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Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Your's and Mine

I noticed recently at a restaurant that a waiter came over and said the words “Are you finished with your sauces?”

Now I’m sure you will agree that this is not generally considered to be a strange thing for a waiter to say. When you look at the scenario more closely however, you can start to wonder if it actually is a bizarre thing to say.

I entered an external establishment, ordered specific food off a menu and sat down. The waiter brought one of those little holders with sauce bottles in: ketchup, HP, mayonnaise, that sort of thing. He later comes and asks me if I am done with “my” sauces.

I don’t think the sauces can ever really be called mine. They belong to the restaurant, I simply took use of them (well in reality I didn’t even use any but that’s not the point). So really the waiter could have said “Are you finished with my sauces” which itself is still ambiguous about the owner of the sauces, as it is unlikely the waiter personally invested in them himself.

Alternatively he could have said “our” but then that implies some kind of “us and them” type scenario between the establishment and the customers, or even could imply that me and him equally own the sauces.

The only option really should have been “the” sauces as it does not leave any connotation to ownership.

It strikes me that to really be able to refer to something as “mine” you had to have experienced some kind of loss to gain it, whether this is financially or otherwise. Another can be what I like to refer to as ‘undisputed domination’ which is basically a fancy way of saying that you were the only one who wanted the thing in question, although usually this would mean there is no value to it.

Another way of examining this is if someone comes to your home and you offer them a glass of milk, they accept and are happily drinking it, then suddenly the glass falls from their hands they exclaim “My milk!”

Can they say that? At any point has it actually really become “Their” milk? You bought it, you suffered the loss and are simply allowing someone else use.

Obviously it would be stupid to yell “Your milk!” when they were holding the glass, but you see the point.

The final way to look at it is through the idea of gifts. Was the milk a gift? Gift implies exchanging ownership through less financial means and more emotional ones. Well what about in the restaurant? If that sauce was a gift then how dare he take those bottles back!

Some may argue that the sauce used is included in the price of the meal. Impossible I say. First of all there is no advertised use of sauces on the menu and secondly how could they possibly then ensure everyone gets their money value worth of sauce.

Other will probably argue I’m over thinking this. Probably true but I still noticed this.