For those of us who work in offices, the rules of the office kitchen are complex. The written-down ones most of us seem to ignore, as the above photo shows. The unwritten ones however, are a minefield of differing social manners and expectations; for what one person finds acceptable behaviour, another person almost certainly does not.
Some common causes of consternation in the workplace are; correct dishwasher usage, proper teabag disposal, recycling do’s and don’ts, microwave use policy, theft, eating smelly food and the use of the communal milk for cereal rather than just tea of coffee (This is an issue at Lovefood HQ!).
The appliance of science
While the office printer may suffer abusive blows when it jams, the office fridge is often shown the cold shoulder of neglect, being infrequently cleaned out, and never defrosted. I’ve worked in offices where food ends up entombed in ice at the back like Han Solo in carbonite, or where tupperware tubs end up looking like petri dishes containing unusual food experiments. The office fridge is a communal space, but there’s always someone who treats it as they would their fridge at home, by helping themselves to the contents. And the taking of other people’s food from the office fridge (knowingly or not) is perhaps the gravest of office kitchen crimes.
Upon discovery of the theft, you can be sure that ‘the note’ will follow. The writing of ‘the note’ allows the humble office drone to vent their spleen and unleash a bout of hitherto unseen creativity. Often written in the manner of j’accuse for all to see, they name, shame, accuse and threaten. You can be sure that each sentence will be suffixed with an exclamation mark, indeed the whole thing may even be WRITTEN IN CAPS!!!!! (There’s a great selection of passive aggressive food-related workplace notes here).
I’m the Boss
Occasionally if the victim is management, the note is replaced by the company-wide email, such as the one Beckman’s CEO Keith Zakheim sent to his staff last month. In it he threatened to fire anyone found using the last of the milk and not replacing it with a fresh one from the store cupboard. What do you think, over-reaction or damn right?
It’s strange what you find annoying in your co-workers though. Someone at my last office would take the plastic cap off the milk, but then only peel back the protective film half way, rather than remove it completely and put it in the bin as I do. For some reason I found this incredibly infuriating. At another job, someone two desks down from me regularly microwaved two mackerel fillets for lunch, making the office smell like a trawler for the rest of the afternoon.
So over to you, have you been the victim of a workplace food thief? Or do you have a fridge fascist in your office? Let us know in the comments below.