48

So today at work we had a tray of doughnuts, my colleague called out to the office, "I'm going to have the last one unless anyone else would like it?". At this point, I realised that I don't think I've ever heard anyone respond saying that they would like the last thing and neither had any of my colleagues, which made me curious about how you would actually respond to that.

In the UK, it is fairly common to ask questions like:

  • "Would anyone like the last thing?"
  • "I'm going to eat the last thing, unless anyone wants it?"
  • "Does anyone want the last thing? Otherwise I'll have it."

Such questions are a common way of declaring to people that you would, in fact, like the last thing that you're offering to others. So, it's a bit strange when someone would reply 'Yes'. I don't know how to respond when someone would do that.

If I were to ask a question like the ones above, and someone were to say that they wanted the last thing, what's the best way to respond?

  • 6
    If you were really wanting it, not willing to give it up, and only saying that to be polite, you might propose a tie breaker. In America, we might say "I'll 'rock, paper, scissors' you for it?". – Casey Kuball Dec 7 '17 at 19:09
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    As a fellow Brit I've got to admit that this sort of thing is pretty unprecedented. Was the person who said 'yes' also from Britain or were they from somewhere else? – Pharap Dec 7 '17 at 20:03
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    Just to be really, really clear: In the UK such a question implies that you would like the thing.... Do you really want the thing? I mean, if there's no "official" rule that saying "Anyone want this last thing" means "I want to eat this, anyone have a problem with that"... then someone responding "yes" is within the realm of possibility. – Tinkeringbell Dec 7 '17 at 21:26
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    It's more of an opportunity for someone to say "Oh! I was saving that for Cathy..." or similar. That circumstance does occasionally come up. – fectin - free Monica Dec 9 '17 at 18:05
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    So, you asked a "yes or no" question and did not expect the answer "yes", is that it? Don't ask "yes or no" questions if you're not prepared to handle either a yes or a no. This will come in handy should you ever decide to propose marriage to someone. – Eric Lippert Dec 10 '17 at 18:37
159

If someone says yes, then give the item to them.

It's pretty simple really.

If you don't want to offer the last one, then take it yourself.

Or you can just do the British thing and let the last one go stale on the plate before someone finally throws it away.

The chances are that anyone who says "Does anyone mind if I take the last one?" has probably taken a few too many already, wants another one, but wants to absolve themselves of guilty feelings.

There's no hard and fast etiquette rules here, apart from the person taking the last item having the courtesy to throw the empty packet away when they're done.

  • 48
    I'm one who usually asks "anyone want to split this with me?" Then in any case someone wants it i still get half =D – Sidar Dec 8 '17 at 6:44
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    I'd say in most social circles it would be considered pretty rude if you'd just take the last one. If I did that in front of my family or friends they would for sure tell me off. – Summer Dec 8 '17 at 9:11
  • Agree with JaneDoe1337. Unless you haven't had any, then even if you don't want to offer the last one, you should at least offer to split it. – bornfromanegg Dec 8 '17 at 9:50
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    To add to this answer, don't forget that the words that came out of your mouth actually suggested an alternative outcome (like I'm going to have the last one unless anyone else would like it?). So if you do anything else, you are breaking your own words/promise/offer or whatever you want to call it. If you say X, do X. – user10085 Dec 8 '17 at 11:15
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    I thought the British thing to do was to leave it on the plate so that the last person to leave the office could munch it with no one else around and then pretend the cleaners must have thrown it out the next day. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Dec 9 '17 at 9:57
51

If I were to say this to a group of people and someone were to say that they wanted the last thing, what's the best way to respond?

  1. "It's all yours."
  2. "Would you mind splitting it with me?"

Note: Use the split option wisely as not all things are easily split.

  • 2
    The splitting option also came to my mind, it's a good way to have your thing and eat it too. – Barmar Dec 7 '17 at 21:17
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    Would you mind splitting that m&m with me? :D – trr Dec 8 '17 at 0:30
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    Sorry, but option 2 is bad. If you say "unless someone wants it" you are saying you are willing to forfeit it. So if you truly can not live without at least half of it, then say "Does anyone want to half the last donut with me, I don't think I can eat the whole thing" or something along those lines. – user3320425 Dec 8 '17 at 2:32
  • In Germany, you could make a Kosakenzipfel joke (translation ). Perhaps there is a similar joke you can do in the UK? – Robin Dec 8 '17 at 10:07
  • Our family's local convention was split was perfectly acceptable. – Joshua Dec 8 '17 at 16:54
28

Once you offer it to someone else you are pretty much bound by manners to say, "here you are" and give them the last item. You really don't have any right to be offended or feel justified in taking back the offer - that would simply be saying something to sound generous when you have no intention of being generous. That is selfish.

A better solution, if you are definitely desiring of the last item but also want to be polite, is to ask if anyone wants to split it with you. If one or more people want in, divide it as equally as possible.

If you definitely want it and don't care about being rude - just take it, but this is rude unless the last item has been sitting there for a fairly long time - essentially it is clear everyone else has finished or had an opportunity to have their first serving.

  • 9
    If you want a perfectly divided item, make a rule that whoever cuts is last to choose. :) – Caius Jard Dec 6 '17 at 23:13
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    "You really don't have any right to be offended or feel justified in taking back the offer". You're definitely not British ;) The original offer isn't so much an offer as a way of saying "I'm taking this, but if anyone is actually starving to death, now's your opportunity to offer to split it". Simply accepting the offer is roughly equivalent to snatching food out of someone's hand just before they bite into it in (e.g.) USA culture, and you have every right to be mortally offended. – Guy G Dec 7 '17 at 10:36
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    One may have every right to be mortally offended, but, as an interpersonal matter, letting the snatcher have it is still the right behavior. – Beanluc Dec 8 '17 at 1:13
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    @GuyG - I am definitely not British - but there is a weird politeness in the American South that I have had to navigate that similarly says one thing explicitly but you are supposed to know they mean something else (bless their sweet hearts) - I'm of the opinion you say what you actually mean or prepare to get what you ask for. – Bryan Turriff Dec 8 '17 at 18:31
  • I don't see a problem following up with offering to split it. The question was technically only if anyone wanted it, so now there's two people who want it. - Now if you said "whoever wants the last donut can have it", THAT's an offer ;) – Alex Wally Dec 11 '17 at 1:44
15

As Snow pointed out in their answer, the answer is pretty simple: you give it to them. Since you offered it, that is the polite response. It's not fair to hold any ill will towards someone for assuming an offer you made was genuine (unless your culture, like some, requires an offer and subsequent refusal).

In the future, you might consider only offering what you'd be okay with if someone took you up on it. For example, If you'd be okay with sharing, but really want at least part of it, you could say: "Anyone want to split the last one with me?" Or, if you really, really want the whole thing, but don't want to just take it, you could smile and say "Anyone wanna fight me for the last one?", which would allow someone to say that they hadn't gotten one yet, and they would like it. These will convey your actual intent more fully,

1

If I were to ask a question like the ones above, and someone were to say that they wanted the last thing, what's the best way to respond?

The rule here is this:

If you want the thing, but would happily give it to another if they asked for it, then you preemptively ask if anyone else would like it. If someone says "Yes", "I would", "please" or similarly makes their desire known, you give it to them.

If you want the thing, but wouldn't want to give it to another if they spoke up, then you don't ask the question. Simply take the item and move on with life.

So the power is within your hands from the beginning. You don't ask in the first place if you haven't already decided to give it away. If you do ask, you must follow through and give it away if someone speaks up.

1

If you offer someone the last of something and they say yes, then either give it to them or (if you wanted some) say "Alright, I'll split it with you." or "Ok, mind if we split it?" If they're bold enough to say, "No! I want the whole thing!" then just give it to them and remember to word your question better in the future. A better way to phrase the question may be as follows:

If you find the last donut (or whatever) on a plate and you'd really like some of it, it may be best to ask: "Does anyone want half of a donut?" If someone says yes, cut it in half and give it to them while keeping the other half for yourself. If no one wants it, you get the whole donut. That way, you are able to be courteous by offering the last of the food, without losing the opportunity to eat some of it. Win-win in my book! :)

protected by Mister Positive Dec 9 '17 at 20:19

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