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Working Girl Wednesday: Is It Okay to Dump Business Lunch Leftovers into Your Purse?

Working Girl Wednesday:  Is It Okay to Dump Business Lunch Leftovers into Your Purse?

This answer to this question is likely “no” – unless no one sees you do it. Actually, this is not the literal question and answer given at Corporette’s post earlier this week, “Reader Mail: Can I take the leftovers from my business lunch?” I perked right up at the sight of a question that even a legal professional who will never be on a partnership track and usually bags it really needs to know the answer to.

Corporette recommends “precision-ordering”, a process that requires Sherlock Holmes-like powers of observation and deduction, to avoid leftovers – and no requesting a doggy bag. (Even I know not to say “doggy bag” at a professional lunch, and to politely request a “to-go box” in the event my precision-ordering is off.)

The topic touched a nerve among Corporette readers, and the comments range from mandating that to ask for your leftovers is a huge career faux pas from which you will never recover, to it is politically correct and reflects a healthy self-esteem to get a to-go box. While a couple of readers indicate that in their firms only administrative assistants take leftover food, I am delighted to see at least one reader say the partners in her firm do, too, a prudent idea in these uncertain economic times. I want to hug those readers that say who cares if you ask for a box or not, regardless of where you are on the law firm ladder, as well as the reader that recommends taking the box and giving it to a homeless person (although most of the ones I’ve run into said they’d rather have cash).

Despite the advice from some Corporette readers to “go with the flow” at a business lunch and do what everyone else is doing, here’s how I decide what to do with the leftovers. If I like my lunch, I take the rest of it home with me.

I thought I’d share a few more helpful business lunch tips from an article “Mind Your Table Manners – Especially for Business”:

Don’t talk with food in your mouth. It makes it difficult to understand what you’re saying, and it’s not pleasant to see your food being masticated. Further, you don’t want to risk a torpedo flying out of your mouth onto your companion’s plate.

Don’t burp. It’s not cute and it’s not a compliment in most parts of the world, no matter what your father told you. If a burp or hiccup escapes, just quietly say, “excuse me.”

Never lift your soup bowl to drink the final drops. Tilt it away from you and scoop the final amount with the spoon pushing away from you. Don’t try to get every last drop.

And absolutely do not tip your soup bowl into your mouth and then burp. After that, whether you ask for a box or not will be a moot point.

One Response to Working Girl Wednesday: Is It Okay to Dump Business Lunch Leftovers into Your Purse?

  1. Sorry I didn't reply earlier! First off, great post. Second…hmmm.

    See, my thing is, I was raised not to waste food. I was raised to treat food with incredible respect. It's an ingrained concept in Muslim culture/practice. There are so many verses in the Quran about respecting rizq, or that which has been given to you, and food is an example of rizq. One of the most commonly quoted lines is from Surah Rahman, "Which one of your Lord's mercies/benefits/gifts do you dare deny?"

    I was raised to sweep up rice or flour or salt the INSTANT I dropped it on the floor. I've never ever poured even a sip of milk down the drain. I've cleaned my plate every night, one way or another, since I was a kid.

    Sometimes, when I go out, if it's not prudent to take food in a box, I don't. Maybe I have a long train ride and nowhere to put the food. Maybe I'll have to leave the food in my car on a hot day because I have plans immediately after brunch or something. And so on. In those cases, I don't take a box and I feel guilty about it.

    Personally, I see nothing wrong with eating (properly, of course, no burping like you said, ha ha) and then at the end asking for a box to put it in. Knowing me, since I can see how some might consider it a faux pas, I'd add confidingly to my dining partner, "I just can't stand to waste food" or something like that.

    I agree that it does show responsibility and more importantly respect for what you have and are able to have. I despise those people that order a full entree, pick at it, and then toss it out at the end of the night. So much so that I don't go out to lunch or dinner with them, opting instead for just coffee or ice cream or something.

    Anyway, long rambling comment. Sorry! 😛

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Lynne J. DeVenny, N.C. State Bar Certified Paralegal

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Lynne DeVenny is a North Carolina State Bar Certified Paralegal with over 27 years of experience working on complex litigation cases, including medical malpractice, personal injury, workers’ compensation, and Social Security disability.

Disclosure: I am not a lawyer and cannot provide legal representation or legal advice.

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