I accidentally threw a sandwich and it caused a work crisis

A reader writes:

OK, this is a ridiculous situation, but it’s also serious and spiralled out of control (we think?) and my coworker and I dug ourselves into a hole by staying silent.

Our grandboss is, let’s say, frosty. Elegant, always in glorious suits, not-a-hair-out-of-place Anna Wintour type. Renton is a younger (30ish) lad-type. He’s well known to sneak out for an extra long lunch at the pub to catch mid-week footie and come back after having a couple of pints, etc.

My coworker and I were in the kitchen area, eating (as one does). She was telling me about a program she had been watching and was very animated, gesticulating with her sandwich. FrostyBoss had just walked past us when my coworker made a particularly vehement point and completely lost grip of the sandwich. We both stared in horror as it flew through the air and smacked FrostyBoss on the bum. FrostyBoss was right next to Renton, and she turned and gave him the deathliest of death stares, before stalking away. Alison, SHE DIDN’T SEE THE SANDWICH. She clearly thought Renton had patted her familiarly. We don’t think Renton even noticed — no one else in the room (there weren’t a lot of us, late lunch) seemed to see either. Coworker and I were in horrified shock, and (and this is terrible of us) didn’t speak up. The whole thing was over in less than 10 seconds. What do you say???

Now the gossip mill is churning like mad. Renton was gone for two days — the same length of time as our mandatory sexual harassment training module. And it’s going around that someone threw a sandwich at him to keep him from molesting the boss, because he was drunk (!!!).

Obviously, we have to fix this. But holiday break came, and now we don’t know how. WE NEED A SCRIPT.

P.S. To make matters even worse, my coworker loves vinaigrette and mayonnaise on her sandwiches, so we also SHOULD have offered to have the skirt cleaned, because there was a definite splotch. Script to note that, too, might be rather nice.

Oh my goodness. The case of the stealthy sandwich!

It might be worth first checking in with Renton, to make sure your interpretation of what happened is correct. If it turns out he was away on, say, a pre-planned vacation rather than because your grandboss thought he grabbed her ass, there might not be a problem to fix. But not everyone will volunteer that they were at mandated training after a harassment allegation, so you can’t just ask where he was and rely on that to reveal the truth; you’re going to need to come clean to him.

Your coworker is the one who threw the sandwich, so she’s the one who should talk to him. In her shoes, I would say: “I have an awful feeling that you were blamed for something I did, and if so I need to make it right. When we were in the lunchroom a few days before the holiday break, I was waving my hands while talking and my sandwich flew out of my grasp and hit FrostyBoss. She didn’t see the sandwich, but she must have felt it — and from her face, I’m worried she thought it was you grabbing her. Does this ring any bells for you? If so, I want to make this right however I can.”

If he responds that yeah, the sandwich did indeed cause the clusterfudge you suspect, then your coworker should immediately fess up to FrostyBoss. Possible script: “I need to apologize to you. When we were in the lunchroom a few days before the holiday break, I was waving my hands while talking and my sandwich flew out of my grasp — and I think it hit you! I was so shocked that I didn’t say anything in the moment and you left right afterwards, but I’ve been mortified about it and wanted to apologize. I’m also concerned that because Renton was right next to you, you may have thought it was him! But it was my sandwich. I’m so sorry about this. I want to clear his name, and if the sandwich left a stain, I’d like to pay to have it cleaned.” (Or you could be even more direct: “I don’t know how accurate this is, but I’ve heard through the rumor mill that it seemed Renton patted you in some way — but it was my sandwich hitting you!”)

As I’m writing this, the whole scenario sounds ridiculous enough that part of me worries FrostyBoss may think it’s a bizarre story concocted to get Renton out of trouble! If so, the oily splotch may actually be helpful if she noticed it later or goes looking for it now. (This feels like it could be an Encyclopedia Brown case.)

If you have a good relationship with your direct boss, you could loop her in too. She might be able to give you useful advice and/or assure FrostyBoss that you are reliable and trustworthy, not someone who would make up a sandwich tossing caper to defend a boundary-crossing colleague.

From there, you and your coworker should also correct the record with the office gossip mill. How to do that depends on specifics I don’t have, but it could be as simple as correcting people in the moment when you hear the Drunken Renton story or sharing the truth with the biggest gossip and knowing it’ll be spread from there. But definitely speak up so Renton isn’t forever tarred as a drunken octopus.

And speak up to all of these parties ASAP. It’s understandable that you (well, really your coworker) didn’t speak up in the moment because you were shocked, but it gets stranger as more time goes by.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 407 comments… read them below }

  1. Hula-la*

    I really needed a story like that today! Hope all goes well with you and your friend, and yes, definitely talk to Renton (and Frosty Boss).

    1. Reba*

      OP is such an entertaining writer! I hope that this event shifts from mortifying secret to funny work anecdote swiftly!

      1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

        Very entertaining indeed! When I got to the part where the sandwich “flew through the air and smacked FrostyBoss on the bum,” I literally burst out laughing. (Fortunately, I’m home, sitting in a room by myself right now.) What an image!

        In addition, I love the nickname FrostyBoss, which also conjures up quite an image. :-D

    2. Le Sigh*

      Between this and yesterday’s letter about putting a curse on the boss, we’re off to great start.

    3. On Fire*

      Seeing this a day late, but yes, this is all kinds of wonderful. Delightfully written. I bow to OP, their coworker and the flying sandwich.

  2. Satisfactory Worker*

    OMG this is the best start to 2021.

    BTW the phrase “to catch mid-week footie”–I’m going to assume this is what the Brit’s call football, but it sounds like something else to my American ears!

    1. Engineer Woman*

      Ha! I took it to mean a foot massage. I’m trying to think of what could be squeezed into a long lunch.

        1. MusicWithRocksIn*

          If this is a thing sign me up. I would totally go to a place and drink mimosas and get a foot massage and watch HGTV on big bar room screens. Maybe I’ve been trapped indoors for too long.

          1. Anonymath*

            This IS indeed a thing in my neck of the woods! “Fancy” nail salons where you can get a pedicure/foot massage, free drinks (wine/mimosa included) and the large screen TVs are all tuned to the Food Network.

            1. Edwina*

              My nail salon (in the beforetimes) was always tuned to HGTV. Which made me think how readily we accept, out in the world, that men’s tastes are always assumed to “rule.”

                1. anonaccountant*

                  I think Edwina is saying that the nail salon/HGTV is in contrast to everywhere else, like bars and restaurants, where only men’s preferences (sports) seem to be catered to as a default.

              1. pandop*

                Less with the sexism please. I may have no desire to go to the pub at lunchtime to watch footie, but if the cricket’s on, that’s another matter (and I’ll have a pint, and my work will have no problem with that)

              2. SeluciaMD*

                I want to go to your nail salon. And perhaps have both a sandwich and a pint while I get a pedicure and watch Househunters: Renovation or Hometown for hours. That sounds like heaven to me.

    2. Hey Karma, Over Here*

      Quite, like where’d he get the energy to grab a butt? OH! Watching soccer, I get it.

    3. Engineer Woman*

      But now that I’ve re-read the post: watching football in a pub with pints makes so much more sense!

      1. Spencer Hastings*

        Primed by the headline, I read it the same way at first — consequently, it also took me a moment to realize that Renton and the coworker were two separate people!

    4. Phony Genius*

      I thought it was Australian Rules Football, which they call “footie” sometimes. But it isn’t usually played this close to Christmas, so it’s more likely British soccer.

      1. Ripley Jones*

        Footie is definitely slang for what Americans call soccer.

        (And if you want to get picky, it would be way more accurate to call the NFL “American football” than to call soccer “British soccer” hahaha!)

      2. CatMintCat*

        In New South Wales, Rugby League is footie. Aussie Rules is “that weird game they play in Victoria”. Soccer is soccer, American football is “gridiron” and Rugby Union is a bit of a sissy game they play in Universities.

        1. Ermintrude*

          Another Aussie here – to me, anything played with people running around after, throwing and kicking an ovoid ball is ‘footie’. It’s all much of a muchness to me.

    5. Aussie Wife*

      It’s as likely, or even more likely, that this is Aussie. Aussies call Rugby and Aussie Rules Football “footie”.

    6. CW*

      I was thinking the same thing earlier! It totally makes sense now, going to the bar to watch soccer. I wouldn’t have guessed either way lol.

    7. Red5*

      OMG, I thought “mid-week footie” was the equivalent of a “nooner.” Catching a soccer game at a pub makes a lot more sense.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Glad I wasn’t the only person whose brain went there, before seeing the pub mentioned.

    8. Harvey JobGetter*

      Yes, but why didn’t Renton get fired? Because he’s getting midweek footies (American style) from Grandboss. I can’t believe I’m the only one who thinks this.

      At my job, if you grabbed the bosses ass randomly midday, you would no longer be my coworker. I can’t imagine there are many jobs where this isn’t true.

      The death stare was because Grandboss doesn’t want to get caught.

      This is by far the most plausible explanation here, except maybe that Grandboss didn’t even notice the touch and the glare was misperceived or unrelated. There is just no way that Renton still has a job if Grandboss thinks he grabassed her and they aren’t already boinking.

      1. Observer*

        I disagree – Renton is obviously going to deny it. And if it’s the first time that he’s been accused, then it does create a problem for the company. Especially since the effect of the sandwich hitting was not “grabbed” but “patted”. Of course, if he had done it, it would still be WILDLY inappropriate, but when it’s her word against his, it makes sense that they would not jump to firing.

      2. Idril Celebrindal*

        Ummm, what? How is that the only option available? Guys sexually harass women all the time and don’t get fired, and especially if he denied it and FrostyBoss couldn’t prove anything, then remedial training would be much more likely.

        How do you jump straight to the most plausible explanation being FrostyBoss abusing her position and being unethical?

        1. HD*

          Thank you for saying this. Plenty of men sexually harass women and don’t get fired. It’s not an automatic outcome.

        2. LeahS*

          Thank you! That is literally the least plausible conclusion to make after reading this. Sexual harassment happens, like, a lot. Firing someone for sexual harassment happens… not a lot.

          1. Idril Celebrindal*

            Yeah, I’m still shaking my head at this idea, it makes no sense and sounds like the worst kind of AAM fanfiction to me

            1. Idril Celebrindal*

              I mean, AAM comment section fanfiction, not AAM herself since Alison doesn’t do that.

      3. MusicWithRocksIn*

        If my boss was patted midday, then she would probably just tease that person until they decided to resign in shame. Not that I think anyone would be dumb enough to do that, because even the sexist dude bros at my work know who the alpha is (she is, she is the alpha).

      4. Cookwitch*

        We have rules and processes in the UK. There would be a whole host of things that would need to happen before a person gets fired!

    9. Temperance*

      I’ve totally left work occasionally to watch a soccer game, and then started watching on my second monitor if I couldn’t get out. LOL

      1. Tiny Orchid*

        I used to work for a place in California that put all the World Cup games up on the projector in the conference room (if there wasn’t another meeting scheduled). There were usually a few folks who took their laptops into the conference room to work and watch :)

    10. Uranus Wars*

      I was crying by the time I got to the end. This had to be the best kick-off week story in AAM history.

    11. Iconic Bloomingdale*

      You know, I read it a few times to try and understand this phrase. Initially, I took it to mean a mid-afternoon foot massage at a less than reputable massage parlor (maybe with a happy ending tacked on – yikes).

      Then I assumed it was just a liquor lunch and left it at that. lol

    12. Kate*

      The language in this post is so strange. Written as though to be from an English writer but the spelling is so off for an actual English person to have written this.

      1. Myrin*

        For the purpose of consistency, Alison changes all letters’ spelling to the American English variant.

        1. UKDancer*

          Aah that makes sense. The narrator’s tone is definitely British but the spelling isn’t so it makes sense that the spelling has been adjusted.

        2. Jaybeetee*

          Huh, I live in a country that uses UK spelling, and I can’t spot any words that jump out as having “American” spelling.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I’m pretty sure I changed programme to program, but not sure if there was anything else. In other letters, I’ll change organisation to organization, etc.

    13. Chilipepper*

      I have to confess, I thought it meant playing footsie and was a euphemism for a quickie at lunch!

    14. Scc@rlettNZ*

      Kiwi here. I’m in hysterics about all the folk who thought the phrase ‘mid week footie’ was a euphemism for sex. You have all made my day, thank you :-)

        1. jojo*

          In US footsie is slang foot tapping under the table. A kind of flirting under the table. A quickie is a Nooner. I have never heard of a footie being interpreted as a nooner. It is amazing the different interpretation different countries give to same English word.

      1. londonedit*

        Same (but British!) I’m not sure this OP is British, because football matches don’t tend to take place during the working day unless there’s an international tournament going on (midweek Premier League games are usually Monday, Wednesday or Friday night with an 8pm kick-off, and midweek cup or Champions/Europa League games are usually Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday night with a 7.45 or 8pm kick-off) but ‘midweek footie and a couple of pints’ does not in any way mean anything sexual!

    1. Abogado Avocado*

      I know: what an awesome week, what with the spell-casting employee and now the flying sandwich. And it’s only Tuesday!

    2. Grand Admiral Thrawn Will Always Be Blue*

      Alison has outdone herself. One of the finest, most wonderful OOPS stories I have ever read on here. May the Stealth Sandwich go down forever in AAM lore. Right up there with Wakeen and Guacamole Bob. Oh, and the cheap rolls and the Hanukkah balls.

      1. HR Peep*

        Guacamole Bob? I’ll need to search that one. I think we have similar sense of humor because the others you mentioned are my faves. Wakeen cracks me every time. (seriously, every time!)

      2. Yvette*

        I think I missed the Wakeen story, was it something to do with someone thinking that Joaquin written on the emails and the person referred to as Wakeen (out loud) were two different people?

    1. He's just this guy, you know?*

      I came here to say exactly this – I couldn’t help but read the whole thing in a British accent!

      1. Totally Minnie*

        “You know, I always thought that tea was going to taste like hot brown water, and you know what? I was right. It’s horrible. No thank you.” –Ted Lasso

        (The above opinion is solely that of Ted Lasso and does not represent the opinions of Totally Minnie, unrepentant tea addict)

          1. KaciHall*

            Wait, do people actually microwave the TEA? I always heat up the water in the microwave and then pour it over the tea. It shouldn’t be different than using a kettle, should it?

            1. (insert name here)*

              You aren’t even supposed to heat the water in the microwave. You are supposed to boil it. i

              In the microwave you have hot spots and cold spots in your water, also you don’t have consistent temperature. You don’t know if the water is hot enough or too hot, which can mess up your tea, too.

        1. Brett*

          This definitely makes sense as an IT Crowd scenario.
          Except then I picture Renton as Roy.
          OP is Moss. Sandwich throwing co-worker is Jen.
          FrostyBoss works on the 7th floor. (Because if FrostyBoss was Douglas, this would have a very different outcome.)

          1. Empress Matilda*

            Oh my gosh, this! I am reading this on Wednesday morning, which has already been a bit of a sh!tshow around here. This thread, the comments, and the IT Crowd crossover have made everything a million times better!

    2. Doug Judy*

      I just finished binging Ted Lasso and I was happy to understand this.

      BTW 10/10 recommend Ted Lasso

    3. Pidgeot*

      I swear this could be an episode of the IT Crowd where the OP is Roy, coworker is Moss, and Renton is Jen(?):

      Roy: Now, the important thing here is not to panic-
      Moss: It hit her bum, Roy! It hit her bum!

      Jen (returning from harassment training): It was yooouuu?!

    4. Archaeopteryx*

      I read it in an American accent in my head until we’re talking about nipping down to the pub for some footie and then my mental ears went “Whoop! Redo this British stylie!”

    5. londonedit*

      I said above, but unless this happened during an international football tournament, it’s unlikely, as ‘going to the pub to catch a midweek footie match and coming back to the office after a couple of pints’ isn’t a thing that can happen here. Football matches are at the weekend, or the midweek ones have evening kick-offs. There’s no regular football during the working day.

      1. EventPlannerGal*

        If this is supposed to have happened recently then I’m not quite sure how it’s possible given lockdown restrictions either – long office lunches with multiple people in the same canteen and people going out for casual lunchtime pints have not really been a normal thing here for a while in most of the country. (I’ve never worked anywhere that would have been okay with regular lunchtime pints anyway, but I suppose offices vary.) Maybe Australia?

      2. MsSolo*

        There are day time midweek games over the Christmas period, so the timing does check out. That he’s got a reputation for going to the pub is a bit weird, since it’s hard to imagine it’s more than once a year (twice for euros cup years) but reputations can be built on less.

        1. MsSolo*

          Though as EventPlannerGirl points out, nowhere in the country you could have watched them at the pub this year, unless you’re in the Scilly Isles!

        2. pandop*

          They didn’t say the footie watching was recent, but if you do it consistently during a couple of tournaments then it’s enough to establish a pattern

  3. Hey Karma, Over Here*

    I agree with Alison’s fist part. Leave Renton out if it. “I’m mortified but I have to come clean. I don’t know if you realized where that stain came from or how you got it, but…”
    Why intimate you thought she blamed Renton, much less that she thought he grabbed her butt when you don’t know for sure?
    This way, too, if Renton did end up in trouble, Frostyboss can fix it discretely-which she may prefer. She can go to HR ahead of “did you hear?”
    Renton can correct the story any way he likes, but it will die down faster for everyone, if sandwich person owns up to the initial event.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I agree she should apologize about the sandwich and stain regardless, but I do think it’s worth mentioning Renton (if he confirms what the LW suspects) in case FrostyBoss doesn’t connect the dots on her own.

      1. Hey Karma, Over Here*

        Oh! Good point.
        “I dropped my sandwich on you”
        “Hey, that time in the kitchen when you felt something hit your rear end as Renton walked by, yeah, about that.”

      2. Not A Girl Boss*

        I guess my concern is, even if Renton was off on a jolly holiday, FrostyBoss might still privately think Renton touched her inappropriately and hold it against him. So I’d want to clarify exactly when it happened regardless of what Renton says he’s experienced for repercussions thus far.

        But, I’m with you Alison. If I was FrostyBoss, I would think “Renton touched my bottom and came up with an elaborate cover-up involving a sandwich to get out of trouble” is a much more likely story than “Renton just so happened to be standing next to me at the same time a different coworker flung a sandwich at me” sooooo…. ugh.

        1. Hazel*

          I’m laughing out loud right now thinking about OP’s coworker intentionally throwing a sandwich at someone who is characterized as frostyboss!!!

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Indeed! Such a wholesome post! Really hope this is a sign of what 2021 will be mostly like.

    2. Aggretsuko*

      People eating in person around each other is so 2019, though. Did this come through a time warp?

        1. Wannabikkit*

          Could be! But here in NZ, footie generally means rugby union. We’re not usually big fans of soccer. And it’s cricket season, not rugby season anyway.

          1. Self Employed*

            Is it possible OP could have been mistaken about what sport he watches down at the pub? I know I am not completely familiar with the timetables of all the American sports–I’ve lived within 20 miles of the local hockey arena for a decade and I’m still not sure when hockey season is even though our team is a Big Thing.

      1. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

        Well, there are many kinds of workplaces and some of them are such that because of the nature of the work you really can’t eat anywhere else than the break room, and there can be too many employees to allow for only one person there at a time. To be honest there are things in this letter that make me see it happen in an office, but I don’t think it’s impossible for them to be factory workers too.

  4. A*

    …..maybe not everyone CAN have sandwiches after all (or should). Sorry, couldn’t help myself! This is a doozy!

      1. Spencer Hastings*

        Also, “I waved a sandwich at my boss”: not just that famous old Dear Prudence letter anymore!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Well, now we can add that SOME people should not be ALLOWED to have sandwiches. We are a day older and a day wiser and we now realize that sandwiches can be thrown at others.

    1. Jessica Fletcher*

      I read it as Bridget Jones! I so enjoyed this post. Perhaps Alison should invent an Oddball of the Year vote to go along with the Worst Boss!

      LW, please update, posthaste!

      1. Duvie*

        I think FrostyBoss would sound like Judie Dench correcting James Bond, but my narrator was Julie Walters.

      1. Colleague’s Dog’s Viking Funeral*

        Well, now all I can think about is the sandwich, travelling through the air, hearing its lift narrated by Emma Thompson.
        Narrator: “It was just a sandwich, born of two slices of discount multigrain, whose responsibility up to this point was simply to be. A layer of mayonnaise shared the duty of holding the slices of meat and veg within in its crusts. Waiting, waiting, to be devoured like its brothers before. But today, destiny was changed for this simple sandwich. Today, it would fly.”
        Sandwich: “what dafuq?”

          1. Colleague’s Dog’s Viking Funeral*

            I was re-reading the letter…because, we all are. And the line “WE NEED A SCRIPT” jumped out.
            Dear OP,
            You do not need a script. You need an agent, a cast and network.

        1. Filosofickle*

          If anyone saw Stranger Than Fiction, this absolutely fits with her narration in that. (And if you haven’t, I highly recommend :D)

          1. New Jack Karyn*

            Came here to say this; was not disappointed.

            Seriously, folks–this movie is amazeballs.

    2. AnonEMoose*

      The OP described events so well that I could picture the whole scene, and it’s a good thing I’m working from home, so the giggling didn’t disturb anyone. I could just see the sandwich flying in slow motion, while slightly ominous music played in the background, while the OP and coworker watched in horror, until it (of course) hit FrostyBoss’s behind. I understand the mortification, and you have my sympathy, OP, but I really needed that laugh today, so thank you for that!

        1. Ermintrude*

          I saw crumbs flying as sunlit motes from the sandwich as it arced inevitably towards its fate, and heard the soft, doom-laden thud as it impacted the ignition-point of chaos.

      1. Elenna*

        Same! My manager would definitely have had questions if he’d seen how hard I laughed at this :D

    1. 3DogNight*

      Yes! Came here to second the first post I saw requesting an update. Please!
      I would use the stain and not mention Renton. Otherwise it kind of sounds like a story one of my kids would build for why the bedroom door is broken, and how the grilled cheese got into the VCR.

    1. AutisticMuseumPerson*

      Came here to say this! And hopefully we all remember this post for the 2021 year-end roundups!

  5. UK Expat*

    LOL – Possibly the most British workplace drama ever, I’m surprised it wasn’t in the original Office and of course Renton in my mind is Hugh Grant

    1. Lizzo*

      …and now I am thinking very seriously about how we might rewrite Love, Actually to include sandwich shenanigans as part of the flirtation between the Prime Minister and his secretary.

      1. Lady Heather*

        I saw you say “Prime Minister” and now I’m thinking of Yes, Minister except Humphrey thinks someone patted his posterior (he would call it a posterior, or perhaps gluteus maximus) and at some point “protesting in the strongest possible terms” like in “The Key”.

        1. Pippa K*

          Yes! Jim accidentally threw the sandwich, Bernard’s getting blamed but doesn’t know why, and only a last-minute Cabinet crisis forces Jim to confess and save Bernard from being demoted and reposted to Lossiemouth (per the threat in ‘Man Overboard’)
          Ok, possibly I have watched too much Yes, Prime Minister, but this is def a sit com scenario. Possibly IT Crowd, with Matt Berry suggested above.

          1. Lady Heather*


            Or initially one of the women – not a tea lady, but one in an position of power so there can be a bit of misogyny and told-you-so (per “Equal Opportunities”) gets the blame, but Bernard tries to explain what actually happened, (maybe while still trying to hide the Minister did it), and because of his vagueness, Humphrey thinks Bernard did it..

            And Annie Hacker, “You simply have to tell him.” “I can’t!”

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*


        That was such an obvious reference for me that I immediately decided Renton must be a total liability probably in need of sensitivity training anyway (if not his P45).

        1. Everdene*

          You are welcome General!

          I’m honestly quite bemused at how some people have pictured Renton. Although, tbh, I can see where the IT crowd framers are coming from.

    2. Jennifer*

      It could be an episode of Midsomer Murders but where he investigates errant sandwich throwers instead of murder. This is the scene where a key witness finally comes forward.

      1. Fiorinda*

        Never mind Midsomer Murders, this one deserves the Goon Show! The Errant Sandwich-Hurler of Old London Town, or, Where’s My Lunch Gone?

        It is all, of course, a nefarious plot by Grytpype-Thynne and Moriarty, there’s a steam-powered piano with diplomatic plates involved at some point, and Bluebottle gets deaded by sandwich.

    3. Media Monkey*

      hugh grant would never watch footie. rugby maybe. renton has my brian going to a young, extremely good looking, skinheaded ewan mcgregor from trainspotting.

  6. Lizzo*

    Requested revision to script:

    “It was not a drunken octopus named Renton. It was my sandwich.”

  7. Notthemomma*

    I really want this to be one of these HR required training videos we have to watch, complete with narrator, maybe everything animated, except the sandwich which appears in all its glory?

    This just made my day.

  8. not all karens*

    I wish the author had incorporated more Trainspotting names into the letter. Sandwich-tosser is clearly Spud, and FrostyBoss is a dead-ringer for Begbie.

    1. knxvil*

      I’d amend this to say Begbie tossed the sandwich but Spud is the one sent to harassment training. We all know how Spud isn’t good with cleaning up messes… :P

      1. Media Monkey*

        i was about to say that if begbie had thrown the sandwich it would still have been on the plate!

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Yes! I haven’t been reading/commenting as much because I have serious Covid fatigue. I mean, I get why it’s a big topic for a lot of questions, but yeah.

  9. Engineer Woman*

    1. The story-telling is awesome!
    2. Your coworker should go to the boss ASAP, apologise and say everything Allison suggests with the exception of mentioning Renton. Bringing him up might make it sound like you’re trying to help get him off the hook. If the sandwich did leave a stain, that’ll lead Boss to realize the truth.

    1. Elenna*

      Eh, maybe, but I’d be worried Boss wouldn’t make the connection and would just assume she didn’t feel or notice the thrown sandwich in any way. (Today in “phrases I never thought I’d write…”). Maybe if LW’s coworker specifies the exact date it happened? But it seems hard to work that into the conversation in a natural way, and if they’re going to be obvious about it “I hit you with a sandwich AND BY THE WAY THIS WAS ON [DATE]”, they might as well just spell it out.

    2. Yorick*

      You could say something like “you looked over at Renton when it happened and I want to make sure you didn’t think he threw it”

      1. Luke G*

        I like that. It maintains plausible deniability of any sexual impropriety on Renton’s part, while also subtly nudging the boss to connect the dots that the sandwich confession also is evidence of Renton’s total innocence of anything on that day. To borrow a turn of phrase often seen on this site, the tone could be “OF COURSE you know that it was a sandwich that hit you, I just wanted to make sure you knew that it came from me, and by accident.”

        (Also I’m pretty sure I saw Sandwich Confession opening for Theory of a Deadman at the local music festival a few years back).

  10. ZSD*

    1) The subject line made me laugh aloud.
    2) The climax made me gasp dramatically.
    3) Like other Americans, I had to process a bit before realizing that “mid-week footie” didn’t mean “playing footsie and more.”

  11. AKchic*

    This is the most deliciously scandalous case of mistaken identity *ever* and I am *HERE* for it.

    I want to know exactly when things go down, what happens when the truth is dished out, if the truth will be brought out open-faced so the rumor-mill stops, and how everyone handles this. Truly, when the chips are down, we need to know that everything is handled correctly.
    Okay, I need to stop making sandwich-related puns. This whole situation has gone a-rye. Lettuce spray for my inability to stop punning.

        1. anonymous 5*

          Well, only because we all know how well rumors can spread. And because only the crustiest among us wouldn’t be able to appreciate that OP’s desire not to skewer Renton’s reputation met some conflict in the awkwardness of the situation.

            1. Quill*

              Yes, but to be honest, I feel like with some apologies made that don’t go too over the top into the gossip, the whole situation would be a wrap.

              1. AKchic*

                You think we’re spreading it on too thick? Or perhaps the wayward sandwich flinger should butter Renton and the grandboss up after that errant toss?

                1. AKchic*

                  I guess I am hamming it up a bit. But I’d rather be too cheesy than be too stale, y’know?

  12. Person from the Resume*

    Now the gossip mill is churning like mad. Renton was gone for two days — the same length of time as our mandatory sexual harassment training module. And it’s going around that someone threw a sandwich at him to keep him from molesting the boss, because he was drunk (!!!).

    Unless the LW and the sandwich thrower have been talking to others, someone else might have witnessed it at least partially because how else did a thrown sandwich end up as part of the rumor?

    1. An on*

      Maybe if a bystander saw the sandwich from the corner of their eye? OP says there were other people present, but that nobody else saw clearly enough to know the full story

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      An unidentified flying sandwich! More on it in a Netflix documentary later this year.

    2. Monty and Millie's Mom*

      And who throws a sandwich ACCIDENTALLY?! I’m snickering to myself – in my mind, it’s hilarious!

      1. Lizzo*

        As a first class gesticulator, I can confirm that this sort of thing can and does happen…though never intentionally. I would never purposefully waste food like this.

      2. Grand Admiral Thrawn Will Always Be Blue*

        Smudge the cat. It was Smudge. He can be such a jerk sometimes.. :)

    3. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

      I swear this is a line from an Austin Powers movie. So I heard it in that character’s voice.

      1. [insert witty username here]*

        That’s exactly how I thought of it!!! The “honestly, who throws a shoe?!?!” line!!!

    1. CrabbyTabby*

      I don’t see why not; sillier things happen every day. Most of 2020 couldn’t possibly have happened, yet here we are.

      Don’t know what this kind of comment contributes anyway — what’s the point?

    2. Chinook*

      I disagree. Some of us take loudly with our hands and use our fingers with the hand motions. At one point, as a teacher, I kept multiple board markers in my pocket because 2 or 3 would go flying during the day while I would be gesticulating wildly. I had to tell my students to ignore them and that I would collect them later (luckily, no one was ever impaled colourfully).

      1. StudentA*

        Even if you account for a sandwich flying, looking at the rest of the chain of events, it’s too sitcom-like. It happened to land on her butt, she didn’t see the sandwich land, she assumed Renton grabbed her (we think), Renton is a character, she’s a frosty, the OPs buddy is just super animated, AND a rumor mill already started AND it got to the OP AND the OP and her pal got tongue tied and then the holidays came.

        And it’s only January 5. Honestly not trying to be a wet blanket but I’m surprised more people don’t have doubts. Maybe it’s real, but most likely it’s not or it’s quite enhanced.

          1. Empress Matilda*

            Exactly. Maybe it is fake, but who cares? It’s funny, and a pleasant diversion from everything else that’s going on these days. Let’s just enjoy it for what it is!

        1. Insert Clever Name Here*

          It’s not outside the realm of possibility that 1) an office has a frosty boss, 2) at least one person in that office is a character, 3) at least one person in that office gesticulates while talking, and 4) a rumor about an underling copping a feel on the boss gets around the office. 1-3 have been present in every office I’ve ever worked in, and FOR SURE if there was a rumor about #4, it would get around any of those offices like lightning.

          But congratulations I guess on never encountering those things?

        2. JB*

          It sounds kind of like you’re not very familiar with real people. Everything you listed is completely plausible.
          You should probably also note that there’s a reason nobody likes the ‘this is fake’ brigade. Besides the fact that they’re usually young folk with limited experience with the real world, it’s just not a helpful or useful sentiment to anybody. The only apparent purpose is to make yourself feel superior to everyone you think is being ‘duped’.

        3. Jan*

          Nah. You know when people say “You couldn’t make it up”? This is the sort of situation that phrase was invented for.

  13. The Rafters*

    OP: Thank you! After the year we’ve all had, if this is a taste of what AAM 2021 will bring, I love it! Please, please, please update us!

  14. SheLooksFamiliar*

    I feel like a terrible person! I was horrified for the OP’s sandwich-holding friend, and actually feel bad for Renton. I’m also laughing at the mental images the OP’s great prose inspired.

    I’m also terrible for wondering if the sandwich AND Renton both connected with FrostyBoss’s hind quarters.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Oh a complication I hadn’t considered. Renton attempted to catch the sandwich. Red flag on the play!

    1. Insert Clever Name Here*

      This is my third time coming back to this post, hoping beyond hope that OP is one of those who is very active in the comments. Still holding out hope for a late day comment from OP with a glorious update!

  15. Elenna*

    Oh noooo :D :D :D

    Not to minimize the issues that occured, but also this is hilarious and I desperately want an update. LW is a good writer.

    (p.s. how do you know the length of your company’s mandated sexual harrassment training??)

    1. Aggretsuko*

      I have to agree, it sounds a little odd that this wasn’t figured out and immediately (might?) have gone to Sexual Harassment Module time. Like wouldn’t Renton have been all “Uh, what are you talking about, me slapping the boss on the ass?”

    2. Seashells*

      For real? If the sandwich “flew through the air” hard enough to hit FrostyBoss on the bum, how could they not see it? I’m surprised FrostyBoss didn’t say something in the moment!

    3. Observer*

      Because no one looked and it was behind them.

      FrostyBoss didn’t say anything in the moment, just gave Renton a glare. I have no doubt that the moment they got into a quieter place, she let him have it, at which point he would have protested his innocence. By that point it would be too late.

      It’s not surprising that they didn’t look behind them. After all, why would either of them think that something hit her from behind that way? It’s not the most probable scenario, to say the least.

    4. HD*

      Yeah, this is the part that isn’t really making sense to me. It feels like OP and their coworker are filling in a lot of blanks on their own about what happened. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was actually completely different from what they assumed.

    5. juliebulie*

      Depending on its construction/structural integrity, not to mention FrostyB’s butt, the sandwich very well may have ricocheted and ended up underneath something, out of sight. FrostyB was too focused on mentally blaming Renton to be looking for random food. And Renton was too focused on Renton to notice either the sandwich or FrostyB.

      1. HD*

        My honest guess is that FrostyBoss initially glared at Renton, decided she had probably imagined whatever just happened, and walked away trying to clear her head. The only part I can’t explain is the sandwich lying on the ground.

        1. Myrin*

          Yeah, I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if that were the case.
          Grandboss doesn’t sound like someone who would just let something like this slide, even just in the moment, and if OP got the impression that Renton didn’t notice anything about the situation at all, he must have been visibly absorbed in something else which might indeed have had Grandboss thinking that he couldn’t possibly have turned away/looked that uninterested that fast and she must have imagined something hitting her.
          And Renton could’ve been out for something entirely unrelated.

          I mean, it could well be exactly like OP guesses here, and she and her friend should 100% set the record straight, but I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if in doing so, they’ll find out that nothing ever actually happened beside strange rumours.

    6. Myrin*

      Probably because they didn’t look at the ground.

      It sounds like Renton didn’t realise anything had happened at all – OP says she and friend “don’t think Renton even noticed” so he had no reason to look for errant flying sandwiches, and if boss thought for sure that Renton had touched her inappropriately, she wouldn’t have any reason to go searching for other possible explanations.

      (Although, contrary to what OP assumes about no one else being around during the incident, someone must have seen the involvement of a sandwich somehow if there’s a rumour that someone threw one at grandboss to protect her from Handsy Renton.)

  16. Foreign Octopus*


    I have this amazing image of OP sitting with her coworker, both of them desperately trying to figure out what to do, and OP suddenly goes: “I know who can help — Alison!” and then they throwing together an email to Alison while theme music (Alison’s choice) plays in the background.

    *movie announcer’s voice* when the hour is dark and sandwiches have gone flying and black magic is in the air, who are you going to call to save the day? Alison Green!

    1. Ann O'Nemity*

      “Ask a Manager” would make for such an amazing concept for a new tv show! Magic curses, flying sandwiches, holiday party shenanigans, Wakeen/Joaquin, Hanukkah balls, duck club, Operation Smile, etc.

      1. Stormfeather*

        The main difficulty in putting it together would be deciding whether to set it in a llama grooming facility or a teapot manufacturer.

        1. Julia*

          Why not both? Company A is can be one, Company B the other. Maybe one of them could be a good, functioning company, and the other one dysfunctional.

          1. Airy*

            Make them rivals, SOMEHOW (despite not remotely being market competitors), so there can be a running feud with pranks, pettiness and occasional confrontations. That’s good sitcom formula.

  17. Three owls in a trench coat*

    I’m surprised no one is asking what TV show the co-worker was discussing that gave her feelings strong enough to warrant throwing a sandwich.

    I was trying not to giggle the whole time I read this, but LW I do hope everything works out!

  18. Harvey JobGetter*

    The fact that Renton still has a job suggests your coworker may have accidentally uncovered the fact that Renton is getting a different kind of footie during his breaks, and it’s from Grandboss!!!!!

  19. Dreama*

    Cracking. Up. Over. Here! OMG, 2021 is better already! To the OP: Yeah, your coworker should ‘fess up immediately and hope for the best. Who knows, FrostyBoss might find the whole thing hilarious and thaw a little. Great post!

  20. CrystalLamp*

    OP, it sounds like you and your friend have some emotional maturing to do. Your inability to face a silly situation may very well get an innocent person fired. I find it absurd that you let this go on. You owe all involved an apology. Frankly if was your boss I would question your judgement.

    1. juliebulie*

      OP is asking for advice on how to make this right, so they don’t need a lecture from you.

      1. Julia*

        This. OP is asking about advice for something someone else did, even. Let’s give her a chance to allow her friend to handle this.

    2. NYC Taxi*

      I agree. And all the commenters who are whooping it up are ridiculous. You know if they were in Renton’s shoes they’d be here whining about how they’re being unfairly targeted by their two bully coworkers who refused to confess to what they did.

      1. Jackalope*

        It’s a HUGE stretch to go from someone gesticulating wildly and accidentally letting a sandwich fly from their hands to bullying. The OP and her work friend didn’t do *anything* deliberately to either the boss or Renton, they have heard nothing official from any source that there’s even an ongoing issue, and the OP is only guessing based on rumors that might not even have any basis in fact (it’s entirely possible that Renton had a planned vacation, for example, and the boss was cross at him for some totally unrelated reason). The OP is doing her best to fix a situation she didn’t deliberately cause, and bears no ill will towards Renton at all. This is about as far from bullying as she can get.

        And, seriously, come on. We just finished what for many of us was the longest, hardest year of our lives, we’re still living in the middle of a global health crisis, and life for many people sucks right now. Sure, the OP should do what she can to make sure Renton doesn’t suffer any inappropriate consequences, but this story was also funny, and this is a time when we really need funny. It’s not poking fun at anyone, it’s not malicious, it’s just a slapstick comedy of errors that the OP is trying to prevent inadvertent bad consequences from. You don’t have it funny, but don’t label those who do “ridiculous”.

        1. Jess*

          I don’t think it’s the sandwich-chucking that anyone would possibly construe as bullying, or anything else particularly negative. It’s the complete lack of follow-up for long enough for the office to have rumours circulating in it that the sandwich-chucker was trying to defend the boss from being groped.

          If it’s an invented story it’s funny but I’ll give the OP the benefit of the doubt and assume it’s not, so it’s actually kind of awful. It’s great the OP wants to make this right, but that’s going to be really hard now, and the best use of this story is about the poisonous consequences of being too – I don’t know, choose your adjective – to speak up in the moment. Or after. To hear the rumours that are going around about Renton, or to imagine that a woman is living with the weight of thinking she’s been groped, and going on not speaking up. Spending your time sending a nice long funny letter to AAM instead of immediately quashing those rumours and taking steps to reassure that woman.

          Glad you got a laugh out of it though.

          1. The Perky Goth*

            Things can happen surprisingly quickly at work. I was having a conversation with a coworker, let’s call her Emma, where the sentence “at least the problem has been dealt with” was said by Emma, and overheard by “Dave”, another coworker, who for some reason assumed a.) that she was talking about a new starter who had been let go and b.) that she was gloating about it because she deliberately got him fired, neither of which was remotely true. I went on my lunch break, or to make a coffee, and by the time I came back “Dave” had yelled at “Emma” and reduced her to tears. I had to explain to management that the conversation “Emma” and I were having was absolutely nothing to do with the new starter who had left.

          2. Insert Clever Name Here*

            Yeah, how dare OP write in to a work advice columnist about how to handle this situation instead of handling the situation that she didn’t know how to handle. OP should 100% have known the perfect thing to say immediately (about the situation she didn’t know how to handle) and definitely shouldn’t have sought assistance from someone with a reputation for helping people figure out the right things to say in weird situations /s

    3. learnedthehardway*

      It sounds like the OP didn’t realize it was an issue until she got back to the office after a couple of days away? At least that was my take.

      I can sympathize with the not immediately confessing approach. When I was a wee intern, there was a situation in which a coworker and I did something fairly innocuous (we ate a small platter of cookies before a party started – we were doing the setup, were hungry, hadn’t had lunch, and didn’t realize the cookies were the grandboss’ special contribution on top of the food delivery order). Anyway, we did confess when another coworker got chewed out for it, but everyone thought we were just trying to prevent him from getting into trouble.

    4. Jackalope*

      This is overly harsh to the OP. Everyone that I know of has been in situations where something happened so quickly that they didn’t have time to react, or even figure out how to react. Sometimes you just don’t know what to do, and especially for such an unusual and unpredictable event, it can take awhile to even figure out what to say. Given that the whole situation from sandwich leaving hand to boss stalking off was by OP’s estimate less than 10 seconds (seems likely), they didn’t have time to perfect their Sandwich Flying apology. And given the fact that this appears to have happened right before the holidays, which because of weekend placement ended… yesterday, they didn’t have a lot of time to figure out that this might be a bigger issue (especially if many people were out on leave) that didn’t just end with cleaning up sandwich bits from the floor. Saying you “question [the OP’s] judgment” for not knowing what to do on the spur of the moment for such a bizarre situation is incredibly uncharitable.

    5. Marillenbaum*

      This sounds uncannily like my fourth-grade teacher, so if you ARE Mrs. Streckfus–hi! I’ve finally learned my long division!
      If not: the whole reason this person wrote in was because they wanted to do right by the people involved. Acting like they have done something shameful for messing up the response to an errant sandwich is neither helpful nor kind.

    6. Insert Clever Name Here*

      Tell me more about how you always have the absolute perfect, unreproachable reaction in every single interaction of your entire life, no matter how surprising or unexpected the situation. (rests chin in hands expectantly)

    7. PersephoneUnderground*

      Quoting Dickens here “… it is always the person not in the predicament who knows what should have been done, and would unquestionably have done it too!” (I may have a word or two out of place, but it’s from A Christmas Carol and one of my favorite of his pithy lines).

  21. Tabihabibi*

    Hmm, while the person who lost the sandwich should address it, I would leave room for the distinct possibility that FrostyBoss just didn’t care as much about an errant hoagie as the person who comes back from lunch drunk on a repeat basis?

    1. JJ*

      Yes, I can only feel mildly bad for Renton; he’s built a reputation via consistent bad behavior that is now allowing people to jump to this conclusion after all…

    2. Jackalope*

      Many places in Europe they don’t care as much about people having a liquid lunch, and if he does it all the time he may well be coming back slightly “happy” rather than drunk.

  22. staceyizme*

    I am not sure that you need a script so much as a genuine desire to set the record straight! Both of you should have spoken up on the spot and simply apologised. Now, you’ve left it for very late to fix! Speak up and deal with this! It’s unlikely that your coworker and Frosty Boss will think kindly of the pair of you, but what else could you expect after keeping silent until now?

    1. Jess*

      Oh god, this. Almost every comment here has been laughing it up, but – if this actually happened – WOW. The LW and the sandwich-chucker have been too – shy? – to come clean about a situation that’s making one person think she’s been sexually harassed and that’s branding another person as a scumbag. This is awful.

    2. Uranus Wars*

      Well, if Renton didn’t really go to sensitivity training and boss didn’t really think Renton touched her then I don’t think they will think unkindly. But they should address it since the rumor mill is going.

  23. Ann O'Nemity*

    Oof. Obviously it would have been better to speak up in the moment, or as soon as possible. But I’m so sympathetic about how awkward and flustered you felt! And when you didn’t speak up right away, it gets harder and harder to do it.

    In addition to Alison’s script, I would consider starting by pointing out how ridiculous this whole thing is. “I know this is going to sounds completely unbelievable, but….” Acknowledge the weirdness.

    I’m also trying to think of a way to emphasize the rumor mill angle, potentially as a way to explain why you’re bringing this up now. Maybe something like, “I had wanted to bring this up previously, but didn’t find a good opportunity before the holidays, and forgot until I heard through the rumor mill.” But this sounds like such a shitty excuse, doesn’t it? I’m not sure if there’s a good way to work this in.

    Also! This story, the storytelling, the rich British details, all of it is just pure gold.

  24. C Average*

    In my imagination this scenario is played by Drew Barrymore and Kirsten Dunst, with Michael Cera as the hapless Renton. Boss Lady is obviously Meryl Streep.

    I would pay full ticket price to watch it, too.

    1. C Average*

      (And obviously this would be the American knockoff of the previous, superior British production.)

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        Meryl Streep has always done British accents absolutely convincingly, so she should obviously do FrostyBoss even in the original!
        Hugh Grant for Renton sounds great too, he’d get just the right degree of rakishness, and you still wouldn’t be 100% sure what kind of footie was involved.

    2. staceyizme*

      Would have made a great scene in The Devil Wears Prada, except that Emily would have ripped the salad out of her successors hands because it has dressing and croutons… (dunh dunh DUNnHhh…).

    3. C Average*

      Working title: the Hurl of Sandwich. (If only “hurl” didn’t have that other meaning!)

  25. Three Flowers*

    This letter is glorious. Between it and yesterday’s hexing, 2021 is off to a great start.

    1. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

      I feel we need a category titled “We can’t make this $*%# up”. Both the sandwich and the hex might get filed there!

  26. It's All Elementary*

    When I read the headline I thought to myself “How do you ACCIDENTALLY throw a sandwich?”. But, yeah, I see now. I hope it all turns out!!

  27. Bostonian*

    I’ve been reading this blog since 2013 or 14, and this is officially my favorite all-time letter.

  28. Damn it, Hardison!*

    I read the title, made myself a cheese sandwich, and settled in for a good read. It did not disappoint!

  29. Almost Empty Nester*

    But really, that sandwich had to hit her pretty darned hard in the behind for her to assume Renton had smacked her! The visual is pretty stunning…I’m imagining it playing out for OP and coworker in slow motion.

  30. kittymommy*

    What does it say about me that I don’t know if I’d be brave enough to say anything!!?? I would like to think I am a good enough person to cop to it and relieve poor mid-week footie Renton of the blame, but I also am self-aware that I know I might slink away in shame….

    I’m so embarrassed!

  31. notquitenotable*

    I realize this is not at all what the focus of this post should be, but I need to know – what kind of sandwich was this?!

    I ask both because I want to understand how it traveled through the air without falling to pieces before it hit someone on the bum AND because I want to recreate this sandwich as my own personal “happy meal”.

    1. Archaeopteryx*

      I’m picturing like a very loaded sub sandwich but with the wrapper still on (or half on), which would have the momentum potential and yet stay together. Vinaigrette could definitely leak onto the wrapper, hence the stain.

      1. staceyizme*

        It would have to be a sturdy sort of sandwich… and kind of messy, too! Maybe a half eaten hoagie? Or muffaletta? Or even bar-b-que on a bun….?

    2. Kate*

      Thank you for asking, this was my first question as well! A PBJ has enough structural integrity to make the trip, but not a lot of mass . . . plus OP doesn’t sound like a US person and isn’t peanut butter more of a US thing?

      Perhaps a grilled cheese or melted panini? Was one of those frilly deli toothpicks involved? THE PEOPLE MUST KNOW

  32. judyjudyjudy*

    I realize that this situation is absurd — almost comical — but the consequences of your silence are really serious. Please speak up soon. You could see that she noticed and thought Renton did it — maybe also consider why neither of you said something in the moment.
    Also, you might want to encourage your work pal to set down food stuffs before energetically gesticulating. I think that falls under the category of basic table manners.

  33. Budgie Buddy*

    If I had to explain this situation there is no way I’d be able to get through the story without bursting out laughing. How can you possibly tell this story out loud with a straight face? XD Maybe if it was in email you could make it semi serious but it’s so absurd to talk about.

  34. The Sandwich Accomplice*

    OP here. Thanks all to those who have read—not a huge update at the moment—Diane (coworker, h/t to not all karens for her name!) is still on holiday, but ought to be back tomorrow, and we’ll absolutely be reading all comments!
    Some clarifications:
    1. FrostyBoss is definitely more a Dame Judi/Dame Helen-type vs a Begbie.
    2. I’d not say Renton comes back pissed or anything. He simply never hides where he’s been. Our culture is that way—I’ve been known to include my team’s fixtures into my work schedule so that people know I’m *available*, but if I can *not* have a teleconference at that time, let’s not? And Temperence, yes! Streaming in the corner of one’s monitor also gets blind-eyed from above.
    3. The programme that was being discussed was The Graham Norton Show, and specifically a Big Red Chair segment. If googled, it may shed light on how the sandwich wound up airborne.
    4. The sandwich landed behind both, and Renton isn’t the most observant; he was on his mobile, and I don’t believe he even saw The Look. I have blocked from my memory the particular type of sandwich but Diane doctors her Pret baguettes with extras in the morning, then wraps them in clingfilm, saves half for the next day, and presses them under a dictionary until our later lunch, if that helps. It’s quite an involved process.
    5. To those who wondered how I know about the length of the mandatory training, well, it’s mandatory! All staff take it as part of the inclusion element we must do before being released into the working wilds of my office. I reckon there’s a remedial option or something of that sort for refreshing one’s memory of what is and isn’t appropriate, although I do have to beg ignorance on that…I’m hoping we shan’t have to find out in the near future!

    And for those who are concerned by my tone or that I’m simply not taking this seriously enough, please know that I am. I can’t give any sort of explanation for our lack of action at the moment–I honestly do not know why we were dead frozen!– and as soon as I heard the first buzz, I messaged Diane. And thanks to Alison and those who gently reminded me that there might be a completely different explanation altogether for Renton’s being away, and not to assume anything. All is being heard and absorbed–and yes, it’s most likely Diane and I need to grow up a bit–it’s rather a hard thing to contemplate about oneself, but…

    1. Grand Admiral Thrawn Will Always Be Blue*

      Personally I can see how easily this went down like this. I know for myself how hard it can be to react properly in the moment when something new and unexpected happens. And then it gets out of hand. But today, you now have a script to use. :)

    2. Nanc*

      Oh goodness–over Christmas we binged As Time Goes by with Dame Judi and I could see Jean Pargetter/Hardcastle being on the receiving end of the sandwich and assuming it was Lionel–early in their reunion/relationship. . .

      I hope sandwichgate is smoothed over for all parties, OP!

      1. Marillenbaum*

        Only to discover that it was actually Mrs. Flack–or even better, Sally Curtis from the second branch!

    3. Elenna*

      Ah, I asked about knowing the length of the training because I assume any “remedial” sexual harrassment training would be different from the start-of-work training – but maybe I’m wrong about that, it’s not like I have any experience of it either!

      Anyways, regardless of what (if anything) actually happened to Renton, you should definitely try and get the truth out there, if only to save his reputation from the gossip mill.

    4. CatCat*

      …but Diane doctors her Pret baguettes with extras in the morning, then wraps them in clingfilm, saves half for the next day, and presses them under a dictionary until our later lunch, if that helps.

      This just raises more questions for me.

      Thanks for chiming in on the situation, OP. I hope you’ll let us know how it resolves.

      1. Quill*

        Exactly? Which Extras? Why must it be flat? Why is under-dictionary storage preferable to the refrigerator?

        1. Delta Delta*

          I would like to implement an under-dictionary sandwich situation one day this week, just to see what it’s like.

        2. Jackalope*

          I was kind of imagining under a dictionary IN the fridge, although I don’t know that that’s probable in any way. But I do like to imagine her co-workers peering in the fridge and shaking their heads, going, “What with Diane’s dictionary and the half-empty butter dishes, where on earth will we leave our cokes??”

          1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            How come there’s a frosty boss and a half-frozen sandwich yet people still need to chill?

        3. pancakes*

          If they still sell the brie / tomato / basil baguettes, that one would benefit from some time out of the fridge & under a dictionary… Reminds me of the MFK Fisher bum sandwich.

      2. HoHumDrum*

        It makes sense to me- you get a fresh sandwich, enjoy half and save the other half to save money. To make the old sandwich taste exciting and new again you add extra zesty toppings, and since your work break room doesn’t have cooking amenities you squeeze it under a heavy book to give it a panini effect. Now it’s two different sandwiches for the price of one!

      3. Notthemomma*

        And which dictionary? How thick is it? How thick is the sandwich? Does it sit flat atop the sandwich, at an angle? Does she keep the dictionary near or better yet inside the refrigerator?
        I really need to up my sandwich skills.

        1. juliebulie*

          Dear AAM,

          I came to work today and wasn’t able to put my lunch in the fridge because it was full of dictionaries. When I complained to the office manager they threw a sandwich at me. Please help.

        2. Boof*

          there is something to be said for a room temperature sandwich. The cheese is more melty, and there aren’t the weird hot/cold spots that microwaving causes. And really, if possibly there’s some extra bacteria, the extra zest of danger! (I will take so much more risks to myself than something I was giving to someone else, NGL, including leaving a sammich in my RT bag from am until noon)

    5. Lizy*

      I LOVE Graham Norton. It’s … not the same as pre-covid, but I was so happy to see him back. Stupid dvr keeps trying to not record when it airs in the US and it’s annoying, to say the least. And explaining a Big Red Chair totally makes sense as to how the sandwich got airborne.

      Don’t be too hard on yourself on the timing. I mean, the holidays and Life and next thing you know it’s a month later!

      But please do update further :)

    6. Jaybeetee*

      Honestly, if Renton was so absorbed by his phone that he didn’t notice, she probably did realize that whatever just happened, it wasn’t him.

      I’m also trying to figure out how a sandwich hitting me at any degree of force would feel like a hand patting/smacking/hitting me. It probably startled her, but, um, I don’t see how a projectile sandwich can feel like a smack on the butt.

      Finally, if she noticed the mayo stain, she likely realized it wasn’t a hand… or she was even more horrified.

    7. Batgirl*

      Honestly, the self reflection was already obvious in your letter. The fact that you have a sense of humour to help you do it, did not obscure that for me. May humour preserve us all from believing we have such poise as to immediately handle any moment of shock and be able to explain the absurdly unbelievable without any prep. Life will test that belief.

      1. Myrin*

        Yeah, I was surprised to see any comments at all insinuating OP is being blasé about the whole thing – to me, it comes through pretty loud and clear in the letter that she and her friend were and continue to be mortified at the whole thing, shocked about themselves and their inability to speak up in the moment, and cognisant of how ridiculous and/or unbelievable this might sound to someone who wasn’t there.

  35. Oof*

    I imagine your grandboss is going to have a much bigger problem with her not saying anything, than she would have had over the sandwich hitting her in the first place. Moving forward, I would make sure to own up to anything that comes up promptly, to counter the her impression from this one occurence.

  36. Emi*

    Well at least it should be easy to correct the rumor mill, because “Jane threw a sandwich at Anna Wintour’s butt” is too perfect a story not to repeat.

  37. The Actual Accountant*

    Alison, can you please do a feature of weird work events/people? I feel for the people involved in the sandwich incident but it was also satisfyingly strange. I also have a weird person story I could contribute!

  38. Chilipepper*

    not someone who would make up a sandwich tossing caper to defend a boundary-crossing colleague.
    Encyclopedia case indeed!

  39. Exhausted Trope*

    A great letter!
    And there’s that beloved phrase again, “My coworker and I were in the kitchen area, eating (as one does).”
    And now I’m off to my kitchen to brew a nice cuppa tea, as one does! ❤️

  40. Victoria, Please*

    Did anyone else immediately picture Diane Lockhart (played by Christine Baranski) as FrostyBoss?

    Laughing my head off over here, OP!

  41. Bear*

    I don’t think you can comment on the issue safely.

    The big boss has already made up their mind about Renton, sandwich or no sandwich, and an email or sidebar chat is not going to change that. In fact, by mentioning the sandwich and Renton, you would be basically saying that the boss is stupid enough to not even know when they get hit by a sandwich. Alternately, you would be muddying their plans to destroy Renton which is assumed to exist independently of the sandwich.

    I think the only logical thing to do here is use sandwich lanyards and keep quiet about the affair for a good while. Renton has to learn to swim.

    1. Persephone Mongoose*

      If it were me, I would hate to think that a.) my company is out to “destroy” any of my coworkers and b.) an event that didn’t actually involve Renton at all would be the final straw. I also don’t think we have enough information to have such an uncharitable read of how the grandboss would react to having the record set straight, no matter how ludicrous it is.

      Fessing up is the right thing to do and I don’t think we should be dissuading the LW from doing so.

      1. Bear*

        Respectfully, I disagree.
        There is no world where emailing, calling, or having an in-person meeting with the boss about their butt and a coworkers or a personal sandwich is going to go well.
        There is also the possibility that none of this is related, and then it is going to be very, very awkward to be approaching this after the fact, talking about potential personnel actions with Renton, casting a dark cloud on the company’s sexual harassment training, going on about someone’s private and also saying that your team throws food at people.
        There was a moment when it was right there… within reach to laugh and say oh my gosh we are sorry the sandwich got you there.
        But, if it must be done, it must be done in person. You can’t put it in writing.

        1. Anonymous Hippo*

          Why does there have to be anything about the manager’s butt or the other coworker? This is really not that complicated. “So sorry, I should have spoken up sooner, but I apologize for last Tuesday, I got really animated and I just don’t know how my sandwich managed to fly out of my hand and hit you. I froze up in the moment from sheer embarrassment, but I sincerely apologize. If I damaged your clothes in any way please let me take care of it.”

  42. JW*

    I love it so much that the Office Gossip gets a shoutout here as a useful member of the work ecosystem hahaha. But maybe I just feel validated because I love to gossip?

  43. Tiffany Hashish*

    This is a gloriously instant classic and definitely one of my favs! Thank you, OP – we wish you well!

  44. Boof*

    OP, was it really just a splotch, or was it more of a splorch? full honesty here.
    But yes, check in with Renton and clue him in, proceed as necessary from there.

    1. Ellena*

      Damn I miss Emily Yoffe too as Dear Prudence… So good to see I’m not alone. She also used to make videos with her letters and responses and was just as much a pleasure to see/hear her as read…

  45. Violetta*

    Where is this UK office that was still open in December and had people eating in breakrooms together? WFH for everyone who can has been mandatory for months. It doesn’t sound like a hospital or school or other essential setting (seeing as they can stream football matches and take long lunches and drink).

    1. Istanzia*

      OP could be in Australia. The language is similar (footie would be AFL) and there are plenty of places there where offices are open and people can eat together.

    2. Sasha*

      “Essential business” covers a wide range of things, including some call centres (utility companies, etc). There are loads of offices this could be.

      Or it could have been written a couple of months ago, when lots of the UK was in Tier 2.

      1. Violetta*

        I suppose that’s possible! But to your second point, it seems to have been written fairly recently (it happened right before holiday break, and in her update comment OP notes that the coworker is due to return from break tomorrow)

  46. Ellena*

    As much as I love the sentence “And it’s going around that someone threw a sandwich at him to keep him from molesting the boss, because he was drunk (!!!).” (And I really do) – how did anybody get to know about the sandwich? My understanding was that nobody but the thrower and the LW saw it.

  47. so confused*

    I am really, really confused by the tone of all of these comments. Since when is potential mistaken sexual harassment/molestation so entertaining? The sandwich bit is absurd, sure, but … really?

    1. Working Hypothesis*

      I think because it’s going to be pretty easy to clear up the mistake, people feel like they can afford to laugh at the sandwich part.

      1. Elsajeni*

        Also, because the possible mistaken accusation of sexual harassment is currently… an office rumor and a guess based on someone being out of the office for a couple days shortly before the holiday break. I do hope they can get the rumor cleared up, but I’d be more concerned about it if it seemed like there were any evidence that Renton was in big trouble.

  48. Q*

    I don’t even care if this (hilarious) story is real or fake, but my, am I impressed with Alison’s ability to handle just about any situation you can… ahem, throw at her.

  49. Erin*

    I hope we get an update on this one!

    I want it to involve entering the vinaigrette-stained back portion of the skirt into evidence for review by HR or something along those lines.

    Someone who accidentally punched their former Director in the face several years ago, and he’s still a mentor & dear friend

  50. Working Hypothesis*

    I really, really hope we get an update on this one. I have to see how it comes out! (The story, not the sandwich stain, though I hope for FrostyBoss’ sake that that comes out too.)

  51. DarthMom*

    I’m so happy that I didn’t get a chance to read the original post yesterday, and that and I’m reading it – with all of its glorious comments – today. My coworkers probably think I’ve lost my mind, as I sit here giggling to myself as I read. OP, I love your sense of humor, and wish you all the best.

  52. SeluciaMD*

    This is the best post. Best, best, best. I love everything about this letter, the comments, AND the update from the OP! Day: MADE.

  53. RagingADHD*

    I’m really curious what industry you’re in, OP.

    Since you are apparently in the office, rather than working from home in the middle of a national lockdown?

  54. The Sandwich Accomplice*

    OP again–I guess it’s time to recognise that trying to stay vaguely anonymous was going to cause doubts, particularly with this debacle! I used the term “office” when I probably ought to have used “workplace”. I work in a behind-the-scenes role (I’m not front line, per se) in an industry which is considered an essential service, and due to its nature, working remotely is not currently seen as viable, although there have been rumblings of winter’s discontent there, so here’s hoping.

    I’m an ex-pat, so the weekday football (footie) is usually between 2.30-3pm in the afternoon, with the odd 12.30 fixture, and it is BPL/Champions League “soccer”, not any rumpy-pumpy over lunch–but much thanks for the giggle! Renton, who is also from home (although he wears the wrong kit), has not been out to the pubs over the past while except for a brief de-lockdown, but beforehand…thus the lad image stuck. I also imagine that may have been what held his interest on his mobile!

    Diane and I have discussed–unfortunately we are somewhat at odds, with Diane feeling least said, soonest mended due to Renton still being here and seeming rather chipper. Her thought was to comment on FrostyBoss’ suiting the next time she wears it, noting that that sandwich stain came out lovely-like, and how embarrassing a thing it was to have happen and she’s so grateful FrostyBoss understood it was an accident on her part and ignored her faux pas. I…disagree most strongly with this approach, and may speak to Renton on my own if she won’t, knowing well it could impact my relationship with her. Renton and I are more mates via circumstance, but still, it’s not right what’s happened. I do plan to push back against anyone who broaches it within my earshot, absolutely, but today no one had time to gossip or even really interact due to current events, so it’s not yet come up.

    The most important concern raised in the comments: the dictionary in question is the Compact Complete OED–very outdated, I suspect it may still reference Rhodesia–with the slipcase and magnifier. It’s used exclusively for sandwich pressing, as we all use Google (which, having come from publishing, rather breaks my heart). Sandwiches have extras like said vinaigrette/mayo, chutney, pickle, apple slices, etc added. And yes, the sandwiches sit out during the day, so they’re a proper room temperature versus the icy cold so beloved by so many here!

  55. Doctor What*

    I wasn’t going to comment, on this, but I did scroll down to read the comments and the video showing between the letter and the comments, was of a woman making and cutting up a sandwich. 0.o

  56. kairos international*

    Kairos International School is one of the best international schools in finance district, gachibowli, kondapur, Hyderabad, India. We offers world- recognized Cambridge and CBSE curriculum from Early Years to Grade 10. It is very near to hitech city, madhapur areas.
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  57. Anonymooose*

    “If it turns out he was away on, say, a pre-planned vacation rather than because your grandboss thought he grabbed her ass, there might not be a problem to fix.”

    What?? NO!

    There is a problem to fix, whether or not he was sent to sexual harassment training. Someone thinks HE slapped her in the ASS. Even if he is able to deny it AND the company doesn’t take action, you still need to come clear.

    And yea, he probably wasn’t at sexual harassment training because, even though she didn’t figure it out at the time, she will have surely noticed the stain on her rump and put two and two together.

    But not correcting the situation simply because, “Oh well, he wasn’t punished” isn’t a no harm/no foul situation. You and your friend did cause harm and are letting it keep king by not speaking up and telling the truth.

    You do not need a script, you need to TELL THE TRUTH!

  58. OoftyGoofty*

    I’m trying to think of situations where “Hey, that was me throwing a sandwich at your ass” would improve things, and few other scenarios come to mind.

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