Author Topic: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?  (Read 16246 times)

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WillyNilly

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Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
« Reply #90 on: April 14, 2013, 01:12:59 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.


TurtleDove

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Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
« Reply #91 on: April 14, 2013, 06:54:51 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.

Twik

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Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
« Reply #92 on: April 14, 2013, 03:44:38 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.
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Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
« Reply #93 on: April 14, 2013, 05:30:29 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!)

TurtleDove

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Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
« Reply #94 on: April 14, 2013, 05:41:44 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!"

Drunken Housewife

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Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
« Reply #95 on: April 14, 2013, 06:36:52 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.
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Yvaine

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Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
« Reply #96 on: April 14, 2013, 08:08:20 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!

TurtleDove

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Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
« Reply #97 on: April 14, 2013, 08:42:04 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!

Yvaine

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Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
« Reply #98 on: April 14, 2013, 09:08:49 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.

citadelle

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Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
« Reply #99 on: April 14, 2013, 09:09:40 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 :)

Venus193

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Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
« Reply #100 on: April 14, 2013, 11:35:51 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.

lowspark

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Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
« Reply #101 on: April 16, 2013, 09:28:36 AM »
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.

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.


Cami

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Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
« Reply #102 on: April 16, 2013, 09:39:16 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.

lowspark

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Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
« Reply #103 on: April 16, 2013, 09:45:38 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.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2013, 10:26:48 AM by lowspark »

lowspark

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Re: Miss Manners & the unfed guests: To fib or tell the truth?
« Reply #104 on: April 16, 2013, 10:37:19 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.