me some reason to think they really need my food, by complaining about a forgotten lunch or something like that, b) I brought a special treat for that person, or c) I have a lot more than I need/want. It doesn’t sound like either of the potential food recipients here fell into a), and it doesn’t sound like they fell into b) either because the food offers were spur-of-the-moment, so they assumed they fell into category c), which meant the food was extra food that the owner didn’t want, or that’s what they were assuming anyway. In that case, certainly with the muffin, the person may even have thought they were doing the person offering the food a favor by helping dispose of unwanted food in a positive way rather than just throwing it out. I probably wouldn’t go so far as to make an offer to a third party myself without asking, but I can certainly see suggesting that that the person doing the offer do so, and I wouldn’t see it as regifting or refusing a gift, because I wouldn’t really take the original offer as a gift exactly.

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Surianne May 13, 2013 at 9:04 am

Sounds to me like both parties thought you were trying to get rid of the food, so offering it to someone else seems perfectly reasonable. I don’t really think of a leftover chocolate bar/muffin as a special gift.

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Mae May 13, 2013 at 9:11 am

I agree with Wendy, comment #3- the chocolate bar situation was rude and a little hurtful. She didn’t give the friend the chocolate bar, she offered to share it but the friend wanted to take the candy to share with others, but not the OP.

The muffin thing I can easily see as a misunderstanding. She probably thought you wanted to give it away so you didn’t have to pack it up and take it home.

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WildIrishRose May 13, 2013 at 9:15 am

I agree that once a gift is accepted, it’s the recipient’s to do with as he or she pleases. However, if the gift is declined, it’s no longer a gift and still belongs to the potential giver. Both of these people were rude to OP. In both scenarios, she offered something to a specific person, that person turned it down, and then that person turned around and offered it to someone else with OP standing right there. I’m with coralreef on this one: Perhaps you should rein in your generosity some. Maybe people will notice and wonder why you’ve stopped offering goodies to them.

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Allie May 13, 2013 at 9:18 am

Very odd indeed and poor manners on both their parts, to be sure. But I agree, do not waste your time worrying about muffins. There are far greater problems in the world. I would suggest you avoid such situations by not offering to share something you do not wish to give away outright. When I indulge in a guilty pleasure such as the chocolate bar you describe, I like to do so all by myself, where I can enjoy my treat without feeling any obligation either to justify myself or to share. There’s no harm in indulging in a little selfishness on such occasions. No one needs to know, except you and the proprietor of the candy store : )

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Princess Buttercup May 13, 2013 at 9:37 am

In the case of the candy bar my response would have been, “no I offered to share it with you, not a bunch of strangers, silly. That would be creepy.” And laugh it off. Then they realize it was a sharing thing not just trying to get rid of the item.

The muffin should have been worded like “I saved the last muffin to eat later but wondered if you wanted it instead.”

Sounds like the giver is not fully saying what they mean and thereby putting themselves in a bad situation.

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Julia May 13, 2013 at 9:53 am

Since both these gifts were not only food, but “treats,” the women involved may have thought the idea was to “get rid” of fattening food. Some women (and a few men) diet all the time and think of treats as a sort of enemy. You see this all the time with Halloween candy. Someone brings in their leftover chocolate that didn’t go to the children and leaves it out for everyone to “use up” so that the person doesn’t “get stuck” eating it all. While it’s pretty obvious in both scenarios that you weren’t doing this, some people just automatically assume all treats fall into the “give it to someone who doesn’t mind the calories” category. In the first case, the “evil” of the chocolate would be diluted by sharing it with others, and in the second, the “evil” of the muffin went to a man, not a woman.

Now please, understand I’m not one of these people (love treats) and I am in no way suggesting you are actually “spreading evil.” I think what you did was lovely. But for some people offering them something with sugar in it is like offering them a live grenade: “Oh no! Where can I throw it before it goes off!”

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Dominic May 13, 2013 at 10:02 am

Regifting–it’s not just for candles any more!

In the first (chocolate bar) instance, this was not really a gift–it was an offer to share. When the intended share-ee declined, she was rude to suggest that the OP give her the candy bar to share with others. And the OP had every right to say “Nope, I’m keeping it, since you don’t want to share it with me.” Still rather awkward, but then, encountering others’ rude behavior can be.

In the second instance, it sounds a bit like the woman to whom the OP offered the muffin misinterpreted the offer as “I want to get rid of the last muffin–do you want it?” and may have been trying to be helpful in giving it away to someone else. Not really rude, but not swift either, just a miscue.

As for the concept of the double whammy of goodness, the problem is that the intended recipient has declined the treat. They do not get to decide who then gets the treat. It is up to the treater to find another treatee. And even if the intended recipient accepts the treat, with the intent of passing it along, he or she should avoid doing it right in front of the giver of the treat. “Gee, thanks for the muffin, I’m going to give it away” (and drops it into the dog’s dish).

Those of us who bake and share tend to do it very much from the heart, and perhaps we take too much to heart when the things we make are passed off lightly.

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NostalgicGal May 13, 2013 at 10:02 am

I’m agreeing with the chocolate bar was not ‘giving the whole bar’ but an offer to ‘share the bar’ and the first person was over the line in assuming/asking/holding out hand for the entire bar to share at the meeting that the OP wasn’t to take part in. In that case the decline to hand over the bar is correct, a polite follow up or rewording to the effect of the offer was to share it… anyways. No presuming the offer was to give over the whole bar.

Second one, innocent enough, in that the middle person thought the OP was trying to get rid of the extra muffin. Awkward indeed, but. Should have been worded differently in the offer; the brownie point to the OP for not making an issue at the time about handing the fellow the muffin, and yes OP needs to get over it and move on.

Food always seems to be a sticky wicket…. especially in the workplace.

If you offer to share food, make it clearer, nicely, what you mean, in the future.

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Stacey Frith-Smith May 13, 2013 at 10:10 am

If you decline a gift, you don’t then get to offer it to another person. With a small treat like food, I can see where this would be irritating but not of any real consequence. Sharing special food can be a significant act even on a small scale- not one everyone wants to indulge in at random or by proxy.

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Michele Newell May 13, 2013 at 10:17 am

RE: The Muffin Incident: Call me old fashioned, but I think it’s terribly rude to walk up to one person sitting with others and give them food while leaving everyone else out. Even if the others had the chance to eat their fill of muffins, the way I would’ve gone about finding a taker for the last one would have been to say, “Okay, I’m leaving! Would anyone like the last muffin? Janet? Oh, you’re full? How about you then, Brad?” You’re still technically offering it to your friend first, but by asking that way you don’t sound like a kid in the school lunchroom with an extra cupcake–or, in this case, muffin.

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Ergala May 13, 2013 at 10:45 am

Maybe I’m the odd one here but I never decline a gift then immediately offer it to someone else. If the person is really trying to get rid of it I might suggest to that gift giver that Sally might like it (But not in ear shot of Sally in case the answer is no). For example, there were some extra rooms available for a retreat we attended a few years ago. Our friend was the one organizing it (It’s a yearly thing). She called and asked if we wanted to attend again free of charge just to fill the rooms. We’d still have to go to the workshops (which were a blast btw!) but she thought of us and how it would be a great vacation for us away from the kids for a few days. We couldn’t attend but I did mention another couple we all knew who might want to go. I didn’t call the other couple and offer them our spot….it wasn’t ours to give since we declined.

If you decline a gift you can’t turn around and volunteer it to someone else….once you accept it for it’s intended purpose you can do whatever you want with it.

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Cat May 13, 2013 at 11:02 am

Food sharing is a primal activity and we use it to build relationships. We normally share food with those to whom we are the closest-our families. It spreads to close friends and relatives on special occasions. Watch school lunch rooms for how kids group themselves into close-knit units.
I think the OP saw her offer to share food as an offering of personal closeness in the first instance and was hurt when her offer was not only rejected, but was taken to now belong to a group of which she was not a part.
In the second case, it was meant as a small tribute to someone who had made a presentation as in, “Well done, let me give you a small reward.” It was not only rejected, but handed off to a stranger.
Not everyone thinks this way or sees it as important but, in both cases, the food had a special significance to the giver: a special candy she had purchased in the first case and then a muffin she had made herself. A box of doughnuts probably would not carry the same value.
I don’t like the off-hand attitude of, “It’s a candy bar; get over it.” Feelings are valid, whether we agree with them or not. Etiquette is not just about following the rules; it is about doing the kindess possible thing to a fellow human being. I think the two people who refused the gift would have been better served by saying, “It is so sweet of you to offer it to me, but no thank you. I.”..and then give some polite reason for refusing.

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amyasleigh May 13, 2013 at 11:02 am

Agreed with PPs, that there are differences between the two situations; and that in each case (in the second, maybe more than in the first), different perceptions on the part of — for the sake of brevity, the “giver”, and the “first offeree”, likely came into play.

And of course, these interactions are beyond trivial compared to, say, World War 2 or the zombie apocalypse; and in the sensible-and-logical realm, putting-behind-one and moving on, should be the way to go. Nonetheless — people do get hurt by what is objectively very trivial stuff; people can be very touchy. I’m not suggesting that the OP is very touchy; but having in mind what people can be like — if I were to do what the “first offeree” did in either situation, I’d expect that that would make the “giver” into my lifelong enemy; so I wouldn’t do what the “first offerees” did.

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Mamamia May 13, 2013 at 11:41 am

When you offer food, people will always assume you are offering it in order to get rid of it—it’s going to expire, you don’t want to take it home, you are watching your weight, you are allergic, etc. etc.–because it has no shelf life (usually). So, the people felt they were helping you out by finding another taker for you.

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doodlemor May 13, 2013 at 11:42 am

I think that Julia really hit it.

Many women, and I suppose men, have this mindset going that anything dense in calories is quite dangerous to have in their possession or in their homes. My personal opinion is that some people have denied themselves treats to the extent that they probably do have trouble eating just a bit in moderation, if a treat is available.

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Kali May 13, 2013 at 12:01 pm

I think there’s a difference between the muffin and the chocolate. The OP offered to share HALF the chocolate bar, and the recipient attempted to claim all of it. In the case of the muffin, the OP offered a gift. Having stated their refusal, the receiver forfeited all rights to it; it would have been polite if they’d said “do you mind if I offer it to that guy?” or something.

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Calliope May 13, 2013 at 12:05 pm

It’s possible that the friend in the first anecdote was caught off guard by the offer to share a candy bar. I know I would have been. If a coworker, out of the blue, told me she had a chocolate bar in her bag and offered to share, I wouldn’t think, “What a special treat!” but, “Well, that’s a bit odd.” It’s not that it’s rude or anything like that; it’s just kind of a strange thing to offer, and I can’t picture the exchange as anything but awkward.

As for the muffin, I agree with others that the friend OP offered the muffin to assumed she was trying to get rid of the leftovers.

I get the sense that OP might place more value on food as “special treats” than others do. To the friend, the chocolate bar or the muffin was just a chocolate bar or a muffin, not something special to be shared and savored among friends.

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MichelleP May 13, 2013 at 12:24 pm

I agree with dominic. I love to bake and give food as gifts. I work hard at buying ingredients and making stuff homemade, and am hurt when it’s refused. Not in tears over it, but still upset. I’ve had people say, “Oh no, we don’t need that!” then later get upset when I gave treats to others and not them. When offered a gift that isn’t wanted, politely decline or accept it then later gift it to someone else.

For years my aunt has made cookies for Christmas and mailed them to us and others. I can’t stand them. I don’t care for the type of cookie. Every year I send her a gift card for Christmas, and thank her for the cookies. I don’t tell her I don’t like them, and I don’t tell her I give them away. It’s the truth when I tell her I appreciate them, I do appreciate the time and effort. I take them to work where they are enjoyed. She never knows.

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Abby May 13, 2013 at 12:42 pm

@ Princess Buttercup:

“The muffin should have been worded like “I saved the last muffin to eat later but wondered if you wanted it instead.” ”

I disagree. You word it like that, and no well mannered person is going to take you up on your offer as they assume you were hoping to eat it yourself later. I think if you word it in any that indicates you have alternate plans for the item, should the other person not take it, the person is going to be polite and refuse the item, even if he or she really wants it. There really is NO polite way to say, I’d like to offer you this muffin, but only you, and if you don’t want it, then I want it before letting it go to some stranger. The best thing to do is realize it’s just a muffin and not attach some emotional deeper meaning to someone not wanting a muffin, but assuming you’re trying to get rid of it and offering it someone else.

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Kay L May 13, 2013 at 2:01 pm

I think its belittling to say that that muffins cost her pennies. They cost her time and attention as well as “pennies.”

What the item is is not important. Who the item belongs to is. If it doesn’t belong to you, then you don’t go offering it to others as if it does belong to you. That’s the underlying principle. It doesn’t change because its a muffin and not a necklace or something else.

Not your property? Not your place to decide its fate.

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Lo May 13, 2013 at 2:47 pm

BethRD has it exactly, IMO. I agree with her 100%.

I’ve been the regifter in this situation before and it was a big misunderstanding. A coworker kindly offered me an extra coffee she’d brought. I had already brought my own so I thought I would do a nice thing and right in front of her I thanked per profusely and said, “Oh I’m so sorry I’ve got some, but maybe so-and-so would like it,” with “so and so” standing right there. As it happened “so-and-so” did very much enjoy it, but I will never forget the stunned look on my coworkers face. I realized immediately that I’d made a huge mistake. She could have offered that extra coffee to anyone else as a gift and I’d declined it and then claimed the right to give it away. It was wrong of me, even though I thought I was being helpful. To her it was a thoughtful gift. To me it was making sure nothing went to waste. I didn’t know her particularly well or I might have known better.

On the other end of the spectrum I once had a roommate lend out something she’d given me. It nothing big, a bottle of a shampoo and conditioner that she had no use for. Then a friend came to stay the night. The friend forgot her own and asked if we had any extra. Immediately my roommate mentioned the bottles she’d given to me. Her friend turned and politely asked if she could use them. Before I could graciously offer them to her, my roommate cut in with “Of course you can, *I* gave them to her, you can use them if you want to.”

It was incredibly rude but I didn’t say anything, just agreed. In that situation I’d say it was impolite to offer it to someone else once given and accepted by me.

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Jinx May 13, 2013 at 3:18 pm

I agree it’s better to not get hung up over people who re-gift, and agree that after a gift is given anything can be done with it… but, I still think the actions of the “recipients” in this story are slightly odd to me.

Unless someone specifically said to me, “Ugh, I’m trying to get rid of this candy bar/muffin” or “If no one wants this, I’m going to throw it out”, I would not take it upon myself to take something I said I didn’t want, and offer it to someone else.

If I look at these as gifts, even though the giver absolutely has the right to do whatever they want with the item, in these situations, it’s kind of rude. Imagine if you gave someone a present, and they opened it and said “Oh, I won’t use this, I’ll give it to this random man sitting over here.” There’s got to be some sort of rule where you’re expected to be gracious and not allow the giver to see you re-gifting (if we’re looking at these food items as gifts).

It is especially odd in the first instance where OP says she offered to SHARE the chocolate bar. As if the friend in that scenario would just hold half the bar in her bare hands and walk to the meeting to offer it to people. Odd.

For either instance, regardless of whether the food was a gift or a treat to be shared, I don’t believe that these people acted appropriately. I don’t think they deserve etiquette hell, and I agree that the OP should let it go… but I can definitely understand how the OP felt awkward about the situation.

There’s probably good rules about offered food, but I think it’s safer to just stick to “no, thank you” and not take something you don’t want. Better yet, specifically ask the giver if they’re trying to get rid of that last muffin so there’s no misunderstanding.

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SJ May 13, 2013 at 4:15 pm

I agree with the admin in the sense that the receivers both refused first, so it was no longer theirs to give to someone else. Weird.

In both cases it was food, too. Not sure how that affected the receivers, but it seems to be different when it’s food for some reason.

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ArtsBeatLA May 13, 2013 at 4:16 pm

I also agree with Wendy, comment #3 & Abby # 5

Perhaps OP should stop trying to buy everyone’s favor with gifts of food?

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Raven May 13, 2013 at 4:21 pm

I’m not sure about the “etiquette” of it all, but I think it’s weird to decline something and then stake it for another person. I’m not sure as far as the real “rules” go, but as for just a living experience, weird. I would be annoyed if someone did that to me.

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SJ May 13, 2013 at 4:23 pm

Also, if someone was giving me a muffin, I MIGHT say, out of earshot of anyone else, “I don’t want it, but I think John Doe might.” Then, it’s just a suggestion, and I’m not claiming a gift I refused.

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Janos May 13, 2013 at 5:05 pm

That’s a really big assumption there Arts o_O

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Marozia May 13, 2013 at 7:05 pm

Now you know what your workplace is like, be careful of what you want to share with them. If this hasn’t taught you a lesson, well then, nothing will. If you’re happy for them to re-gift, go for it.

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gramma dishes May 13, 2013 at 7:19 pm

ArtsBeatLA ~~ Buying everyone’s favor? That’s really an … umm … interesting … view of the OP’s intent!

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MichelleP May 13, 2013 at 7:49 pm

Uh, Arts0_O, where on earth do you get that? How is the OP “trying to buy someone’s favor”??

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Akasha May 13, 2013 at 9:56 pm

Hilarious! I have my own story to add on this matter:
I make excellent samosas, and when my husband and I have a gathering of people, I usually whip up a batch of 20 – 30 with homemade sauce for our guests. Everyone loves them and I usually have a *few* for people to take home and enjoy (they taste even better the next day). The last time I did this, I gave away almost all of them but as I did not get to enjoy any that night (too busy hostessing) I kept back two for me to enjoy for my lunch the next day.
A friend came by for tea and a chat the next morning and …. my husband offered her a samosa! He saw that there were two in the fridge and I guess did not know I was planning on eating them myself. I graciously served her one, with sauce, then, because it is the thing to do, I offered her another (the last one). She said she was full, but could she bring one for her mother to try? Uurgh. I said of course and packed it up.
The nice thing was she wanted her mother to try mine as she thought they may have been the best ever, better even than her mother`s and she wanted to know what her mother thought.
I texted her the next day and asked how her mother enjoyed the samosa, she said she didn`t see her that day so wound up eating it herself :)

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NostalgicGal May 13, 2013 at 10:22 pm

@ Lo, there are those out there.

I had a friend /acquaintance once, that got the rep for, if she gave something to you, it was given until she had a need for it or someone else she wanted to give it to. Honestly. IF she gave you something tangible, not food, you’d better use it or otherwise do something with it, now. Because she could come back a year later and ask about X, she wanted it back for this reason OR she has friend that she wants to gift it to now. And no, she never got the idea that this was tactless and tacky…. The circle quickly learned to thank her nicely and decline her giftings so as not to deal with the want-backs and bawlfest later over it! (there was this beat up old fur coat… long story, very long, not for here in comments)

As for the candybar, there are some very ‘fancy’ ones out there, over 4 ounces, and they have lots of additives to them, they are not cheap, and that is what I believe the OP had and offered to share. They are more like a box of candies than a candybar, really. (Toberlone ? sp, and some ‘rainforest chocolate’ bars come to mind). In that case I could see offering to share one with a friend versus giving them the whole bar, over a cup of coffee.

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ItsyBitsy May 13, 2013 at 11:06 pm

Cat, thank you for saying exactly what I was thinking, only better.

ArtsbeatLA: Wow, that’s some big leap you just made.

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Livvy17 May 14, 2013 at 2:51 pm

To me the the OP’s actions weren’t gifting – they were offers. (Like Ergala’s example above)

An offer can be accepted by the person to whom it is offered, or refused, but it cannot (politely) not transferred.
A gift is an items that is transferred, and therefore, can be transferred again.

For example: “Would you like to come to the concert with me?” is different from “I got you a present: a ticket to a concert.” In the first case, the person can accept the offer, and attend the concert with the person who offers, but would be rude to say, “I don’t want to go, but my friend Sally (right here) would love to go with you.” In the second case, the giftee can very easily give the tickets to someone else, although it would certainly be nice if she didn’t do it immediately, and in front of the person who gave the gift.

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Livvy17 May 14, 2013 at 2:52 pm

*An offer can be accepted by the person to whom it is offered, or refused, but it cannot (politely) BE transferred.

Sorry for the error!!

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LilPrettyWonder May 15, 2013 at 11:47 am

I had something similar happen at my workplace once. I happened to be the third person.

One of the women at work brought in this lovely homemade snack to share during lunch. There was still some left over at the end of lunch and she offered it to another co-worker, whom she was close friends with, to take home, saying that co-worker would enjoy sharing it with her husband. That co-worker accepted it and since she noticed that I enjoyed the snack very much during lunch, later offered it to me to take home. I really liked the snack so I accepted. Thinking about it later, felt a bit weird, wondering if the woman who made it might have felt bad that her friend just gave away the snack to me.

In retrospect, maybe I should have refused to take it? Is there a polite way to say I’ll accept if the original giver doesn’t mind?

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Calli Arcale May 15, 2013 at 11:54 am

While it is certainly true that a gift once given becomes someone else’s to do with as they please, saying “no, I don’t want it, but I have some random strangers that might want it, so gimme” is pretty rude. There, the ungrateful recipient is not merely rejecting the gift, they’re also obligating you to gift-giving that you had not intended. What’s more, as others have pointed out, the gift had not yet changed hands. When you are offered a gift, graciously accept it unless it would cause you some hardship. (What level of hardship is cause for politely declining depends on the gift and the context. Both of these gifts could be graciously declined.) Once you have accepted it and given appropriate thanks, you can dispose of it however you wish, including sharing it with others or even throwing it away, but it’s usually pretty rude to do that *right in front of the giver*.

I wouldn’t make a big fuss out of this woman’s ungrateful behavior. I just wouldn’t offer to share my food with her again.

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cctrayders May 16, 2013 at 8:26 pm

I gave a teen family member a group of gift cards one holiday – for some of his favorite food places, some store cards, and a couple music cards. He really seemed to like the other cards, as they were money to him! But he turned to his teen friend next to him and handed him the music cards, saying something like I don’t use these anymore….. I didn’t feel I could say anything right then, but it hurt me that he gave that much “money” away so easily, that I had given HIM. We talked about it much later, and I think he understood how he might handle it better next time. LOL I really did attribute it to his age, and lack of certain training. But it did shock me to have that happen. And I wished I had known how to handle it better in the moment!

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ClassicSunrise May 21, 2013 at 4:12 pm

I think both were rude situations. In both instances, re-gifting doesn’t apply because each person declined the food so they don’t have the right to offer it to someone else.

The chocolate bar situation was bizarre because the OP asked to share it with her. It was definitely rude for the other woman to ask to take the whole thing that (she didn’t want anyway) and give it away to her coworkers.

In the muffin situation, the other colleague could have said, “No thank you but, maybe, Bob would like it” or “Maybe, you could offer it to Bob,” but she doesn’t have the right to actually offer something to someone else that doesn’t belong to her to begin with.

Regardless, she probably thought the OP was just trying to get rid of the last muffin so I wouldn’t dwell on that.

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