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Oct 6, 2006 12:03 AM

No I Don't Want to Eat Your Catered Lunch, But I Still Like You!

So my medical office is always getting catered lunches brought in courtesy of various pharmacutical companies. The pharmacy representative brings lunch for the entire office and talks to the doctors and staff about the product they are pushing. Almost all of these lunches are awful catered crap, i.e. rubber chicken in a chafing dish alongside some wilted rice with sad looking salad,etc. And I really have no intention of eating any of it. My problem is the constant pressure I face by co-workers, doctors, and the representative to eat this stuff. They act as if I am almost being rude by ducking out the back or bringing my own lunch.

I am aware of my duties as a good guest when I am in someone's home about eating what is given to me regardless of whether I like it or not. I am aware of no such societal restraints when it comes to an office lunch catered by an outside company. Am I being rude by not eating this stuff? What should I say?

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  1. I have issues with my coworkers ALWAYS wanting to go out to lunch, and I always bring my lunch and just say, "Oh, bummer! I already ate. Thanks, though."

    3 Replies
    1. re: MuppetGrrl

      That's me, it's not an 'issue' though... they are just used to it and since I bring them baked goods all the time, they stopped thinking I'm horribly anti-social (In general I DON'T socilaize with people I know from work... the less they know about my personal life, the BETTER)... but I think part of them can also understand why I'd perfer my home made sammich over a run to Subway, and actually now get complimented a lot about being 'smart' about brining my lunch...


      1. re: Dommy

        "In general I DON'T socilaize with people I know from work... the less they know about my personal life, the BETTER"

        Took the words right out of my mouth ...

        1. re: Dommy

          "and actually now get complimented a lot about being 'smart' about brining my lunch... "

          I think that means they hate you and talk about you at the gourmet Subway.

      2. This is a business, not a social, situation. You are under no obligation to attend or eat whatever they're flogging. This is a great example of using our ingrained "good manners" against us. It's the same as telemarketers calling at dinner time and we feel it would be "rude" not to listen. Just hang up!

        3 Replies
        1. re: pikawicca

          Excellent point, Pikawicca!

          The wonderful Miss Manners keeps making this point - commercial activity (inappropriately) using social forms should be dealt with in a businesslike manner. Social etiquette does not apply, no matter how chummy or generous the come-on is.

          1. re: pikawicca

            I don't think you're obligated to eat a lunch you didn't request or accept and invitation for.

            When telemarketers call and ask if they can "Speak to Mr. or Mrs. Davwud," I simply say "NO" and hang up.


            1. re: Davwud

              Oh, I tell them to call back in an hour....

          2. I work in a lab and there are often product reps who come to campus and bring food to entice people to come by and look at their products. The food is just a marketing ploy, something that makes everyone's drug and medical care costs go up. I don't think you owe them anything.

            1. I second all the above posts.

              Here's a trick ... works in many situations:

              You WOULD, in fact you'd absolutely LOVE TO, but it's not your choice, you CAN'T.

              Think up a reason: religious, dietary (vegan or Kosher or something), medical (maybe a bit of a problem in your office), be creative. And suffer no challenges to your "private personal decision," it aint nobody's bizness but your own.

              6 Replies
              1. re: wayne keyser

                I would avoid lying about something, like an absolute dietary restriction, that you might get caught out on later. As you said, it's nobody's business, so there is no obligation to explain.

                I'd either say "no, thanks" with a smile and leave it at that, or I'd serve myself one or two bites of whatever looks like the least horrible dish. You could make a joke about dieting or something just to lighten it up.

                1. re: Kagey

                  I have used the excuse of "dietary concerns" without being specific enough to describe it as better taste than that crap you just brought us.

                2. re: wayne keyser

                  If you ask Miss Manners, you don't even have to come up with a reason. She says just to say, "Oh, I couldn't possibly!" Without explanation, repeating the simple phrase as necessary. Works like a charm.

                  1. re: wayne keyser

                    These situations always seem to include people you either hardly know or have only met once who insist on wanting to hug. I (holding a diet coke) put out my hand firmly and smile, so I've avoided the soggy food and the physical 'attack'.

                    1. re: ZoeZ

                      Funny, I was going to say something about how many sales reps do you actually want to have lunch with but held back. Certainly most are normal, some are nice, cool people (and that's how they got ahead) that you could see hanging without elsewhere but most I'd rather be pleasant to, get info and leave it at that.

                      Re: keeping biz and personal seperate...that's why the holiday party is often weird or a drag. Most of the time it's harmless but sometimes I'm think why oh why.

                    2. re: wayne keyser

                      I'm against lying in these situations, a simple "thanks, but I brought my own" usually works for me.

                      Saying you have some special dietary need when you don't usually comes back to bite you later.

                    3. I've worked at places where sales rep brought lunch and did their schtick. The smart ones call ahead and ask you want you want. Any way, even if I had to be there for biz reasons I just show up for the info part and then leave. My rationale - I'll stay for the info but lunch is my time and I spend it how I want. That's how I handle it.