Author Topic: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?  (Read 16319 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

snappylt

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 458
Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
« on: April 09, 2013, 01:36:47 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).  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?

Twik

  • A Pillar of the Forum
  • *****
  • Posts: 28378
Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2013, 01:44:00 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.
My cousin's memoir of love and loneliness while raising a child with multiple disabilities will be out on Amazon soon! Know the Night, by Maria Mutch, has been called "full of hope, light, and companionship for surviving the small hours of the night."

Outdoor Girl

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 13665
Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2013, 01:47:28 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.
I have CDO.  It is like OCD but with the letters in alphabetical order, as they should be.
Ontario

bah12

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 5116
Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2013, 01:53:35 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. 

Hmmmmm

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 6358
Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2013, 02:10:56 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.

audhs

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1819
Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2013, 02:20:34 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.

amylouky

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1556
Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2013, 02:21:33 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.

WillyNilly

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 7490
  • Mmmmm, food
    • The World as I Taste It
Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
« Reply #7 on: April 09, 2013, 02:24:12 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.

siamesecat2965

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 8662
Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
« Reply #8 on: April 09, 2013, 02:26:48 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.

BeagleMommy

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3069
Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
« Reply #9 on: April 09, 2013, 02:27:17 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.

Shoo

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 16393
Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
« Reply #10 on: April 09, 2013, 02:27:41 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.

LazyDaisy

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 994
Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
« Reply #11 on: April 09, 2013, 02:28:41 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.
"A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools." Douglas Adams

TootsNYC

  • A Pillar of the Forum
  • *****
  • Posts: 30506
Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
« Reply #12 on: April 09, 2013, 02:30:06 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).

Cami

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1307
Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
« Reply #13 on: April 09, 2013, 02:33:36 PM »
I'd tell the host why I was leaving. To tell an unpleasant truth isn't rude, just unpleasant.

snappylt

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 458
Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
« Reply #14 on: April 09, 2013, 02:39:54 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?)