the Christmas tantrum, the potluck tyrant, and other tales of holidays at work

Over the years, readers have submitted a tremendous number of amusing stories about holidays at work, and since we’re heading into the holidays we must revisit them. Here are some of my favorites.

1. The Christmas tantrum

“A woman who had worked at our office for more than twenty years pouted and threw tantrums like a child if she didn’t win a door prize at the annual Christmas dinner. Every time someone else’s name was randomly drawn, she would yell, ‘FIX!”’ or ‘CHEAT!’ or something similar. And one year, she just snatched a prize she really wanted from the table and told the person who won the prize, ‘I DESERVE this,’ and walked away with it.”  (2014)

2. The cranberry usurper

“In the pre-Covid days we had a Thanksgiving potluck. I signed up to bring pumpkin pie bars.
Well, I was doing my potluck cooking while also doing my Friendsgiving cooking, making my pie and some cranberry sauce at the same time. In a moment where I forgot how measurements worked I ended up making an absurd amount of cranberry sauce – just over 2 gallons. Friendsgiving was small (6 people) and my family is small (5 people) so I figured I’d pack up half the sauce and bring it to the work potluck since I had it.

This was the wrong decision.

Our office manager had apparently signed up for cranberry sauce and HOW DARE I try to take over her item. She gave the expected greeting to the potluck lunch, burst into tears and then called me out for ‘being disrespectful’ and ‘humiliating her’ and asked me to please come up and throw away my ‘usurper cranberries.’

I did go put them at my desk because WTF but also people still talk about this.”  (2021)

3. Phillippe

“One place I worked had a fruitcake of undetermined origin which had been passed around for at least 10 years (longest tenured employee remembered it at her first holiday party, but it had been there prior to her). It had a name (Phillippe). Whoever won it built a shrine to Phillippe in their cube and proudly displayed it until the next year … Might have been a cheap gag gift, but dang the competition for Phillippe was intense.
The end of Phillippe’s story: An intern won it one year after I left and hadn’t realized that this wasn’t supposed to be eaten. Apparently Claxon Fruit Cake is still edible after at least 13 years. She brought Phillippe II for the next gift swap … All interns are now warned not to eat Phillippe II.”  (2021)

4. The Purim party

“When I took my gap year between high school and college, one of the rabbis on the program hosted a Purim party at his home near the yeshiva (for the non-Jews, what you have to know is that one of the traditions of Purim is to have a LOT of alcohol. Like, a L O T of alcohol. Like, more alcohol than you’re thinking of right now). His rule for the party was that if you came, you were only allowed one cup of wine, with the caveat to that being that you were allowed to bring your own cup … of whatever size you want. This rule was amended to “it has to be an actual cup” after one year a student brought a vase.”  (2022)

5. The brie

“The wildest thing I’ve ever seen, from an academic wine and cheese event, is a person I didn’t recognize marching up to the cheese board, flipping an entire wheel of brie into her purse, and marching back out. I almost respect it for how gutsy it is, but it just shocked me that you’d do this without at least playing the game of pretending to be excited about the forthcoming book/new minor program/new dean of whatever.”  (2023)

6. The unintended message

“When I first started college I got an on-campus job so I mainly worked with other students. As an 18-year-old freshman, I was the youngest person there, and most of the other student workers were between 3-5 years older than me. There was a guy Fergus who was one of the older student workers and I remember thinking that he was very cool and I was much less worldly than he was. He had mentioned going camping several times so I also was impressed that he was outdoorsy (I was easily impressed at the time, and clearly pretty sheltered).

We would all attend the same parties and one weekend Fergus was having a birthday party and he invited everyone from work. I was excited to be invited to the party and went to get him a small birthday present. Since I was too young to buy a bottle of wine and didn’t have a lot of money I went to a store that sold novelty shot glasses because that was the only thing I could think of.

I saw a shot glass that said ‘I Hunt Beaver’ with a picture of a beaver on it and since I was so naive and sheltered I took it at face value and thought it was perfect because he was into “the outdoors” and I assumed that meant hunting. This was also during the time that everyone had ‘vintage’ t-shirts that had random expressions. I did NOT know the other lewd and true meaning of the statement.

So I bought that obscene shot glass and gave it to him at the party in front of people. I remember he looked a bit perplexed but I didn’t think anything of it until another coworker told me what it meant and I was so mortified that I really don’t even remember much about that night afterward and I was too embarrassed to explain to him. I think I avoided him at work for a good two months afterward. Shudder.”  (2020)

7. The Christmas meal

“My office had a Christmas party last weekend! One person had to show up already wasted, of course. We were all eating around one big table at a nice-ish restaurant, and maybe 20 minutes into the meal he hollers at our boss across the table: ‘You know (boss’ name), despite what my coworkers say, I think that you’re a good boss!’

We all sit in mortified silence and the exchange keeps going for several minutes. As soon as my boss is done eating she gets up and leaves without paying for her meal! Said coworker also sang two Robbie Williams songs to/at me in karaoke, pointing and making intense eye contact the whole time. He’s married with children and I’m the youngest woman in the office.”  (2022)

8. The TVs

“At our company holiday party, there were a few huge flat screen TVs in the gift drawing. A big Ohio State football game was on that night, so the owners had four huge flat screen TVs set up on rolling stands in an area for people to watch the game. One exceptionally intoxicated employee grabbed one of the game TVs and started rolling it out to the parking lot, being under the impression they were the TVs from the drawing. He had the back door of his SUV open and was only stopped by the much soberer coworker who he asked to help lift it in.”  (2022)

9. The tyrant

“Currently employed at a very dysfunctional medical office (and seeking other employment), and this is just the cherry on top. The following is from an email about Thanksgiving potluck at the main office (our satellite office is an afterthought).

Greetings Staff,

Can you believe Thanksgiving is literally around the corner? In the past 3 years [COMPANY] has weathered all kinds of storms and with two years and ongoing with COVID we are extremely thankful and grateful. Please join [COMPANY] in our Thanksgiving Celebration family style luncheon this year at the office on November 18 from 12pm-2pm.

To be prepare for the luncheon, I need everyone to do the following:

1. RSVP no later than Wednesday, 11/9 at 12 noon.

2. Along with your RSVP, start thinking of a dish that you can prepare and share.

3. If you are not a good cook OR have cats or dogs that shed, please opt out of food preparation. I recommend you bring drinks, napkins or a purchased dessert.

4. Note on drinks- NO off brand sodas allowed. That is Food Lion, Walmart, store brand sodas, etc. We want the type you see in Soda Vending Machines.

5. Note on desserts. If you are not baking yourself, then do us the favor of NOT purchasing store brand cookies or cakes. Please go to a bakery. This is meant to be a special event.

6. Finally, I will have final say on if a dish is approved or not. Please don’t take offense, I just have a vision of the types of dishes I would prefer. Isn’t Thanksgiving all about good food and communion?

7. Just to remind you, [COMPANY] will provide all the meats – Honey baked Ham, and Turkey. We will need the following categories of food contributed by you:

We will have a limit on the number of dish categories so sign up fast with your favorite dish or contribution.”  (2022)

10. The salad

“Our universally hated lab tech was mulling out loud what he should bring to a company-wide winter holiday potluck. He did not know how to cook, so we offered up many ‘safe’ suggestions (sodas, crackers and cheese, chips, etc.), all of which he nixed. He figured it wouldn’t be too hard to make a tossed salad.

He proceeds to ask everyone in the lab what ingredients everyone would like in this salad he would make for us. Suggestions are made for things like romaine lettuce, iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, mushrooms, croutons, avocados … wait. Avocados? Well, all right, he’ll get an avocado for the salad. Just for us.

Next day is the potluck. Lab tech comes in with a huge metal bowl, filled to the brim. He removes many of the refrigerated potluck items from the lunchroom refrigerator to accommodate this bowl. Someone discovers this and manages to return everything to the refrigerator, wedging dishes in around this bowl.

Then lab tech starts the day by complaining about this salad.

First, it’s, ‘Okay everyone, I brought a bunch of salad and I expect everyone to eat it. All right? I got most everything you wanted.’

Then he starts grousing about the cost of the ingredients. The mushrooms were omitted because of cost. He almost used CANNED tomatoes instead of fresh because canned was cheaper. Who even thinks of using canned tomatoes in a tossed salad?

Finally, he says he’s very tired, having stayed up ‘all night’ to cut up the salad components. ‘Especially that avocado,’ he griped. ‘That skin was murder to cut up. Almost lost a finger!’

A voice from the next bench asks, ‘You do know that the skin is inedible, right?’

‘Oh, of course, everyone knows that!’

Later that morning someone rushes into the lab to alert everyone to come to the lunchroom.

‘You gotta see this!’

Our lab tech has dumped the entire contents of his salad bowl all over the lunchroom table. Yes, the table from one end to the other is covered in greens. He’s fingering every piece, searching for the avocado, which had been cut into odd-shaped bits smaller than an orange seed. Then trimming off any hint of skin from each itty-bitty piece and returning it to the bowl. He’s so intent on this he doesn’t see the half-dozen faces watching this from the doorway.

We pass the word: Do NOT eat the tossed salad.

So potluck time comes, and no one is touching the salad. A few reach for the tongs, but are stopped and ushered along to the next food items. Later we explain why.

Next day, lab tech chews us out for the expense incurred on this salad. Says we should all reimburse him for what he spent on ‘your salad.'”  (2022)

11. The bourbon balls

“Many years ago, I worked at the corporate office of a regional retailer. I worked closely with the senior VP, and while he could be a pill at times, I genuinely liked the guy.

One year, I found a recipe for bourbon balls that I decided to make up for the holidays. Knowing that the SVP had a giant sweet tooth and also that he was very fond of bourbon, I brought him a container of several dozen bourbon balls, thinking (foolishly) that he’d enjoy them over the course of several days.

He did not spread them out over several days. He chomped through the entire container in a single afternoon, ingesting a significant amount of bourbon and a whole lot of chocolate in the process.

As it happened, that day turned out to be the day the boss was going through the list of employees to decide how much each of us would get for a year-end bonus. And everyone was quite astounded that year at his unaccustomed generosity in deciding the bonus amounts.

For some reason, every year after that, multiple co-workers would pull me aside in early December to urge me to make up another batch of bourbon balls for the SVP the week before Christmas.”  (2022)

12. Something nicer

“One of our coworkers was a daughter of a Laotian immigrant who taught traditional cooking classes at the local community center. Her spring rolls were legendary. The daughter would always bring a large tray – enough for at least 1 per person if not 2 – of them to the annual all-company holiday potluck (300 people). You could always tell when her dish arrived – first you would hear murmurs, then a dull roar, an email would go out, and then a stampede down stairwell. Even people who usually abstained from the potluck would go down and get at least one.

One year…she and the precious spring rolls weren’t there. We found out the mom was in a bad car accident a couple days prior and was not expected to make it so daughter was at her bedside. A collection was taken and PTO was donated (company matched all offerings) and mom sadly passed after a few more days (shortly before Christmas).

First day the company was open after New Year’s there is a commotion at the front door. This employee and her entire family came to the main entrance with THOUSANDS of these spring rolls for the employees as a thank you for donations and financial/PTO assistance. We feasted. I happened to work in the department next to hers and for several months following, whenever she was missing her mother she made those spring rolls and brought some in to share with our floor. I left there 2 years ago but timed my last day to coincide with the annual potluck so I would have one last chance at those spring rolls.”   (2021)

{ 280 comments… read them below }

  1. Juicebox Hero*

    Avocado Boy was one of my very favorites from last year. I’d still bet cash money that he chopped up the pit and threw it in as well.

    1. bamcheeks*

      I feel like he must have done because — avocado skin is not that tough? You can cut it perfectly well with a normal eating knife, you don’t even need a vegetable knife!

      1. londonedit*

        Reminds me of the oft-discussed time when my dad was tasked with dishing up slices of Viennetta (for the uninitiated, Viennetta is a frozen ice-cream dessert with ice cream piped in ruffly layers interspersed with super-thin layers of chocolate. It comes in a long rectangular log, which you cut into slices to serve). It seemed to take him quite some while to come back from the kitchen with everyone’s portions of Viennetta, but we didn’t think too much of it, until he returned with the first two bowls and said ‘Bloody hell, that chocolate on the bottom took some getting through! Had to use a bread knife!!’ Of course there is no chocolate layer on the bottom – what there is (or was at that time, anyway) is a brown plastic tray that the Viennetta sits on. And that’s what my dad had diligently sawn through with a bread knife for each piece.

        1. Juicebox Hero*

          Sigh. I used to love Viennetta but I don’t think they sell it in the US any more. When I was a teenager and still had a metabolism, 1 Viennetta = 1 serving.

          1. Mme Pince*

            They do sell it in the US again, but I’m not sure if it’s the same manufacturer/producer now. I saw it at Publix last Friday, but was too certain that 1 Viennetta would end up being 1 serving to buy it.

          2. H3llifIknow*

            They do but another company bought them (Breyer’s maybe? I have one in the freezer but it’s too far to walk and look :) I’m lazy.) We bought 2 and were so excited and ate the first and were like “oh no; this is NOT the same AT ALL,” and were so disappointed. The second one has been in the freezer for like 9 months, and we just will prolly never eat it, but … it’s still there. If you find it, be prepared to be disappointed :(

        2. pally*

          Gracious! That had me laughing! I can just hear the grumbling as he’s trying so hard to slice up the tray.

        3. Magenta*

          Love a bit of Viennetta, I have one in the freezer right now. I get about 3 ruffles from the end and my partner has the rest.

          The original is good but I swear they used to do one with biscuit in, it was called something like “Biscuit Sensation” and it somehow magically stayed crunchy. I really want them to bring it back.

          1. pandop*

            For those in the UK, in Aldi and Iceland you can sometimes get choc ice versions! Vienetta onnastick!

        4. ThursdaysGeek*

          My grandmother’s pie crusts were apparently so tough that the first time my dad had a store bought pie, he sliced through the pan, just because he was used to using that much force.

          1. H3llifIknow*

            I accidentally left the shortening out of the crust the first time I made a pie and that sucker was like CONCRETE. Hubby made a valiant effort, I must say, before noticing the measuring cup on the counter and asking, “what is this?”

        5. Honey, Baked Ham!*

          *wince* I’m still not over the (32-year-old) disappointment at finding out Viennetta is just ice cream. I thought it was special! *sob*

          1. londonedit*

            Oh no, it is special! It’s made of ice cream but with the really thin layers of chocolate it’s lovely. Back in 1980s Britain if you had parents who didn’t really do bought-in food then Viennetta was an incredibly exciting thing saved only for special occasions!

    2. Delta Delta*

      This reminds me of my little brother. when he was about 14 he got a job at a local deli doing sandwich prep. He had never really been into salad, and didn’t really pay attention to other people’s salads, so it turns out he didn’t actually know how to make one. Someone came in and ordered a chef salad, and the description was “assorted meats and cheeses” but said nothing of vegetables. He thought it was a little weird, but made a to-go container of nothing but diced deli meats and cheeses. When the customer complained he said he didn’t know how to do it and just followed the description. The boss taught him how to make salad after that.

      1. Phryne*

        Well, I think even if you are quite proficient in making salads, if you are expected to make a menu item in a deli, there should be a very clear description of what and how much goes into that item. What business puts a new employee behind a counter and expects them to just figure how how to make everything?

      1. MassMatt*

        Are bourbon balls related to Hanukkah balls? What if they are served around Purim? Are we limited to one cup full? I’ll bring a vase!

        1. La Triviata*

          My father at one point was traveling to Kentucky on business and would often bring back a box of Rebecca Ruth candy – chocolate-covered nougat (I think) that was so saturated in bourbon that it couldn’t be sent through the mail (restrictions on mailing alcohol). They were delicious and I loved them. I once ate enough that I (age 12 or so) managed to get tipsy.

    1. Be Gneiss*

      I’m usually prepared to hold back a snort-laugh at my desk while reading these lists, but I wasn’t prepared to have to hold back tears!

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      A lot of these stories end up being about how people’s attitudes about food tear things apart. It’s nice to read a story about how it brings people together.

      I remember an anthropology class where the professor pointed out that food is love. It’s how people behave around it that shows you how they feel about each other.

    3. Not Totally Subclinical*

      My allergies are acting up in a big way. That’s why I’m sitting at my computer with my eyes watering. Nothing to do with what I’m reading.

    4. Spring Roll Enthusiast*

      Given the craziness others have written in, I has half expecting someone from the office to contact the daughter and demand the spring rolls. It is nice to see something so heartwarming!

      1. allathian*

        Yes, absolutely. I’ve seen this one before so I knew what to expect, but it’s so heartwarming every time. Wholesome, even, to use an old-fashioned word.

  2. WellRed*

    I need an update on no. 9. Did they achieve the perfect holiday vision with no off brand sodas or baked goods?

    1. Nea*

      That is the kind of potluck that I’ll suddenly be too busy catching up on work to attend. Or have car trouble that day.

      1. lilsheba*

        Yeah…they are concerned about appearances. And apparently don’t realize that all soda is the same whether it’s store brand or not.

        1. Bethany*

          Ehhh I wouldn’t say that. Many people can’t tell the difference between brands but those who are regular drinkers of a particular brand or sensitive tasters will be able to tell. Rejecting store brands for this gathering is probably more about looks than taste though.

          1. Dara*

            It would be so funny if someone who just didn’t know Sam’s Choice was the Wal-Mart store brand brought in a bunch of it because they DO have Soda Vending Machines for it at Wal-Mart.

            1. Never the Twain*

              I can see that after that slipped through, there would be an appendix to the instructions next year, listing which Soda Vending Machines should be consulted to find out which sodas are acceptable (“NOT Walmart; train stations, or airports [other than at International Departure Gates] may be acceptable, but consult me first to avoid disappointment and possible failed communion”)

        1. Nea*

          Seriously, my cats don’t shed a lot but I’d be sooooo tempted to say something like “Do you like that? Bentley sure did, I had to chase her away from eating it twice!”

          1. Pam Adams*

            Whatever I brought would have cat footprints across it- even if I had to borrow a cat for the occasion.

          2. Siege*

            I would be SURE to get out the pictures of holiday cooking from 2015-ish of my cat sticking his whole head in the sugar bag to see what mama was doing.

    2. Be Gneiss*

      I would be so tempted to show up with an assortment of the different, hilariously-named, Dr. Pepper knock-offs.

        1. Yikes Stripes*

          I’ve done that! It was honestly really fun.

          My friends did the challenge where they set up various Dr Pepper formats for me to blind taste test and I absolutely can tell canned from plastic bottled from soda fountain, but I also can absolutely tell the real deal from the sea of imitators. That said, a few of the imitators were pretty tasty!

      1. Cabbagepants*

        That calls for malicious compliance. Go to one of those places with unlimited (brand name!) soda refills and fill a 5-gallon bucket with Coca-Cola(TM).

    3. Juicebox Hero*

      My fantasy vision for that story is to stalk in with a 12 pack of store-brand orange soda and a package of store-brand cookies (maybe the sandwich cookies that have “creme” filling between 1 vanilla and 1 chocolate cookie), dump them on the table, and stalk back out.

      The past few years soda has gotten crazy expensive, even for store brands. I had to quit drinking regular soda when I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and I hate artificial sweeteners and I’m kind of glad about it.

      1. Satan’s Panties*

        DH and I swore off aspartame a few years ago. We drink brands like Virgil’s, Zevia, and this new Ollipop’s. It’s a bit more expensive than Coke/Pepsi, but we drink less of it because it’s more thirst-quenching. I’d love to see the email sender’s reaction to that stuff, especially if they’ve never heard of it. And for extra fun, cans of Virgil’s are often mistaken for beer, because the logo includes a jovial brewer. (He’s serving root beer to children, but people tend not to notice that detail.)

    4. Ex-prof*

      I was confused by the desserts that must be neither homemade nor store-bought, till I saw that bakeries were the ideal.

      I think boss made a mistake there. Some bakeries are better than others. Presumably future iterations of the rules included a list of approved bakeries.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Are grocery store bakeries OK?

        Also, where do RC Cola and Mr. Pibb fall on the soda scale?

        I am known at work as a very good baker. This is the kind of thing that would make me break out one of my best recipes. Then keep it hidden at my desk to only share with select coworkers.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            Grocery stores where I am sell items from their bakeries but often also from smaller, local bakeries.

          2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            I got my wedding cake from a Publix.

            It was just as fancy as if I got it from the expensive bakery down the road, but tasted way better and was only $250.

            (Hey, it was four tiers – I had 150 people who needed a slice, and it included delivery and set up in the price.)

    5. Richard Hershberger*

      Most of that list is tacky and pushy, but not completely over the top. Then we get to number 6. How does that work? Can you simply present the organizer with the recipe for your dish ahead of time for approval? Do you bring in a sample in advance? Or do you bring it the day of, and find out if if makes the grade? Maybe someone could organized a bootleg potluck with the unloved dishes in another room.

    6. Slow Gin Lizz*

      I also really want an update on that one, both to know how the event went and also if that OP has managed to get away from that potluck control freak.

      1. OriginalOP #9*

        Original OP here! I didn’t end up attending the event as I was in a satellite office and still seeing patients. I did check in with a colleague who attended and painted a very interesting picture: think alcohol and a DJ and dancing at 1pm in a medical office. Thankfully, I did secure new employment with a wonderful boss, pay raise, better benefits, etc. I appreciate that the Thanksgiving potluck from hell is a story that lives on and I can laugh about it now, but that job was very tough on my mental health. Many kudos to AAM and all the wonderful readers/commentors!

        1. Hrodvitnir*

          Somehow it feels incredibly apropos that it was a medical office. *sigh* I would be opting out if remotely possible!

          Happy for you that you’re in a better environment now.

        2. allathian*

          And thanks for the update! Glad to hear that the Thanksgiving potluck from hell is something you can laugh about, and that you have a better job now.

    7. Anon for this*

      For some reason that story reminded me of the Easter that my mother served Dog Potatoes. My mother used to make home-made au gratin potatoes (which I never liked, but I digress). She made two huge trays and then put them outside on the porch table to get them out of the way because she had a small kitchen. Someone let the dogs outside as well and their beagle, Abby, helped herself to half of one of the trays of potatoes. Instead of just throwing away the rest of the tray, my mother cut off the part where the dog ate from, and served the rest. None of us would touch them, but my grandma, who had arrived after this happened, happily ate some and said “Oh, Frances, these are the best au gratin potatoes I’ve ever had!” Poor Grandma has been gone for many years but we still tell the story of the Dog Potatoes every year at Easter.

    8. Unkempt Flatware*

      I’m so petty that I would buy Dr. Thunder, pour out Dr. Pepper, and replace with the only-for-the-classless Dr. Thunder.

  3. The cranberry usurper*

    My boss is probably related to the boss in this story. Walking on eggshells to avoid “disrespecting” and “humiliating” takes up a large part of the work day. The team is much happier when they take a day off.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I had that boss once – she eventually quit in a huff to “do something more productive and in line with her degrees” after not getting a promotion she wanted.

      Yes she had the temerity to put that in writing on the company email – and yes it also got forwarded a bunch of times to managers above her slot. She is now blacklisted and can’t return.

  4. ENFP in Texas*

    I still hope the Apricot Lady and the Brie Wheel Lady got together at some point. Maybe with a vase of wine.

    1. She who lurks*

      I was too late to post this yesterday but the story of Apricot woman reminded me of Sarah Millican’s stand up routine (it’s on YouTube but I’m too lazy to post a link right now) where she tells a friend she’s allergic to apricots because when she had some they gave her diahorrea. After a bit more discussion she realises it was the huge amount that she ate which caused the issue: she wasn’t allergic to apricots, she was allergic to FORTY apricots …

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        That would do it!

        I remember once when a teenager I worked with wondered if he had developed a peanut allergy because he felt sick after eating some peanut butter cups. Further questioning revealed he go sick after eating an entire Halloween bag of peanut butter cups. Mystery solved!

        1. Turquoisecow*

          When I was a teen a friend and I baked a tray of brownies with white chocolate swirls. After eating them, I got hives. I am definitely not allergic to chocolate but thought I might be allergic to white chocolate. I’ve had it in small doses since, with no issues, so I think the problem was mostly that I hate half the tray of them.

        2. Arglebarglor*

          Not holiday related but when I was a brand new nurse practitioner, one of my very first patients was a man whose chief complaint was having “too much stomach rumbling.” When I inquired about what he had been eating he said he ate a three pound bag of Hershey’s kisses. All in one sitting. In his SLEEP. I told him I was pretty sure that was the cause of his rumbling and that he should probably hang around home for the next few hours in case of an explosion.

      2. I take tea*

        I actually managed to give myself an allergy to citrus fruit by consuming a three kilo bag of mandarines in maybe two days. I eventually grew out of it, but I used to get an itchy face just from people peeling oranges and mandarines near me.

  5. Neysa*

    I guess I have less faith in people. I was sure the last one was going to be about someone complaining they didn’t have spring rolls that year.

    1. Alex*

      With a title like “Something Nicer”, I was very scared that the story was about how the spring roll tradition ended after an entitled Karen complained that the employee should bring “something nicer” next time.

      Very glad to discover the story itself is the “something nicer” in question

    1. word nerd*

      No way, reading the email again reminded me of just how much I loved the capitalization the first time around. Capitalizing Soda Vending Machines shows you just how important they are. :)

    2. Honey, Baked Ham!*

      I always wonder about that, too? Are you 110 years old? Are you secretly German??
      It’s like people who put commas in truly unfathomable places. What do they think they’re communicating when they do that?

      1. Generic Name*

        I work with Engineers, and the like to capitalize words For Emphasis. You know, to convey that they are Really Important and you need to Pay Attention to them.

        1. Avery*

          Not an engineer, but I will admit that I do this too. There’s a difference between something bad and something Bad, for instance. But I’d never do that in my work writing, even the less formal stuff!

    1. Juicebox Hero*

      Ditto. “You’re the one with the ‘vision’ of what the dishes should be, so you can make them all yourself! Or buy them yourself from an approved bakery.”

      1. whingedrinking*

        I mean, I have unironically said, “So this is my vision for this – ” and I would never in a million years finish that sentence with “office potluck”.

    2. Zombeyonce*

      I’d love everyone to coordinate sending a response email all at the same time signing up for napkins. Every single person.

  6. Cyndi*

    I know we’re all in general agreement–including me!–that people carrying home many times their fair share of buffet food is pretty rude and selfish.

    That said, I’m fully rooting for the woman in #5 and I can’t explain why at all. I love Brie. Good for her.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      I once didn’t have time to cook for a potluck. But I had recently made some maple-glazed pecans. A brief trip to the store for grapes and brie, and I had a tray that was absolutely empty well before the potluck was over. Cheese moves, y’all!

    2. Chocoholic*

      When I was in my 8th or 9th month of pregnancy with my son, our company received a 5lb box of Enteman’s toffee. If you have ever had it, you know it is buttery, chocolaty and delicious. We received it from our insurance broker as a thank you for our business.

      I am not proud to say that I took that toffee home and ate it all by myself. I didn’t even share it with my husband, just me. I still cringe thinking about that, 18 years later.

      1. Zombeyonce*

        Don’t feel bad, you deserved it!

        Sometimes I take a day off of work to do nothing productive but lie around in pajamas watching TV and maybe take myself out to lunch and browse at the thrift store. I don’t tell anyone in my family I’m not working until the day is over. Everyone leaves me alone because they think I’m working, no kids magically feel sick at school and want to come home (I love hanging out with them but sometimes you need a break!), and it’s just peace and quiet. My husband thinks it’s hilarious.

    3. Chocoholic*

      When I was in my 8th or 9th month of pregnancy, the company I worked for at the time received a large box of Enstrom toffee – if you have never had it, it is delicious – buttery, chocolaty…

      I took that box home and I ate the whole thing myself. I didn’t even share it with my husband. I still cringe when I think about that 18 years later. EEK!

    4. Zombeyonce*

      I think Brie Thief was smart doing it that way. If you make conversation, people are more likely to learn your name and remember your face. This way, they’re more likely to get away with it and have no one remember much except the fact that a person took the cheese.

      It’s like the trick I’ve seen in movies where someone turns in a test late in a big college class and the professor says they won’t accept it. The test taker asks if the teacher knows their name and when they don’t, the test taker sticks the test in the middle of the stack so they can’t be identified. Evil, but crafty.

      1. Expelliarmus*

        Oh yeah, there’s an Indian movie where a student does that, except he throws the pile of tests in the air lol

    5. münchner kindl*

      What I don’t get, aside from the brazeness from somebody who doesn’t need it (as has often been pointed out, actual poor people are too ashamed and too afraid to take that openly, it’s the entitled attitude of deserving that comes with a certain social class) – how self-defeating it is to put food stuff unwrapped in a purse!

      Not only does it ruin the purse with the smell, you can’t use the food afterwards because the purse isn’t clean at all.

      While the people who bring tupperware containers at the start of the buffet are also crass and gauche and thoughtlessly unkind, at least it makes sense, because food in containers can be eaten. Food in purses, especially Brie? Poor cheese.

      1. Twix*

        My grandfather had many wonderful qualities, but he loved to eat and was legendarily cheap. He used to love going to buffets to have dinner and then see how much food he could sneak out with him. (He was fond of saying “It says all you can eat, not all you can eat here.”) My parents once chewed him out after my brother told them that when my grandparents took him out to dinner, grandpa made him line his pockets with plastic wrap so he could stuff them full of fudge on the way out the door. What I’m saying is, don’t assume someone willing to pilfer an entire wheel of brie so brazenly doesn’t have a plan.

  7. mb*

    To me, the “usurper cranberries” are right up there with the “cheap ass rolls”.

    But also, I know the boss was pissed about being told that she’s nicer than people say, but to leave without paying for your meal – leaving your employees to cover you – is just NOT OK.

    1. Observer*

      To me, the “usurper cranberries” are right up there with the “cheap ass rolls”.

      Very similar vibes! I’d love a follow up on that one.

      I know the boss was pissed about being told that she’s nicer than people say, but to leave without paying for your meal – leaving your employees to cover you – is just NOT OK.

      Yeah. The comment was out of line, but the boss’ reaction explains why folks don’t like her.

      1. Scarlet Ribbons in her Hair*

        I didn’t get the impression that no one liked her. I just thought that that guy said what he did because he was so drunk, and everyone else was so shocked that they couldn’t think of anything to say. I figured that the boss ran out of there without paying for her meal because she was about to cry.

        1. Observer*

          Eh, I don’t care how drunk he was. As I said in my other comment, “mean drunks” tend to e mean even when they are not drunk – they just tend to be a bit more *careful*. He said what he said because he either believes that or because he’s a jerk who is trying to make her feel bad. Probably both. In any case, he doesn’t get a pass because he was drunk.

          I figured that the boss ran out of there without paying for her meal because she was about to cry

          The thing with that is that she waited till she finished eating. I doubt that everyone hates her, but I would also not be surprised if she is not popular. Which, again, is not an excuse (even if everyone did actually hate her. )

      2. SomeWords*

        It’s a very old joke and has no bearing on the likability of the person. “Hey, Charlie, I don’t care what anyone says, >I< think you're a great guy."

        Because it's funny to tell someone everyone hates them. Right?

        1. Observer*

          No, I agree that the comment was gross. Just because something is true, doesn’t mean it needs to come out of your mouth. Drunk or not.

          I’ve seen a lot of drunken behavior over time, and of the people I actually known aside from their drunken behavior, I have never known a “mean drunk” who was actually genuinely nice the rest of the time. So whether anyone likes the boss or not, this guy is a jerk, and I would be watching my back around him.

          1. Anon in Aotearoa*

            Drink just removes inhibitions, it doesn’t change character. So if someone spouts mean things when they’re drunk, they’re thinking them when they’re sober. Those people also seem to be the ones who say “I’m just saying what everyone is thinking!”. No, Hepsibah, most of us aren’t even thinking it.

            On the upside, sweet drunks who are all “I love you, maaan, you’re just awesome”… well, they’re thinking that sober too.

    2. Irish Teacher.*

      Yes, I was reading the comments to see if anybody had commented this before saying, “was she upset by your cheap ass cranberries?”

    3. Generic Name*

      Usurper Cranberry Lady reminds me of Chili Cookoff Tantrum Lady. I have intense emotions, so a part of me is sympathetic, but the rest of me is agog at the OTT reaction. There must be something else going on with those two. Maybe work burnout or something going on in their personal life that something so minor sends them over the edge. Or maybe not, since Chili Cookoff Tantrum Lady seemed to gloat for years at her preferential treatment over potlucks. Baffling.

    4. I AM a Lawyer*

      I agree re “usurper cranberries” and “cheap ass rolls.” Usurper Cranberries would make a great band name, too.

    5. PhD survivor*

      I thought the same about the boss who left. She should have dealt with the drunk employee. She’s the boss – she could have told him to leave and had a conversation with him later about how coming to a work event drunk is unacceptable. I get bosses are human but she had a lot of power in this situation and didn’t use it at all and instead her employees got stuck paying for her food and dealing with the drunk jerk coworker.

    1. AnotherOne*

      It takes me back to college and an ill-timed play rehearsal.

      Somewhere I still have video from attempts at rehearsing a Shakespearean play while part of the cast was still drunk having come straight from the campus rabbi’s Purim party.

        1. Nea*

          Drunk Shakespeare is an actual thing with performances in several large US cities. I had a lot of fun when I went!

            1. Thinking*

              I did not particularly enjoy Drunk Shakespeare, but my tolerance for drunk people is low. It seems rather pointless.

            2. Accidental Manager*

              Yes. I saw a performance in NYC, a small theater in the round. Just one cast member is drinking shots throughout the show with the rest of the cast to keep things on track. I found it very entertaining.

            3. Parakeet*

              I’ve seen it twice – a comedy and a tragedy – and I loved it. I mean, it’s ridiculous, but I still loved it, and am in awe of the MCs who make sure that whichever actor is the drunk one for that show (they take turns) doesn’t derail things too much. And the actors are pretty skilled to be able to go with the flow and work around the drunk one.

              1. Zoe Karvounopsina*

                I too have seen it twice! It really added something to Macbeth, having Duncan be pissed…

                1. Zoe Karvounopsina*

                  (The other one was Romeo and Juliet, Juliet was drunk and started giving the wrong tragic speech, and had to be reminded she wasn’t Ophelia. “Ophelia is…MY FRIEND.”)

      1. Ally McBeal*

        I immediately thought of those novelty wine glasses that can hold an entire bottle. A vase is genius though.

        1. MassMatt*

          Cue Elaine Stritch’s joke about trying to manage her alcoholism by only having one glass of wine a day. “You know you’re in trouble when you’re shopping for a wine glass in the vase section at Macy’s!”

        1. Misty_Meaner*

          So do many sports bottles! Our local outdoor music venue doesn’t obviously, allow the glass bottles in there but for $20 you get a whole bottle in a sports bottle to keep!

    2. münchner kindl*

      My first thought was a Masskrug, which holds one liter (ca 1 quart) of fluid.

      Then I remembered that I have seen coffe cups that hold 0.5 liter, 1 liter and even 1.5 liter at the pottery fair (Auer Dult). (And had some discussion with the stall holder, how thick the wall of the cup needs to be for structural stability and that a thicker ceramic keeps fluid warm (cold) for longer than thin ceramic – but doesn’t look as daintily as a coffe cup should…)

      1. Brain the Brian*

        I of all people should learn to spell names (my username is a hint why). Clearly, it’s Phillippe — not Philippe. :D

  8. Rara Avis*

    My husband and I were advising a young friend about making a salad for a potluck — a bag of greens, a container of grape tomatoes (our grocery store had started calling ovoid cherry tomatoes “grape tomatoes “), you know, the easy stuff.

    He listened diligently and brought a beautiful salad — with grapes.

    1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Good for him: grapes are one of the fruits that go well in a green salad (as are apples and pears).

    2. Phryne*

      Though I am personally not a fan of grapes… they are not really a particularly weird ingredient in salads… I know of several recipes of salads with grapes.

    3. münchner kindl*

      So these (male?) people listen, but don’t bother to look at an actual recipe, which gives the relative ratios, the adequate sauce/ dressing etc.?

      I guess like those men who don’t ask for directions and don’t read the manual, they don’t want to admit weakness of not being a know-it-all (along with “how hard can cooking/ a salad be, if women do it?”) thus messing up the result, like avocado boy.

  9. Delta Delta*

    #2 – Not for nothing, but a couple tablespoons of cranberry sauce stirred into a gin and tonic is the kind of delicious festivity you wouldn’t necessarily expect but can be a good use of extra cranberry sauce. Also gin.

    1. Siege*

      I make a cranberry sauce with gin in it. Can confirm that this is a delicious flavor pairing. (I also make one with bourbon in it because I got over listening to people complain about gin about 20 seconds after I discovered I like it.)

      1. Three Cats in a Trenchcoat*

        I believe that would be delicious! My favorite cranberry sauce is from the Sioux Chef cookbook where you flavor it with juniper.

      2. Be Gneiss*

        I don’t like gin, but the idea of the juniper flavor with the tart cranberries sounds so peak-Christmas that now I have to find a recipe!

    2. Panicked*

      I’m thankful for so much this year; my family, my friends, and Delta Delta for giving me that brilliant idea.

    3. Frickityfrack*

      I’ve done it with vodka and ginger beer. I usually make my cranberry sauce with orange and ginger, so I just omit the lime juice and have a cranberry mule instead. It’s delicious.

      Also, leftover cranberry sauce on oatmeal, on toast with cream cheese, and just straight into my face. I’m an expert at ways to consume cranberry sauce, so much so that I make a double batch no matter what. We’re going out for Thanksgiving this year and I’m still making sauce because we must have it.

  10. Nay*

    #1 is now a “thing” with my sister…whenever we want to joke something is unfair we shout “FIX” and “CHEAT” because of that post!

  11. CanadaGal*

    Something Nicer – tearing up at my desk. Wow, what a beautiful story of kindness in people. So sorry, for the loss of her mother.

      1. Indigo a la mode*

        This is an important distinction, especially as OP never clarified whether they were cheap-ass rolls or cheap ass-rolls.

  12. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

    I was JUST going through the archives looking for the work holiday stories to entertain myself… good stuff. 2017 seems to have been The Year for a lot of legendary AAM stories.

    1. Chidi has a stomach ache*

      I studied a lot of rabbinical literature in my PhD and I expect there was a robust debate about defining “actual cup.”

  13. Phryne*

    #5 that must have been quite the purse though, considering a wheel of brie is about 23 to 37 cm (9 to 14.5 in) in diameter…

    1. carcinization*

      I prefer my purses to be about the size (but not the thickness) of a standard sheet of notebook paper or larger, so it might work, but when I buy brie it’s usually only like 6 inches in diameter. It’s not just me, we were eating the same size brie (baked with honey and rosemary) at a friend’s house last weekend. So I guess it definitely depends on the brie and the purse.

    2. Anna Badger*

      I think this is the first time I’ve had call to use my cheese knowledge on this site. Former cheesemonger here: brie comes in a range of sizes. the wide ones are for selling individual slices to people on a counter, but you can get small ones for e.g. baking whole, and medium sized ones for party cheeseboards, either of which would comfortably fit in a big handbag.

      1. Phryne*

        Culturap difference I think. I’m in Europe, and here Brie is a protected regional product, and so does not come in various sizes. If it looks the same from the outside but is small, it is Camembert, not Brie.

        1. allathian*

          Yes, this. In the US, you won’t find authentic Brie cheese anyway, because it’s illegal to sell cheese made from unpasteurized milk unless it’s been aged for at least 60 days.

    3. Siege*

      Let me introduce you to my vast collection of very large purses. I once did a meme of cataloguing everything in my purse, and the six dvds, jr-size artist sketch pad, and trade paperback book did not visibly make a dent in the purse’s capacity. Perfect for stealing the big cheese wheel!

      1. Phryne*

        I know mine are certainly bigger on the inside, but I’m not sure I have any that are that big … :)

    4. Lenora Rose*

      Depends on the source of the brie (I can confirm the other comment in seeing ones only 6 inches diameter), but it is MUCH funnier (And much more noteable) if it was indeed one of the larger ones…

    5. Mrovka*

      It was a Jacqueline Kirby purse, obvs. Although can’t see J. Kirby doing such a thing – while the chutzpah is 100% in character, the petty thievery not so much.

      1. run mad; don't faint*

        Dunno. Didn’t she sneak a heavy scale replica of Middleham Castle into it once? I guess it doesn’t really count as a petty theft though. She promptly put it to good use!

    6. Ellis Bell*

      I like to think she went shopping for the handbag with a replica Brie wheel to make sure she got the right size bag.

  14. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

    We got an email from our CEO Monday stating something along the lines of “sending a early Happy Thanksgiving since I will be off the rest of this week. I know that some of you will be working (its a field where there has to be some people available 24/7 for safety) so have a good holiday and I appreciate you.” This is not the first tone deaf email we have gotten, it is actually quite impressive.

  15. CSRoadWarrior*

    #9 – No way would I sign up for that. Hopefully nobody did. I mean, too many rules and some were just ridiculous. And by the way the messages sounds, it sounds like that employer micromanages.

    #10 – That lab tech… is really something. And what he did to the salad? Gross! I am glad everyone was warned about it and did not touch the salad. He most likely did not wash his hands either.

    #12 – Really touching and almost made me cry. RIP to her mother.

  16. A CAD Monkey*

    Back in college, I gave the owners of the small company I worked for homemade rum balls. The recipe called for 1/4c of rum. Ended up with about 50 or so half dollar sized balls.

    By the time I gave them the tins the next morning, the smell was so overwhelming that they both took one sniff and decided they needed to take them out to their trucks so that the company we contracted for didn’t think they were drinking on the job.

    1. RabbitRabbit*

      A colleague made booze-infused cakes and would bring them in for us semi-regularly (usually to celebrate the birthday of someone in our division of the department). My cubicle was right next to hers and one rum-infused bundt cake was so potent I swore I could light a match and set off a flame, just from the fumes that were wafting over the cubicle wall when she unboxed the cake.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I am convinced that adding sugar to booze makes it smell boozier. Then enclosing it in any sort of container adds to it.

        I make cookies that start with soaking raisins in brandy, and it smells way stronger by the time they’re added to the dough.

      2. Tiny Soprano*

        My bestie makes a seriously good Christmas cake, with almost a whole bottle of brandy in it. One year her child, who was four at the time, demanded that he have a slice with us. We figured a small piece couldn’t hurt, but he definitely got tipsy off just that little bit and was lolling happily around the kitchen repeating the word poo and giggling his head off. It was mortifying and hilarious at the same time.

    2. Turquoisecow*

      I had a coworker who made rum cake that was so rum filled we were glad they were served in the middle of the day and not at the end. Not only did she use probably 3 times what the recipe called for, she also put rum in the icing drizzled on top, which does not get baked so the alcohol does not evaporate as it mostly would from the cake batter.

      It was legendary, you were seriously tipsy if you had more than one slice.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Most recipes I’ve seen for rum cake add the rum after baking. It’s really more rum-soaked cake than anything else.

    1. Not Janet*

      I love that the company and everyone in it appreciated her so much to get a donation together for her.

  17. River*

    A few years ago, one of our staff (that complains often) complained that she couldn’t eat anything that was being served at the holiday party because of her gluten intolerance. We gave staff a month before the party to let us know if they have any dietary restrictions, which she did not let us know. She raised the issue the day of.

    So we asked her if there are any restaurants in the area that she likes and we would be willing to go out of the way to go and get her something from there. She took advantage of our offer and we called in the order after she told us what she wanted. Little did we know until one of the other managers picked up the food, her meal was one of the most expensive ones on the restaurants’ menu. In that moment, it was our fault for not looking at the menu ourselves but we figure that this staff member would ask for a logical order. Later that night we saw her eating cookies and cake (which have gluten).

    I really wonder what goes on in people’s heads when making decisions and if are aware of the concept of “common sense”. Every year we plan our holiday party, this memory goes through my head.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      I know someone (socially, not at work) whose allergies and medical needs come and go based on what gets them the most attention. I could see them trying to pull this.

    2. MassMatt*

      The “gluten is bad” thing is waning somewhat but is still very widespread. People who actually cannot eat gluten for medical reasons often have celiac disease, and it’s very real. But such people will generally say so. I know many restaurant servers and they all would go out of their way to make sure such a person gets no gluten exposure.

      But a large number of people who talk about gluten as though it were poison have no idea what gluten is, many think it’s an additive akin to MSG, and many people will ask many questions about it in say, a salad, and in the next breath say they want more rolls.

      1. Lady Ann*

        At a coworker’s retirement party recently I saw a coworker who has asked for gluten free options at various functions eating (very obviously gluten containing) rolls.

      2. Ellis Bell*

        Whenever I tell people about my gluten intolerance it’s more likely than not that they have no idea what gluten actually is. I have had people assume it’s a synonym for vegan (multiple people actually, and also the gluten-containing vegan food sometimes gets mis-stocked by supermarket workers and placed in the gluten free section of the supermarket) and I have had other people assume that if the product is low fat, or low sugar that “must mean it has no gluten”. I think my favourite is a local coffee shop that started selling “low gluten” baked goods.

      1. allathian*

        I’m so glad that I work for the government, but not in the US. Our taxpayers are actually allowing us to enjoy some of the same perks that employees in the private sector get. I’ve never attended an office potluck, those things simply don’t exist here, because my employer is allowed to provide food for company events.

  18. La Triviata*

    I’ve heard stories about people who have no idea what salad is or how to make one. I’m surprised there hasn’t been a major scurvy outbreak.

    1. Lenora Rose*

      Maybe that’s why mandarins and clementines are so pervasive at Christmas. It’s not just that they’re actually seasonal, it’s a last ditch effort to prevent scurvy in the non-salad eaters.

  19. Slow Gin Lizz*

    I really want to know if the TV absconder in #8 had actually won one of the prize TVs and was mistaken as to which one it was or if he thought he could just wheel away someone else’s prize TV without them noticing.

  20. WillowSunstar*

    I usually bring a veggie tray because I want there to be at least 1 healthy item at the potluck. However, with the cost of food inflation these days, I’d be tempted to buy the cheap a** rolls.

  21. Yes And*

    #2 – I need a clarification. “People still talk about this” as in they talk about your humiliating usurpation of the cranberries, or as in people still talk about the office manager’s ridiculous overreaction?

    #7 – While the drunk coworker is clearly the bad guy in this story, I also want to point out that if you’ve just learned very publicly that you may have a reputation as a bad boss, leaving your employees to pay for your meal is probably not the best way to start fixing that.

  22. Zombeyonce*

    My favorite part of reading these is imagining how other people at the events likely still tell their versions of these stories, too.

    The fruitcake intern probably loves telling people she has a strong stomach and the proof is that she ate a 13-year-old fruitcake and lived to tell the tale, Fergus probably brings his I Hunt Beavers shot glass out at every gathering and tells people about the shy girl that gave it to him at a party in front of all of his friends, former students from the Purim party reminisce about when they were young enough to drink a vase full of wine and still feel fine the next morning, and I’m sure people are still referred to as the Usurper Cranberries if they happen to bring the same food to a potluck or show up in an outfit identical to someone else at a party.

    I love that these stories are likely told to so many different people with much enthusiasm! And we all get to enjoy it. :)

  23. Sedna*

    The bourbon balls – we have a family recipe for Irish whiskey cake that has a cup of whiskey in the batter. OK, some of that probably bakes off, right? Then it comes out of the oven and you soak it in another cup of whiskey. My dad worked for the Federal government and people would start asking in January if he was bringing in whiskey cake for St. Patrick’s Day that year.

  24. Me*

    Doesn’t the letter writer in #9 also have a family version of this floating around the internet?

    I will forever cherish the phrase “Cranberry Usurper.”

  25. Indigo a la mode*

    I can’t believe the angsty piano playing didn’t show up in this roundup. I’m holding out hope we’ll see that one again this holiday season.

    1. Juicebox Hero*

      I’m sure we’ll see it again, along with the the poor soul who hosted her office’s Christmas party and everyone got blasted, hid her toaster, and trashed the place so badly it took her days to clean up. And then she went outside and there was a frozen ring of pee all around the house.

      There was much more, but the hidden toaster and pee ring are what stick in my mind.

  26. Lenora Rose*

    We were at a lobster dinner fundraiser gala. Dinner consisted of a salad and rolls, a plate with a modest side dish, a dessert afterwards, and literal PILES of free lobsters, (if you could eat a dozen small lobster tails and claws, they’d bring you a dozen, or two dozen). A woman wrapped one in a napkin and dropped it in her purse for later. We were more concerned with how she’d get the smell out than we were with the question of whether it was permitted.

      1. Lenora Rose*

        It’s one of those events that’s like $150 a plate normally and we only got to it because my husband’s boss of the time didn’t like seafood so passed them on. Rare rare opportunity as far as I’m concerned.

  27. MailOrderAnnie*

    I love all of these stories SO much, but every time I read the spring roll story, I cry. Ugly cry. So I will go and eat my tuna sandwich for lunch and sniffle.

    Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate.

  28. MassMatt*

    The office manager throwing a fit over cranberries is ridiculous, but I’m surprised no one commented on how the LW made TWO GALLONS of it and attributes it to a measurement error! A half gallon is a lot even for a very large gathering!

    1. Observer*

      Actually, that can be fairly easy. Use the wrong measuring implement (eg fill up a Four Cup measuring cup instead of a one cup measure) for a major ingredient, the work around that. By the time you are done, you could have a lot more than 4 times the original size lot.

      Also, if you make a mistake in the original calculations – move a decimal place over by one place and …. well you see the problem.

      1. Bookmark*

        Also, if you are scaling a recipe not meant to be scaled, you can end up with some…interesting results. In college a friend of mine was in charge of cooking a monthly community meal to feed ~50 people, and since I had a car, I did her grocery runs for her. One time, she found this great recipe for a cabbage risotto, which she confidently told me called for 60 pounds of cabbage. I double and triple checked that she wanted me to purchase cabbage to equal the weight of an elementary school child, then cleaned out 3 different grocery stores of their supplies. spoiler alert: that was too much cabbage.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          That’s more than 1 lb. per person. I like cabbage, but that is a lot of cabbage.

          I have to ask how much rice she used.

          1. bookmark*

            I don’t remember. The only thing seared into my brain is the image of the backseat of my car with about 35 heads of cabbage

  29. receiptsplz*

    man, the spring rolls story always brings a tear to my eye :’) I hope she and her family are well

  30. Lucy P*

    I should have started at the end and read these backwards. I loved #6, but after reading #12 I’m ready to bawl. Still I’m going to use all of these as a reason to be grateful.

    A guy I worked with for 20 years passed away earlier this year, really unexpectedly. For some reason I’ve been really missing him this week. It was one of those relationships where you could get along great or really annoy each other. His last day with us was an exceptionally great one that I won’t forget.

    His potluck offerings were never as epic as any of these, but he was definitely the type to bring generic soda or store-bought pie. He was also always the first one to dig-in to the free offerings that anyone bought. When we’d celebrate someone else’s birthday by putting out a cake, we’d often have to ask him to wait for the birthday person to take the first slice. He’d then go dance around that person’s office and make them go get cake so that he could have some.

    I’m thankful for the time we had with him.

  31. I don't mean to be rude, I'm just good at it*

    Similar to adventure 12, my wife is from China and according to everybody, makes dumplings to die for. She was kind enough to volunteer to make 200 dumplings for a departmental holiday party at the school that I taught at.

    I hated my principal and the feeling was mutual so with the help of my department head, we hid the dumplings and put a smashed half a dumpling on the potluck table.

    The boss expressed disappointment that the dumplings that “she heard so much about” were gone.

    She went to other department potlucks soon after and as a Christmas miracle, the dumplings reappeared.

    1. Who, Me?*

      Yes, cynical old me loved the spring roll story at #12 that framed the kindness of company and coworkers *rapidly blinks and briefly fans herself* . It never gets old.

      #11 was a close second, basically a hilarious tutorial on How Sneak Booze Into the The Guy Who Decides Your Bonus.

  32. Mrs. Hawiggins*

    My usurper cranberries are in the fridge as we speak. I am so glad we did away with potlucks where I am now. There’s nothing like the, “My daughter made these,” cookies when you have personally witnessed said 5 year old going for gold up her nose on several occasions.

    Oh Lord I have to go to the grocery to get butter for the cheap ass rolls, I forgot…

  33. anywhere but here*

    For 9: I think about half of those rules are decent, and the other half would probably come across as more reasonable if the tone were different. Rule 3 specifically would be much appreciated by some of the folks on the recent potluck thread who expressed concern about the combo of pets + cooking.

    All that said, if the planner cares that much about the food at the party, maybe the company should be providing all of the food? If you want a catered meal, you should actually . . . get it catered. By a catering company. Not your employees.

    1. butter rat*

      Rule 3 might be appreciated less when they realize that MOST people have pets that shed and the potluck is a pile of meat and napkins.

      1. littlest penguin*

        Yep. In a previous life I went to culinary school and had an almost decade long run as an award winning pastry chef before I decided that having a job where I could sit down once in a while would be nice and went back to school.

        I also have three cats.

        Alas, I guess I’d be bringing in napkins!

  34. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

    #9 – why do I have the feeling that manager was also a bridezilla who sent a similarly detailed list to her bridesmaids so they could properly support her vision for her wedding?

  35. Bethany*

    Maybe this is lost in translation since I’m not American, but I’m baffled at the concept of PTO donation. Why are colleagues expected to donate their own time off? Why doesn’t the company just give adequate bereavement leave or more sick/personal/annual leave when needed?

    Where I live, PTO is my legal right and can’t be lost or donated.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      At most US employers, PTO is limited by your job status. Sometimes you can roll over extra time, but not always, so there’s a limit to how much you can use each year. And it’s considered part of your compensation package. The employer might have been OK with the amount of time off she was taking, but she couldn’t get paid for time once her PTO ran out. Some employers let staff donate their time to coworkers who need it.

      I work under a separate vacation and sick time policy. We can’t donate vacation, but we can donate sick time to coworkers dealing with a complex medical problem that requires a lot of time off.

    2. WorkingRachel*

      Alas, that’s not how PTO, or many other things, work in the U.S. Our culture seems to love the idea that individuals should “donate” to people in crisis rather than having an actual public (or private) safety net. See the many, many medical GoFundMes. (Nothing against this story, it is obviously heartwarming!)

  36. Is it pie time yet?*

    Ah, bourbon balls. When my partner was in grad school he made bourbon balls for the department and didn’t realize that most families don’t make them as strong as his do… a faculty member pulled him aside to check in on him and his alcohol consumption.

  37. KP*

    #5. Oh man, I remember the first and last Academic “wine and cheese” social I went to. Naive grad kid (me) and my academic advisor and my thesis advisor both in the same room. The Department Library. Very small, but with tables and it was our “gathering space” that didn’t bother the people on the other end of the floor.

    My Academic Advisor made me cry in front of everyone. AND THEN RUN AN ERRAND that could have waited until next week (he was on the Spectrum, so I completely understand and kinda wish he was my boss now). My Thesis advisor made me cry a couple of days later (for no real good reason). But I managed to walk out with not less than three first editions that were not only helpful for my thesis, but that I never returned and could sell for max dollars now if I ever chose to part with them.

    I eyeball those spines with satisfaction whenever I am near that shelf.

  38. nnn*

    #4 with “it has to be an actual cup” makes me think of when I worked in fast food.

    Employees were allowed to have as many drinks as we wanted during our shift, but we needed to bring our own cup. Then, after a while, they introduced a new drink: iced tea. It was very popular, so they made a rule that you’re only allowed to have one cup of iced tea per shift.

    Suddenly there was an arms race with people bringing in larger and larger cups so they could get as much iced tea as possible. I didn’t even want iced tea every day, but I’d pour myself a full cup in this enormous travel mug I’d found simply because they’d told us we weren’t allowed to have more.

    1. I take tea*

      I once worked a fast food job where the boss made us pay for the drinks, even the soda water. He probably felt generous, as we got a straff discount. The tap water tasted vile, even if it was technically drinkable, we came up with all kinds of flavouring solutions, the best was to add the water from the canned cherries.

  39. RY*

    USURPER CRANBERRIES. I die. I’m low-key a little jealous of that OP, to have brought usurper cranberries.

  40. Flossy*

    I admit to being sheltered AF, but what is the other meaning to #6? I’ve never heard the line before (to be fair, I don’t think we have beavers here anyway lol)

Comments are closed.