Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => All In A Day's Work => Topic started by: kitchcat on October 31, 2013, 12:35:50 PM

Title: Our treats aren't your buffet
Post by: kitchcat on October 31, 2013, 12:35:50 PM
I work in a small department (10 people) at a larger office (100ish people). Our department (OD) is a far corner of the building and surrounded by a large buffer zone between us and other departments. Basically, the only time non-OD staff are in our area is if they make a specific trip here, and that is next to never.

Well OD decided to all bring homemade treats to share for halloween. Everyone brought something, and the amount was enough for OD plus a little extra for people to take home to share with our families.

I guess non-OD people saw us carry in our treats because less than an hour later, Pam from department Z shows up because "I heard you had goodies." She proceeds to fix herself a big plate without asking. She also mentions that someone in department A brought cake and she was going to get some of that too.    :o We would never consider helping ourselves to treats from other departments. A few other non-OD people came by and helped themselves as well after Pam shared news of our snacks, meaning we had no extras to share with our families like we planned.

We were pretty miffed that people came by and took a bunch off food uninvited, without contributing. Would this bother you or should we have anticipated treat-seekers from other departments?
Title: Re: Our treats aren't your buffet
Post by: Harriet Jones on October 31, 2013, 12:39:49 PM
Is there any reason why you couldn't have said something to her?
Title: Re: Our treats aren't your buffet
Post by: LazyDaisy on October 31, 2013, 12:59:14 PM
I agree with Harriet Jones. Say something, "Hi Pam. We're having a private department party. Only the people from our department who contributed are invited to partake." If you couldn't get to her as soon as she entered the area, then someone should have either hidden the food or restricted access to anyone else who came after. That said, I would be more miffed at someone taking home treats to their family than I would a random coworker coming up for one.
Title: Re: Our treats aren't your buffet
Post by: cwm on October 31, 2013, 01:05:42 PM
We get that a lot at our office, but due to the open office plan, there is no buffer zone. There are a few people who are always mooching food off of other teams.

Mom and her team have found a simple way of stopping them. Before they can get to the plates, ask them what they brought to share.

Or if someone shows up because they heard you had goodies, stand physically between them and the goodies in question. "Yes, Pam, we brought food for our department. If you'd like to have a food day, please plan it with your own department, this food is only for the people who work here. Now is there anything else I can help you with?"
Title: Re: Our treats aren't your buffet
Post by: Deetee on October 31, 2013, 01:10:51 PM
I don't thinking taking a big plate (larger than what others are taking) of anything is quite right. But I don't think I'd mind as much considering that it is Halloween. Somehow, going department to department and munching on goodies seems appropriate for today.
Title: Re: Our treats aren't your buffet
Post by: MrTango on October 31, 2013, 01:36:34 PM
I also agree with Harriet Jones.

A lot of people seem to be too afraid of making waves or upsetting others by enforcing boundaries.  Politely telling Pam that the food is not available to her is the way to go.
Title: Re: Our treats aren't your buffet
Post by: cwm on October 31, 2013, 01:54:06 PM
I don't thinking taking a big plate (larger than what others are taking) of anything is quite right. But I don't think I'd mind as much considering that it is Halloween. Somehow, going department to department and munching on goodies seems appropriate for today.

That doesn't make sense to me. This insulated department made enough for their department. They didn't bring it for everyone else to snack on it, regardless of what day it was. If they had set out a bowl of candy and sent out a companywide email that's one thing, but for people to show up in their department because they had seen them bringing in food just rubs me the wrong way.

I'm a strong believer that if you aren't participating in the food day (bringing food for everyone else) or specifically invited to partake of the food, you shouldn't touch it. It doesn't matter what day it is, if you haven't been told that it's for you, then it's not for you.
Title: Re: Our treats aren't your buffet
Post by: camlan on October 31, 2013, 01:57:50 PM
I don't thinking taking a big plate (larger than what others are taking) of anything is quite right. But I don't think I'd mind as much considering that it is Halloween. Somehow, going department to department and munching on goodies seems appropriate for today.

Going from department to department getting food only works if there is a coordinated effort amongst the departments to all provide food on the same day.

In the OP, one department brought food for just the department. People from other departments took some of their food and didn't offer anything in return.

One department planned a holiday celebration. Outsiders decided to join them without invitation.
Title: Re: Our treats aren't your buffet
Post by: Deetee on October 31, 2013, 02:05:24 PM
I don't thinking taking a big plate (larger than what others are taking) of anything is quite right. But I don't think I'd mind as much considering that it is Halloween. Somehow, going department to department and munching on goodies seems appropriate for today.

Going from department to department getting food only works if there is a coordinated effort amongst the departments to all provide food on the same day.

In the OP, one department brought food for just the department. People from other departments took some of their food and didn't offer anything in return.

One department planned a holiday celebration. Outsiders decided to join them without invitation.

I should clarify that this wouldn't bother me as a host, not that others shouldn't be bothered. It's the halloween thing. I guess I should say my tolerance would be higher for this behavior because of the date.  I spend a reasonable sum on Halloween Candy every year to give out to kids. So giving treats to co-workers seems similar.

Title: Re: Our treats aren't your buffet
Post by: LazyDaisy on October 31, 2013, 02:14:07 PM
I don't thinking taking a big plate (larger than what others are taking) of anything is quite right. But I don't think I'd mind as much considering that it is Halloween. Somehow, going department to department and munching on goodies seems appropriate for today.
I understand what you are saying -- Halloween is a holiday where people go house to house to collect treats without offering anything back in return (except, I guess, the entertainment of a costume), but if there are plates involved that means this was more food-like than a bunch of fun-sized candy bars in a bowl. If it were just a bowl of candy left out in the open, I guess I could see Pam and the others thinking that it's fine to take one.
Title: Re: Our treats aren't your buffet
Post by: starry diadem on October 31, 2013, 07:07:17 PM
I am more astonished by the silence than the greed. Why on earth did your department members allow this? Why didn't someone -- the team leader if the rest are so shy -- speak up and send
Pam about her business?  Being polite really should not equate with behavior indistinguishable from that of a doormat ( to adapt a quotation from Rebecca West).
Title: Re: Our treats aren't your buffet
Post by: YummyMummy66 on November 01, 2013, 05:47:57 AM
I agree with others, why didn't you just say to Pam, "Oh, Pam, I am sorry, but those treats are only for those that contributed".  Or only for our department. 

Can you put these treats in a n area where only your department can get to them?  Maybe in someone's office? 
Title: Re: Our treats aren't your buffet
Post by: BeagleMommy on November 01, 2013, 02:31:03 PM
POD.  Someone (anyone) could have said "Sorry, Pam, the food that's here is for an interdepartmental meeting."
Title: Re: Our treats aren't your buffet
Post by: Runningstar on November 01, 2013, 09:13:24 PM
I used to work in an office where everyone would stop by my department and just help themselves to whatever we "girls" had brought in.  This even included the lunches on our desks if we forgot to hide them.  We did say something and were told that it was not "nice" to not share.  So we stopped bringing in anything including birthday cakes for each other.  I'm wondering if you could next time keep the food under wraps until you collectively serve yourselves and then put the rest away and out of sight?
Not knowing the culture of your place of employment I'm just not sure what you could have said or done - but something like "Oh Sally, sorry but this is just for this department - thanks for understanding."    :-\
Title: Re: Our treats aren't your buffet
Post by: veronaz on November 01, 2013, 09:48:44 PM
POD.  Someone (anyone) could have said "Sorry, Pam, the food that's here is for an interdepartmental meeting."

This.
Title: Re: Our treats aren't your buffet
Post by: FauxFoodist on November 02, 2013, 03:15:13 AM
I have to agree that I don't understand why no one said anything.  By letting her just collect up food and go, you all silently told her that it was perfectly fine.
Title: Re: Our treats aren't your buffet
Post by: TootsNYC on November 02, 2013, 12:04:03 PM
Or you could have put it away. I've done that--about the third person shows up, and it's clear that people are going to be descending, I've gotten up and said, "I'm going to put these away or out of sight, here behind me on my desk, if you want them. That'll discourage other people from other departments."

I understand how it can be really daunting to essentially say, "We don't want to share with you."

And honestly, all those people who came to get candy were anywhere from sort of wrong to really wrong.
Title: Re: Our treats aren't your buffet
Post by: White Lotus on November 02, 2013, 09:17:26 PM
It actually would be fun for different groups to bring in their own secret treats and have everybody go trick or treating around the building -- one at a time from each department.  Good way for people to get to know each other in a situation that is both structured and informal.

However, unless you happen to be in a specific location on actual business, and at least ask, if not wait to be invited, mooching a work group, department, etc.'s  goodies is rude.  "Hey, ask first!  We only brought  for ourselves" occurs to me as a not rude response if said in a pleasant and slightly jocular tone.
Title: Re: Our treats aren't your buffet
Post by: jane7166 on November 05, 2013, 06:56:14 AM
I used to work in an office where everyone would stop by my department and just help themselves to whatever we "girls" had brought in.  This even included the lunches on our desks if we forgot to hide them.  We did say something and were told that it was not "nice" to not share.
Yikes.   It's also not nice to never contribute but keep taking.  Sounds like your coworkers never left kindergarten.
Title: Re: Our treats aren't your buffet
Post by: MissRose on November 05, 2013, 08:19:35 AM
I would have said something like, "sorry these are for a meeting".

At least in my office when we have potlucks, it is understood (and also communicated) that all those who brought something get to partake.  Only later in the day can others who chose not to can partake if there are leftovers.
Title: Re: Our treats aren't your buffet
Post by: Petticoats on November 05, 2013, 10:42:55 AM
I have to agree that I don't understand why no one said anything.  By letting her just collect up food and go, you all silently told her that it was perfectly fine.

Those of you saying this must not be Southern. :) For me and my circle, the idea of telling someone no in a situation like this is horrifying.

And yes, it is a terrible inhibition to have trained into one... which is one reason I like hanging out at Ehell, so I can learn ways to correct situations without feeling like I'm behaving like a heinous, rude, "ugly" cow.
Title: Re: Our treats aren't your buffet
Post by: FauxFoodist on November 06, 2013, 12:51:19 AM
I have to agree that I don't understand why no one said anything.  By letting her just collect up food and go, you all silently told her that it was perfectly fine.

Those of you saying this must not be Southern. :) For me and my circle, the idea of telling someone no in a situation like this is horrifying.

And yes, it is a terrible inhibition to have trained into one... which is one reason I like hanging out at Ehell, so I can learn ways to correct situations without feeling like I'm behaving like a heinous, rude, "ugly" cow.

Oh, I understand; in my Asian heritage, we wouldn't dream of telling someone no, normally (I see this every month at church -- there are two individuals who are never at Mass and who don't contribute to the post-Mass fellowship potluck and practically run down the parishioners to load up their plates first then ignore us all and chow down on the free food; I'd love to say to them "could you, at least, try not to knock over others in your quest to get to the food then to the tables before the rest of us?").  However, I also tend to be forthright (which I wouldn't say is my culturally American side -- it's just me in a nutshell) and will often stand on principle so I would not have a problem "being the bad guy" in order to stop such SS behavior.

In this case of treat-hoarding, if this happened at work, I think my coworkers and I would've determined to pass out the treats individually in advance in the future so, unless that person wants to come and steal treats from everyone's desk that belongs to those individuals, that person wouldn't have the opportunity to hoard everything.  I suppose this would be considered PA, but I'd feel an inclination to say to each person as I was passing out the treats, "Last time, I noticed not everyone got to have a treat so I'm making sure each person gets one" (hmmm...this sounds oddly familiar so I'm wondering if I've had to deal with such behavior in the past...).
Title: Re: Our treats aren't your buffet
Post by: Minmom3 on November 06, 2013, 11:49:06 AM
You did - and it was in grade school!