DEAR MISS MANNERS: At a buffet dinner line where the food is disappearing faster than the people in line waiting to fill their plates, does one (within reason, of course) take the final bits of a food item in hopes the restaurant will replenish it quickly?
This seems rude to others still in line. It seems to scream in inconsiderate tones, “Sorry, none for you, as I took the last one.”
I’m bringing this up is because I attended a birthday party at a very nice, established restaurant in a private banquet room, where the dinner was buffet style. I was not at the beginning of the line but rather about three-quarters to the end.
By the time it was my turn, the food supply was running very low. There were obviously many guests yet behind me and I had no idea whether or not the host had arranged for the restaurant to bring out more food when the trays were running low. Asking the server seemed like it was not my place, and neither did asking the host to score more food, as maybe they had not included it in part of the overall pricing of the event.
Looking at empty food trays while there was still a line in back of me made me very uncomfortable. I simply quietly commented to the person in line behind me that I had had a late lunch and was not particularly hungry (which was not true), then just placed a couple leaves of lettuce on my plate and returned to my seat. Help!!!!! What are guests supposed to do?
GENTLE READER: Asking the server -- whose job is precisely to help guests with the meal -- is perfectly proper. If reinforcements are en route, you will then have to decide between waiting and helping yourself.
Miss Manners warns you that the latter choice may annoy the next person in line, whose dinner is delayed and without the comfort of your presence. Should you instead learn that the food supply is at an end, your choice will be between a light supper and extra birthday cake.