The Case of the Plastic Container

To return… or not?
We don’t really live in an era of bringing casseroles to potlucks anymore (at least not in my world). Even if we did, I am a bit militant about quality control (that, and I keep kosher), so I usually decline guests offers of bringing food to a party. So I tend to cook. A lot. My mother usually one-ups me by announcing that she has twice as many left overs as I do for any given occasion (I call that evolution; you have to learn from your past to not repeat the same mistakes.) My mother-in-law, on the other hand, always nods knowingly. At least I come by it honestly. On all sides. Naturally this means I have a lifetime supply of disposable plastic containers on hand at all times.

But sometimes, it is just too much to look at leftovers over and over and over again. Yet, I don’t want them to go to waste. If I can freeze something for the future, I often do, but sometimes at the end of a dinner party I am too tired (or, more likely, have had too much wine) and get a little lazy about labeling. So these things tend to get discarded once they are covered in freezer burn and I can no longer identify them as food, let alone a particular food product.

Perhaps my favorite way to get rid of leftovers, though, is packing to-go boxes for my friends. Recently that meant desserts to go for everyone after our wine dinner (some of the chocolate mousse shots were still in the shot glasses. I’m bound to get those back eventually.) Over the holidays it was chicken soup, brisket, potatoes and desserts a-plenty. When a friend couldn’t make dinner because he had to work, his partner brought him a scaled down version of the entire meal. The entire thing was packed in plastic, disposable containers. Environmentally friendly? Not so much. Easy to deal with? Indeed.

And that was that. I hadn’t given the whole occurrence a second thought.

A few weeks later, these friends came by and strolled in with a shopping bag. Each container was washed and ready to be reused. I was dumbfounded. Why am I getting these back? Why don’t they reuse them? Does it really occur to people to return disposable containers, after all, these aren’t the fancy Tupperware of the ’70s? But most importantly, I had this thought: Sh*t. Am I doing it wrong? Am I always supposed to return these? Do all of my friends now think I am completely ungrateful and rude? (I know, I can sometimes be rude, but am never ungrateful.)  Are my friends just too thoughtful?

So, tell me… Have I been wrong all this time? Do I owe my mother approximately 7,000 Glad containers? Or can it go both ways? These are pressing issues and I need to know if I have been inadvertently completely rude. (Hey, if I am going to be rude, I like to know about it!)


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