Today was the second of our office lunches this week, my department's (Finance) monthly potluck, with Human Resources as our guests this month.
At noon, there were at least 6 people in the kitchen preparing and heating up food, so it should have been apparent there was another luncheon and not a mass scramble to get rid of leftovers. But it wasn't, at least not for one person. Most people in the office go in and out of the back door through the kitchen, and this was no different for this person (gender and department shall remain anonymous).
While I was slicing the 4.5 pound pork roast I brought to be put on a serving platter, this person grabbed a paper plate and put a few slices of pork on it. When I noticed this, I immediately said that my food wasn't leftovers for everyone. The person said sorry and put the slices back.
I've worked in enough places to know this is universal for all offices. For some people, they lack understanding of social cues and office etiquette to know any better. For other people, it's sheer laziness. They no longer have to walk or drive to get lunch, and even better, the food is FREE.
When I worked at Gymboree, the Finance division used to have breakfast every Friday. Each department (Accounts Payables, General Ledger, Payroll, etc.) used to alternate to supply the food. Our breakfasts got so famous that other divisions used to crash the event. We ran out of food before everyone in Finance got their share.
There was one Friday I remember vividly when my department, Sales Audit, brought in Noah's Bagels. It pissed me off to no end that 2 women from the Art Department saw me carrying the bag of bagels, followed me, and actually waited for me to put the bagels out. I told them in a surly tone that the food wasn't ready and to come back once everyone else in Finance got their food.
We ended up having to distribute a stern company e-mail that if they wanted breakfast, then notify Finance and we would include them on the distribution list. Message acknowledged and understood. End of mooching.
Yeah, I probably take etiquette and manners for granted. My family's restaurant attracted people from all walks of life, therefore I got early and frequent exposure to all kinds of social interaction. As a child, I was either in the company of being the only Asian-American, or among all Chinese. Nothing in-between.
My advice to anyone who's not sure what to do in an unfamiliar social situation: SHUTUP, LISTEN and OBSERVE. Throw in unfailing politeness, and you'll do fine.