Social Question

berry_lips's avatar

How do you feel about co-workers who attend work potlucks empty handed?

Asked by berry_lips (142points) August 2nd, 2009

It’s happened more than once at the office: There is an office potluck. It has been announced for several weeks. Everyone at the office knows about it. Then comes the big day. There is bound to be several co-workers who straggle in… with nothing in hand except an empty plate and cup for healthy servings of “free food.” I used to be more tolerant of these co-workers, but it gets old. I spend money and time buying and making food for office potlucks, why can’t they (if they want to participate)? How do YOU feel about co-workers (or other people) who participate in potlucks, but don’t bring anything to share?

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22 Answers

thrice2k3's avatar

Do a sign up sheet so you can see who’s contributing… and for those that aren’t – have em kick in 5 bucks or something towards the next event.

knitfroggy's avatar

I think it’s rude if they don’t bring anything but then they eat. Everyone else went to the trouble of cooking or buying something, why should they not have to contribute. This always happens at my family reunion. They are kind of the weird section of the family and they always show up with a bunch of kids and extra people, don’t bring anything and then chow down.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

It’s very rude. I think I’d have to say something like “oh, what did YOU bring?”

Lovey_Howell's avatar

There are plenty of acceptable reasons why someone may not bring something to a pot-luck (expense, time, forgetfulness, insecurity in their own culinary skills…) but if it’s the same person/people every time, I too would tend to think poorly of them (of course that’s not knowing anything else about them).

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

If I don’t bring something I don’t attend but that just my thing.

Mamradpivo's avatar

I have done this. I made a point of not eating anything either. Office functions can be so forced, sometimes I just don’t want to be there.

Zendo's avatar

The Cads!

rooeytoo's avatar

If I don’t have time to cook something, I will always bring along some Chinese take out or a pizza or even just stop at a convenience store and pick up chips and cookies or SOMETHING!

Very rarely is there an excuse for showing up totally empty handed

jamielynn2328's avatar

I’m with @rooeytoo, it is very easy to just stop at a store and grab something if a person is not a good cook or was just to busy to prepare anything. A one time offender probably wouldn’t upset me, but if a person was a repeat offender than I would be extremely annoyed.

YARNLADY's avatar

I don’t think I’ve ever seen that. It would certainly surprise me. I would consider telling them privately that it is considered rude to not bring anything to share, and I would offer to help them with ideas if they need.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

it’s rude. They could at least pick up a tub of prepared potato salad at the local deli.

JLeslie's avatar

I think if the same people are doing it every time, then that is a problem. One time would not bother me…maybe they forgot this time, maybe they just couldn’t get it done. We all have days when we can’t pull it together, or make a mistake, I guess it matters how many people are in the potluck. If it is just a few of you, then a missing dish might really affect the outcome of the event, but if many people are bringing in food, there is usually too much anyway.

If I failed to bring something I would wait until everyone had an opportunity to take what they wanted, and then if there is left over I would take my food.

derekpaperscissors's avatar

They were probably coerced to attend. Don’t worry, they (or I) would leave soon as the opportunity appears. I don’t consider office parties as real parties…

dynamicduo's avatar

I feel people should be given one free “get out of jail” card, and if they continue their behaviour a second or further times then you are justified in taking a stand. Cause maybe they forgot, or don’t know how to cook, or are so poor that they can’t even bring such a dish. But yes, when it happens time and time again, it’s time to take action because it is not in the spirit of a potluck to not bring a dish.

Including a line in the invite such as “Entrance to the potluck is granted when you bring your own dish to share” can make it easier to deny people entrance when they only come with a plate and a cup.

The question then becomes do you really want to be the person enforcing this? Because you will sound petty regardless of how justified you are. Ultimately, I am of the opinion that the relationships with colleagues is worth more than a bit of missing food. Then again, I don’t participate in every single potluck that comes my way, so when I do participate I don’t notice who the serial moochers are nor do I really care.

If however I was the organizer of a monthly potluck and there were some people who regularly attended and never brought a dish, I would go and speak to them in person, explain that potluck lunches revolve around sharing, and ask them to bring a dish with them next time or to let me know if they won’t be attending.

The sign up sheet option also works really nicely, and has a bonus that you won’t end up with 20 salads and cookies and no mains. And you can certainly include a line like “If you cannot bring a dish, please bring $5 to contribute to the pool”. But to me, this is a passive aggressive approach to the problem, and I would much prefer to resolve the situation and answer any of their questions (or accept any of their excuses) while talking face to face instead of hoping they will read and abide the rules of the sign up sheet – people who are obtuse to rules such as bringing a dish to a potluck are also obtuse enough to not read signs.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra You took the words right out of my mouth. I was going to say the deli salad thing, too. Or there are always veggie trays made up. There’s always SOMETHING you can take. It doesn’t HAVE to be home made.

tedibear's avatar

We have a slightly different problem where I work. Often, we’ll have lunches (hot dogs, chicken, sloppy joes, etc.) where the profit is donated to charity. We’ll ask people to pay $3 and they get a large hot dog, some kind of salad, fruit, baked beans and chips. Or something similar. If we do something a little more expensive, like chicken breast, we’ll ask for a little more. Other times, the company will just a sponsor a free lunch to boost company morale or thank us for our loyalty and hard work. The issue I have is that the same people who won’t do the charity donation lunch are the first ones in line for the free lunch.

I can understand someone not believing in a particular charity and not wanting to donate, but all of the charities? (There are only 3 we really support.) And one of these guys is always there when there’s free food.

Bri_L's avatar

If you don’t bring something maybe once then free pass. After that run out. Then your just free loading.

I myself can’t cook. My blood pressure rises, I stress. So I always bring chips, help set up, and help clean up.

tedibear's avatar

@BriL – You would be very welcome here for your set up and clean up help!

Bri_L's avatar

@tedibear39 – thank you! I am a hard worker. I try to earn my participation!

jca's avatar

i have had one or two occasions where i did not bring something to work,and i made damn sure i went to the supermarket quickly and picked up a cake or something. i hate when people do this – show up empty handed. at the very least they could pick up some soda. to me, once in a rare while if someone had some extenuating circumstances, it would be ok. or if someone says they made something but forgot it, and they bring it the next day for everyone to enjoy, that would be ok. but to show up empty handed and just be like nothing’s wrong, i don’t see an excuse for.

however, there’s nobody that would be able to enforce that without looking like a petty, mean person, so forget enforcing it. you can’t. it’s done on the “honor system” and it works because people participate by bringing in stuff. the more the merrier, but there’s no way and it’s nobody’s role to enforce it.

Shegrin's avatar

Maybe you work at a college and as a morale booster there’s a pot luck at the end of the semester that will be attended by mostly students. The brisket is provided. Students are poor.

tiffyandthewall's avatar

perhaps there’s some reason? whether it be that they can’t afford it (money-wise or time-wise) or that they’re freeloaders, i do not know.

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