Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Life...in general => Topic started by: snappylt on April 09, 2013, 12:36:47 PM

Title: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: snappylt on April 09, 2013, 12:36:47 PM
I just read a recent Miss Manners column (at http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/miss-manners-when-it-comes-to-clean-sheets-a-house-is-not-a-hotel/2013/03/26/8b2f4fdc-925c-11e2-bdea-e32ad90da239_story.html (http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/miss-manners-when-it-comes-to-clean-sheets-a-house-is-not-a-hotel/2013/03/26/8b2f4fdc-925c-11e2-bdea-e32ad90da239_story.html)).  It is the second letter that interests me.

Briefly, the letter writer says that twice recently the writer and spouse have attended pot luck dinners where the food ran out before they were able to get anything to eat.  (Apparently more aggressive diners crowded around the serving table, keeping the writer and spouse away.) The writer and spouse left early to eat dinner at a restaurant, but the hostess complained about their early departure, so the writer wants to know what he/she should have done.

Miss Manners suggest that the writer could have said "excuse me" and asked other people to allow her access to the food.  She seems to say that if one does leave early in that case, the polite thing to do would be to disguise the reason one is leaving.

I'm wondering what other people here  think about this topic.

I agree that it would be polite to say "excuse me" to try to get other people to move away and allow access to the food...

... but if that doesn't work, and if the food disappears before one has a chance to get any, then I think it would be OK to leave.

Is there any polite way to tell the truth about why one is leaving in that case?
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: Twik on April 09, 2013, 12:44:00 PM
Personally, I would have said, "I'm leaving to get something to eat."

Then, the next time the hosts announced, "We'll have a potluck - all our friends just LOVE potlucks!" maybe they'll think twice. In this particular group, it's clearly not working. A good potluck usually ends with people going, "Take some leftovers - PLEASE!"

Someone in this circle (maybe a bunch of someones) is not pulling his/her weight with the provisions, if there's nothing left by the time the last guests get to the table.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: Outdoor Girl on April 09, 2013, 12:47:28 PM
I would have no problem telling the 'host(ess)' that I was leaving to get something to eat as there was nothing left.  And I wouldn't be worried about being overheard by other guests.

The next time I was invited to a potluck with this same group, I'd decline the invitation.

Not enough food at a potluck?  You're not doing it right.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: bah12 on April 09, 2013, 12:53:35 PM
I'm confused how a potluck can run out of food.  Are guests not bringing enough to feed themselves plus some?  Are some guests not bringing substantial dishes, which limits the amount of "real" food available for a meal?  Most potlucks have an overabundance of food, not the opposite.  If anything, I would think the problem would be more running out of the more popular dishes...not all of them. 

That being said, if any party is poorly planned to the point that guests are left without anything to eat, that is a problem.  I agree with Miss Manners that it's not rude to be a little more aggressive when trying to get a meal at a party.  It's nice of them to sit back and wait for others to get their share, but it's not rude to say "excuse me please. I'm trying to get in here to get some dinner."  Especially if others are crowding the table and not allowing others in.

And if I did leave the party early becaue there wasn't enough to eat, I probably wouldn't have an issue with telling the host/hostess that I have to leave to get some dinner. 
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: Hmmmmm on April 09, 2013, 01:10:56 PM
I'm having  hard time with this. I could imagine a situation where a couple were located in another area when a buffet started and by the time they arrived the majority of the food was gone. But literally not being able to physically get access to the food just seems odd. Why wouldn't you say "Excuse me, I'm trying to get some salad."  Or that other guests standing  around wouldn't notice that two people in their group had not had a chance to serve themselves. And this happened twice? Maybe I'm taking it too literal and they mean tere was no main dishes left for them.

But I wouldn't mention why I was leaving. I'd just leave saying I wasn't feeling well and then decline future potlucks hosted by this family.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: audhs on April 09, 2013, 01:20:34 PM
It sounds to me like they were sitting back waiting to be allowed to eat.  The other guests were standing eating and probably didn't notice them sitting waiting their "turn".  I wonder how long they sat there before trying to get food, possibly by the sound of it long enough for everyone else to finish eating (and possibly have seconds).

I think they needed to be more assertive and go and get themselves some food. Although Some fault lies with the host/ess of the event for not making sure everyone was served.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: amylouky on April 09, 2013, 01:21:33 PM
I think the "hostess" of the potluck erred in two ways.. not making sure there was adequate food for all her guests, and not providing seating, so that people had to crowd around the table standing to eat their food. Sounds like a nightmare to me.
In this case, I probably would have asked someone to move so that I could make a plate, if people were just standing around the table. Failing that, I would have excused myself with the reason, "I'm sorry.. there doesn't seem to be any food left, and I'm afraid I need to eat soon."
This hostess's potlucks aren't working, and letting her know would really be a kindness.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: WillyNilly on April 09, 2013, 01:24:12 PM
I think first and foremost these people need to speak when invited, and let their friends know that twice now they haven't had a chance to get any food.

I'm a bit confused how the hosts don't realize there is a problem... as its always been my understanding the host fixes themself the last plate. So if there are guests with no food, surely then that means the host totally understands the issue as they also have no food.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: siamesecat2965 on April 09, 2013, 01:26:48 PM
I would have no problem telling the 'host(ess)' that I was leaving to get something to eat as there was nothing left.  And I wouldn't be worried about being overheard by other guests.

The next time I was invited to a potluck with this same group, I'd decline the invitation.

Not enough food at a potluck?  You're not doing it right.

Me either. and I agree with the not doing it right. My one group of friends used to do potlucks all the time. Generally, whoever hosted provided the main "dish" I did ziti one time, and tacos another. Since we have some non-meat eaters, I made ziti with and without meat sauce, and chicken and beef tacos. Another friend brought the toppings, others dessert, drinks, chips etc., and it waas like pulling teeth to get people to take the leftovers home!

the only other solution i can see, but I don't know how you'd do it, would be to have the host serve the guests. But that sort of gets away from the idea of a potluck. So either some people are taking way more than their fair share, or there are some who simply aren't contributing, and tehre's not enough for everyone attending.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: BeagleMommy on April 09, 2013, 01:27:17 PM
A potluck with inadquate food for all invited seems a contradiction in terms.  Most potlucks I've been to there is so much food leftover the hostess is begging people to take some home.

I think I would have used "Excuse me I'd like to fix a plate".

If I did end up leaving early I would tell the hostess why, in a calm manner, so she can make sure there's enough provisions the next time.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: Shoo on April 09, 2013, 01:27:41 PM
It's hard to believe this happened once, let alone twice.  Something is wrong with these letter writers.  Either they're deliberately sitting back and waiting until everything is gone, or ....  well, I can't imagine what else they might be doing.  I don't believe this letter, frankly.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: LazyDaisy on April 09, 2013, 01:28:41 PM
I can't stand trying to eat an actual meal while standing -- balancing the plate, napkin, utensils and beverage in one hand while trying to cut food into bite sized pieces with the other. If guests continue to stand around the buffet table after serving it sounds like the hosts didn't provide a space for them to go. Or maybe I'm imagining this incorrectly and this isn't a real meal but just appetizers. It sounds like the letter writer probably just didn't like what was served or the idea of a potluck event. Either way, there is no way for the letter writer to let the hosts know without sounding petty. Time to decline the invitation or attend but eat a real meal first with the understanding that this event is more about the socializing rather than the meal.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: TootsNYC on April 09, 2013, 01:30:06 PM
I don't know why it would be rude to explain the situation to the hostess.
If she says, "I'm upset you left early," why *wouldn't* you say, "well, we were unable to get anything to eat because people wouldn't let us through to the table until after all the food is gone."


I'm also having a hard time picturing that there isn't ANY food left?
Or that they wouldn't say, "Excuse me, could I get some food?"
Or that the hostess wouldn't notice their empty plates (because believe me, I'd have sat there with my plate until someone asked me).
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: Cami on April 09, 2013, 01:33:36 PM
I'd tell the host why I was leaving. To tell an unpleasant truth isn't rude, just unpleasant.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: snappylt on April 09, 2013, 01:39:54 PM
I'd tell the host why I was leaving. To tell an unpleasant truth isn't rude, just unpleasant.
Honestly, I think this is what I would do, too.  (Well, when I think about it, I would probably have excused myself and asked people to allow me to get to the serving table!) If the food was all gone and I hadn't been able to get any, I think I would say something to the host.  I think I would most likely try to be polite about it, and I'd apologize for leaving early, but I think it would not have to be rude if said with carefully chosen words.  (After all, how can the host avoid the problem in the future if the host is unaware of it?)
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: TurtleDove on April 09, 2013, 01:46:38 PM
I'm with Shoo.  I don't believe the letter writers.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: Eeep! on April 09, 2013, 02:00:31 PM
I am really trying to figure out how this particular situation would happen in reality.  I mean, were the people standing around the serving table eating with their arms linked glowering at people who dared to approach them?  Did this couple have no other friends at the party who would notice that they weren't  eating anything?  It just seems so odd.  It's like I have to picture this small timid couple cowering in the corner with their empty plates looking with trepidation at the hoard of people gobbling their food and feeding their children between them and the serving table.  Which seems a bit much. ;)
And to have that happen to them twice? Guess the didn't learn to be a bit more proactive after the first time, huh?

And I also agree that I have never been to a potluck where there was no food left. Never. Possibly all the "good stuff" gets eaten, but everything? Not that I have encountered.

All that said, if indeed there was so little food that - after letting everyone and their children get served  and then forcing your way to the table - one found that there was no food left, I don't think there would be anything wrong with politely telling the host the reason you are leaving if you are asked.  They need to be more aware of the fact that their potluck isn't quite working the way it should.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: Sharnita on April 09, 2013, 02:01:24 PM
I question whether all the food is gone or just the food they like. If that is the case it might explain why they don't say anything to host - host might say "Well a,b,c are gone but there  is still a lot of l, m, n, o,p.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: Yvaine on April 09, 2013, 02:05:22 PM
Reading the letter, I'm not even sure the food was gone--by "dishes" they might even mean the host ran out of plates, in which case I think they could certainly have politely asked if there were more!

I'm kind of picturing them passive-aggressively waiting to be told to eat.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: LazyDaisy on April 09, 2013, 02:22:44 PM
I keep going back to the original article because this is so odd. She begins the post by setting herself up as the ever gracious guest -- ..."bringing a homemade offering, drink and a custom gift for the hostess." Not just any side dish...but an offering and not a hostess gift but a custom made one ...See how wonderful a guest she is? Beyond reproach. How could the hostess not be fawning over her? What is this called in fan fic -- a Mary Sue??  ::)

Then immediately criticizes the host by saying it was poorly planned because there were several hours before the food was served. That doesn't sound so unusual to me at a family get together. Maybe the dinner time should have been better communicated but why is it poor planning to socialize first and then serve dinner? Unless there are multiple guests left without food, this really seems to be the fault of the letter writer for not getting up to the table to eat in a timely manner. I can't imagine that the other guests created an impenetrable blockage. It sounds like the letter writer was expecting to be catered to and then made a point to the hostess by flouncing out.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: DottyG on April 09, 2013, 02:22:59 PM
Quote
I'm with Shoo.  I don't believe the letter writers.

Count me as in with the Shoo and Turtledove crowd.  I don't think this is a true story.

And, if it is true, frankly I blame the letterwriter.  If she's that timid that she can't get her own food and is waiting for "permission" to eat at a potluck, it's her own fault.  The host does not need to babysit her and her family to make sure they get their food.  The majority of us (and, it appears, the majority of the other guests at those functions) are able to manage a potluck without problem.  Like someone else said, I doubt the other guests were playing a game of "Red Rover" with their arms linked together.  The letterwriter could have very easily said, "Excuse me" and gotten some food.

I don't hold the hosts at fault here at all.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: VorFemme on April 09, 2013, 03:17:03 PM
I liked the suggested wording about telling the hostess that they were leaving because "they weren't feeling well" because Miss Manners just knew that their stomach was bothering them.......

But whether the serving dishes were empty, the hosts ran out of plates (china, stoneware, plastic, or paper - doesn't matter), or what else happened......

I get the vibe that this was an older couple who had some expectation of being the "matriarch & patriarch" of the family get together and then didn't get deferred to enough.  Or possibly it was the boss and his wife......but for some reason, LW and spouse saw themselves as "special" and didn't get treated that way. 

Unless they were afraid of being knocked down by the rowdy crowd around the food - they should have been able to stand up and walk over there to get something to eat at some point before the food ran out.

Unless the rest of the diners were cheapskates who brought food for two and ate food for six.....which I have seen happen, a few times.  But not at the church or family pot-lucks that I've attended!

Once or twice at work pot-lucks that I've heard about, though....and once I burned two cookie sheets of cookies and got left with a lot fewer cookies to take with me than I'd planned.  It was my "going away party" so I rather hoped that telling everyone about the oven overheating explained why I brought two dozen cookies instead of five dozen......I just wasn't going to be at the next pot-luck!
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: mmswm on April 09, 2013, 03:29:21 PM
I also read the letter has having run out of actual dishes, not food.

Nonetheless, the LW's have some culpability in their situation, as they failed to assert themselves in their attempts to get to the serving table.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: TeamBhakta on April 09, 2013, 03:51:09 PM
I'm with Shoo.  I don't believe the letter writers.

I don't know, I've seen it happen before. At a church my mom and I used to attend, they once held a potluck dinner. There was  ample food and desserts for everyone before the dinner started. However, the front of the line made such pigs of themselves (on everyone's first trip through) that all the dessert tables were wiped out before my first dinner plate was filled. Nothing left but empty platters of crumbs and one platter of Oreos  :(
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: gellchom on April 09, 2013, 04:02:07 PM
I'm with the majority here, too.  I don't believe that all the food was gone.  Twice.  But no one else seemed to have a problem.  Even if it were the plates that had run out, how hard would it be to mention it to the hosts and ask for a plate?  (If this were a close friend or relative's home, I'd probably just wash and dry a few used and abandoned plates and put them back on the buffet without comment, the same as I'd replace the toilet paper in the powder room if I noticed the spindle was empty.)

I think that these people were just being passive aggressive and childish and that the hosts did nothing wrong.

LazyDaisy, I agree with you about the Mary Sue-ishness, too --  a tip-off that the letter writers were the sort that would prefer to go hungry if it meant they could feed their Blameless Victim complex.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: NyaChan on April 09, 2013, 04:09:24 PM
I get the feeling this couple isn't happy with the idea of potluck to begin with or the informality of the party.  For the scenario that they described to be happening, I get the feeling that they are waiting to be invited to take a plate and get food rather than just going up and joining the group standing around the food.  How hard is it to say, "Excuse me, can you hand me a plate so I can serve myself?" or "Excuse me, can you make some room for me?"
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: Surianne on April 09, 2013, 04:29:47 PM
I usually wait until everyone has gone through a potluck line before I go myself.  I'm just not that into asserting myself and crowds freak me out (I have some food anxiety that others see as pickiness so if I go in the main line with people, I get a lot of questions about why I'm not taking X or Y), so it's easiest, even if most of the "best" dishes are gone.  So I can believe the couple.  If there wasn't enough food, I'd rather leave to get food than push my way in or take the others to task. 
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: Calistoga on April 09, 2013, 04:36:16 PM
Me personally? I'm sure it happened...in some sense of the word.

But lets assume for a minute that this happened as she said.

If it was the same host twice, then yes, speak up! The host needs to know that some guests aren't being fed and find out why. If people are taking outrageous portions, that's something that  can be controlled by just providing smaller plates or reminding people that there's enough food to feed 40 here, so make sure to leave enough for everyone. If people aren't bringing enough to begin with, ask people to prepare bigger sizes, or bring 2 dishes. If not everyone is bringing something but still shows up and pigs out, make a sign up sheet... all of these issues can be avoided.

If you're just too scared to get to the table and feed yourself though...well...that's no ones fault but yours.

Unless this was the same host twice, I just can't see it being factually true.

If it was about plates... ask the host if she has any more before running away. And I don't know how it could realistically be the "overly aggressive" guests fault that the plates ran out unless they were juggling them or using them as frisbees all willy nilly.

Honestly I doubt that the situation was accurately described here though. Why, on two different occasions, would you bring gifts for a hostess? Maybe that's an etiquette rule I'm unaware of, but it seems odd to me that you'd do that if it wasn't for a birthday or anniversary or something. How would only this couple be left without food...twice? If it's plates, why wouldn't you ask for more before running off?

It sounds more like they didn't really want to be at a pot luck, so they made an excuse to leave and didn't want to tell the host the real reason.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: nyoprinces on April 09, 2013, 05:46:04 PM
Her description of her custom hostess gifts and "handmade offerings" make me think that she's waiting to be waited upon, or at least waiting to be fussed over and encouraged to get food and "oh, why don't you have your plate yet? Come, everyone, stand aside to make way for the Special One please!" It sounds a bit like she doesn't approve of informal potluck setups, or is trying to "lead by silent example" in reformatting someone else's gathering to a different type of meal, where people line up in an orderly fashion to take perfectly equal portions of carefully  handmade dishes.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: Bluenomi on April 09, 2013, 06:38:07 PM
The way I read it was when they got to the table there for no more plates so instead of asking for one, they took the PA option and left in a huff. No wonder the host was confused.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: DottyG on April 09, 2013, 06:50:59 PM
Quote
Her description of her custom hostess gifts and "handmade offerings" make me think that she's waiting to be waited upon, or at least waiting to be fussed over and encouraged to get food and "oh, why don't you have your plate yet? Come, everyone, stand aside to make way for the Special One please!" It sounds a bit like she doesn't approve of informal potluck setups, or is trying to "lead by silent example" in reformatting someone else's gathering to a different type of meal, where people line up in an orderly fashion to take perfectly equal portions of carefully  handmade dishes.

I agree.

Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: snowdragon on April 09, 2013, 07:17:35 PM
It's hard to believe this happened once, let alone twice.  Something is wrong with these letter writers.  Either they're deliberately sitting back and waiting until everything is gone, or ....  well, I can't imagine what else they might be doing.  I don't believe this letter, frankly.


Yeah, this rings oddly to me, too.  Unless some folks are not bringing enough, others none at all and the people going first are seriously over eating ( or wasting) I can't see this happening -ever, let alone twice.   Something's wrong here.


And this, I agree, makes her sound like a snob:

Her description of her custom hostess gifts and "handmade offerings" make me think that she's waiting to be waited upon, or at least waiting to be fussed over and encouraged to get food and "oh, why don't you have your plate yet? Come, everyone, stand aside to make way for the Special One please!" It sounds a bit like she doesn't approve of informal potluck setups, or is trying to "lead by silent example" in reformatting someone else's gathering to a different type of meal, where people line up in an orderly fashion to take perfectly equal portions of carefully  handmade dishes.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: gellchom on April 09, 2013, 08:12:08 PM
Quote
Her description of her custom hostess gifts and "handmade offerings" make me think that she's waiting to be waited upon, or at least waiting to be fussed over and encouraged to get food and "oh, why don't you have your plate yet? Come, everyone, stand aside to make way for the Special One please!" It sounds a bit like she doesn't approve of informal potluck setups, or is trying to "lead by silent example" in reformatting someone else's gathering to a different type of meal, where people line up in an orderly fashion to take perfectly equal portions of carefully  handmade dishes.

I agree.

Me, too.  Spot on.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: JenJay on April 09, 2013, 08:21:46 PM
To answer the original question, if I was at a potluck and the food ran out before I had a chance to eat, I'd probably stick around for a bit longer and socialize and then excuse myself early. I get nasty headaches if I get too hungry so I honestly couldn't enjoy the rest of the party while acting like nothing was wrong. If the host asked while I was leaving early I'd either be honest or blame the headache, it would depend on the situation, how good a friend I was to the hosts, whether or not there was already tension about the food situation, etc.

If it happened again with the same host(s) I'd speak to them quietly and say "I'm afraid I need to leave. Unfortunately all of the food ran out before I had a chance to eat and If I don't eat soon I'll get a nasty headache." They could either make more food next time or take offense and not invite me again, either would be fine by me.  ;)
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: Venus193 on April 09, 2013, 08:29:16 PM
My knee-jerk reaction to this is that at every potluck there's always somebody who doesn't contribute.  Said person also usually vacuums up what others bring.

If there actually are no plates someone needs to speak up to the hosts.  If the others are crowding around the table, blocking their path, they need to speak up to the other guests.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: *inviteseller on April 09, 2013, 09:09:34 PM
The problem probably is, as we have seen on this board before, not everyone brings food but everyone helps themselves which leads to the food running out before the polite couple gets to eat (can the hostess not see the feeding frenzy???).  I would politely say to the hostess that when it came to the couples turn to get a plate, the food was gone so they were going to get something to eat.  I would also decline any more invites from someone who can;t ensure that guests invited for a meal don't get one.  I don't know what it is that brings out the absolute worst in people when it comes to potlucks!  Between the "hey, I brought a 2 liter of generic pop, so I will make plates for my extended family!" to the who ever is organizing it not making sure of variety/ample amount of food/the piranhas who bring nothing but help themselves I have learned to hate hearing from some people they are having a potluck party!
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: TootsNYC on April 09, 2013, 09:11:41 PM
Sometimes people do stand around the food table instead of going AWAY and making room.

So someone who was really wimpy might hang back and wait--but I keep thinking, "come on! Stick up for yourself. Open up your mouth and use your words."

Why make yourself suffer just to prove exactly how rude all those people are who didn't drift away from the food and leave room for other people to get to the table?
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: Twik on April 09, 2013, 11:31:16 PM
No matter how shy the writer was, if the food runs out before they eat, there's not enough food. A good potluck (or any meal, really) should allow people to eat as much as they want, and still have at least a few mouthfuls left.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: sparksals on April 10, 2013, 01:11:57 AM
It sounds to me like they were sitting back waiting to be allowed to eat.  The other guests were standing eating and probably didn't notice them sitting waiting their "turn".  I wonder how long they sat there before trying to get food, possibly by the sound of it long enough for everyone else to finish eating (and possibly have seconds).

I think they needed to be more assertive and go and get themselves some food. Although Some fault lies with the host/ess of the event for not making sure everyone was served.

I dont think they were sitting back.  It seems that people crowded the table while eating and didn't think to make room for those who haven't eaten yet. 

I have seen this happen at parties a lot....people get a plate and then just stand and talk blocking the table.  I find it extremely rude! 

I think the LW's mistake is they didn't speak up. They didn't want to appear to barge in to the table when the people rudely crowded it.   They should have.spoken up.   Although they als said by the time they got to the table there were no plates either.  Hostess fail. 
 
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: sunnygirl on April 10, 2013, 05:40:38 AM
Undecided about the LW, but I once attended a work potluck where this happened - the food was set out on a small table, and all the guests formed one long line to serve themselves (everyone sat down after they'd fixed their plate). I was very near the back and by the time I got to the front, only a few bits of bread and some salad (by which I mean undressed lettuce leaves) was left, no main dishes at all. There would have been no way to get to the food sooner other than by directly queue-jumping. In that case it was just that there really wasn't enough food - enough to feed everyone only if everyone took one medium sized portion, and plenty of people took huge portions. So it can happen.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: LifeOnPluto on April 10, 2013, 06:31:36 AM
I'm surprised that people are being so cynical here. I can easily picture all the food running out. All it takes is several hungry teenagers or people in their 20s to serve themselves first, and there is very little left for everyone else!

Or, as others have suggested, people were taking their food and not moving back from the table. In which case, this couple is darned if they do, darned if they don't. If they hang back, they're shy and passive-aggressive. If they try to push through the crowd, they'd probably be deemed "rude" (I can actually picture etiquette advice saying 'If no one is letting you through to the food, the polite thing to do is leave early and eat elsewhere, rather than physically jostle people out of the way').

At any rate, I believe this couple should tell the hostess the truth, rather than make up some excuse.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: Sharnita on April 10, 2013, 06:40:25 AM
I don't think anybody has ever said it is rude to say "Pardon me" so people will move.  Not here, anyway. I certainly can't imagine the suggestion that they leave unfed instead.  And in general potlucks seem to have enough food that at least some dishes allow for people to get seconds. For there to be not enough for firsts, and not have anybody else notice and comment? Sorry, that seems really unlikely. 

And if they actually ran out of dishes to put the food on then not simply asking seems incredibly wimpy.

Now as far as advice - no matter what is actually happening, they do not seem strong enough to say anything to the host so if there is a problem, she is unaware.  I guess I might tell them to bring a second smaller container of whatever dish they brought so they could pull it out and eat that if everythign else ran out? 
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: TootsNYC on April 10, 2013, 07:03:01 AM
(I can actually picture etiquette advice saying 'If no one is letting you through to the food, the polite thing to do is leave early and eat elsewhere, rather than physically jostle people out of the way').


Surely you can't be serious.

Etiquette would ALWAYS say, "open up your little mouth and say, "Excuse me, I'd like to get through."
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: TurtleDove on April 10, 2013, 07:15:53 AM
I also assume the LWs are not at a potluck with strangers. It makes no sense to me why they wouldn't ask people to move if they were truly blocked from the food (I find this really unlikely), and it makes no sense to me why everyone else got food just fine but they got nothing. No matter what, this could have been prevented if they had acted how I think most people would - since everyone else was able to handle the situation, I think the fault is with the LWs.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: perpetua on April 10, 2013, 07:17:02 AM
If they hang back, they're shy and passive-aggressive. If they try to push through the crowd, they'd probably be deemed "rude" (I can actually picture etiquette advice saying 'If no one is letting you through to the food, the polite thing to do is leave early and eat elsewhere, rather than physically jostle people out of the way').

That's not polite; that's being a doormat.

I have no sympathy for these people. Either they were sitting back waiting for someone to announce it was time for them to eat a-la a proper dinner party, which wasn't the nature of the event, or they were too meek and timid to feed themselves, both of which strike me as faintly ridiculous.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: Jones on April 10, 2013, 07:25:28 AM
I'm surprised that people are being so cynical here. I can easily picture all the food running out. All it takes is several hungry teenagers or people in their 20s to serve themselves first, and there is very little left for everyone else!

Or, as others have suggested, people were taking their food and not moving back from the table. In which case, this couple is darned if they do, darned if they don't. If they hang back, they're shy and passive-aggressive. If they try to push through the crowd, they'd probably be deemed "rude" (I can actually picture etiquette advice saying 'If no one is letting you through to the food, the polite thing to do is leave early and eat elsewhere, rather than physically jostle people out of the way').

At any rate, I believe this couple should tell the hostess the truth, rather than make up some excuse.
Hey now. Don't just blame it on the young! Last Easter my uncle, in his 50's, grabbed my platter of cheesecake stuffed strawberries from the appetizer bar and set himself up in a corner. To his credit, he did share with anyone who sought him out, but...that was a Lot of strawberries.
 :) :D
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: Calistoga on April 10, 2013, 08:20:29 AM
The reason for my cynicism is that this happened not once, but twice.  Twice they went to pot lucks (with beautiful home made offerings and custome gifts for the hostess). Twice the table was too small. Twice they didn't assert themselves at all to get food. And twice they went to restaurants and got scolded for leaving early. If you told me this happened one time, yeah, I'd believe it. But I raise an eyebrow at the concept of the same odd situation repeating itself twice and the LW's just sitting back and letting it happen.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: Venus193 on April 10, 2013, 09:11:04 AM
That is odd, but if this group is mostly family there is very likely someone whose etiquette faux pas are allowed to pass; in this case it's the person(s) who fails to bring anything.
 
Since the letter came from someone outside this forum we will never know whether the complaining couple is being P/A or not.   For people to crowd around the table is still rude either way.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: TeamBhakta on April 10, 2013, 10:33:07 AM
I also wonder if the couple is from one culture and the other guests are from a different culture. As in the couple might've thought "Oh man, everyone is standing around the table chatting and eating instead of moving. I want to say something, but many of Holly Hostess' family speak another language."
*ETA: Also, the custom gift makes me think the situation might be along the lines of "Our niece / distant cousin's kid married someone from Other Culture. It was a baby shower / engagement party / birthday. The hostess was from their side of the family. We don't know anything about Other Culture and we don't know if the table crowding is their norm."
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: Bottlecaps on April 10, 2013, 01:26:18 PM
My only reaction is to say, "Speak up! It's not really that difficult to say 'Excuse me!'"

On one hand, I want to believe that the LW is exaggerating some, or as Sharnita said, it's not that no food was left, just that none of the food they like was left. But running out of food does happen at potlucks sometimes (albeit poorly-planned ones). I think they need to learn to say "Excuse me," and then if there's still no food, then obviously there's a problem. Also, when they leave, they do need to politely say something to the host/hostess so they are aware of the problem and can take measures to make sure there's enough to go around the next time. A problem can't be fixed if no one is aware of it.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: sparksals on April 10, 2013, 01:57:30 PM
I also assume the LWs are not at a potluck with strangers. It makes no sense to me why they wouldn't ask people to move if they were truly blocked from the food (I find this really unlikely), and it makes no sense to me why everyone else got food just fine but they got nothing. No matter what, this could have been prevented if they had acted how I think most people would - since everyone else was able to handle the situation, I think the fault is with the LWs.

I have seen it happen frequently at parties when people get food and crowd the table eating and chatting.  They are oblivious others cannot get in.  Unlike the LW, when it happens to me, I speak up and ask if they can make room for others to get food.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: lowspark on April 10, 2013, 01:58:30 PM
I'm one who when hosting a pot luck always goes through the line last. So I can't imagine the food running out without my realizing it. But honestly, I'm also in the group that says I've never seen a pot luck run out of food. Always the opposite. Now, one or two dishes, if extremely popular or if not enough was brought, might run out. But completely running out? I've never seen it.

But for the sake of the discussion, I will imagine finding myself in the place of the couple. I get to the table and see a bunch of empty dishes -- no food left. I'd absolutely say something to the host. I was invited over for dinner, I brought my potluck dish, yet no food for me. I'd probably just say something like "oops, Ms. Hostess, looks like there's nothing left for me to make a plate from." At the very minimum I imagine she could offer me something from the kitchen.

I think it's pretty PA to just act like nothing is wrong at all and leave early without saying why. As hostess, if someone is uncomfortable or inconvenienced or [horrors] unfed! at a party at my house, I sure want to know about it so I can at least try to remedy the situation. But as I said, in this case, I'd be in the same boat with the hungry guests who would have been in front of me in line for the food.

And thinking about this some more, I can't imagine, as hostess, not realizing that there wasn't going to be enough to go around before the first person even got in line. You know how many guests you have, you know what food has been brought. If the food appeared to be lacking, I'd probably break out some extra stuff, cheese & crackers even, to round out the selection.

I agree with posters who find the fact that the exact thing happened twice to the same couple a little hard to swallow. But you know, you have to take those letters with a grain of salt. In order to make them more interesting and yet concise, I imagine there's a certain amount of editing that goes on before the letter actually gets printed.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: Twik on April 10, 2013, 02:04:10 PM
They may have one (or both) of two problems. First, some people may not be bringing enough food. Second, there may be someone there who views all food not currently on someone's plate as "leftovers," and starts packing it away before everyone has even had firsts.

As far as the story being fake, it's pretty poor potatoes as one. If I were going to write a heartwrenching story to an advice columnist regarding my cruel treatment by the world, it would involve more than a potluck running out of food.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: lowspark on April 10, 2013, 02:32:33 PM
I also assume the LWs are not at a potluck with strangers. It makes no sense to me why they wouldn't ask people to move if they were truly blocked from the food (I find this really unlikely), and it makes no sense to me why everyone else got food just fine but they got nothing. No matter what, this could have been prevented if they had acted how I think most people would - since everyone else was able to handle the situation, I think the fault is with the LWs.

I have seen it happen frequently at parties when people get food and crowd the table eating and chatting.  They are oblivious others cannot get in.  Unlike the LW, when it happens to me, I speak up and ask if they can make room for others to get food.

Yeah, this is the part of the story that is especially silly. Sure, people stand around the table, oblivious to the fact that they are blocking access. Heck, I've even been one to do that. And how do I know that I was being oblivious? Someone politely asked me to move. Seriously, if you can't even bring yourself to utter a polite "excuse me, can I get through?" you really have no one to blame but yourself.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: Redneck Gravy on April 10, 2013, 03:03:36 PM
I have been to several potlucks where there is not enough food to feed everyone there...more than once.   There are just some people that don't bring enough, eat more than the equivalent of what they brought or just flat don't bring anything!  :o

This is why when I host a potluck I make sure there is plenty of food before the other dishes arrive.  You would be STUNNED at the number of couples that show up for a potluck dinner with two or three children in tow and a single pizza or a small bowl of dip with or without chips to go with it.  My sister came in one time with a small pot of beans and her husband, their three kids and two friends of the kids (that's 7 people and she is providing a single bowl of beans!).

Our church bulletin always says "please bring enough of your dish to feed your family plus one"  and sometimes we still don't have leftovers.  I would not want anyone to miss the the fellowship at church because they could not afford to bring a dish, but Geez EVERYBLOOMINGTIME gets a bit old.

As for leaving early I would make it kindly, yet clear why. 

 

 
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: sparksals on April 10, 2013, 03:41:54 PM
I also assume the LWs are not at a potluck with strangers. It makes no sense to me why they wouldn't ask people to move if they were truly blocked from the food (I find this really unlikely), and it makes no sense to me why everyone else got food just fine but they got nothing. No matter what, this could have been prevented if they had acted how I think most people would - since everyone else was able to handle the situation, I think the fault is with the LWs.

I have seen it happen frequently at parties when people get food and crowd the table eating and chatting.  They are oblivious others cannot get in.  Unlike the LW, when it happens to me, I speak up and ask if they can make room for others to get food.

Yeah, this is the part of the story that is especially silly. Sure, people stand around the table, oblivious to the fact that they are blocking access. Heck, I've even been one to do that. And how do I know that I was being oblivious? Someone politely asked me to move. Seriously, if you can't even bring yourself to utter a polite "excuse me, can I get through?" you really have no one to blame but yourself.

Yes, it is easy to do.  People get caught up.  Since it has happened to me so frequently, I make sure I don't block the table.  I watch around me to see if people need in or just move back a bit. 
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: TootsNYC on April 10, 2013, 04:00:08 PM

Our church bulletin always says "please bring enough of your dish to feed your family plus one"  and sometimes we still don't have leftovers.  I would not want anyone to miss the the fellowship at church because they could not afford to bring a dish, but Geez EVERYBLOOMINGTIME gets a bit old.


If all they're supposed to bring is one dish that would feed their family plus one, I find it hard to think they couldn't afford to bring a dish. They have to feed their family anyway.

The whole idea is that you simply MOVE the expense from your home dining table to a different table.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: Cami on April 10, 2013, 04:07:41 PM
They may have one (or both) of two problems. First, some people may not be bringing enough food. Second, there may be someone there who views all food not currently on someone's plate as "leftovers," and starts packing it away before everyone has even had firsts.

As far as the story being fake, it's pretty poor potatoes as one. If I were going to write a heartwrenching story to an advice columnist regarding my cruel treatment by the world, it would involve more than a potluck running out of food.
  I've known plenty of moochers in my life who show up to potlucks with nothing -- they know what they are doing and they count on the fact that everyone is too "polite" (i.e. is afraid of confrontation) to let them get away with it. I had a roommate in college who did it all the time -- until I called her on it. She was utterly flabbergasted that I'd called her on it and created quite a scene calling me "rude". She was also one of those people who would say she wasn't hungry when you asked her if she wanted to chip in on a pizza then would suddenly get ravenous when the pizza actually arrived and ask for "just one piece. I only want one piece." Then she'd hang around waiting to see if there were any pieces seemingly left over and reach in, "Well, if no one is going to eat this, I might as well." Another friend called her on that little scam. (She was also quite wealthy. I have a feeling I know why her parents had so much money.)

My MIL was also famous for quickly packing up food so she could take it home with her. Woe to the person who showed up five minutes late -- no food for you!
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: LifeOnPluto on April 11, 2013, 06:10:05 AM
I also assume the LWs are not at a potluck with strangers. It makes no sense to me why they wouldn't ask people to move if they were truly blocked from the food (I find this really unlikely), and it makes no sense to me why everyone else got food just fine but they got nothing. No matter what, this could have been prevented if they had acted how I think most people would - since everyone else was able to handle the situation, I think the fault is with the LWs.

I have seen it happen frequently at parties when people get food and crowd the table eating and chatting.  They are oblivious others cannot get in.  Unlike the LW, when it happens to me, I speak up and ask if they can make room for others to get food.

Yeah, this is the part of the story that is especially silly. Sure, people stand around the table, oblivious to the fact that they are blocking access. Heck, I've even been one to do that. And how do I know that I was being oblivious? Someone politely asked me to move. Seriously, if you can't even bring yourself to utter a polite "excuse me, can I get through?" you really have no one to blame but yourself.

We are all assuming that this couple hung back in the corner and didn't speak up. But we don't know that for sure. It's also possible that they DID say "excuse me" only to be ignored, or glared at, by the people crowding the table. In that situation, what should they have done? Tried to shove past to get to the food? Or just made a quiet, early exit to find a restaurant?
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: TurtleDove on April 11, 2013, 06:14:03 AM
We are all assuming that this couple hung back in the corner and didn't speak up. But we don't know that for sure. It's also possible that they DID say "excuse me" only to be ignored, or glared at, by the people crowding the table. In that situation, what should they have done? Tried to shove past to get to the food? Or just made a quiet, early exit to find a restaurant?

I wouldn't be at a potluck where people would ignore me, glare at me, or purposefully keep me from the food. Since it seems the LWs were the only people treated so awfully at these two potlucks (FWIW, I do not believe their story) they either did not speak up or they are not wanted at the potluck.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: *inviteseller on April 11, 2013, 07:23:10 AM
I can believe the story...she may be putting on airs for Miss Manners sake as far as the hostess gift stuff, but if you are last to get food at a potluck, you may be out of luck.  They also may have thought it was like a buffet and everyone lined up, got their food, then sat down to eat.  And as far as it being teenagers and younger people eating all the food...my step sister and her husband came to my house for Christmas, where I do a buffet and several family members bring side dished, and there is enough food for an army, except these 3 almost 40 year olds ate 3 LARGE plates of food each(they piled things on top of each other until it was triple layer) and drank a gallon and 1/2 of milk  and were not happy when somethings ran out (never had that happen!) because they wanted more to take home!  Some people just absolutely lose their minds when it comes to free food.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: lowspark on April 11, 2013, 07:39:35 AM
I have been to several potlucks where there is not enough food to feed everyone there...more than once.   There are just some people that don't bring enough, eat more than the equivalent of what they brought or just flat don't bring anything!  :o

This is why when I host a potluck I make sure there is plenty of food before the other dishes arrive.  You would be STUNNED at the number of couples that show up for a potluck dinner with two or three children in tow and a single pizza or a small bowl of dip with or without chips to go with it.  My sister came in one time with a small pot of beans and her husband, their three kids and two friends of the kids (that's 7 people and she is providing a single bowl of beans!).

Our church bulletin always says "please bring enough of your dish to feed your family plus one"  and sometimes we still don't have leftovers.  I would not want anyone to miss the the fellowship at church because they could not afford to bring a dish, but Geez EVERYBLOOMINGTIME gets a bit old.

As for leaving early I would make it kindly, yet clear why.

These people showing up with inadequate food, are they coming to a private party at your home or is this some kind of group event like a church dinner? If someone did that at a private party at my home which I was hosting, you can pretty well bet they'd never be invited back. If it were someone I was related to (like sister you mentioned) I'd take them aside and just let them know that what they brought was not enough and to either send hubby out to pick up some additional food or to make sure to bring enough next time. I don't think it's impolite to let people know what is required.

As far as group events like a church dinner, if this is happening repeatedly, maybe the organization which is hosting this dinner needs to look into doing something different. Maybe catering the dinner and charging an entry fee. Or having a set group of members provide all the food and get reimbursed.

I agree that as host, it's probably a pretty good idea to have extra stuff on hand or even on the table, just in case, especially if you don't know your guests well enough to be able to predict if they'll bring enough. But if the same people are coming and not contributing their fair share repeatedly, the host needs to either quit inviting them, prepare for their lack of contribution by having extra dishes to cover their portion, or do an alternate type of event.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: lowspark on April 11, 2013, 07:51:16 AM
I also assume the LWs are not at a potluck with strangers. It makes no sense to me why they wouldn't ask people to move if they were truly blocked from the food (I find this really unlikely), and it makes no sense to me why everyone else got food just fine but they got nothing. No matter what, this could have been prevented if they had acted how I think most people would - since everyone else was able to handle the situation, I think the fault is with the LWs.

I have seen it happen frequently at parties when people get food and crowd the table eating and chatting.  They are oblivious others cannot get in.  Unlike the LW, when it happens to me, I speak up and ask if they can make room for others to get food.

Yeah, this is the part of the story that is especially silly. Sure, people stand around the table, oblivious to the fact that they are blocking access. Heck, I've even been one to do that. And how do I know that I was being oblivious? Someone politely asked me to move. Seriously, if you can't even bring yourself to utter a polite "excuse me, can I get through?" you really have no one to blame but yourself.

We are all assuming that this couple hung back in the corner and didn't speak up. But we don't know that for sure. It's also possible that they DID say "excuse me" only to be ignored, or glared at, by the people crowding the table. In that situation, what should they have done? Tried to shove past to get to the food? Or just made a quiet, early exit to find a restaurant?

In that situation, I'd speak to the host. It is the host's duty to try to ensure that all the guests are having a good time, that they have adequate food & drink, etc. So I don't see where it would be impolite for a guest to let the host know that they need food. As long as they approach the host politely, it's fine to just say, "we can't get to the table, can you please help?" or "there doesn't appear to be any food left, are there extras in the kitchen?" or whatever.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: Twik on April 11, 2013, 09:08:19 AM
Some people just absolutely lose their minds when it comes to free food.

I've seen that be a theme on this board. There are some people who appear to be otherwise normal, decent people who will turn into entitled hyenas at the thought of getting food they do not actually have to pay for. That involves coming to potlucks without any significant contributions of their own, and then making off with "leftovers" before everyone has eaten their fill. (Let's not even go into people who steal their coworkers' food from communal fridges.)

It may be that the particular group of people who attend parties by these hosts are like this. It may be that they are not moving away from the table in a calculated move to protect "their" food from being taken. Then, they can say, "Oh, no one finished off the pasta salad? It's MINE now!"

We don't want to think of people being so ungenerous, but when I read threads like the office food thief thread, I realize that food can sometimes bring out very base instincts in susceptible people.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: Venus193 on April 11, 2013, 09:32:27 AM
This is why some offices now have a potluck rule, which is that you can't come if you don't contribute.  Brunhilde's sister's office has this rule.

My last company had this rule with the addition that anyone who wasn't preparing food would be responsible for paper plates, napkins, cutlery, soda, or decorations.  The company bought the wine and beer.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: o_gal on April 11, 2013, 11:16:15 AM
As far as group events like a church dinner, if this is happening repeatedly, maybe the organization which is hosting this dinner needs to look into doing something different. Maybe catering the dinner and charging an entry fee. Or having a set group of members provide all the food and get reimbursed.

This happened at the church we went to while I was growing up. For years, the protocol was that a group of church ladies would prepare a meat dish for everyone. You came with a side dish or dessert to share, and brought your own plates and utensils. Cups would be provided for drinks. After you put your stuff at your seats, you would get in line. At the appointed time, the minister would say grace and the line would progress through the buffet. Desserts were cut up in the kitchen and served after the dinner was finished.

There was one family (it's always that one family, isn't it?) who took this to the extreme and ended up changing the protocol. They would come super early and bring these enormous plates. These were the kind that had multiple sections. And they were HUGE. The family would take their places at the head of the line and wait the hour or so it took until the appointed dinner time. Then they would load up on their trip, with mounds and mounds of food on their huge plates.

One night there was literally no non-dessert food left for the people in the back of the line. As in, no meat left and all side dishes scraped clean by earlier people who were desperate. Apologies were issued and the protocol was changed immediately. After that, all tables were numbered and they would draw numbers for which table would go next. Mostly they'd get kids to draw the numbers and you would get teased if you drew your own table's number, especially if it was early  >:D

Then there's the story of the incredibly stupid caterer who agreed to provide the banquet dinner for 3500 hungry orienteers at the World Masters championships back in 1997. Who also decided that they could do that banquet and another at the same time, because they don't really need that much food, right? I think the reports were that about 1500 people paid $35 to only have the leftover butter pats.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: Sharnita on April 11, 2013, 11:20:50 AM
If their repeadt sexperiences are true it reminds me of little kids going to mom and saying "Mom, it hurts when I move my arm like this" (demonstrating repeatedly) and mom's obvious answer being "Then stop moving your arm like that"
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: jaxsue on April 11, 2013, 11:33:11 AM
Having grown up in church, I had my fair share of potluck dinners (or DOG - dinner on the ground). My dad was the pastor and our potluck dinners worked because he had rules: elderly and those with very small children went first. Families went through line together. It may sound draconian, but it worked.

Then I moved to the south and attended Southern Baptist and Methodist churches. They knew how to do DOGs! Tons of food to choose from, and always leftovers. The last church I attended, however, got it woefully wrong. It was a big Pres church, so there was really no excuse. You could look at the tables and easily tell that there wasn't enough for everyone. It was just crazy, to the point where I refused to go anymore. Kids were allowed to dart in and out of the line, getting 2nds and 3rds before some people got their first plate. It was obvious that some people didn't bring food, or brought tiny portions. Not worth it.

And, yes, I believe every church has "that family," the one that explodes in size every time food's involved! Some people you only saw during the potluck dinners. Or they'd ask to take home whatever leftovers there were, every time.  ::)
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: Sharnita on April 11, 2013, 11:38:24 AM
See, the church I go to has families that struggle terribly but is seems that even they bring something to cover their "obligation".  And there are a whole lot of singles or couples who bring dishes that could easily feed 6, 8, or even 12.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: jaxsue on April 11, 2013, 11:41:04 AM
See, the church I go to has families that struggle terribly but is seems that even they bring something to cover their "obigation".  And their are a whole lot of singles or couples who bring dishes that could easily feed 6, 8, or even 12.

Exactly. My family had very little money. My dad pastored small churches and his pay was inadequate. Still, we managed to bring enough food to cover the 8 of us and others. and, IIRC, my mom took more than she had to. Casseroles are pretty inexpensive to make!
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: DottyG on April 11, 2013, 12:12:36 PM
Quote
sexperiences

Hey, if they're having that happen at these events, I think they more to deal with than no food to eat! ;)
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: Outdoor Girl on April 11, 2013, 12:21:39 PM
My parents tiny little church had a potluck every June.  Almost everybody was good about bringing a dish but, again, that one family...   ::)

One year, they had a weird thing happen, though.  Everybody brought sides and desserts.  My Mom's maple baked beans were the only main course.  Everyone just laughed, ate the sides and desserts and the next year, some folks talked to each other before hand to make sure someone was bringing some main course.

Our Agricultural Society has a potluck in October to hand out prizes and prize money.  Anyone who is a member is welcome to come, as long as they bring a dish, whether they won anything or not.  The family of the kid(s) who won the Junior Fair stuff are also invited.  A couple of years ago, one of the Junior Fair families arrived but hadn't realized it was a potluck.  They were going to run out to McDonald's for dinner and come back in time for the awards ceremony but fortunately, the organizers talked them into staying because there was plenty of food.  They were back the next year, complete with a large dish.

My Dad and I are technically one unit but we both end up bringing something.  He makes my Mom's beans and I usually do gingerbread leaves and pumpkins.  I also have some moose and a few gingerbread men decorated in hunter orange.   :D
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: Lynnv on April 11, 2013, 01:51:25 PM
Having grown up in church, I had my fair share of potluck dinners (or DOG - dinner on the ground). My dad was the pastor and our potluck dinners worked because he had rules: elderly and those with very small children went first. Families went through line together. It may sound draconian, but it worked.

Every potluck I have ever been to also has rules.  "You aren't allowed to leave without a plateful of something."   ;D  I am always in awe of the folks who have been to multiple potlucks with inadequate food.  I have been to potlucks where I didn't particularly like my choices.  But never one that even came close to running out of food.  Most of the ones I have attended are clearly manned by folks who, like me, tend to overcook for these things.

It sounded to me like the letter writer wasn't able to get to the table.  Which indicates to me that they either didn't ask, or weren't willing to be assertive on their own behalf. 

But if what they really meant was that there was not any food left on two different occasions, then I have to wonder why they are worried about the etiquette for the future-running out of food once, I would probably find forgivable and would probably try again.  But after the second time, I would not be going back for the third round.  This isn't baseball where you are required to allow three strikes.  Two strikes and you're out seems like a pretty fair rule to me.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: LazyDaisy on April 11, 2013, 02:02:31 PM
I think the difference between the letter writer's experience and everyone else's stories of church and work potlucks is that the letter writer stated these were "family and friends" get togethers. Since there were several hours before the food was even served, it would seem to indicate that the meal part of the event was secondary to the social part. However, refusal to attend would likely have more personal consequences than skipping a church potluck. The letter writer also didn't indicate that others were left without food -- just her and her husband. To me, it's also unlikely that anyone would give her a glare for daring to approach the food table or say "excuse me". If her family and friends really are that dysfunctional, a potluck is the least of her troubles.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: Hmmmmm on April 11, 2013, 02:31:56 PM
I think the difference between the letter writer's experience and everyone else's stories of church and work potlucks is that the letter writer stated these were "family and friends" get togethers. Since there were several hours before the food was even served, it would seem to indicate that the meal part of the event was secondary to the social part. However, refusal to attend would likely have more personal consequences than skipping a church potluck. The letter writer also didn't indicate that others were left without food -- just her and her husband. To me, it's also unlikely that anyone would give her a glare for daring to approach the food table or say "excuse me". If her family and friends really are that dysfunctional, a potluck is the least of her troubles.

I agree, a big church potluck to me is entirely different then a gathering of "Friends and Family".  I can see if there is a long line for the buffet that food could run out at a church social. But their claim that it was so crowded they couldn't even get in the que and couldn't indicate to people standing around the table that they needd by just seems off, especially to happen twice.

The running out of food stories reminded me of a very small "homecoming" annual gathering in the community (never more than 100 residents) where my grandparents had lived. Each generation seemed to have an unofficial assigned items. The oldest generations brought main dishes, the next desserts and the youngests sides and drinks. One year there was no mains, only sides and desserts. We realized that "Oops, we are now the oldest generation" ::)  Thankfully we were able to run into town and pickup fried chicken and bbq brisket pretty quickly. But we had a ton of desserts and sides left over.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: lowspark on April 11, 2013, 02:48:51 PM
I forgot about there being several hours before the food was served. That really strikes me as odd. When you go to a potluck, there's a very good chance that what you are bringing is hot and should be served right away. Alternatively, if it is not to be served right away, there's a very good chance it needs to go in the fridge, which would then necessitate being reheated before eating.

Several hours? What, like more than four? So the hosts had enough room in their fridge for all the dishes people brought, and then either heated them up or had people heat up their individual dishes in the oven or MW before serving, hours after having arrived, with no food being served in the interim.

Really?
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: Twik on April 11, 2013, 02:55:13 PM
Well, if there's not enough to go around, they probably had room in their fridge to spare.  ;)
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: TootsNYC on April 11, 2013, 03:03:01 PM
Our Agricultural Society has a potluck in October to hand out prizes and prize money.  Anyone who is a member is welcome to come, as long as they bring a dish, whether they won anything or not.  The family of the kid(s) who won the Junior Fair stuff are also invited.  A couple of years ago, one of the Junior Fair families arrived but hadn't realized it was a potluck.  They were going to run out to McDonald's for dinner and come back in time for the awards ceremony but fortunately, the organizers talked them into staying because there was plenty of food.  They were back the next year, complete with a large dish.

They'd actually be *guests* and so not obligated to bring a dish.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: Ida on April 11, 2013, 09:26:56 PM
I guess I'm spoiled. Most of the potlucks I've been to over the last couple of decades have involved folks DH and I met through a foodie usenet group, and rather early on, we had to make a rule that anyone who brought more than two dishes also had to bring along a Designated Eater, who didn't bring anything but an appetite. 

Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: Sharnita on April 11, 2013, 09:38:44 PM
I guess I'm spoiled. Most of the potlucks I've been to over the last couple of decades have involved folks DH and I met through a foodie usenet group, and rather early on, we had to make a rule that anyone who brought more than two dishes also had to bring along a Designated Eater, who didn't bring anything but an appetite.

Do you live in Michigan by any chance, because I could be a designated eater.  It might even be my calling.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: Ida on April 11, 2013, 09:47:28 PM
I guess I'm spoiled. Most of the potlucks I've been to over the last couple of decades have involved folks DH and I met through a foodie usenet group, and rather early on, we had to make a rule that anyone who brought more than two dishes also had to bring along a Designated Eater, who didn't bring anything but an appetite.

Do you live in Michigan by any chance, because I could be a designated eater.  It might even be my calling.
;D Alas, no, or I'd draft you in a New York minute. 

Not in New York, either, though. San Francisco Bay Area.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: Lynnv on April 11, 2013, 09:50:31 PM
I guess I'm spoiled. Most of the potlucks I've been to over the last couple of decades have involved folks DH and I met through a foodie usenet group, and rather early on, we had to make a rule that anyone who brought more than two dishes also had to bring along a Designated Eater, who didn't bring anything but an appetite.

Our motorcycle club needs to institute that rule.  We have potlucks at our November and our December meeting.  And we end up with people  standing around begging folks to take food home.  We often have visitors at the meetings who feel bad for not bringing food.  I am going to nominate them to be designated eaters next time around.  To save the rest of us from the piles and piles of leftovers we otherwise end up with.   ;D
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: Kariachi on April 12, 2013, 10:23:18 AM
I guess I'm spoiled. Most of the potlucks I've been to over the last couple of decades have involved folks DH and I met through a foodie usenet group, and rather early on, we had to make a rule that anyone who brought more than two dishes also had to bring along a Designated Eater, who didn't bring anything but an appetite.

Our motorcycle club needs to institute that rule.  We have potlucks at our November and our December meeting.  And we end up with people  standing around begging folks to take food home.  We often have visitors at the meetings who feel bad for not bringing food.  I am going to nominate them to be designated eaters next time around.  To save the rest of us from the piles and piles of leftovers we otherwise end up with.   ;D

See, I never understood the idea of having to beg. Unless it just just the crap items that were left, in my family if someone says 'who wants to take X' three people stand up.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: Lynnv on April 12, 2013, 10:28:58 AM
I guess I'm spoiled. Most of the potlucks I've been to over the last couple of decades have involved folks DH and I met through a foodie usenet group, and rather early on, we had to make a rule that anyone who brought more than two dishes also had to bring along a Designated Eater, who didn't bring anything but an appetite.

Our motorcycle club needs to institute that rule.  We have potlucks at our November and our December meeting.  And we end up with people  standing around begging folks to take food home.  We often have visitors at the meetings who feel bad for not bringing food.  I am going to nominate them to be designated eaters next time around.  To save the rest of us from the piles and piles of leftovers we otherwise end up with.   ;D

See, I never understood the idea of having to beg. Unless it just just the crap items that were left, in my family if someone says 'who wants to take X' three people stand up.

Well-we get the three people who stand up too.  But the leftovers are enough for six people.  Or more.  I am an over-cooker of longstanding, but there are people in my club who make me look like a rank amateur. 
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: baglady on April 13, 2013, 01:55:00 PM
Quote
These people showing up with inadequate food, are they coming to a private party at your home or is this some kind of group event like a church dinner? If someone did that at a private party at my home which I was hosting, you can pretty well bet they'd never be invited back. If it were someone I was related to (like sister you mentioned) I'd take them aside and just let them know that what they brought was not enough and to either send hubby out to pick up some additional food or to make sure to bring enough next time. I don't think it's impolite to let people know what is required.

Really? Potluck is the default setting in my circle, and if someone can't contribute for whatever reason, it's not a big deal. There's always more than enough food. And there always *is* a good reason why someone can't bring something -- they were working late, they're broke that week, the dish they were making got ruined. They're almost always good for next time. I wouldn't dream of telling them they couldn't come back.

I've been that person and on a couple of occasions tried to hang back from eating because I didn't bring something, and was told, "Don't be silly! Eat!"

Now if it were a cooperative-type meal where everyone had specific instructions to bring X dish for, say 10 people, and they only brought enough for four, that would be different, but I'd like to think I would keep my mouth shut. Some people, especially if they are single and/or childless, may not grasp the concept of what amount of X dish is going to be sufficient for 10 people -- especially if that number includes a hollow-legged teenage boy or two. But the sort of cooperative meal I'm describing is *not* potluck.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: TeamBhakta on April 13, 2013, 03:02:46 PM
Quote
These people showing up with inadequate food, are they coming to a private party at your home or is this some kind of group event like a church dinner? If someone did that at a private party at my home which I was hosting, you can pretty well bet they'd never be invited back. If it were someone I was related to (like sister you mentioned) I'd take them aside and just let them know that what they brought was not enough and to either send hubby out to pick up some additional food or to make sure to bring enough next time. I don't think it's impolite to let people know what is required.

Really? Potluck is the default setting in my circle, and if someone can't contribute for whatever reason, it's not a big deal. There's always more than enough food. And there always *is* a good reason why someone can't bring something -- they were working late, they're broke that week, the dish they were making got ruined. They're almost always good for next time. I wouldn't dream of telling them they couldn't come back.

I've been that person and on a couple of occasions tried to hang back from eating because I didn't bring something, and was told, "Don't be silly! Eat!"

Now if it were a cooperative-type meal where everyone had specific instructions to bring X dish for, say 10 people, and they only brought enough for four, that would be different, but I'd like to think I would keep my mouth shut. Some people, especially if they are single and/or childless, may not grasp the concept of what amount of X dish is going to be sufficient for 10 people -- especially if that number includes a hollow-legged teenage boy or two. But the sort of cooperative meal I'm describing is *not* potluck.

1. If someone told me that, I would wonder why they didn't just cook their dish the night before.
2. I'm single and childless. I don't find it difficult to figure out how much food feeds 10 people  ???
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: Allyson on April 13, 2013, 03:49:03 PM

1. If someone told me that, I would wonder why they didn't just cook their dish the night before.
2. I'm single and childless. I don't find it difficult to figure out how much food feeds 10 people  ???

As to number 2, it's come up on this board before that just because one person finds something 'not difficult' doesn't mean that's universal. Cooking and food isn't intuitive to everybody. Not that I think it's OK to show up with nothing, or deliberately not enough. But it being easy for you to figure out doesn't mean if someone else can't, they are doing it on purpose.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: *inviteseller on April 13, 2013, 06:09:14 PM

1. If someone told me that, I would wonder why they didn't just cook their dish the night before.
2. I'm single and childless. I don't find it difficult to figure out how much food feeds 10 people  ???

As to number 2, it's come up on this board before that just because one person finds something 'not difficult' doesn't mean that's universal. Cooking and food isn't intuitive to everybody. Not that I think it's OK to show up with nothing, or deliberately not enough. But it being easy for you to figure out doesn't mean if someone else can't, they are doing it on purpose.

I agree...some people, single, married, childless, parents, just don't know servings.  I cook like the infantry is coming, my former MIL made enough for you to get a bit of everything and no seconds.  As far as exemptions, that can be problematic too because if enough people get an exemption due to work, or singlehood, or anything else but are still eating, there will not be enough food.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: snowdragon on April 13, 2013, 06:42:13 PM


Our church bulletin always says "please bring enough of your dish to feed your family plus one"  and sometimes we still don't have leftovers.  I would not want anyone to miss the the fellowship at church because they could not afford to bring a dish, but Geez EVERYBLOOMINGTIME gets a bit old.

As for leaving early I would make it kindly, yet clear why.


   That could be why you don't have leftovers/or not enough food. If you have a high percentage of singles /couples bringing smaller dishes, then there could only be enough of everything to serve 2-3 people.
    There's no really "fair" way to deal with people without kids in a situation like this. Telling everyone to bring enough for a family of 5 or 6 could lead to resentment from those who neither have that many in their part nor can eat that much - or they bring dishes that are small and that leads to less food for everyone.
    Someone mentioned having the elders, then people with small kids going first and then anyone else - well that could lead to some folks feeling like they don't want to participate either. "I'm good enough to bring stuff for all these folks to eat, but not good enough to even have an equal chance at the premium dishes. " vibe would have many I know running for the hills- heck my niece and nephew would have taken issue with this at 4 or 5 ( niece was in pre-k when she explained to the teacher why museums need singles to join, she gets cost per person vs what they"take" from a situation)
   
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: blarg314 on April 13, 2013, 09:41:22 PM

    Someone mentioned having the elders, then people with small kids going first and then anyone else - well that could lead to some folks feeling like they don't want to participate either. "I'm good enough to bring stuff for all these folks to eat, but not good enough to even have an equal chance at the premium dishes. " vibe would have many I know running for the hills

The combination would be particularly bad for young, single people - bring enough to feed 5 or 6 people, and wait until the end before you get to eat. By that point, you're paying more for your meal and getting a worse meal than the rest of the people.

Another subtlety - "enough to feed one person" varies widely by person. So someone with a light appetite can bring enough to feed themselves 5 times over, which may not be enough for two young men with voracious appetites.

For singles, there are several ways you can approach it. Bring smaller amounts, and don't worry that everyone in the whole room doesn't get to try it. Bring larger amounts of cheap food - you bring 7 day coleslaw rather than a meat dish.  Bring a substantial dish, but not every time, so it averages out.

I figure that if you're holding potlucks and lack of food is a problem, whatever the venue, then the easiest and simplest thing to do is to find something else to do, rather than trying to force reluctant people to bring more or better food.

If you're using potlucks as a form of personal hosting, then take indifferent participation as a sign that maybe your friends and family don't want to be catering your hosting. At a workplace, recognize that maybe your employees/coworkers don't want to be staying up late to cook and lugging food into work on the bus. In a church/organization setting, accept that potlucks don't work with this group, and try some non-food focussed socializing.

For some groups it works fine - like others, I'm used to potlucks with extra food, not running out. But when it doesn't work, it's often a sign that potlucks aren't a good fit with that particular group. Maybe people can't afford it, maybe they're too busy to make an extra meal as admission to a social event, maybe they don't cook, or are terrible at it, maybe they're simply tired after too many years of potlucks, or maybe they like to eat and don't get that they should contribute.  In any potluck group there will be people who have trouble contributing - due either to living arrangement (living in a dorm room, say), or finances (unemployed, for example). A healthy potluck absorbs these people, who later contribute when their circumstances change, but if you have too many people like this, or an indifferent potluck in the first place, it can push it over the edge into not working.


Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: WillyNilly on April 14, 2013, 12:12:59 AM
On the note of people not knowing how much to bring, etc - potlucks are not common everywhere or with everyone. I am in my mid-thirties and I have been to exactly 2 potlucks in my whole life. Both were office parties with a small group of people. they worked out fine, but honestly its not like I would have any idea what to honestly expect if I was invited to a social one. I would be willing to bet if I tried to host one more then 50% of my friends would either ask "what's a potluck?" or google it. In my circles, people do bring dishes to parties, but its never billed as a "potluck", not everyone brings (nor are they expected to, and as often as not what they bring is a beverage. I'm sure other people in my area host/go to putlucks, but just not in my social circle.

So I can totally see a new friend, or casual friend, or friends from some outside social group in some way, not really 'getting' what is expected of them and not bringing something substantial enough.

Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: TurtleDove on April 14, 2013, 05:54:51 AM
I am always so shocked by the stories of people loading up on completely unreasonable amounts of food or asking for leftovers.  I've never seen this behavior, and it strikes me as odd! I always thought the purpose of a potluck was the fellowship, not to see how much one can eat. I think that is also why I have a hard time buying the LWs story - why would they be at a potluck where they did not feel comfortable sayind, "hey, can I sneak past you to the food" or where not a single soul noticed they were the only two not eating.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: Twik on April 14, 2013, 02:44:38 PM
Well, I'm shocked at the number of people who have food stolen at work - not "disbelieving it could happen" shocked, just "what outrageous behaviour!" shocked. It does appear that there is a particular mindset that views free food as something so vital that all decent behaviour gets left behind. Fortunately, this is not *most* people, but clearly, enough to be a repeated theme here.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: *inviteseller on April 14, 2013, 04:30:29 PM
Unfortunately, food piranhas are out there, waiting to strike.  Family meals and pot lucks are their favorite feeding grounds.  The general characteristics of this species is they never, ever miss a gathering where there is food and they never ever contribute, other than an occasional bag of chips or 2 liter of pop.   They are always first to the food, and they make sure there is absolutely no doubt that they like the food, as evidenced by the heaping plates and the ability to get in for seconds before some have had firsts.  Some members of this species is known for absolute lack of table manners and do not hesitate to take food off of others plates (and my step sis almost got a fork in the hand for trying that special trick).  To truly know if you have one or two swimming in your midst, they also will make plates to take home or abscond with your plastic bowls and leftovers when you aren't looking (just taking some snacks for the ride home my bum!)
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: TurtleDove on April 14, 2013, 04:41:44 PM
Well, I'm shocked at the number of people who have food stolen at work - not "disbelieving it could happen" shocked, just "what outrageous behaviour!" shocked. It does appear that there is a particular mindset that views free food as something so vital that all decent behaviour gets left behind. Fortunately, this is not *most* people, but clearly, enough to be a repeated theme here.

Agreed! I really do not understand why some people become so weird about "free" food.  It isn't a challenge to "get your money's worth!"
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: Drunken Housewife on April 14, 2013, 05:36:52 PM
I have indeed been to potlucks where there wasn't enough food to go around.  In my experience it was in part because a lot of people brought drinks (big bottles of soda or sparkling water) or bags of chips, but of course they fixed themselves big plates of regular food.  Lots of people either don't know how to cook or are rushed and just grab something like that, and the result can be not enough food to go around.

It's completely plausible to me that this could happen to someone twice, as it would be the same social circle presumably. 

Incidentally I grew up in another part of the US and used to go to a church which had potluck dinners, and the eating was always magnificent at those.  It is urban informal get-together potlucks where the food has been inadequate in my personal experience, not the more organized church potlucks. 

I actually hate potlucks as a grownup because I'm a vegetarian and have to assume there'll be nothing for me to eat.  I'm an excellent cook so whatever I bring is going to be gobbled up right off and I can't assume that I'll even get any of whatever I bring.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: Yvaine on April 14, 2013, 07:08:20 PM
I went to a potluck once where everyone brought dessert.  ;D It was a regular event for this group, and pretty unstructured, and usually we ended up with a good range of stuff even without assigning dishes...but apparently that one time, we were all craving sweets!
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: TurtleDove on April 14, 2013, 07:42:04 PM
I went to a potluck once where everyone brought dessert.  ;D It was a regular event for this group, and pretty unstructured, and usually we ended up with a good range of stuff even without assigning dishes...but apparently that one time, we were all craving sweets!

See, to me, this would be funny!  It's just one meal.  If I was still hungry after the event, I would make a PBJ when I got home. No big whoop.  What I don't understand are the people for whom these snafus are DISASTROUS!!!! I really don't understand.  And if it's "I have special needs" issues, then cater to the special needs and don't expect them from a potluck, would be my approach.  Otherwise, I really really don't understand why a gathering is more about the food than it is the gathering and fellowship!
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: Yvaine on April 14, 2013, 08:08:49 PM
I went to a potluck once where everyone brought dessert.  ;D It was a regular event for this group, and pretty unstructured, and usually we ended up with a good range of stuff even without assigning dishes...but apparently that one time, we were all craving sweets!

See, to me, this would be funny!  It's just one meal.  If I was still hungry after the event, I would make a PBJ when I got home. No big whoop.  What I don't understand are the people for whom these snafus are DISASTROUS!!!! I really don't understand.  And if it's "I have special needs" issues, then cater to the special needs and don't expect them from a potluck, would be my approach.  Otherwise, I really really don't understand why a gathering is more about the food than it is the gathering and fellowship!

Oh, it was hilarious! I wasn't kvetching, just telling an anecdote. (Note my LOL smiley!)

I don't think it's "more about the food" for most people, though with food being a big part of the "theme," it's not surprising to me that issues sometimes arise around it. I think it's confirmation bias, a little--only the potlucks that go wrong end up on ehell.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: citadelle on April 14, 2013, 08:09:40 PM
I went to a potluck once where everyone brought dessert.  ;D It was a regular event for this group, and pretty unstructured, and usually we ended up with a good range of stuff even without assigning dishes...but apparently that one time, we were all craving sweets!

See, to me, this would be funny!  It's just one meal.  If I was still hungry after the event, I would make a PBJ when I got home. No big whoop.  What I don't understand are the people for whom these snafus are DISASTROUS!!!! I really don't understand.  And if it's "I have special needs" issues, then cater to the special needs and don't expect them from a potluck, would be my approach.  Otherwise, I really really don't understand why a gathering is more about the food than it is the gathering and fellowship!

I am with you, TD. If there isn't food to my liking left at a potluck, I get a handful pf chips and sit to chat with someone, which is why I came in the first place. I find the focus on food to be almost unseemly.

However, here in the Midwest, you will always find a big honking dish of cheesy potatoes at every potluck. If you like cheesy potatoes, you will always be in luck. Or "pot"luck, if you will :)
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: Venus193 on April 14, 2013, 10:35:51 PM
I went to a potluck once where everyone brought dessert.  ;D It was a regular event for this group, and pretty unstructured, and usually we ended up with a good range of stuff even without assigning dishes...but apparently that one time, we were all craving sweets!

A former colleague had gone to one called "Bring Your Favorite Comfort Food."  She said that half the attendees (I forgot how many) brought mashed potatoes and gravy; other items included home-made chicken soup, split pea soup, meat loaf (good combo with the gravy and mash), and baked ziti.  Most were family recipes.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: lowspark on April 16, 2013, 08:28:36 AM
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These people showing up with inadequate food, are they coming to a private party at your home or is this some kind of group event like a church dinner? If someone did that at a private party at my home which I was hosting, you can pretty well bet they'd never be invited back. If it were someone I was related to (like sister you mentioned) I'd take them aside and just let them know that what they brought was not enough and to either send hubby out to pick up some additional food or to make sure to bring enough next time. I don't think it's impolite to let people know what is required.

Really? Potluck is the default setting in my circle, and if someone can't contribute for whatever reason, it's not a big deal. There's always more than enough food. And there always *is* a good reason why someone can't bring something -- they were working late, they're broke that week, the dish they were making got ruined. They're almost always good for next time. I wouldn't dream of telling them they couldn't come back.

I've been that person and on a couple of occasions tried to hang back from eating because I didn't bring something, and was told, "Don't be silly! Eat!"

Now if it were a cooperative-type meal where everyone had specific instructions to bring X dish for, say 10 people, and they only brought enough for four, that would be different, but I'd like to think I would keep my mouth shut. Some people, especially if they are single and/or childless, may not grasp the concept of what amount of X dish is going to be sufficient for 10 people -- especially if that number includes a hollow-legged teenage boy or two. But the sort of cooperative meal I'm describing is *not* potluck.

OK, I think we're talking about two different things here. It's one thing (and it has happened in my circle too) for someone who normally contributes to be unable to contribute on one occasion. However, they don't just waltz in empty handed and proceed to eat as if nothing were different. They always preceed with an explanation, either in advance of coming or at the door. And yes, there's always plenty of food so my reply is, don't sweat it!

The issue arises if multiple people show up without contributing but still expect to be fed. So, in my quote above, if I invited someone to a potluck who had never been invited before and they showed up without food and without any explanation as to why they didn't bring anything, I'd have to wonder what they were thinking. And yeah, chances are, without any other qualifications/explanations, I probably would not invite them back. And to clarify, I wouldn't tell them they couldn't come back. That would be incredibly rude! I would just be pleasant and behave as politely as normal, then just quietly make a mental note to scratch them off future invitation lists.

Or if I had a relative who repeatedly came to potlucks at my house empty handed with family in tow, again, yes, I'd go ahead and let them know it's not ok.

A potluck means everyone contributes. And with that statement, I'm implying, "except in extenuating circumstances". Extenuating circumstances are occasional and explainable.

Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: Cami on April 16, 2013, 08:39:16 AM
Well, I'm shocked at the number of people who have food stolen at work - not "disbelieving it could happen" shocked, just "what outrageous behaviour!" shocked. It does appear that there is a particular mindset that views free food as something so vital that all decent behaviour gets left behind. Fortunately, this is not *most* people, but clearly, enough to be a repeated theme here.
  The guy at our workplace who steals food is also the guy who never contributes to a potluck but is first in line and heaps his plate, scarfs it down and gets back in line for seconds asap. He's been called on it and has no shame. Zero shame. He thinks he's funny and he thinks he's entitled. Last week, we had a potluck for which I'd made a dessert that was sitting in a closed tin on the table in my office. Hew walked by and apparently has the nose of a bloodhound because he made a beeline for that tin and without saying hello to me or asking permission, began opening the tin. I flew across the room and snatched it out of his hands before he actually got the tin open. He actually argued with me, then when I told him to get lost, he pouted for hours and kept coming back and begging for a taste. And he didn't even know what was in the tin!

Honestly, it's like he's a mememememe two year old who's never been taught manners. That's the mindset.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: lowspark on April 16, 2013, 08:45:38 AM

    Someone mentioned having the elders, then people with small kids going first and then anyone else - well that could lead to some folks feeling like they don't want to participate either. "I'm good enough to bring stuff for all these folks to eat, but not good enough to even have an equal chance at the premium dishes. " vibe would have many I know running for the hills

The combination would be particularly bad for young, single people - bring enough to feed 5 or 6 people, and wait until the end before you get to eat. By that point, you're paying more for your meal and getting a worse meal than the rest of the people.

Another subtlety - "enough to feed one person" varies widely by person. So someone with a light appetite can bring enough to feed themselves 5 times over, which may not be enough for two young men with voracious appetites.

For singles, there are several ways you can approach it. Bring smaller amounts, and don't worry that everyone in the whole room doesn't get to try it. Bring larger amounts of cheap food - you bring 7 day coleslaw rather than a meat dish.  Bring a substantial dish, but not every time, so it averages out.

I figure that if you're holding potlucks and lack of food is a problem, whatever the venue, then the easiest and simplest thing to do is to find something else to do, rather than trying to force reluctant people to bring more or better food.

If you're using potlucks as a form of personal hosting, then take indifferent participation as a sign that maybe your friends and family don't want to be catering your hosting. At a workplace, recognize that maybe your employees/coworkers don't want to be staying up late to cook and lugging food into work on the bus. In a church/organization setting, accept that potlucks don't work with this group, and try some non-food focussed socializing.

For some groups it works fine - like others, I'm used to potlucks with extra food, not running out. But when it doesn't work, it's often a sign that potlucks aren't a good fit with that particular group. Maybe people can't afford it, maybe they're too busy to make an extra meal as admission to a social event, maybe they don't cook, or are terrible at it, maybe they're simply tired after too many years of potlucks, or maybe they like to eat and don't get that they should contribute.  In any potluck group there will be people who have trouble contributing - due either to living arrangement (living in a dorm room, say), or finances (unemployed, for example). A healthy potluck absorbs these people, who later contribute when their circumstances change, but if you have too many people like this, or an indifferent potluck in the first place, it can push it over the edge into not working.

I totally agree with the bolded above.

And I'd like to point out that a potluck does not mean everyone has to cook. Someone can bring a few bottles of coke; the plates & utensils; premade rolls from the grocery store, a bag of chips & premade dip, etc. There are a lot of things that one who doesn't want to or is unable to cook can contribute.

ETA: Of course, if too many did that, you'd be in just as bad a situation as too many people not bringing anything.
As a veteran organizer of pot lucks, I think that the organizer should either do a sign up type of thing where people say in advance what they are bringing, either specifically or generally, or do a pre-assignment.

In my case, I always ask people to tell me what they are bringing, and once in a great while I ask people to switch if possible (too many pasta dishes comes to mind as a reason I've asked) and people are pretty ammenable to that.

In a large group (we used to do this for our annual cub scout pack end of year potluck when the kids were little) the MO was to assign dishes by alphabet of last name. Example: A-E salads, F-I desserts, etc. It worked out great. No one actually policed what everyone brought so if you were assigned main dish and brought cookies instead, well, no one checked. But it worked out pretty well as we always got a huge amount of food and a good mix. And this was a situation of people needing to bring a lot as you had whole families in attendance. So, it can be done. It just requires that everyone, or at least the vast majority, bring their fair share.
Title: Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
Post by: lowspark on April 16, 2013, 09:37:19 AM
On the note of people not knowing how much to bring, etc - potlucks are not common everywhere or with everyone. I am in my mid-thirties and I have been to exactly 2 potlucks in my whole life. Both were office parties with a small group of people. they worked out fine, but honestly its not like I would have any idea what to honestly expect if I was invited to a social one. I would be willing to bet if I tried to host one more then 50% of my friends would either ask "what's a potluck?" or google it. In my circles, people do bring dishes to parties, but its never billed as a "potluck", not everyone brings (nor are they expected to, and as often as not what they bring is a beverage. I'm sure other people in my area host/go to putlucks, but just not in my social circle.

So I can totally see a new friend, or casual friend, or friends from some outside social group in some way, not really 'getting' what is expected of them and not bringing something substantial enough.

Yeah, I can see that. If I invited someone who didn't get it (and I didn't realize that they didn't get it) then I'd expect one of two things to happen. Either the invited would just ask in advance what they were supposed to bring (and I've definitely had that happen many times) or when they realized that they didn't bring enough, to say something to me. Maybe just a side comment that not understanding the dynamic in advance, it they realize they might not have brought enough or appropriately or whatever. Again, extenuating circumstances can be explained.