One of the cultural differences I noticed when I moved to Sweden is that Swedes will never take the last of anything. If you attend a Swedish party, by the end of the night there will most likely be 1 chip left in the bowl and one tiny slice of cake. On Christmas there is only one candy left in the candy box by the end of the evening.
This week at my office, I brought a bowl of jelly beans from my recent trip to Texas. When I came to work the next morning, there were 2 small jellybeans left in the bowl. They stayed there all day until someone else brought in a bucket of candy and I tossed them in there. (Yes, by the end of the next day, the new bucket had one piece of candy left sitting in it.)
Later in the week I brought 4 leftover cookies from a batch I made at home with a note saying, “Please help yourself.” I wasn’t surprised when I came in the next morning to find one cookie left in the bag. However, by lunchtime the cookie was missing. I asked around and found out that a co-worker from Poland had taken the cookie. It’s good that we have such an international staff or we’d be left with one of everything.
The good thing about all of this is that when we have a family gathering, I can always take the last of everything. That last piece of candy at Christmas, the last piece of birthday cake – I just smile and say, “I’m American so I’ll just be taking this here.”