Author Topic: The etiquette of free food  (Read 3051 times)

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finecabernet

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The etiquette of free food
« on: September 11, 2012, 08:47:24 PM »
Today the electricity in our office building was out. We were still able to work on backup generators, but it meant that the cafeteria was closed. So one of the head honchos sent out a note saying that management was ordering us pizza. That part was very nice (guess they didn't want to lose the productivity numbers, plus so much more convenient). Here's the etiquette part: apparently when the pizza arrived he told the managers in an email only to them to go get lunch. I didn't see the email and guess that they were supposed to tell their staff after the had helped themselves. The kitchenette where the pizza was served is very close to me and I was getting water and so saw the pizza arrive. So when I asked if it was okay to have some one of the managers mentioned that Head Honcho had told managers to get some pizza first. The guy who told me kind of smiled and shrugged about it so I figured it was probably okay for me to get some too since I was right there (so I did).

So questions....1) was it rude to buy the food and then tell members of management they could go first? It's not like people were told when they could eat. 2) Was it horribly rude of me to get my pizza since a somewhat lesser manager indicated it was fine? I could see the need to stagger people getting the food (since there's a lot of us), but separating management from hourly seemed to me very elitist. I was proud to see though that most of the managers (not Head Honcho) didn't care about rank and didn't strictly follow it.

sourwolf

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Re: The etiquette of free food
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2012, 08:49:16 PM »
I think it was very rude to say that managers should go first but I don't think you were rude for getting your pizza since you were already there and the other manager gave you the go ahead. 

NyaChan

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Re: The etiquette of free food
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2012, 03:05:31 AM »
I think that it wasn't rude for the company to tell the managers to go first - I mean, they can't have everyone coming down at once and as long as they did order enough for everyone, it is only a matter of waiting your (generally) turn.  I don't necessarily interpret the manager's smile and a shrug as a go ahead to get pizza.  Could you clarify if you thought that he was giving you the ok?  Because it almost seems that he was telling you that you had to wait according to Head Honcho and the smile/shrug was a way of softening the information rather than signaling that it was ok to ignore it.

O'Dell

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Re: The etiquette of free food
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2012, 06:21:53 AM »
If they wanted to make sure there was no rush, there were other more egalitarian ways of doing it, by floor or department or building comes to mind as easily implemented and yet fair. Managers going at the same time as their subordinates. I've worked in places where meals were provided for special occasions and this is how it worked.

I agree with NyaChan that the manager who smiled and shrugged was trying to act like it was no big deal so you wouldn't feel bad (or get mad).

I have a hard time saying it's rude though. I'm more pragmatic. It certainly sends a message of what the big boss values, doesn't it? Now you know where you and others at your level stand.
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finecabernet

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Re: The etiquette of free food
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2012, 08:26:33 AM »
Lesser manager's smile and shrug seemed to me as a "yes that's what he said but I personally don't care if you get pizza." There were a number of non-managers there too when he said it,  so I figured it probably wasn't a big deal.

I agree that they really could have called people up by department. That actually would have made more sense anyway. There's like 15 managers to 80 employees, so there would have been a crowd even if that had been followed.

Head Honcho (according to rumor anyway) treats people differently according to their job ranking so this was not too surprising. It all worked out, I was just curious about what Ehell thought.

Redsoil

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Re: The etiquette of free food
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2012, 08:36:02 AM »
See, I would have simply thought this way of doing it was to ensure the greater productivity of the managers.  "Go down and grab your lunch quickly, then get back to work" sort of thing. 
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lowspark

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Re: The etiquette of free food
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2012, 04:57:33 PM »
Today the electricity in our office building was out. We were still able to work on backup generators, but it meant that the cafeteria was closed. So one of the head honchos sent out a note saying that management was ordering us pizza.

<snip>

If the pizza was for everybody then everybody should be notified it has arrived. I work in an office of over a hundred people and they do bring in lunch occassionally. Pizza, bbq, sandwiches, like that. We also have cake once a month as a birthday celebration for the whole floor.

They always handle it the same way. A global email is sent saying that the food has arrived. I've never seen everyone rush to the kitchen at the same time. A few trickle in at a time and the line grows & shrinks. Not everyone is at a stopping point at the same time where they can pop up immediately and no one is worried that if they are not the first in line they'll miss out.

I think it was rude to only send the email out to a select few. The email saying the pizza was ready should have gone the exact same distribution list as the email saying that lunch was being provided.

hobish

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Re: The etiquette of free food
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2012, 05:11:16 PM »
I think it was very rude to say that managers should go first but I don't think you were rude for getting your pizza since you were already there and the other manager gave you the go ahead.

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camlan

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Re: The etiquette of free food
« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2012, 05:49:01 PM »
Today the electricity in our office building was out. We were still able to work on backup generators, but it meant that the cafeteria was closed. So one of the head honchos sent out a note saying that management was ordering us pizza.

<snip>

If the pizza was for everybody then everybody should be notified it has arrived. I work in an office of over a hundred people and they do bring in lunch occassionally. Pizza, bbq, sandwiches, like that. We also have cake once a month as a birthday celebration for the whole floor.

They always handle it the same way. A global email is sent saying that the food has arrived. I've never seen everyone rush to the kitchen at the same time. A few trickle in at a time and the line grows & shrinks. Not everyone is at a stopping point at the same time where they can pop up immediately and no one is worried that if they are not the first in line they'll miss out.

I think it was rude to only send the email out to a select few. The email saying the pizza was ready should have gone the exact same distribution list as the email saying that lunch was being provided.

That works for your company. Clearly, everyone is well-behaved there.

But I have witnessed a crowd of people nearly running down a hallway, pushing people out of their way, to get doughnuts when a general email has gone out that there were doughnuts for the taking in the conference room. And the slower people, the ones who didn't run, got nothing, because many of the first arrivals took several doughnuts.

For some companies, announcing the food is ready department by department works best. I admit I'd not be best pleased that the managers at the OP's company got first dibs, but it's not wrong to have one group at a time come and get their food. As long as someone is watching over the food and keeping some back so that the last group has the same choices as the first group.
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Pippen

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Re: The etiquette of free food
« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2012, 05:59:31 PM »
Without seeing the email it is pretty hard to judge. He may have thought just to send it to the managers and they in turn would let their staff know rather than mass emailing everyone and seeing people injured in the resulting stampede to the lunchroom. They may have misinterpreted this as 'you go first'.

Cleargleam

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Re: The etiquette of free food
« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2012, 06:10:09 PM »
The fact that management didn't let their staff know is telling. It becomes a case of "we're important, and if we cherry-pick or plate to excess, too bad for you".

lowspark

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Re: The etiquette of free food
« Reply #11 on: September 13, 2012, 10:26:36 AM »
Today the electricity in our office building was out. We were still able to work on backup generators, but it meant that the cafeteria was closed. So one of the head honchos sent out a note saying that management was ordering us pizza.

<snip>

If the pizza was for everybody then everybody should be notified it has arrived. I work in an office of over a hundred people and they do bring in lunch occassionally. Pizza, bbq, sandwiches, like that. We also have cake once a month as a birthday celebration for the whole floor.

They always handle it the same way. A global email is sent saying that the food has arrived. I've never seen everyone rush to the kitchen at the same time. A few trickle in at a time and the line grows & shrinks. Not everyone is at a stopping point at the same time where they can pop up immediately and no one is worried that if they are not the first in line they'll miss out.

I think it was rude to only send the email out to a select few. The email saying the pizza was ready should have gone the exact same distribution list as the email saying that lunch was being provided.

That works for your company. Clearly, everyone is well-behaved there.

But I have witnessed a crowd of people nearly running down a hallway, pushing people out of their way, to get doughnuts when a general email has gone out that there were doughnuts for the taking in the conference room. And the slower people, the ones who didn't run, got nothing, because many of the first arrivals took several doughnuts.

For some companies, announcing the food is ready department by department works best. I admit I'd not be best pleased that the managers at the OP's company got first dibs, but it's not wrong to have one group at a time come and get their food. As long as someone is watching over the food and keeping some back so that the last group has the same choices as the first group.

I've never seen that in a professional setting, but I guess there are people out there like that! For donuts? Wow.

But the thing is, that regardless of whether it's a chaotic rush to the food or an orderly call by department, those who are going to take more than their share will do so in either circumstance. Would it really be feasible for someone to stand by the food and say "Bob, you took too much. Put some back." ? Short of having someone actually serve the food I don't see how you can regulate how much each person takes. And if the office dynamic is such that people are pushing others aside and taking more than their share, that's probably the best thing to do anyway. Which just brings it back to you might as well notify everyone at the same time.

The idea of letting the managers go first says a lot about what management actually thinks of the hourly workers. It's a message that isn't going to do a lot to boost morale in the office!

camlan

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Re: The etiquette of free food
« Reply #12 on: September 13, 2012, 10:42:20 AM »
In a large company, I'd never put out all the food at once. I've seen enough, and read enough stories here on Ehell, to know that there are people who take advantage of free food. They take more than they can eat, they take some for their next meal, they take some for their family. And the people who arrive last get nothing.

With pizza, I wouldn't have someone serving it, but I'd put out a certain number of pizzas and hold the rest back, replenishing the supply as people take the pizza. That would help to ensure that someone who can't get to the pizza right away has a chance of getting a slice or two, and not just the "reject" pizza that has toppings no one wanted. And many people tend to base the amount they take on how much food is there. They see 50 pizzas? They might take more slices than if 10 pizzas are spread out on the table.

And I'd have no problem if there was someone in the room reminding people that they were limited to a certain number of slices, in an effort to make sure that everyone got some pizza.

I've brought in 2 dozen doughnuts for an office with 18 people, more than enough for everybody to have one doughnut, and have seen someone walk off with a box of a dozen doughnuts. And yes, I stopped her.
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Hmmmmm

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Re: The etiquette of free food
« Reply #13 on: September 13, 2012, 10:48:57 AM »
Without seeing the email it is pretty hard to judge. He may have thought just to send it to the managers and they in turn would let their staff know rather than mass emailing everyone and seeing people injured in the resulting stampede to the lunchroom. They may have misinterpreted this as 'you go first'.
This, or have them figure out a way to stagger departments going to reduce congestion in the break room.