Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Potlucks are NOT Morale Boosters and BTW, I'm Petty

I hate potlucks. I hate everything about it. There's nothing morale boosting about having to feed other people in your office, including those peeps you can barely stand. But what's especially aggravating are those peeps who think it's appropriate to run to the sign-up sheet immediately after it is posted to write down "chips" or "veggie sticks". And the SAME people do it over and over and over. And these cheapskates aren't the "low earners" in the office either.

I had to put my foot down the other day. I said, "I'm not participating in a potluck. If you (i.e., management) feel that morale booster is "necessary", let's all pitch in $10 to buy pizza, salad, etc. I am NOT going to subsidize other people's meals, especially to those who regularly only contribute a $1 bag of chips."

Of course, the office cheapskates got huffy. "Well, I shouldn't HAVE to contribute to meat items since I'm a vegetarian!"... "Well, I don't eat as much as others..."... "Ten dollars?? My normal lunch doesn't cost that much!!" Blah, blah, blah.

But this is what P!SSED me off - "Wow. You're so petty, Shtinky."

I'M PETTY? I'm not the one who thinks it's appropriate to bring $1 bag of chips and be the first one at the trough, piling my dish high with salad, pasta salad, mashed potatoes, rolls and dessert that OTHER people brought. I'm usually the one that brings the main dish that I've carefully planned so that (most) everyone can enjoy. I usually spend well OVER $20 to bring enough food for everyone.

The other non-cheapskates in the office secretly cheered me on, but did not publicly back me up. They were "too polite". Or more accurately, they were too "politic".

Since when did it become "petty" to call out people who are cheap? (And again, I'm not talking about the admin staff or other lower wage earners in the office. The cheapskates in my office earn as much or more than I do, are unmarried and are childless.)

It ticks me off that these cheapskates only think about themselves without consideration for what a "potluck" really is meant to be - - the sharing of food. I'm sorry, but vegetarianism is no excuse for such cheapness. You can't make an inexpensive spinach lasagna? You can't throw together a pasta salad? And the fact that you normally don't spend that kind of money for lunch is just plain assinine. You're feeding other people, duh!

I've kept my mouth shut for way too long. I'm SICK of subsidizing other people's meals when they see no need to reciprocate.

Here's a clue to management - if you TRULY believe that potlucks build morale, think again. If you insist on having one, here's another tip: MANAGE the damn events. Don't let the same people shirk their responsibilities over and over and over and burden the same people with the tab.


Money Beagle said...

Your post reminds me of other PF blog posts in regards to a group of people going out for drinks and/or dinner and splitting the bill evenly, in spite of the fact that there are usually those who drink/eat more yet get subsidized by others.

paranoidasteroid said...

Yeah, I hate that about work potlucks too. Which is why I almost never attend (I work in a large group, so it works!).

I think you're right on. I prefer your idea about just getting pizza - everyone likes pizza! If they did that at work, I'd probably go to the parties.

Anonymous said...

I just don't usually participate. I'm a party pooper too. If we decide to go out to lunch, I'll join.

444 said...


My husband was forced to participate in a Christmas party just this past Christmas in which everyone at his small company had to spend $40 for a pot-luck-style present party. He spent $40 on a George Foreman grill, which he would have liked to have kept. He received a crappy set of ugly tea mugs and tea bags that looked like it came off the WalMart endcap for $9.88. We looked it up on Ebay and saw that someone had just sold an identical one for $18. (Mug art by Thomas Kinkade, whoop de do, so it was worth more than $10.) The seller remarked that the tea should be consumed at one's own risk since it was from 2001. We examined the back of the box and found that indeed, some cheapass had passed off a regifted (for seven year!) box of tea as a $40 present for the company party!

He had a pretty good idea of who did it, and the person was unmarried, childless, and making quite a bit of money there. We actually sold it and got about $18 for it, also.

Saver Queen said...

That's annoying. Besides, can't management come up with any ideas that are more creative than pot-lucks for morale building?

Miss M said...

I also don't like potlucks cause the food sucks! Either they bring crappy pre-made grocery store food that is bland and preservative laden or they try to cook. I actually can cook and put too much effort into it, which leaves me bitter. By the way I'm vegetarian, I'd never claim it to be cheaper!

Abigail said...

I don't mind potlucks, with the proviso that I go in assuming I'm going to have to hover over one or two dishes because I'm an annoyingly picky eater.

Because I have low expectations, I generally don't walk away upset. On the other hand, it's been years since I've worked in an office, so potlucks are usually held by family or friends (all of whom cook better than I do).

I cannot believe that an office potluck means that "chips" equal one bag.

I can cook, but generally don't have the energy or simply don't care to. So I will, at times, sign up for soda or chips or veggies. But I invest in a LARGE veggie tray with plenty of food in it. Or like 5 kinds of chips (because everyone likes different ones) with some of the more popular flavors getting multiple bags. Or usually around 10 2-liters of soda.

I cannot BELIEVE how cheap people must be to stiff their coworkers like that.

I think MoneyBeagle has it right: This is just as bad as splitting a check. Everyone needs to just vote on a food they can all share and everyone chips in. Or something.

And if you're petty, incidentally, then a whole lot of people are. So let's revel in our pettiness! (Notice how it's always the people being cheap calling us the petty ones?)

Once again, a good reminder of cheap vs frugal.

Ms. MoneyChat said...

I do not like potlucks either, primarily because I'm funny about eating from folks' kitchens who don't display decent hygiene practices at work. If you don't display "cleanliness" at work, I'm almost certain it's worse at home. Yep, there are some nasty grown folks in this world. I much prefer catered events, even if I have to make a monetary contribution.

DogAteMyFinances said...

Hahahah, I can't stop laughing at this.

Perhaps the way out is to say you're germ-phobic, and you don't like eating things from people's kitchens. Or, you're on all all grapefruit diet.

Shtinkykat said...

Yep, potluck cheapskates are cheapskates in ALL aspects of their lives. It would be one thing if they were modest about getting subsidized by others but they almost feel entitled, which ticks me off to no end. And I think I just snapped - I no longer want to make bogus excuses for why I don't want to participate. I felt it was necessary to call out the people who are cheap. Why shouldn't they get called out? But alas, I guess that's just being petty.

Anonymous said...

I don't think it's petty to call people out or refuse to participate... there's so many more fun ways to really act petty. Like sign up for the main course, and then 'forget' the day of the potluck. Whoops! Or for the passive aggressive, call in sick that day. Or just sign up for veggies and chips yourself. Two or three potlucks without your tasty contributions and they'll wonder why they have potlucks at all.

Anonymous said...

We never have potlucks in my new group. My last job, i hated potlucks. Not because I was cheap, but because I didn't want to cook/bake. Sometimes they offered a buyout - contribute $X towards whatever if you don't want to bring anything. I usually picked that when offered.

Anyway, I honestly wonder if those people are actually cheap (well, the ones who refused $10 are!) or just lazy about cooking.

PirateKitty said...

I friggin HATE potlucks, HATE EM! I always bring baking since that's where my skill lies and aside from the time, it costs next to nothing to make dinner rolls or cinnamon buns. I don't even mind contributing, but what gets me is when I get grief for only eating from the veggie tray. I have stomach problems and will get viciously ill from all animal fats. That's right, even a dash of butter and I'll be hurling all afternoon. SO I choose not to eat anything I can't trust to be safe and people actually glare and scowl at me for not eating their mystery casserole! I shouldn't have to explain the gory details of my ailments dang it!
AND on top of it, there's the schmoes around the office that complain that I haven't brought in any baked goods lately. I only bring stuff in when I have leftover baked treats that I can't freeze or eat in a reasonable time(in my experience cupcakes, doughnuts, etc don't freeze well) so they wouldn't go bad, it's not a freakin obligation!

lulugal11 said...

I am a picky eater as well so those things frustrate me to no end. I don't eat red meat and my coworkers LOVE their stuff super fried.

I bring my lunch to work every day so I generally just bring something small and not eat out of the potluck.

MrsSmith said...

I'm sensing there is enough angst here to start an entire Anti-Potluck revolution! PotlucksSuck.com?
Whenever the potluck email comes out, you just respond with a link to the website. I bet we could eradicate potlucks from offices forever!!

Long Live Delivered Pizza!!

DH said...

I agree with you on this. I've experienced something similar on a couple of occassions.

They should either organize inexpensive catering or pizza and everyone chips in. Or designate one person to hand out/distribute the food "assignments". Then rotate it every month/week.

That way, fair is fair.