Pot Luck Piracy

by admin on February 23, 2015

I love reading your site, and have learned a lot about mannerly behavior from it. So when a situation arose today that ended with my actions being labeled “rude”, I wanted to send the story in, and see if I was indeed at fault, and if so, what a better response would have been.

My family attended a potluck lunch today, and I brought a Mississippi mud cake, (one of my favorites), and was pleasantly surprised as the event was wrapping up to see that there were a couple pieces of cake left in my pan. I also noticed a certain lady, (C), sitting near the dessert table. Knowing that C makes a habit of taking things she didn’t bring home with her from potlucks, I decided to go ahead and pick up my leftovers.

As I lifted the pan off the table, C leaned in and said, “I’m taking some of that home.”

I replied, “Actually, it’s mine, so I’m taking it home. Sorry.”, and began to walk away.

As I did so, I heard C say, “Well, that was rude!” , but I didn’t know how to respond , so I just kept going.

I swear I didn’t say it meanly, or anything, but I did feel that since I paid for the ingredients and made the dessert, and because the luncheon was over, that if anybody was going to enjoy the remainder at home, it should be me and my family.

What do you think? Should I have phrased it better? Just let her have the cake? Or was I okay? I’m willing to hear whatever you have to say. 0223-15

There appears to be this presumption among certain people that once a food item appears on a potluck buffet, the owner/creator/chef loses all rights to it into perpetuity.   People like C believe they are entitled to doggie bags without any reference to a courteous request to have a few leftovers.   Upon seeing the cake being prepared for removal, C should have asked, “May I take a few pieces home with me? It was so good.”   Instead she staked her claim of ownership with a declarative statement that challenged the OP’s right to do with her dessert as she saw appropriate.   C then responds manipulatively and incorrectly with an accusation that the OP was rude–a common tactic of the clueless and entitled.

OP, you did nothing wrong.   Ignoring C is definitely the best option just as it would be if one were confronted with spoiled, bratty child who made tantrums to get their way.

{ 158 comments… read them below or add one }

Jess February 23, 2015 at 6:25 am

you handled it well, the devilish part of me would have replied to her childishness with “I licked it, it’s mine!”

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hakayama February 23, 2015 at 8:09 am

@Jess: You are not devilish enough. The truly wicked response would be “Do you want to wear it?” 😉 THAT would be rude (but sincere).

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koolchicken February 23, 2015 at 6:45 am

Perhaps it’s just me, but I always operated under the assumption that all food brought to potlucks stayed with the hosts. It doesn’t say if this was held in a home, but if that’s the case then I think the host should have intervened. Perhaps offered to help split the dessert between the two guests.

Now if this was a group potluck and everyone was expected to bring home the remainders of the dish they prepared I still think splitting the dessert is good manners. C said “I’m taking some of that home”, not “Wait, I want all of that”. Did she have opportunity to sample this dessert at the party? Perhaps she couldn’t physically sample everything and still wanted to have a piece. Isn’t the point of a potluck to share? Would it really have killed you OP to say “Oh, let me cut you a slice to take home”? Was this dessert really that important to you? It seems like such a small thing in the grand scheme of things. And even if C got greedy and left you with only a single slice, so be it. When you bring a dish to a pot luck you know there’s a good chance you’ll be bringing home an empty plate. You had a few extra servings leftover, why not share them?

That said I’m not saying C was right in what she said after the OP packed her dessert and walked away. But it seems like there are TWO greedy people in this story, and not just one. And that’s a shame.

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GeenaG February 23, 2015 at 9:32 am

I think it is completely inappropriate to call the OP greedy for taking home what is hers. I’ve have never seen anyone leave food behind at a potluck unless it was offered up for anyone to have and left because it was claimed by someone. It is not “greedy” to take home what is yours. If the other person had requested a piece to take home she may have had more success with using good manners than simply stating she was taking a piece home. Potlucks are to be consumed on the premises, they do not exist for people to take food home unless that was the explicit purpose of the potluck. Did you consider that perhaps the OP had plans for her own leftover desert? You can do whatever you wish with your own leftovers but to call some greedy because they don’t do it the way you would is beyond the pale.

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Bellyjean February 23, 2015 at 9:36 am

@koolchicken – I believe it was also the way C demanded “I’m taking some of that home.” A very presumptuous way to phrase it – definitely not a request or a question. Had she said something to the affect of, “Oh, that looks delicious. I’d love to take some home. Would that be alright with you?”, regardless of whether she’d had some, I think that the reply from OP would have been different.

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clairedelune February 23, 2015 at 9:49 am

But if you don’t get a chance to sample something at a party, I think the standard assumption (no matter what kind of party) is that you’ve missed the boat, not that you’re going to be able to make plans for how to handle other people’s food post-party.

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PhDeath February 23, 2015 at 11:29 am

I know things like this are often subject to regionalism/personal preference/etc., but I’ve always defaulted to the OP’s method. First, I agree that as the maker, she has “dibs” on the leftovers in a potluck situation. Second, the size of the potluck and potential leftovers thereof could be completely unmanageable for a host to pack and store.

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Lucretia February 23, 2015 at 1:43 pm

C could certainly have phrased her request better. The only way she could have made her case worse is if she also added “and I’m taking the pan, too!” If her scenario was as you painted it, she could have said something like “That looked so good! Please, do you think I could take a slice home with me?” As it stands, she was rude. The food brought to a potluck isn’t the host’s. The people who brought it are free to take their leftovers home. That means that if the OP wanted to share her cake with her family, it was absolutely within her rights to do so. I host potlucks at my house- the leftovers aren’t mine, and my guests take them home (along with their dirty dishes- I don’t have to do them! YAY!). I don’t know that I would intervene in the case of two adults dealing with this in this manner- but it is certainly C who is looking less mannerly than the OP.

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Katana February 23, 2015 at 4:20 pm

If that had been me, I might have said yes to the woman if she asked me if she could take some home. But she didn’t, and the OP has a great shiny spine for saying no. There’s no reason to reward rudeness.

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Jays February 24, 2015 at 10:44 am

I was a little taken aback by the OP too, koolchicken, because I can only envision saying, “Sure, let me dish you up a few pieces!” As far as taking it home myself, I’ve already written that off when I took it to the potluck to begin with. But we don’t know C’s tone, and if it was demanding, I could see balking if I was the OP. However, if she asked nicely, I can’t imagine saying no. This is somewhere in the middle.

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AS February 23, 2015 at 7:08 am

While at grad school, we often had pot lucks. I’ve often had people *asking* me if they could take a couple of pieces/little bit of whatever I got, because they liked it. I’d sometimes offer if anyone wants to take something. But when others wanted something, they always requested – including the host of the party! C definitely was way out of line!

The only time you are not supposed to take back something you brought is when it is not a pot luck, and you get a host/hostess gift.

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just4kicks February 23, 2015 at 7:20 am

Since it was your pan and recipe, and your money that paid for both, I don’t see the harm in taking your pan and remaining contents home.
I think “Miss I’m taking THAT!” is the rude one here, she certainly could’ve enjoyed a slice at the party.
She has no claims on it once the occasion is over.

….And may I please also ask, what is Mississippi Mud cake?

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Saucygirl February 23, 2015 at 10:44 am

It’s an ice cream pie that is normally made with two types of ice cream. There is also whip cream, chocolate syrup, and some other ingredients that can all add up to being a pricey dessert. I actually made one for a pot luck in December. You can find a description of one at onemissingingredient.com/adobemudpie

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julia February 23, 2015 at 11:24 am
JD February 23, 2015 at 11:37 am

A rich, moist, fudgy, chocolate cake which is baked in a large, shallow pan to make a flat, thin cake. It usually has pecans and mini-marshmallows or marshmallow crème involved, and is so rich that the small flat slices are all one could eat anyway.

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daisy February 23, 2015 at 11:40 am

http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/mississippi-mud-cake-2

“a luscious combination of sweet chocolate, crunchy pecans, and gooey marshmallows. “

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Harley Granny February 23, 2015 at 12:11 pm

There are many variations….this is closest to the one I use.

http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/mississippi-mud-cake

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MJchrochet February 23, 2015 at 8:27 pm

A Mississippi Mud Cake is a classic Southern sheet cake filled with marshmallows and chopped pecans and covered in a rich chocolate frosting 🙂

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Saucygirl February 23, 2015 at 9:14 pm

Mississipi Mud cake, as I know it, is a pie that has two types of ice cream, whip cream, chocolate syrup and other times. So it can be pricey to make, which is why I’m not surprised the OP wanted to keep leftovers. I actually made one for a potluck last month, following this recipe. Onemissingingredient.com/adobemudpie. Different name, same idea

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Saucygirl February 23, 2015 at 10:02 pm

Well apparently it is not the same idea. 😉

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just4kicks February 24, 2015 at 4:15 am

Thanks everyone!
Sounds amazing, too bad I gave up chocolate for Lent…but I just might make that for Easter! 🙂

….thank you for posting links, I certainly could’ve “googled it” myself…I wasn’t thinking!

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Lady Macbeth February 24, 2015 at 12:54 am

“What is Mississippi Mud Cake?” Delicious. It is delicious. 🙂

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Saucygirl February 23, 2015 at 7:34 am

I’m with you, op. Every potluck I’ve been too it’s been understood that you leave with what you came with. Now, sometimes we will trade leftovers, or sometimes we will offer up our leftovers, but it’s always been up the person who made it to decide if they want to do that. And there are definitely times I’ve held onto my leftovers, especially if my husband wasn’t at potluck and he really wanted a piece of whatever I brought.

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The Elf February 23, 2015 at 1:21 pm

That’s always been my understanding, too. You bring a dish, you provide it for the meal, at the end of the event you collect your dish and whatever leftovers are in it. Personally, I try to get rid of my leftovers! So I’ll ask if anyone wants the last before I box it up. I’ll also ask the host if they would like the remainder. Sometimes if I brought something in a disposable dish and it is a shelf-stable item (like brownies), I just leave it.

My biggest problem here is the way C asked her question. She should have said something like “I loved that cake! May I have the rest to take home?” Make it a question, not a demand. But that still wouldn’t make a refusal rude, so long as you were equally polite. A really good alternative would have been to split the remainder, to be nice.

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Jinx February 23, 2015 at 8:07 am

You’re not rude.

I don’t know what made her feel like she had the right to the entire rest of the cake (or any of it, for that matter). The only thing I can think of is that she didn’t realize you had made it (I know you said “it’s mine”, but if C is truly thinking like a toddler, toddlers often yell mine mine mine without true implication of ownership). But it still didn’t make sense why even if she thought you were 2 separate people who hadn’t made the cake why she had more right to it than you.

If you feel like giving her the benefit of a doubt, and that happens again, you could say, “I’m sorry C, I think you misunderstood me, I made and brought this dish, so it’s literally mine to take home.” If you know she doesn’t deserve the benefit, ignoring her also works.

Related question: normally, if we bring dishes to a dinner, they are the property of the host. Does the leftover food “belong” to the host after a pot luck? I’ve never been to one.

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Abby February 23, 2015 at 10:35 am

I took it as C not knowing that OP was the baker when she first claimed the cake. If neither was the baker, then I think C thought she could take it because she “called” it first. OP didn’t tell C she had baked the cake until C said, “I’m taking that.”

As far as who the remaining potluck food belongs to, I don’t know. If it’s not at someone’s home, then not taking it basically just leaves a mess for someone else. Whenever we do a work potluck, the organizers beg everyone to pick up their plates/tupperware/crockpot etc. at the end of the day, otherwise one or two people always get stuck cleaning up. But even if it was at someone’s house, that doesn’t mean the host necessarily *wants* 20 different plates of mostly eaten food items that he or she now has to put away or throw away.

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Ant February 23, 2015 at 8:24 am

I would have probably been sorely tempting to reply to the “Well, that was rude!” comment with a agreement i.e. “Yes I agree you presumptuous behavior was rude.”
She obviously sees communal property as “up for grabs”, with a childish “finders keepers” mentality that is just one step away from a outright thief. This type of person really gets my goat as she ruins the simple things for everyone. Her mentality is the reason banks put their pens on chains and why in my old job a secretary had the key for the stationary cupboard and you’d have to justify getting a new pencil. Some people just really need to learn the true meaning sharing.

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PrincessButtercup February 23, 2015 at 11:51 am

I would have said pretty much that. “Yes it was rude of you to assume and demand like that, but I’ll overlook it this time.”. Maybe that could be seen as being rude but it can also be seen as teaching. How can we expect people to magically learn manners if no one ever teaches them?

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Ant February 24, 2015 at 5:25 am

I agree it is generally rude to call someone rude… I think he knack is in delicately phasing things or pulling them to one side so they aren’t publicly shamed, easier if it’s your child than a friend or acquaintance

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MamaToreen February 23, 2015 at 2:07 pm

I almost lost one of my favorite baking dishes to someone like her. She picked it up and started to walk out with it, until I pointed out my name where my father engraved it as a joke

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Ant February 24, 2015 at 5:28 am

Really, crikey. I think in those circumstances I’d forget the delicate nudge that their behavior is wrong and go with a public shaming as they’ve definitely crossed the line into thievery

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MamaToreen February 24, 2015 at 8:56 am

I just politely pointed out my name, and said, “Daddy did that because I won’t even let Mom use that dish” and smiled. She looked like I had just turned into Lucifer himself.

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Bellyjean February 23, 2015 at 8:37 am

I love it when people feel entitled, and they don’t get what they want – those that are denying them are rude. Apparently, simply the act of asking (in this case, demanding) requires people to give over whatever they may have, regardless of whether they’d also like it or not.

OP – I agree with the Maven – you did nothing wrong. You were very courteous.

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Abby February 23, 2015 at 8:43 am

There are just certain people that feel that once they have asked for something, they should get it, and if you don’t comply, you’re “rude”. This story is kind of reminiscent of the submission from several years back about the OP who was on a crowded bus and was deemed “very rude” for not handing over her smartphone to a small child the OP had never met before.

I guess we should grudgingly give C credit for not packing up the cake while the potluck is still in session. I actually *have* seen people load up plates and/or tupperware full of stuff, for the purpose of sharing with those not included in the potluck, before the actual attendees can even get in line.

OP, you did nothing wrong.

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Phitius February 23, 2015 at 11:59 am

The smartphone story is one of my all time favorites.

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Ant February 24, 2015 at 5:32 am

I’ve not seen people take items in advance for carry-outs but one of my pet peeves are dish hogs who see one thing on a buffet they like and eat most/half/all that remains when they reach it in line. My sympathies to you for having to associate with these thieves

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AnaMaria February 23, 2015 at 8:55 am

Agree with admin. If C had asked politely to take a few pieces, it would have been a whole different story, but just announcing that she was taking something she hadn’t prepared or paid for? Nope, not happening, no further discussion needed.

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Shoegal February 23, 2015 at 9:00 am

Oh, I don’t know. I am of the camp who believes that once you brought the dessert for a pot luck luncheon, it is not longer yours and the remaining food belongs to the luncheon host/ hostess to do whatever they want with it. I like to bring food items for events like this in receptacles that are disposable so I can just leave it there. Plus, it didn’t sound as if the luncheon was completely over since there were still people milling about.

All that said, however, I think Admin’s comments regarding “C” are spot on and that she could have indeed asked to take a pie home in a more courteous manner. As the OP was getting ready to leave, grabbing her pan would have been the natural course of action so I would not label that as rude exactly but I typically leave my rights to the food I brought behind unless prompted to take it home.

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admin February 23, 2015 at 9:09 am

Depending on the size of the potluck, leaving leftovers and containers,even disposable ones, places a burden on the hostess to figure out what is to be done with all that food.

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Calli Arcale February 23, 2015 at 10:24 am

I’m with admin. If it’s a potluck, you generally bring your dish home with you, unless you have planned in advance to leave it there and have it in some sort of disposable container. Otherwise you’re just sticking the host with extra cleanup duty — I’ve always felt that half the point of a potluck is that not only is the food prep burden shared, but so is the cleanup burden, because all those dirty dishes walk out the door with your guests. 😉 At most, the host is left cleaning the plates and tables. This is particularly handy in workplace or apartment common area settings, where you need to be able to make the mess vanish as quickly as possible when your alloted time is up.

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Abby February 23, 2015 at 10:28 am

I was going to say the same thing. It’s not clear from the submission whether this was a potluck at someone’s house or if it was at a park. But if it was the latter, then leaving it behind is basically just making someone else pick it up. Plus, she brought it still in the pan. I am sure she wanted her pan back. I think it’s less awkward to just pick up the whole pan than to dig through the host’s kitchen looking for a replacement receptacle to place the remaining cake.

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Anonymous February 23, 2015 at 1:07 pm

Not to mention, if potlucks worked that way, it’d create a perverse incentive for the host(s). I mean, imagine someone saying, “I don’t want to shop or cook this week. I know, I’ll organize a potluck. I’ll provide chips and Kool-Aid, and everyone else can bring the real food, and I’ll just live off the leftovers all week.”

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Emily February 23, 2015 at 3:17 pm

My standard rule is to go pick up my dish and, if there’s any food left, I will ask the hostess if she would like to save any for later. That way I’m not making an assumption regarding whether or not s/he wants to deal with the leftovers or was actually looking forward to the leftovers. If the hostess doesn’t want any, it’s mine to take home if I wish– although most of the time, I’ve made something that I won’t be disappointed over if there aren’t any leftovers. The food is brought to be eaten, so don’t plan on taking any home! I don’t mind others asking for leftovers once the hostess has been asked (who doesn’t love leaving with a bonus cupcake?), but if “C” is the kind to fill up a plate in order to have a full second meal at home, then that’s definitely a problem, even if she is doing it out of a situation we may not be aware of (perhaps not enough money for enough food at home).

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mark February 23, 2015 at 3:45 pm

I’ve always operated on the assumption it goes home with the person who brought the item. That any exceptions should be worked out with the organizer. Otherwise you are just leaving a mess.

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Amanda H. February 23, 2015 at 4:26 pm

I’m also with Admin.

Every potluck I’ve been to has either been at a public venue (not an individual’s house) or with relatives, and in both instances we took our own dishes and leftovers home. Oh, frequently at the end of the dinner people would try to share around some of their own leftovers so they wouldn’t have to store them, so you might end up taking your casserole dish home with a few pieces of chicken and some veggie sides or desserts in addition to whatever casserole you had left, but in that instance the food was offered. In a public venue leaving the leftovers behind just creates more work for someone else to clean up, and at my relatives’ houses the host/hostess didn’t want to have to store all the extra food themselves.

I know if I were to host a potluck at my house, whether for friends or family, I wouldn’t want to have to find a way to store the mismatched leftovers in my own fridge, and would definitely encourage people to take their leftovers home with them.

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Annie February 23, 2015 at 11:41 am

According to Miss Manners, a potluck is considered a “co-hosted” event. As everyone is supplying food, everyone takes on some of the rights and duties of a host. In this case, the right is to determine what happens to your own leftovers, and the duty is to clear away your own pan and leftovers.

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JAN February 23, 2015 at 12:24 pm

When I host a potluck I *WANT* everyone to take their dishes and the leftovers home. I have neither the room nor inclination to store all of the food and do not want to be tasked with the extra clean up. Most of the potlucks I host are for various clubs I am in and it is generally accepted to take your leftovers home with you and to minimize the clean up efforts for the host.

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The Elf February 23, 2015 at 1:23 pm

I can see that argument, though I still think that because not all dishes are disposable, the understanding is that it is yours to take home. But I also see no burden on leaving it. The host can simply throw it out if there’s too much. I’ve never had that problem! Maybe it’s because I have hungry friends….

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ant February 23, 2015 at 5:32 pm

I’m curious, if you went to a friends house and they placed a bottle of wine on the table if there was wine left at the end of the night would you try and take the bottle home? Or when you go to a restaurant and see a bottle of ketchup on the table do you think: “hey they’ve left it on the table to be used by customers. I’m a customer, therefore if I don’t use the bottle up I can take the rest home?” In my head it is the exact same situation. Sometimes people share an expendable item for a particular limited time period/event. Just because the item has not been expended/ finished does not mean it’s free to all to take home.

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Ergala March 3, 2015 at 10:29 am

Considering in both cases you didn’t supply the wine or ketchup I hardly think anyone with half a wit would just take those items. In both cases it isn’t a potluck either….it’s a formal sit down dinner, not a buffet style you provided food for.

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NostalgicGal February 24, 2015 at 9:07 pm

Potlucks around here, you bring it, you take care of what’s left of what you brought. Usually if it was held in X church, then we have a washing up at the end and some things are gone so the person gets their dish through the suds and takes home a clean plate/casserole/bowl. The others that have some left, engage in the polite art of either they’re taking it home, they’re taking it but offering it to others (and some does go home with someone else), or they don’t want it and try to find it a home (sometimes letting the person take the container which is returned next church event- like next service). You can ask nicely during the leftover handling, I used to be the devilled egg disposal until I couldn’t eat them anymore… you didn’t want them they wouldn’t last past us finishing the dishes (I would only take one ‘half’ and hope there was some left and hope that the person didn’t want them… if I brought them I would ask if anyone else wanted some at dish time then scarf what was left!) Difference-I was polite about it, gave everyone else a chance at it, and asked nicely at the end. No was a perfectly acceptable answer. (I usually got another 4-5 at the end, so good things happened when I was polite) These days I still make them and bring them, but someone else gets to eat them or take them home after. My DH got to sample 6-8 halves before I packed up (and I made extra for him) so he wasn’t missing out. “Quality Control” indeed.

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DGS February 23, 2015 at 9:18 am

Who are these people? Really? Who does that? Are they starving? Are they so hard up for cash that they are scrounging around for friends’ scraps to survive? It just boggles the mind that someone would “stake a claim” to someone’s else’s leftovers.

That being said, I always assumed that whatever was brought to a potluck at someone’s home stayed with the host, whereas something brought to a communal potluck (e.g. a church gathering, a bridal or baby shower in a rented space) stayed with whoever brought it if anything had been left over. We have a couple of friends, “Jack” and “Jill”, who are almost comically cheap (despite being as well-off as the rest of the group, all upper middle class,highly educated, gainfully employed professionals who own a nice home, drive nice cars and go on nice vacations). While the rest of us always leave the leftovers at the home of whoever hosts the potluck, these two make a grab for the leftovers of whatever they brought as soon as the party is over. Whenever one of the couples in the group hosts a potluck, they always volunteer to bring the cheapest item, e.g. a few bottles of soda (always the store brand, never Pepsi or Coke), or the flimsiest of paper plates or a box of Saltine crackers and some dip. At the end of the event, “Jack” always takes back whatever remains are left of what he and “Jill” had brought. If it’s half a bottle of cola, it is packed away to go back to their home at the end of the night. If there are any paper plates left over (and since they always buy the cheapest kind, people are often forced to double-plate, so as to accommodate the weight of the food without spilling it everywhere), “Jack” and “Jill” take them back. One time, we were going to be grilling fajitas, and whilst my husband and I were providing all the meat, everyone else brought toppings and sides and desserts, etc. “Jack” and “Jill” volunteered to make the guacamole. “Jack” diced the tomato and the onion and minced the garlic, mashed the avocado, and salted and peppered the concoction. Then, he proceeded to painstakingly gather the remaining garlic cloves, put them in a plastic baggie and stash the baggie in his pocket. None of us ever say anything because on the whole, “Jack” and “Jill” are incredibly nice people and for the most part, a pleasure to be around, but they are PAINFULLY cheap. My understanding has always been that if one made something for the party, whatever was left was for the host to enjoy; I certainly have never claimed leftovers of anything that I’ve made to bring back home (I usually make two, anyway, one for my family and one for the party).

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Izzley February 23, 2015 at 2:47 pm

It sounds like you’re keeping watchdog tabs on their behavior. Maybe they can only have nice vacations bc they are so frugal about other things – who knows? It’s their business. Like you said, they’re nice people, so give ’em a pass!

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hakayama February 23, 2015 at 11:49 pm

@DGS: So what makes “Jack” and “Jill” such NICE people? Could it be their good manners? Or is the “niceness” of their work, cars, vacations what makes the people “nice”?

And Izzley: Certain behaviors to sort of “stick out”, so it’s not a matter of keeping tabs purposefully. Also, when certain quirky “moves” are repeated, they do get noticed, and consequently can definitely aid in defining an individual.

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psammead February 24, 2015 at 3:12 pm

“So what makes ‘Jack’ and ‘Jill’ such NICE people? Could it be their good manners? Or is it the ‘niceness’ of their work, cars, vacations what make the people ‘nice’?”

At a guess, it may be that they’re kind and pleasant to be with; that they’re patient with the flaws of others, rather than rushing to judgment and blasting them as “sociopaths” or persons of “ugly character” or “blondes who are incredulous to learn that Hungary is a country”; that they comfort and encourage their friends when they’re in the dumps, or that they’re good listeners, or that they always try to put the best possible face on things. Weighed against those, taking a few garlic cloves home doesn’t seem like an issue at all.

As a matter of fact, I don’t get DGS’s complaint about the garlic cloves. If they’d prepared the guac at home and had extra garlic cloves left over, would DGS also feel that those rightfully belonged to the host because they’d been purchased to make something for the party?

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hakayama February 25, 2015 at 12:55 am

@psammead: I am with you on the garlic as that was being neat and orderly. But I wonder if J & J actually brought the guacamole ingredients themselves, or merely prepared it using what the hosts provided.
I do hope that, in spite of their apparent ONE fault, J & J are good people, not only nice. If I ever have a choice, I’ll take good over nice every time…
Rich as the English language is when it comes to the sheer number of words, I’m still trying to find a one word term that refers to observing, analyzing and arriving at conclusions on a given subject, situation, person… Obviously “judgy” and “judgmental” are not it, precisely because of their negative connotations. At least at present time.
So, “judgmental” or whatever other word might be chosen, I still stand by my right to make evaluations based on just one event or statement. Over the decades I’ve learned that sometimes just ONE event of appropriate nature and import can give an “inner view” of the whole individual, or at least show a sizable and significant portion of the person. I regret that recently I chose to override the signals, red flags if you will, in two people. Those were cases that did not deserve the benefit of the doubt.*
I have relatively few fears, but leading the way are evil people followed by ignorant ones. Let’s not make any bones about it: “Othergiftedness” and ignorance can be dangerous. The blonde beauty queen will most likely become a mother, a child’s first teacher. The just as hot “brownette” in political circles is already a mother… They both probably might go along with a former neighbor of mine that wanted to kill a praying mantis, because “if it bites you, you die.” And there was something about the age of Earth too… 😉 The news is full of politicians that don’t even realize how bad is their case of hoof in mouth disease.
I kept my own thoughts to myself when a neighbor spoke of “bad decisions and choices” one of his sons has made. I said nothing about knowing that those “bad choices” started in the early teens… Everybody knows about the troubled teen, but not necessarily that he’s now in jail. Everybody knows that the 90+ widow is in a nursing home/rehab, and we call an visit. We don’t gossip. We merely report. We are not really that nice, but we are good.
* I caught something on Dr. Phil that it should not be given.

Tex Carol February 23, 2015 at 3:12 pm

Jack and Jill sound so much like a relative who arrives at family reunion potlucks with a small bowl of pasta salad, say six servings, and then fills the bowl with ham and brisket when she’s ready to leave. Her explanation? “Well, hubby wasn’t able to come today, so I wanted to fix a plate for him.” Well, he’d be eating off that bowl of meat for a few days, I imagine!

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klb4n6 February 28, 2015 at 8:56 pm

You should probably be glad she only brings a small bowl – imagine how much ham and brisket she’d be able to take if she brought a large one!

Your story does remind me of an aunt and uncle of mine – we had a big party for my grandfather’s 90th birthday 10 years ago, and some of my aunts and uncles, and my parents, kicked in to buy several lamb shanks and I think they were grilled or something – lamb is his favorite. At the end of the night, one aunt and uncle took a LOT of lamb with them. Far more than their share, and if I remember it right, they hadn’t paid anything towards buying the lamb either (or hadn’t paid much at all if they had). When everyone else who had actually paid went for leftovers, there was hardly anything left. That particular aunt & uncle were known skinflints.

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KWM March 1, 2015 at 2:41 pm

My younger sister’s new in-laws are “these people” and it makes me shake my head at every potluck event we have attend with them.

The last event was my sister’s 40th birthday party. Her in-laws walked out the door toward the end of the night with practically ALL of everyone’s leftovers from the party since “these people” left well before most of the people who had helped to provide the food.

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GeenaG February 23, 2015 at 9:25 am

You response was fine. People will often call others rude when they don’t get their own way and to deflect away from their own actions by blaming someone one else as the “rude” one.

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Cami February 23, 2015 at 3:53 pm

Or “rude” is sometimes short for “You didn’t give me what you want, so you’re a big meanie!”

I’ve known several people like that. They were brought up to believe that they were entitled to anything and everything they wanted. They were brought up to believe that anyone who did not give them what they wanted was “rude”.

Similarly there are people who think that being “nice” or “polite” means giving everyone everything they wanted whenever they wanted it. To do otherwise was “rude.”

You put those two types together and you have the perfect combination of dirty boots and doormat.

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Lo February 23, 2015 at 9:35 am

The issue of whether the woman was rude to you is simple, yeah, she was totally out of line and presumptuous.

Although as to who the food belongs to once it’s at the potlock? Well technically no one hosts a potluck, (though a person can organize it), so it doesn’t belong to the host(s) and it doesn’t belong to just anyone who wants it. I’d say that the person most entitled to the food is the one who brought the dish. And I would hope that if asked politely that person would be happy to continue to share the leftovers but I would always defer to the original bringer of the dish.

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TaterTot February 23, 2015 at 2:07 pm

I agree with everything you said.

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Kimstu February 23, 2015 at 5:37 pm

Correct. A dinner guest who brings a hostess gift of wine, chocolate, appetizer, dessert, whatever, is relinquishing all claim to that gift, which becomes the property of the hosts. The giver does not retain any subsidiary rights to the leftovers, if any; the hosts can do whatever they want with them (including giving them away to other guests who greedily scrounge for them, if they so choose).

But a participant in a cooperative potluck is providing food to be shared AT the potluck. The container(s)/utensil(s), along with whatever leftovers remain after the potluck eating stops, remain the property of the participant who brought them. No participant has post-potluck scavenging rights over the leftovers of dishes that other participants brought, and nobody is entitled to treat the leftovers of other participants’ dishes as their personal free food pantry.

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crebj February 23, 2015 at 9:50 am

Of course, if you wanted to exercise your Polite Spine and your Lead by Example Persona, you could have said “I’m afraid I have plans for my leftovers, but do let me give you a slice.” Responding as you did may well have been within your rights, but it was brusque. Kill ’em with kindness, OP.

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Lera99 February 23, 2015 at 10:06 am

Potlucks seem to be like catnip for moochers.

My department at work (about 90 people) has a quarterly luncheon. Everyone is asked to either bring a dish to share or give some money to their manager for the pot luck. The managers than pool all the money they receive to buy the main dishes for the luncheon (Fried chicken, pulled pork, chicken and rice, pizza, etc…) and the people who didn’t give money bring in sides or dessert.

One woman in my department is notorious for bragging about never giving money or bringing a dish into the luncheon. Which would be fine. It isn’t mandatory to participate.

But then she is always the first in line piling her plate high with food. She goes back for 2nds, even 3rds before all of our phone people (on staggered lunches to ensure coverage) get a chance to go through. And finally she makes a final sweep at 2pm (the end of the pot luck) piling food into 4 huge Tupperware containers so now she won’t have to cook diner for her family tonight and will have left overs for her family’s lunch again tomorrow.

The worst part is she brags about it.
She brags about never bringing anything: Why should she waste money for her coworker’s lunch?
She brags about swooping in for the leftovers: Her momma didn’t raise a fool. Free food is a great way to keep the family budget low!
No one wants to end up in HR over saying something. This same woman is notorious for going to HR at the slightest perceived provocation. She cut her hair and her cubical mate said “Your hair looks so cute!” She went to HR complaining that her cubical mate was verbally judging her appearance and it was making a hostile workplace.

OP, I think you acted appropriately. This woman has made a habit of treating potlucks like her own personal doggy bag buffet. And when you provide food for a potluck you are providing it for that meal – not providing the participants with leftovers for their next 3 meals. You brought the dish, the potluck is over, those leftovers along with the dish they are in are both yours.

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Michelle February 23, 2015 at 12:57 pm

@Lera99- if the person in your story had been a man, I would swear we work for the same company!! Bragging about not contributing, being the first in line, then swopping in the for the leftovers!

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Lera99 February 24, 2015 at 8:37 am

@Michelle – It seems there is always one. There’s always someone looking for an angle to take as much as they can.

What kills me about my coworker is her bragging about it. She pretty much has an attitude that we are all suckers for not doing the same thing.

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rachel February 23, 2015 at 1:15 pm

Why have you not told HR about this bizarre, greedy employee?

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Lera99 February 24, 2015 at 8:40 am

No one wants to go to HR over it because it seems so petty: “HR, this woman doesn’t bring food to the quarterly department luncheon but she still insists on eating!”

Also since she is the all time champion of complaining to HR about everything – none of us want to be accused of creating a hostile work environment by calling her out.

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vjcole February 23, 2015 at 2:08 pm

People like your co-worker make me feel slightly homicidal. I work for a state agency that has a number of employees that work in the field, and we have a quarterly meeting that includes all employees. This is normally accompanied by a pot luck. I have had occasions where for one reason or another, I was unable to bring anything for the pot luck, and at those times, I just don’t take any of the food that WAS brought in. Unless you have a damned good reason (for instance, since some of our inspectors have to drive in and stay overnight, they’re not expected to bring food – although most of the time, they’ll pitch in and have one of the local guys get barbecue or whatever), if you don’t bring food, you shouldn’t be partaking of the meal. I can understand if it’s ONE time, but someone who not only does it all the time, but brags about it AND takes much more than her fair share should be slapped down, hard. Unfortunately, unless you and the rest of your co-workers are willing to formally complain to someone about it, she’ll continue doing it.

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Ergala February 23, 2015 at 2:10 pm

Your coworker sounds special. We had someone like that who was constantly filing complaints and declaring hostile work environment. The tables were turned on her when someone filed a hostile work complaint against her. The reason…she was constantly trying to get people written up and it created a lot of stress and tension.

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Lera99 February 24, 2015 at 8:40 am

That is brilliant!

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MamaToreen February 24, 2015 at 9:48 am

Willing to get together with a few co-workers and try it? Her constant bragging about the pot lucks seems to upset many people, thus creating a hostile work environment, after all.

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Jaxsue February 23, 2015 at 3:23 pm

In this economy, how in the world is this woman still employed?!

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Raven February 23, 2015 at 3:41 pm

I know you don’t want to go to HR, but this woman should be stopped somehow. Too bad there isn’t a way to check who has paid/contributed, like showing your receipt or dish to the coordinator. Particularly because she is bragging about it, it’s pretty callous.

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Ant February 24, 2015 at 6:25 am

Actually you can check who contributed. When I was reading this it sounded like my old office only this place seems bigger and the moocher is more callous and less subtle than the pair we had. In my old office we had two that were sneaky and at our quarterly buffet lunch they would just wait until the room filled, come in for a chat about something then leave with a plate of food. What did we do? Well quite a few of us liked the social lunch enough to put in more effort so we explained the situation to the manager and asked if we could start theming them. Thankfully he too had noticed the mooching and was quite perturbed by some people’s lack of team spirit. But he didn’t want to go to HR as it is demotivational for those involved (the moochers were good workers) and it wasn’t a compulsory donation/ receivership event.
First up was a VIP showbiz lunch. We placed full length celebrity pictures on the wall. Played movie trailers on the projector. Generally tried to make the room a bit glitzy (hard in a standard plain conference room). And, of course, two co-workers stood by the red ribbon at the door in shades and suits with a VIP list. How do you get on the list? Either pay a nominal fee or arrange with the event organizer to provide a dish. One of the moochers did get the message and just stayed at their desk and ate alone. The other was a bit more confident so tried to sneak in by insisting they talk with X… after explaining the theme again and that their name was not on the list to come in X came over left the room to talk with them about work. And although there was some muttering of “should have been allowed in the conference room” there were no HR issues.
Next up we had a sit down banquet where everyone was asked to dress “very smart”. Each person then had a place set out for them and all the food was either stored under closhes or on a trolley for a big reveal. Yes the same moocher tried to talk to someone in the room so they could stay but there’s nothing quite as awkward as a guy in jeans and a shirt talking to a man in dinnerware while ~20 people are sat staring at you and obviously it’s virtually impossible to sneak any food out.
I left after that but I understand the next theme was a teaparty.
It takes a lot of time and effort to put off moochers but it can be fun!

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NostalgicGal February 24, 2015 at 8:03 am

Amen. Love it.

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mark February 23, 2015 at 3:54 pm

Ordinary mooching is one thing, but this women practically has mooching super powers. Her manager should take note. This is terrible for team morale.

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Karen L February 23, 2015 at 9:04 pm

I agree this is terrible for morale. Are you the only one that is irritated by this woman or are other coworkers also fed up (or un-fed, as the case may be -LOL)? If enough of you are irritated, then can you arrange a boycott of the next potluck? When the manager comes around asking for money/sign-ups can you all say something like “I’m getting tired of providing lunch for moocher coworkers — it is really affecting my morale negatively — I will sit out this potluck.” Then maybe you can your other boycotting coworkers can go out (dutch) for lunch elsewhere during the potluck. Once enough coworkers are boycotting the potlucks, they will cease to exist.

(And frankly, I am DEAD AGAINST employers trying to improve employees’ morale by using EMPLOYEES’ MONEY. If you workplace wants to have a festive occasion for the employees, the workplace can PAY FOR IT. Otherwise you have people resenting having to provide free food for moochers, people who have serious hardship this month being asked to fork out more money they are spending on their own family’s meal, people who mooch and brag, etc. How does this improve anyone’s morale?

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Devin February 24, 2015 at 10:46 am

THIS!! My employer tries to have ‘fun’ team building events arrange around pot lucks. Though we are getting paid to participate in the team building, you are expected to contribute something to the pot luck to participate (though those that don’t contribute are welcomed, by management, to attend). When they are arranging them, the ask (request) people to make their ‘signature’ dishes. Mine is gumbo, and its easily $40 for the ingredients (which is more than I make in the time we are participating in the event).

There is one this Friday, and I’ll be out of the office due to a meeting at another location. Can you believe they still asked if I would be contributing something??

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Cat February 23, 2015 at 5:27 pm

This is the best reason I know for having servers and for not allowing anyone to take more than his/her fair share.

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hakayama February 23, 2015 at 8:57 pm

@Lera: Is there any chance of calling her out publicly as she brags? If several individuals “ganged up” on her, it would look very unfavorable for her cause to go complaining to the higher ups…
Or, maybe several people could go to HR and “say something” for the entire group.
Is this a private enterprise or civil service of some sort?

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Lera99 February 24, 2015 at 8:46 am

Oh people have said things to her. But she is a woman without shame.

Her attitude is pretty much that we’re mad she’s so smart, because if we were smart we would take advantage of the situation in the exact same way.

The last time someone said to her “It really isn’t fair that you never bring any food for the luncheon and yet take so much more food than everyone else.”

She went to HR to accuse them of “fat shaming” her.

Another time someone said “Why don’t you at least bring a bag of chips or something to the pot luck?”

She responded “Why should I? There’s always plenty of food. I feed my family for 2 days on the leftovers alone. Anything I brought would just be even more food for me to carry home.”

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Rebecca February 24, 2015 at 2:09 am

Incredible.

“Free food is a great way to keep the family budget low!” Has anyone ever pointed out to her that the food wasn’t free, and in fact was paid for by everyone else? Does anyone ever pointedly ask her, “Oh, what did YOU bring?” Or made it clear that the response to her bragging was disgust, and not, in fact, admiration for her money smarts?

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another Laura February 24, 2015 at 9:32 am

Are you sure she isn’t also mooching company supplies? Maybe a ream of paper here a box of paper clips there, because “free school supplies is a great way to keep the family budget low!”
If I was an office manager and had someone this notorious for taking advantage of such situations, I’m pretty sure I’d have a hidden camera trained on the supply room, her desk and maybe a few other places she frequents.

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Kara February 24, 2015 at 1:26 pm

This is how my office dealt with pot-luck moochers like your co-worker.

You can contribute to a potluck in one of two ways: by donating money (minimum $X) toward the main dish & disposable tableware, or by bringing in a dessert or side dish (minimum Y servings). When you deliver your contribution to the office manager, you get a ticket. When potluck lunch time rolls around, you trade in your ticket for access to the food. No ticket? No food. No exceptions.

One this system was put in place to keep track of who had contributed, it was a lot easier to enforce the rule that if you didn’t contribute, you didn’t get to participate. End of story. And because that was the “new” rule for everyone, the mooch didn’t have a leg to stand on to try to claim that we were discriminating against them.

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NostalgicGal February 24, 2015 at 9:21 pm

Place I worked at many moons ago, we moved the department from two other floors to the basement (we had to trust me) and for awhile we had no breakroom. The first two floors were leased to other clients; so the first company breakroom was on third as was a coffeemaker. So for several months we had to take airpots (two) and go up to third and bring down coffee. Many wars erupted over coffee sponges that drank a lot and never took a turn to go fetch. I instigated a sign sheet… NOT to go get, but if you went up and got, you put down your name. I did not drink coffee but I would go up a few times a day to bring a pot down (and yes we would re-set the maker up there to make a new pot before leaving) and sign. This stopped the wars as the crew would self police and the sponges would make trips then just to be left alone. We had one person protest LOUDLY about they were not going to sign up to take turns to go GET; and I had an air pot in hand and was signing and said NO, it’s if you went and GOT. I just went and GOT so I am signing my name. Oh. They started going up and putting their name down. They finally plumbed so we had a coffeemaker down there, and that made everything better… but it stopped the wars in the meantime! (and we caught who was swiping the coffee bags (one bag per filter per pot) and they couldn’t understand why work couldn’t afford to let them have a few bags… suddenly the company couldn’t afford to pay them anymore either. )

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Brenna March 1, 2015 at 3:02 pm

Holy crap! Do we work for the same company?! 😉

My company decided to do something called “The Soup Club”. Basically, it would be done every two weeks and one could sign up to prepare a soup to be prepared in the company’s crock pot as well as enjoy the soups that the other employees prepared.

There is one person (K) who pretty much ruined this for everyone else. Like the woman in Lera99’s story, K would take multiply servings as well as prepare leftovers for herself before everyone in the club had there initial turn. I know that one of the people she is friendly with at work finally had to take her aside and explain how rude she was being.

Oh, did I mention that she has also quizzed the person responsible for preparing the soup for that particular week and makes suggestions on who they could alter their soup recipe to conform to her diet?

Her turn has yet to come up and I’m curious to see what she brings in.

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Wild Irish Rose February 23, 2015 at 10:11 am

OP could have offered to give a little to C, although C could have just said she hadn’t had any yet and asked for a little of it. I think both of you could have handled this better.

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Jaxsue February 23, 2015 at 3:25 pm

How could the OP have handled it better? IMHO, if C had asked politely if she could take some home, I’d see your POV. C said it rather rudely, though, in this particular case. I wouldn’t give her any.

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Elizabeth March 5, 2015 at 11:57 am

Strongly disagree Wild Irish Rose. C was out-of-line. Potluck is group consumption, leftovers shouldn’t be left for others to deal with. To-Go packages are not to be assumed.

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Mary February 23, 2015 at 10:11 am

The way I was reading this is that it was at a potluck where there was no host, at a church, school, community center etc. I definitely think in those situations you get to take home your own leftovers.

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Denise February 23, 2015 at 10:16 am

I’m sure her tone of voice and body language play a big part in this story. Unless she said it in a huff while stomping her feet, it’s just a statement. I’m assuming she was making a plate to take home to eat at the time you removed a dish.

Honestly, if she wanted to take a few pieces home, what was the harm? It’s a compliment that she enjoyed it so much. And I do think it was rude to just quickly remove the dish. Would it have been different if it was someone else coming back for seconds? Did you anticipate taking home many pieces?

When it comes to potlucks, I never plan or anticipate I will be bringing home leftovers. If it is enjoyed so much that the plate is empty when it’s time to go home, I am happy it was so well liked and have never taken inventory of where it went.

Who knows what her back story is. If the food brought her some joy and she wasn’t making a Togo plate while people were still eating, what is the harm?

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Jaxsue February 23, 2015 at 3:29 pm

Even if C said it in a matter-0f-fact way, without stomping her feet, it would have come across badly to me. The OP stated that C has a habit of taking food home. Now, that in and of itself is not bad, but if she has a reputation of expecting to take leftovers, and expects to every time, that very likely came across in her statement. What is the harm? To be fair, none, but what is the harm of C not getting some of the leftover dessert?

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Denise February 24, 2015 at 1:12 am

If C has a habit of taking things home, it can be assumed as well that it’s the nature of the potlucks. She also may not have known that OP was the originator of the dish and just assumed that she was grabbing all the remainder up to take home. Her indication that she wanted to take some home shows that she wasn’t trying to be a greedy hog about it and her intentions could have been pure and read incorrectly.

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hakayama February 24, 2015 at 10:43 am

NO, Denise. The usual potlucks are not “eat in or take out” establishments. The “take out” tweaking happens usually (if not only) at a time approaching the clean up stage, and is to be done in an orderly and polite manner. Not “C” style, OK?
It looks like you’re applying the”interesting” method of thought and description that some folks use when dealing with a “bad apple” from their family tree:
“Oh, he is a truly good guy who wound up making some bad decisions.” :-O 😉
[Yeah…One bad decision after another: armed robbery and a home invasion; followed by battery and high speed chase; followed…]
There is a very good phrase out there: “I call them as I see them.”
Perhaps it is the more logical one than: “Don’t judge him by his conduct.”

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Cat February 23, 2015 at 5:26 pm

There is no harm in asking for something. There is an insult implied in a demand for something that does not belong to you.

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Denise February 24, 2015 at 1:14 am

But, did she know the OP had brought it? Or who to ask to take a piece home? She could have easily thought the OP was another guest who was just grabbing up the rest of the delicious cake to take all to herself, only after she stated she wanted some did the OP state it was hers and then not respond to anything else.

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Kimstu February 23, 2015 at 5:58 pm

@Denise: “Honestly, if she wanted to take a few pieces home, what was the harm?”

The harm is that it’s a greedy and presumptuous thing to do, no matter what your “back story” is. A potluck is supposed to be a shared meal among contributing participants, not a shared meal for some of them and a shared meal PLUS a bag of extra free food for others. The rudeness of claiming the leftovers of another participant’s dish transforms the claimed food from “part of this meal we all are cooperatively sharing” to “free stuff that I’m entitled to take home for my own future use because my wishes are more important than the wishes of the person who went to the trouble of providing it”.

If you don’t feel you got enough to eat at a potluck, then next time take larger helpings (or more second helpings). And yes, while the meal is going on, everybody is entitled to sample any dish they want as long as there’s any of it left. But once the actual sharing of the meal is over, you don’t get to dictate what should be done with the remainder of any food that other participants brought.

If a potluck participant OFFERS to share the leftovers of the dish they brought, as in “Hey, would anybody like to take home some of this leftover cake?”, that’s a different matter. But if they don’t offer it, then it’s rude for other participants to try to claim it.

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Denise February 24, 2015 at 1:11 am

It could be that the potlucks she attends as a history of dividing up all the remaining food among those who would like to. And these potlucks, in the past, have allowed that. Instead of grabbing a dish off the table and claiming “MINE” like a toddler, she could have easily said “I’d really like to take the rest of this home, I hope you enjoyed it.”

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Kimstu February 24, 2015 at 10:16 pm

@Denise: Well, “it could be” that the potlucks the OP is talking about (and which she is presumably the only one on this forum to have any direct knowledge of) do operate in that totally hypothetical suppositious way that the OP never mentioned. Or it could be that they don’t.

When attempting to justify a moocher’s rude behavior requires one to hypothesize completely unsupported speculations about mysterious hidden circumstances and possible motivations of said behavior, maybe it’s time to give up on making excuses for the moocher.

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hakayama February 23, 2015 at 7:46 pm

@Denise: We all have some “back story” to many of our actions and decisions. The “C” character, quite possibly (approx. 33% chance) could have had a troubled childhood, abusive situation in her marriage, flea-ridden pets at home… HOWEVER, none of that entitles her to “make up” for it by behaving abominably.
Then, of course, there’s also a +/- 33% chance that she was raised as a pampered princess, and got accustomed to have her orders carried out and wishes fulfilled without questions. The remaining 33% chance is left for a totally icky inner core of the non-material contents of her person.
How am I doing in the greater field of psychological and sociological inventiveness?

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hakayama February 23, 2015 at 7:47 pm

Ouch. I forgot the smiley. 😉

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Denise February 24, 2015 at 1:08 am

Or it could be totally possible that the OP thinks of her in an unflattering manner and takes everything she says or does in a negative light.

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hakayama February 24, 2015 at 10:27 am

@Denise: You forgot to add “UNFAIRLY”.. ;-O 😉
Never mind that there’s a behavioral pattern that had been noticed and remembered.

Kimberly February 23, 2015 at 10:32 am

In my family, we divide up the left overs so each household gets another meal per person if possible. Still you are asked do you want to divide this up. Due to distance I don’t take things that need to stay hot or cold.

At all other potlucks I’ve been to generally people ask the host family if they want to keep some of the left overs during clean up.

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Green123 February 23, 2015 at 11:14 am

If I go to a potluck, I expect to take home my plate/bowl/tin/container, and if there’s any of my dish/cake left that’s a bonus. If I were in OP’s position I would have given C some cake to take home if she had asked nicely, however as she did not ask nicely, I would have had no guilt whatsoever in taking home the entire remains of my cake.

(As a note about the other side of the coin – I have hosted potlucks where everyone has been too polite to take home their leftovers afterwards, and I’ve been left with a fridge packed with all kinds of foods, some of which I don’t even eat, and in any case far too much for me to eat by myself. It’s a hassle to have to pack it all away, or throw it away, or take it to work so it doesn’t get wasted. So please, if you go to a potluck, take your leftovers and your containers home with you – don’t burden the hostess!)

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MyWorld February 23, 2015 at 11:30 am

Ouch. I don’t think either one handled it well.

C without a doubt was rude to state that she was taking some, but the OP could have graciously said that she had made the cake but would be glad to give C a slice or two to bring home.

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Jaxsue February 25, 2015 at 11:26 am

IMO, C was by far the more rude one in this case. If I were the OP, I’d have been taken aback by C’s statement (not polite request, which is quite different). I wouldn’t give in to her demand, just by principle.

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JD February 23, 2015 at 11:30 am

OP said there were a couple of pieces of cake left — it’s not as though she had a half a cake left to give some away, and only when a person says, “I don’t want to take this home — please, everyone, help yourself to the leftovers,” should there be any requests to take some of it home. Or that’s how it’s been at every potluck I’ve ever attended, at a home or at church/park/whatever. I agree with admin, the host/hostess usually doesn’t want all the leftovers or the responsibility to clean all the serving dishes and return them to the people who brought them. That’s leaving a lot of work for them to do. I’ve also never had a host or hostess claim the food others brought unless they were told to keep it by the person bringing it. C was rude to demand the last of the cake, and OP had every right to say she was sorry but she was taking it home. Did C ever stop to think that OP might have in mind an elderly neighbor who would love a slice, or a family member who couldn’t make it, but loved her cakes? No, C just selfishly assumed she was entitled and that OP was rude not to give in to her.

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Lisa H. February 23, 2015 at 11:33 am

I was just at a potluck yesterday afternoon and as things were wrapping up, the people who brought food asked if anyone wanted to take some of the leftovers home with them. Some did and some didn’t. It was a very peaceful and pleasant ending to a great day. I think C could have asked a bit more politely and OP been a bit more kind in her response.

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Jaxsue February 25, 2015 at 11:28 am

I agree – partly – in that C could have been more polite. I don’t think the OP deserves criticism at all, honestly. I am a polite person, unless the person I am dealing with is pushy or rude. Then I am rather cold – but still polite – in my response. I would not have given C a piece; why should bad behavior be rewarded?

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Michelle M. February 27, 2015 at 2:16 pm

This. EXACTLY THIS.

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Gabriele February 23, 2015 at 11:38 am

I think the key is the OP’s quote:
“I also noticed a certain lady, (C), sitting near the dessert table. Knowing that C makes a habit of taking things she didn’t bring home with her from potlucks, I decided to go ahead and pick up my leftovers.”
She (OP) in a previous statement had said the cake was in a pan…so taking the pan WITH the cake should have shown that the OP was the person who brought the cake..
…knowing that C makes a habit of taking things she didn’t bring….
So it’s established that this is not a one-time thing, the person wanting the cake does this regularly at other potlucks. OP doesn’t say that others do this, so the fact that this woman is KNOWN for taking home leftovers from other peoples’ dishes means C has regularly appropriated what is not hers
and since the OP has not said that C has ‘asked’ at other times I think we should take it that C is a taker without manners
On that basis, I see no reason for the OP to have asked if she’d like a piece of the cake: why encourage C in her grabby ways?
As an observation from seeing many people at work functions doing similar things (and worse), I think it’s not just bad manners, I think some people have a real need to take more. I have seen people take things they didn’t really want but couldn’t bear to see someone else take those things.
If I were a manager I would be concerned because the ‘taker’ would never be a team player and would almost always be more involved with what they got out of it than with what was accomplished by/for the company. You can’t change peoples’ feelings but you can set standards so the me-me-me people don’t feel comfortable and look for someplace else that will allow them to indulge in their neediness.

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Cat2 February 23, 2015 at 11:55 am

Actually, I think OP wasn’t out of line even if s/he had NOT been the person who brought the cake. There was not a lot left – there were only a couple of slices. So, not in the “a lot available to share” category. So even if playing by C’s rules – which is that anyone can take anything home – the poster got there first. And potlucks are “First come, first serve” types of events. That applies to the leftovers too. Other people can’t pre-emptively stake a claim when they see someone else taking something. The best they can do is say “Oh, I’d like to take some of that too.” and hope the person taking says “Sure”. But with only a couple of slices left, they would surely expect they might be turned down by somebody who was, say, bringing home a couple of slices for 2 kids. Or themselves and someone else. “Sorry, I have plans for both slices.”

C wanted to have her cake and eat it too, changing the rules CalvinBall-style to benefit herself. Poster was not rude not to share either way, especially as there was no “request”, rather than an out-of-bounds claimstaking.

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Kim February 23, 2015 at 12:06 pm

I think that with a potluck, the food you bring “kind of” becomes the property of the host and/or the potluck itself; however, I do agree with the admin that when you leave your food, you’re leaving an awful lot of cleanup for the host. Taking your food with you when leaving is the polite thing to do.

Usually I try to get rid of the food I bring so I don’t have to cart it home. That said, a yummy dessert, 3 kids at home, and an over-presumptuous fellow potluck attendee with a history of packing up other people’s food to take home after potlucks? Nope, I’d be taking my Mississippi Mud cake home with me, thanks.

IF she was polite, maybe I’d give her a slice (the submission says only a couple slices left), but I have 3 kids at home who would love it so, no.

C was rude. Too bad – if she improved her social skills she would probably find that a lot of people would be happy to leave some food for her to take home.

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Harley Granny February 23, 2015 at 12:09 pm

I don’t think the OP did anything wrong…after all C has a reputation of being a “cleaner-upper”
I might have phrased it differently tho something like. “Oh Sorry, my family already claimed the leftovers for this one. Don’t worry I’ll be making it again!”

Nothing wrong with taking your own dish back home with you at large potlucks.

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NostalgicGal February 23, 2015 at 12:09 pm

Rules of potlucking: Whatever the host provides is theirs. Whatever you bring is yours. At the end, you take care of yours. Usually people don’t want to take the last bit home as it’s a hassle and will offer the leftovers to someone that wants them.

Until and if someone offers their leftovers they’re not ‘free dibs’. The OP wasn’t wrong. C was.. upon finding out who the cake belonged to (who had made it and was claiming the rest) the proper thing would have been to ASK nicely if they could have some to take home. And the bringer can say no.

No Tupperware unless you brought your stuff in Tupperware and have room to tuck a few more things in AFTER during the cleanup and polite negotiations of the dispensation of the leftovers.

Someone mentioned a foodgrabber at their work potlucks that is massively overboard on scavenging up and scarfing all the ‘free food’ she can muster. I’d get everyone to write unsigned notes to HR and do a ‘stick under the HR door’ campaign after an event to complain about her. If HR has 20 or so letters the next day all naming X as doing this cra…stuff and it’s been massively ongoing; she can witchhunt all she wants if HR pulls her in about it. It shouldn’t continue.

I have a club where once a year I take my turn bringing supper for the after meeting meal. I usually have the BBQ place make tons, so I can take home the leftovers and portion and freeze to feed my DH for some time after. I always set a very good table, and yes eat all you want. NO leftover poaching and no taking home doggie plates. We had one person that abused this once, she and her DH had been sick, she made just this meeting, and instead of eating with us, asked if she could take some home for her and DH. She got at least three hearty meals on each plate and I didn’t see what she’d taken until she was trying to bag the plates. Others made comments and I used the ‘enough’ tones with “Yes I know” and the next year, I made sure to have t0-go clamshells, and when she did this again, I asked her which main course meat she wanted and >I< fixed the plates. They weren't going to starve by any means but no wholescale thievery. The next year, last year, she didn't show… I doubt I'll see her this year. The event is in a few days and I have a set of clamshells just in case she shows… the other ladies all understand that. Have Seconds, Have Thirds, but you're not taking a plate home or leftovers. I know some skip lunch that day and that's fine with me….

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Ashley February 23, 2015 at 12:13 pm

Even if C didn’t know that OP was the person who made the cake, she could have at least said “Oh were you interested in taking some of that home too? We should find out who made it and ask if we could split the leftovers.”

Just claiming it outright is when it became rude.

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vjcole February 23, 2015 at 12:15 pm

This is where the fine old saying about catching more flies with honey than with vinegar should have come into play. If C had said, “Did you make that cake? It was so good – would you mind if I took some home with me?”, I can almost guarantee OP would have had no problem sharing.

I also think it’s important to note that this was not an isolated incident on C’s part. On the contrary, OP clearly states that C “makes a habit of taking things she didn’t make home with her from potlucks”. I suspect there have been previous incidents of C grabbing without asking.

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B February 23, 2015 at 12:38 pm

At my wedding, when some relatives were leaving, I picked up a vase of flowers from the table to give to an aunt.

A girl who was there with my husband’s friend said to me crossly, “I was going to take those home!”

I just looked at her and said, “No, you were not,” then took them away. Seriously, who thinks a bride’s flowers are theirs to take as they fancy? And who actually shows this attitude to the girl in the big white dress?

Apparently her boyfriend told her off!

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Lera99 February 24, 2015 at 8:53 am

At my friend’s wedding reception the centerpieces (Big glass bowls filled with sand, starfish, candles) were rented from the venue.

She was shocked when some of the guests picked them up and started to head out the door with them.

When did it become ok to steal the centerpieces off of tables?

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The Elf February 24, 2015 at 9:38 am

Sometimes the line between decoration and favor isn’t clear. But that’s why you ask, or err on the side of caution and don’t take what you are not absolutely convinced is yours to take.

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another Laura February 24, 2015 at 12:55 pm

Probably if there is only one on a table that seats multiple people it is a decoration. If there is one per person and it is candy or bubbles or something in a goody bag it is a favor. Now if the table is strewn with fancy pebbles or shells or something then I can understand the confusion.

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NostalgicGal February 24, 2015 at 12:28 pm

The centerpieces are usually just that, in the middle of the table. Favors are usually put on the plate, with the napkin and silverware or in the glass at the place setting-or next to the glass. It may be the fancy glass.

Unless TOLD you can take it, don’t. Floral arrangements can lead to bloodshed and more… and yes, a lot think that they can take the decorations when the event is done. Not knowing that the stuff is rented, or the bride wanted to give that centerpiece to their grandmother or….

Some people would take the tablecloth, silverware and chairs if they could. Weddinghell had reported one where some friends of family asked if they could have some of the decorations as their daughter was getting married soon, the family agreed… and they were doing things like stripping the pew decorations during church seating BEFORE the wedding (the family put a STOP to that and got things put back up so the main event could happen).

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Jaxsue February 25, 2015 at 11:30 am

I have seen people do this. I don’t do it unless the HC tells me to take the centerpiece. Otherwise, it is off limits. So many wedding things are rented nowadays. Who thinks it is okay to walk off with someone else’s property?

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Softly Spoken February 23, 2015 at 12:46 pm

I don’t see why C would be any more entitled to any leftovers than all the other guests there. If there isn’t enough for everyone to take some then I think the OP was well within her rights to take it back. Potlucks are about eating what is brought – not taking it home.
Now I have seen people offer the leftovers of their dish to whoever wants them, because for whatever reason they don’t want to take it home. But I was always under the impression that when a guest brings a dish, it is always their dish from start to finish and they get to decide what happens to it if it isn’t finished by the end of the party.

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Lisa February 23, 2015 at 12:50 pm

My concern with leaving the leftovers behind would be the pan that the food was in.

First of all, I wouldn’t want to lose my pan.

Secondly, it’s a pain for the host to try to return all of the dishes to the right people.

All C had to do was to complement the dish and ask if she could take some home with her, and I’m assuming that wouldn’t have been a big deal.

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Justine February 23, 2015 at 12:51 pm

I agree with the Admin. Why couldn’t the woman ask (instead of telling you) “that cake was so good! Do you mind if I take a piece home with me?” A little compliment goes a long way.

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The Elf February 24, 2015 at 9:36 am

Exactly. I bet most people would have been happy to split what was left, or even give C the whole thing, had she *asked*.

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rachel February 23, 2015 at 1:14 pm

C is an entitled brat whose opinions on manners should now be ignored.

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Charlotte February 23, 2015 at 1:52 pm

You know, I actually had always wondered what the etiquette regarding leftovers at Potlucks were. I have had some people swear up and down to me that once you brought something (even if it was unopened or untouched) that it was up for grabs by anyone who wanted it. This seemed counterintuitive to me. I think the worst personal experience I had of this was when I brought two store bought coffee cakes to a potluck at work. I only brought the second one as I wasn’t sure the one would be enough. I had put the one out and left the other unopened one on my desk. The one coffee cake turned out to be more than enough as there was still a piece or so left. When I got back to my desk, I found the unopened coffee cake missing. Fortunately I spied a coworker slipping it into her bag and confronted her on it. She called me rude and gave me the same line about “once you bring something, it’s no longer yours and up for grabs.” Long story short, I got my coffee cake back. I still don’t understand this woman’s behavior as she was a professional where I was a contractor and paid a hell of a lot more than me.

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Ergala March 9, 2015 at 12:23 pm

And it was on your desk….you should walk over and take her stapler and explain that once it’s there it’s for everyone to take.

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Renee February 23, 2015 at 2:50 pm

Just4kicks,
Mississippi Mud is a layered chocolate/dream whip pudding dessert with graham cracker and nut base. In my family it is known as “sex in a pan” it is sooo good. It was served at every family function in the 80’s. We only called it “Mississippi Mud” when the parish priest was in attendance! If I can track down the recipe in my late Mother’s recipe collection, I will share it!

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Anonymous February 24, 2015 at 8:39 am

It sounds like it’d be kind of hard for C to take home “just one slice” of Mississippi Mud cake that the OP brought, because, since it’s made of whipped cream, pudding, and a crust made of cookie crumbs, it’d be too messy to just put on a paper plate and wrap with Saran Wrap–C would have needed to bring a plastic container in advance. So, either C didn’t bring a container, and she was planning to take the pan along with the leftovers (or mooching a container from the hosts), or she brought one, with the specific intention of scooping other people’s leftovers.

Anyway, I remember going to a community potluck organized by some friends of mine this past May or so, and after the potluck, we gave the leftovers to a homeless shelter. I could have easily taken home the leftovers of what I’d made (vegan brownies baked in a mini muffin tin, which I’d just put in a Ziploc freezer bag to take to the potluck) but everyone else was getting on the “give away the leftovers” bandwagon, we’d all had more than enough to eat, and I didn’t want to even look at another brownie (or really, any other food item) for a while. So, it was a very peaceful end to a very nice gathering.

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Daphne February 23, 2015 at 3:54 pm

OP you are 100% in the right. It is beyond weird and rude to insist on bringing others’ potluck leftovers home. C sounds like a real piece of work and I’d be willing to bet anyone within earshot was secretly cheering you on. I know I would have been!

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Weaver February 23, 2015 at 4:07 pm

When C said “Well, that was rude!” I would’ve been tempted to reply, “Yes, it was a bit, but I forgive you!”

Naturally I wouldn’t have actually said any such thing, but I would’ve been thinking it.

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ErinAnn February 23, 2015 at 4:15 pm

I’ve never been to a potluck where the hosted kept the leftovers. That seems terribly rude on the side of the hosts.

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ErinAnn February 23, 2015 at 4:15 pm

*hosts…not hosted.

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wren February 23, 2015 at 4:33 pm

The woman was rude to say that to you. She should have asked politely whether she could have a bit to take home with her. I think you are correct to take your leftovers home with you when the pot luck is over and you are ready to go home. This is how I understand most pot lucks to function. However, the culture in my office is to leave your pot luck item at work for the rest of the week and people use it for small meals or lunches until it is gone. It is actually kind of nice because most of us don’t want to take home leftovers.

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Aje February 23, 2015 at 4:46 pm

I had kind of a gimme experience with a friend that reminded me of this. When a group of five friends said “Let’s go out to eat together” she said “Fine, but one of you has to help pay for me or I can’t go.” It made my jaw drop. I understand things being tight, I don’t make very much money myself. why not say, “Things are a little financially tight, could I meet up with you later?” But to suggest we pay for you is kind of brash. Besides just because you don’t have a lot of money doesn’t mean you can’t go. When things are really tight I usually order maybe a coffee, hot tea or something very inexpensive and eat at home before I leave. That way I can still enjoy everyone’s company, serve the restaurant and not break the budget.

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Anonymous February 24, 2015 at 3:52 pm

Yeah, that friend is rude. I’m strapped for cash a lot too, but I wouldn’t blatantly demand that someone pay my way. If someone in my social circle said, “Let’s go out to eat together,” I might counter with, “Yes, I want to get together, but I’d rather do something that doesn’t cost money.” Then, I’d suggest a free activity, like the art gallery, or a picnic in the park, or a beach excursion or free outdoor movie in the summer, or something of that nature. Actually, now that I think of it, there really aren’t a lot of fun free things to do in my city during the winter. There are several outdoor ice-skating rinks, but my feet are too high-arched for skates.

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Anonymous February 24, 2015 at 3:56 pm

Hit Submit too soon. Anyway, the point I was trying to make is, it’s possible to say “yes” to spending time with someone, but “no” to spending money, if it’s not in your budget. That’s communication between friends. I think it crosses the line into “rude” when you start demanding that your friends pay your way at things that do cost money. I ran into the “group dinner, everyone pays their own way” scenario with my Amnesty group last winter, and they didn’t understand that I couldn’t justify spending “just $20” on dinner out with them. They offered to pay for me, but I said no. We still saw each other at meetings and events, so they knew I wasn’t rejecting them; I was just saying no to that one excursion that didn’t work for me. Yes, I could have taken them up on their offer, but I would have felt guilty, so it still wouldn’t have worked for me.

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NostalgicGal January 26, 2016 at 10:55 pm

Late add-with my dietary restrictions and allergies my friends, club member buddies, and spouse all know if I go out I will have to watch a glass of ice water melt or bring my own. (locally a lot of the eateries have given me permission to bring in my own container as long as I’m dicreet if I’m there with friends… they can’t possibly feed me and understand I want to be social with the others who are buying—I still tip the wait staff whether I brought my own in or just sat there and watched ice melt) I am used to watching/smelling others eat. Someone announcing they need to have someone else pay for them, I certainly wouldn’t contribute. (in a few days I have a club meeting, we’re going out to eat and it’s catered, and I will be bringing in my own container AND paying for the catered food ‘to-go’ (don’t plate it just clamshell it). My DH can eat almost anything and he’ll eat the catered meal. If she can’t afford her meal she can figure out something else or politely have a glass of ice water…..

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kingsrings February 23, 2015 at 4:57 pm

It’s been my experience and understanding that at the end of the potluck the food belongs to the person who brought it unless they offer it to others to take home with them. And at most of the ones I attend, that is indeed what happens. The host doesn’t want to be left with a bunch of food and clean-up that they don’t need or want. The polite thing to do is wait for the person who brought the dish to offer you some of the leftovers, you shouldn’t just assume that they’re fair game and start helping yourself to them. I know people who will actually bring along plastic containers and baggies with them to potlucks in preparation for leftovers! And they’ll go around saying how great it is that they’ll have all this food for dinners now. I call them potluck vultures.

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jgm1764 February 23, 2015 at 4:58 pm

Yeah, OP you did nothing wrong. Yikes, there is a WORLD of difference between “I’M taking that!” and “May I please take some home?” I wonder if the OP would have responded differently if C had done the latter. My husband and I usually go to our friends’ holiday potluck every December, and I always make a HUGE dish to share. I pride myself on my cooking skills, and I’m always pleased when friends ask for the leftovers of what I’ve made. Sharing good food is my favorite thing, so I’m more than happy to give it to them, since it makes things easier for my time-crunched mom friends (no kids myself so I have more time to cook at home).

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JO February 23, 2015 at 5:01 pm

You could, if you were feeling generous, have offered to give C a piece and taken the rest. However, given how rude C was to pretty much demand the cake I don’t think I would have been in a sharing mood either. You did fine.

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Cat February 23, 2015 at 5:23 pm

You were certainly entitled to take the remainder of your cake home. The other woman had no right to decide to take your food home unless you had announced that you did not wish to take it home and would anyone else like it. If you were feeling generous, you could have added, “I’ll be happy to give you the recipe so you can make one for yourself.”
I once took a ham to a school luncheon. I was shocked when I caught the school librarian asking someone if he would like to take the left-overs of the ham home. I stepped in and said that I was taking it as I had brought it. She was well aware that I brought the ham.
He asked what I was going to do with it. I told him I was making twelve bean soup out of it, brought the soup to school, and he and several others joined me for soup. That ham went a long way.

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JeanLouiseFinch February 23, 2015 at 5:25 pm

“…C makes a habit of taking things she didn’t bring home with her from potlucks…” OP, I would bet that you are not the only person who has noticed this. I think this is rude in the extreme, whether the leftovers “belong” to the bringer or the host, the leftovers did not belong to her. If I invite someone over for dinner, I did not agree to feed them and/or their friends, for the next couple of days and do not pack up a bunch of leftovers for them (except my Mom and my daughter.)

In Yiddish, this type of person is called a “schnorrer” and refers to someone who always expects people to give them something for nothing. They don’t necessarily beg, they show up whether invited or not and just expect that they will get stuff. I would be interested to know what this woman brought. Was it the cheapest possible thing? At work potlucks at my former law firm, most of the male partners were “schnorrers” and pushed to the front of the line and left with heaped plates whether or not they ever brought anything.

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Anonymous February 24, 2015 at 4:00 pm

This may be an extreme stance, but if you leave off the words “from potlucks” in that sentence, you get “C makes a habit of taking things home with her that she didn’t bring,” which is stealing. In Yiddish, that might be called a “schnorrer,” but in English, it’s called a “thief.”

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sylviatexas February 23, 2015 at 6:07 pm

The meal was over, ended, done, finished, &, just like “all you can eat” buffets at restaurants, you aren’t entitled to take home what you can’t eat at one sitting.

People seem to be stunned to hear the word “no”.

It seems like they feel that, if you offered something free of charge at any time, then they can claim it at any time without an explanation or a thank you.

I once found a kitten & placed a “free” ad at the vet’s office.

A woman called & *informed* me that she would be right over to pick up the kitten.

I slowed her down a bit by asking about her plans, experience, household, etc.

She had a 2-year-old child & a 6-month-old Boxer puppy, she wanted a small pet for the two of them to play with since the Boxer was “a little rowdy” for her son, & the kitten would ‘have to be an outdoor kitty’.

She was shocked, *shocked* I tell you, & offended that I wouldn’t give her the kitten;
she evidently thought, like your cake-grabber, that she was entitled to glom onto whatever she wanted.

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hakayama February 23, 2015 at 8:47 pm

@sylviatexas: It never ceases to amaze me how many people don’t think of pets in terms of “fit” within their family. What lunacy to have a toddler and a puppy at the same time. The idiot also probably went for the “free” to bypass the adoption fees at a shelter. Also, a shelter near me does not hand over animals, definitely not kittens, to families with children under 5.
The unfunny “funny” videos of toddlers and pets make me cringe at the endless possibilities of pain and damage to both sides.
So, do I hear yet some clamoring for stringent testing before licensing of future parents? 😉 🙁

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Anonymous February 24, 2015 at 4:15 pm

Actually, it’s good for children to grow up around animals, IF their parents teach them how to treat the animals properly. My parents got a dog early on in their marriage, but didn’t have me until they’d been married for five years. As a result, I grew up with a real love for animals. A lot of my friends, who didn’t grow up with pets in the house, were afraid of dogs; at least when we were little. As for me, I didn’t even realize that not everybody had a dog, until I was in kindergarten. However, SylviaTexas, I agree that it’s a bad idea to have a purely outdoor dog or cat, especially during the winter, and ESPECIALLY if you don’t have a fenced yard. My parents apparently grew up in an era where this was considered to be okay, and dogs and cats just ran wild in the neighbourhood. I’m glad it’s not like that anymore. Anyway, I think it’s okay to have a pet and a baby at the same time, and it’s okay to let dogs and cats outside sometimes, but not to leave them outside all the time.

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Ergala March 9, 2015 at 12:21 pm

I saw a video where a toddler was smacking the pet cat and the cat was smacking him back. The parent was taping it thinking it was funny they were “boxing”. Well the kitty got out the claws and the kid was crying. He then PUNCHED the cat in his anger at being scratched. Guess what happened….the kitty jumped up and latched onto the kid’s face and knocked him off the bed, still clinging to his face. I sincerely hope that the child learned their lesson and that the parent learned it’s NOT NICE to hit animals or allow it to happen. My youngest loves his kitty too rough and I have taken her away from him and explained she is smaller and more fragile. Also she doesn’t like being squeezed and sat on and hugged too tight. He has learned and now she is the one whom comes running to him when he is crying. She starts trying to comfort him. All because he learned to respect her.

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EchoGirl February 24, 2015 at 8:32 pm

I think families with young children can have pets (many of my childhood friends had pets that were older than they were when we were little). But, the parents have to be willing to set limits and teach their kids how to behave, not let them run roughshod over the animals because “it’s so CUUUUUUUUUUUUTE!”

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BagLady February 23, 2015 at 10:24 pm

My partner, Bagman, keeps a box of gallon Ziploc bags in his trunk for potluck leftovers.

Now before you cast him into Ehell … this isn’t for him. It’s for *everyone*.

We have one friend who always brings a huge pot of soup or jambalaya or something similar to potlucks. He’s a great cook, and it’s always delicious, but because he brings so much, there are always leftovers. Bagman and I divvy up the ‘tovers (as we call them) into Ziplocs for whoever wants to take some home. Great Cook who brought the soup is fine with this — he might even be one of those taking home a bag or two. He’d rather bring home the pot empty and the ‘tovers in bags than have to deal with the leftover soup in the pot.

That seems to be the pattern in my circle, which does a lot of potlucks. Nobody wants to bring home their leftovers (even Mr. Great Cook of the Oversized Soup Pot would be thrilled if it all got eaten) … so they offer them around at the end of the party or leave them with the hosts.

Some hosts may be less than happy about the extra cleanup that involves, but I am not one of them. When I host a potluck and folks leave ‘tovers behind, I’m not thinking, “Darn, more cleanup”; I’m thinking, “Cool! Free food!” But I don’t expect, demand or ask them to leave anything behind; it’s just a nice bonus if they do.

That said, the demanding woman in the OP takes the cake in more ways than one. If she’d *asked nicely& if she could take some of the cake home, she wouldn’t be on the shortlist for Ehell. But she didn’t.

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Devin February 24, 2015 at 11:33 am

My friends and I often have pot lucks or group dinners. The host usually provides cheap carry out containers, or ziplocs for everyone to make a doggy bag. We’re mostly young, single, professionals and the thought of taking home a weeks worth of one item is much less appeals than a meal or two worth of different items. Plus it makes clean-up a snap. I guess I’m lucky that everyone in my group are all generous participants, and there is never any greediness with left overs. Wine, beer, or liquor stays with the host, but we all get together frequently enough that it all ends up at the next get together.

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