Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What’s a Doggie Bag Between Strangers?

So I'm having a lovely Sunday dinner out with friends. My meal was okay, but not worth taking home when the waiter asked if I wanted a to go box. I said, no thanks, but then the man next to me piped up and said, “Oh, I’ll take one.” He didn’t mean he wanted a to go box for “his” food. He wanted the box for mine. And no, I hadn’t offered.

Before I go further, I should clear up a few things. Yes, I was out to dinner with friends, but in our little group of nine there were two people whom I did not know. To Go Box Man was one of them. Having only just met him that afternoon, he was essentially a stranger to me. And while our general table conversation was riveting — obscure but sexy vocabulary words, Physics, Ayn Randian philosophy — it remains to be seen if this is enough to form the foundation of a future friendship. I’m gonna need more information.

As the realization sunk in that — no joke — this man meant to box up and take home my left overs, the naked shock of it must have clearly manifested on my face. My friends — the people at the table I actually did know — sensed they were watching a blog post or at the very least a comedy routine in the making.
To Go Box Man then said, "Uh, it’s okay, isn't it?”
"Actually, no,” I said. “I'm a little uncomfortable."

Now usually, I'm a big proponent of "icky doesn’t necessarily mean bad." But this felt really icky and it certainly wasn’t good. I’m not making a moral judgment on To Go Box Man’s actions, but I do deem them to be well outside my comfort zone. At the very least he assumed a familiarity with me that he did not have.

Things got even more strange when the waiter brought the white Styrofoam box to the table and To Go Box Man was presented with the awkward task of actually taking my half-eaten food off my plate. Our little drama was now the focal point of the entire table. My face doesn’t always let me know what its doing but I imagine my initial look of shock was transforming into one of incredulous disgust, prompting To Go Box Man to ask, "Well, you don't have any diseases, do you?"

I said, "Well, now is a helluva time to ask me!"

The waiter, surely adding this story to the repertoire of tales he tells his friends, took the to go box and my plate back to the kitchen to do the deed himself.

In his defense, To Go Box Man said he really hated to see food go to waste. I do too, but it has never occurred to me to rescue food remnants from the plate of a stranger. I wouldn’t even do that to a friend or family member. Perhaps this speaks to my lack of commitment to food salvage.

I do have the good grace to realize that my outlook comes from a place of privilege not privation. I have never been hungry in the truest and neediest sense of the word. I've never wanted for food. I've wanted for good food — steak instead of hamburger — but not abject hunger. So it’s possible I was wrong to assume that To Go Box Man was being both boorish and unsanitary. Maybe he was just hungry. But I doubt it.

Judging purely on appearance, To Go Box Man didn’t look like he missed too many meals. Apparently his own or anyone else’s. Perhaps there’s something to be said for living off the left overs of others. But since To Go Box Man was essentially eating half my meal, shouldn't he have offered to pay for it? He’s lucky. If I was a different kind of woman, I might have insisted that he put out, but I don’t like left overs.

Join The Urban Erma on Facebook or follow on Twitter. You can listen to the podcast on Podbean or subscribe on iTunes. Leighann Lord is a stand-up comedian, who's style is best described as "Thinking Cap Comedy." If comedy were music, she'd be Jazz. Check out her upcoming shows @ www.VeryFunnyLady.com. Join her on FaceBook. Follow her on Twitter.


Anonymous said...

interesting as it may be i believe in addressing the problem not publicizing it, the man was beyond doubt overstepping his boundaries and if anything he was in fact putting shame on the name of all respectable gentlemen however as the lady i would like to think you are is it not more appropriate to address him rather than blog about it ?, this article says more about you than the man and as blindly as many may follow you there are those of us that see it for what it is and it shame.

Leighann Lord said...

I believe in writing with proper punctuation and sentence structure, and signing my name to the comments I make. But alas, we have different beliefs.

You believe in addressing the problem. I am (usually) non confrontational. My blog is my way of dealing. We don't all handle things in the same way. That is the beauty and horror of our humanity. I would hope *my* blog says more about me than it does about him. It's my blog. As I would hope his blog, if he has one, says more about him. That's how some blogs work. I never claimed to write for any higher purpose than exorcising my own narcissistic demons. Yes, clearly, the shame is all mine. If it were his I would have called him out by name.

And blind followers? I'm not sure if you're alluding to the possible vision impairment of some of my fans, or if you think I'm leading some kind of pseudo religious movement. If the latter I'm doing horrible job.