While dining with my "Lunch Bunch" group, (I named it the WILD LUNCH BUNCH--hey, I'm a Sam Peckinpah fan!) one of the participants reached across and took some of the pineapple I'd ordered as a side dish. I was so shocked that I was--hold on, now, I know you won't believe it--but I was SPEECHLESS! She didn't ask IF she could have some, she just reached across and took not ONE piece, but several pieces!
Yesterday, at a different restaurant, one of our group went to the salad bar and brought back some sunflower seeds. This same woman who'd helped herself to MY pineapple, reached over and took some sunflower seeds from the plate! The woman was obviously shocked and said, "There's plenty on the salad bar." The woman replied, "Oh, I just wanted a few.", as if that were some justification for her bad manners.
The woman is from Massachusetts but has spent more than twenty years living in our community. My brother quipped, "Obviously she's not of the Boston Brahmin set!" I answered, "OK, I admit that I'm impressed with that Oliver Wendall Holmes reference!"
HOW should one handle this awkward situation? I looked online and was surprised to learn that this peculiar behavior is a prevalent problem. I have been seeking advice about how to handle the quandary.
My husband said that I should take her aside to tell her the behavior is offensive.
In relating this episode to my friend Vivian, who sometimes joins us for lunch, she told me that if it happens with her, the woman would have a broken hand!
Another friend said that I should have summoned the waitress to tell her to bring a side dish to the offender and make sure it's added to her bill and not mine.
When I related the incident to my brother he laughed and asked, "What would Annie Sullivan do?", recalling the food scene where Annie Sullivan disciplined the young Helen Keller who had been going around the table taking food from the plates of others. See the scene from YouTube: