stolen sandwiches, disgusting fridges, dish-washing drama: let’s talk about office kitchen mayhem

For those of you who are back in your office or who never left, let’s talk office kitchen wars: sandwich thefts, moldy food that stays in the fridge for months, drama over dishes in the sink, passive-aggressive notes, the oatmeal that exploded in the microwave three months ago and never got cleaned up…

Are your office kitchen wars back (if they ever stopped)? Share your stories of kitchen mayhem in the comments.

{ 1,004 comments… read them below }

  1. Justme, The OG*

    I work at a University and we closed down for COVID, but some people came into the office occasionally in the year and a half or so that we were all mostly working from home. We come back and realize that nobody emptied the fridge or Keurig.

      1. Justme, The OG*

        The Keurig had mold. The fridge had been on the whole time so it wasn’t too bad.

    1. Zephy*

      Oh NO

      Related but not to COVID, at one point my office had a little coffeemaker. There were six of us in the office, four women and two men; the other women weren’t coffee drinkers, but so as to avoid becoming responsible for the coffeemaker that was primarily used by the men, I made a point never to touch it and just brought my own from home. Eventually the main coffee guy was out for a week or so and the other coffee guy couldn’t be bothered to set up the office coffeemaker, so he started bringing his from home as well. In that time, nobody else bothered to clean the office coffeemaker, so by the time Primary Coffee Guy was back, there was a budding civilization in the filter basket.

      1. Bagpuss*

        A few years ago we bought a mini (I think nespresso) machine – a pretty basic option that used pods but didn’t have any fancy bells and whistles, in response to alleged high demand.
        After the initial excitement, it became clear that only one person was actually using it regularly (we’re mostly tea-drinkers, and those of us who like the occasional coffee were mostly happy with the existing filter machine). The regular user didn’t see it as his responsibility to ever clean it and and naturally no one else did since they weren’t using it.

        It ended up getting thrown out after it started to grow some sort of green algae (and regular user was then very indigent that it wasn’t replaced, but still unwilling to accept any responsibility. Meanwhile, the guy with the old filter machine in his room continued to use (and regularly clean and descale) it and those of us who liked the occasional cup continued to get coffee from him, in return for an occasional donation of snacks (since he bought the ground coffee)

        1. Observer*

          It sounds like most of the staff were pretty reasonable. But the one coffee machine guy sounds like he must have been a real pleasure to work with.

      2. Maglev No Longer to Crazytown*

        My dad’s team of coworkers had an evil plot going that if one of them forgot to empty a coffee cup on their desk before they left for vacation, someone would make sure the colony was kept fed. They would sprinkle a bit of sugar in it. Absolutely evil, but apparently all of them were into it with complete enthusiasm.

        1. Anonymous cat*

          Wow, that’s a new angle on malicious compliance! (They’re all complying with the game. Maliciously. ) Heh heh heh

        2. Reluctant Mezzo*

          Did the new civilization ever contact anybody? (thinking of Lisa Simpson’s science project).

    2. Bunny Girl*

      I used to work in a university and we closed the week between Christmas and New Years. Our fridge went out sometime during our close down. Someone had stored a bunch of raw meat in there.

      1. Justme, The OG*

        We’re “supposed to” unplug everything that week but I’m pretty sure our office fridge never is. I have my own so I take no responsibility for that one. And I do unplug it when I’ll be out of the office for a while, like winter break.

      2. pandop*

        Before any lengthy closedown at the uni I work at (Easter and Christmas mainly) we get emails from estates reminding us to turn as much off as possible. Most people roll their eyes (but do it anyway), but seems like yeah, some people do need to be told.

      3. LisTF*

        This is not a COVID era fridge story. We worked at a dysfunctional community mental health org (we actually had enough $, the owner was just shady to the point that ppl would have to race to the bank to cash their checks before he flew to Florida for the weekend and overdrew the account but that’s a story for another time) and we had a kitchen that was basically just cabinets, fridge, microwave, sink. Well the 10+ yr old fridge died. With food in it that was inconsistently cleaned out. They got all the food out within a few weeks, so that was only a mild stink. The fridge continued to sit there and occasionally people would open it out of habit and it would emit a foul reek. Have you ever smelled a used fridge? Not vomit inducing, but quite unpleasant. What was far wise than this, though was the fact that the broken fridge remained for months (no money to replace it said shady owner) and it became a GIANT ROACH MOTEL. Roaches inside, underneath, on it, around it. It was a high rise condo for roaches. It got so bad we couldn’t use the kitchen anymore. When the owner FINALLY ordered a replacement fridge, the delivery service was supposed to include removal of the old fridge. When the delivery people were downstairs and called to get buzzed in, we had to go in there and scare off all the roaches because we were afraid they wouldn’t take it otherwise. I didn’t personally witness this operation but from the scrams I can only imagine the horror.

    3. Hi, I’m Troy McClure*

      I worked partially out of an empty office-turned-storeroom in my last job, and there was SO MUCH FOOD around the room. I know some people had short notice to WFH, but yeah, so gross!

      1. Siege*

        I had a few shelf-stable things in my desk (granola bars, sealed mini applesauces, and candied walnuts). They definitely went off during the lockdown, but at least they didn’t grow mold.

        Looking back on it now, the weird thing is how much we all expected it would be temporary. 2 weeks or maybe a month at most, and here we are 3 years later and I’m still WFH due to the pandemic.

        1. Seashell*

          I had pistachios in my desk at the time when we switched to all-remote, and they stayed there for close to two years. They didn’t smell good, so I composted them, but they didn’t mold. They were in sealed Tupperware, so no bugs or rodents.

          1. Princess Sparklepony*

            I started reading the comment and really hoped to find out that you came back to shrub growing in your desk from those seeds….

        2. DiplomaJill*

          I just went back for the first time and threw out 7 cans of soupi had stashed in my desk, all at least a year expired

      2. MusicWithRocksIn*

        When we were sent home for Covid we were told it would be a week trial, then we would come back and re-evaluate. It ended up being a year, and no one was let back into the building to get anything but IT. A ton of people had dry food like granola bars and cereal at their desks they never got a chance to move out – and when we got back there was a huge problem with mice – they nested in a ton of desks.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Yep…people don’t realize mice even eat through metallic food packets. I store my office food in cookie tins or glass jars with metal lids, ever since a friend opened a drawer to get cocoa and got a rodent instead.

          1. Quality Girl*

            Uh huh, this happened to me. I kept a reasonable amount of non-perishable food in my office and reached into my drawer to grab my reusable silverware one morning and nearly grabbed a mouse instead. Little guy had nibbled through my ketchup packets and everything.

              1. Fishsticks*

                I have this mental image of opening a drawer to find a mouse holding a tiny mug of coffee like, “… do you mind?”

        2. Hi, I'm Troy McClure*

          Oh my god, that sounds so gross. It is wild that we were all told it would be two weeks, back then (though I’m not sure how seriously anyone believed that, even in those early days).

          It’s going to take so long to unpack what we all went through.

          1. Zephy*

            I remember seeing a tweet that said something along the lines of “they keep telling us ‘two weeks’ because if they say 6 months y’all are gonna riot.”

        3. Payroll Lady*

          Not to do with COVID, but a few years back we had a mild mouse infestation. Company set traps, tried to find where they were coming from etc.. We thought they got it taken care of until the woman who sat behind me got up from her desk and calmly (how I don’t know) stated there was a tail coming out of her overhead and what should she do? Needless to say, we were told to make sure any chocolate we wanted to store at work had it be in a container!

      3. Jaid*

        We had a mice infestation, because people kept food at their desks and never returned to clear the food out. Finally, management went around with gloves and trashbags to clear out everyone’s desks of everything. My manager, poor man, came across a nest with babies in one of the drawers…

        1. Reluctant Mezzo*

          One of our plants bragged of getting rid of their feral cats.

          You guessed it, they ended up with a worse mouse problem.

    4. just a random teacher*

      Many years ago, I worked in a rural school. One day, apparently, someone brought in a bunch of homemade venison sausage. (I’m guessing that this might have been a hunting season gift from a student or family.) Anyway, a big sack of the stuff was left in the crisper drawer of our staff refrigerator. And forgotten about. For months.

      Sometime in the spring, I asked the school secretary why the refrigerator smelled so very terrible, and she decided to do some exploring and thus was the sausage discovered. I still have no idea who it belonged to or why they never dealt with it in any way, but at least the fridge stopped smelling like death and rotting herbs every time someone opened it. (I had long since decided to just bring my lunch in an insulated lunch box, but people kept coffee creamer in the fridge and it would stink up the entire room every time someone opened the fridge to get the creamer out.)

        1. MarzipanShepherdess*

          Yes, and someone worked hard to make those sausages, too. I really REALLY dislike wasting food! As these stories show, so often it’s sheer carelessness that causes it too. Those venison sausages could have supplied a hungry family with excellent protein for days – even weeks! – if they hadn’t been dumped there and forgotten.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I totally did the insulated lunch box thing during our last two years in the office. We’d been moved to a different building on our office campus and the new (to us) building had a gnarly-looking breakroom fridge. Some kind of mold(?) on the outside and who knows what was on the inside. I never used it.

    5. Aurora*

      I also work in a university, and before COVID, someone on each floor was paid to clean the kitchen each week (including having the authority to announce a fridge clean-out day and then on said day remove anything expired/sus from the fridge).

      This line-item was removed from the budget during COVID and was never reinstated.

      On the last day before our Christmas closure, me, the lab manager, and a very brave PhD student deep-cleaned the kitchen for the first time since March 2020. The fridge was exactly as disgusting as you’re all imagining.

      (Luckily, we’re all three biologists, of the “work with dead and rotting stuff” variety, but it was still…sure something.)

      1. Aurora*

        Other highlights of said fridge:

        * Pre-covid, someone Very Senior brought it hákarl (fermented greenland shark) and left it in the fridge for weeks. It was a Problem.

        * There’s currently a lake of milk in the bottom. Has been there for…three weeks? Two of the three pre-Christmas fridge-cleaners are sending increasingly passive-aggressive messages to the group chat about it. This is, as you can imagine, not working.

        1. Grim*

          Biologists are a special breed that way. This isn’t a kitchen story so maybe off topic, but I did my honours research year in the marine biology department. Lovely old building at a historic university, unfortunately with not the best ventilation, but everyone just accepted weird smells coming from the labs as an occasional hazard of the job. I was guilty of stinking out the whole building one time with my samples (rocks covered in oyster larvae), but this was nothing compared to a fellow student who was doing research on some kind of shark related topic. Her attendance was pretty spotty and she wasn’t in the office very consistently, which became a massive problem one day when she got back from field work, left a bunch of bait traps on her desk in a small office room shared by about 10 people, and proceeded to not show up for a week. Her supervisor ended up stuck with the job of cleaning up the resulting mess of rotting fish, which I’m sure did wonders for this student when it came time for her to defend her thesis.

          1. allathian*

            My parents are retired marine biologists, but their speciality was diatoms, so they at least didn’t stink up the lab the way the scientists who specialized in multicellular organisms did. In the early 80s we lived on a marine research station for a few years while my dad was working on his doctoral thesis, and the kids at the time were allowed in the labs under parental supervision. I doubt that would be the case now, but things were very different 40 years ago.

      2. Wired Wolf*

        Our break room “fridge” is an old beverage-display cooler. Intended to keep items vaguely cool to the touch, but not actually long-term storage temps for anything perishable. There’s a half-eaten packaged sandwich wrap that’s been in there since before Thanksgiving (yes, I’ve been keeping score). I don’t think it’s been cleaned out since then, and nobody really wants to touch it. There’s a colony of…something…in the bottom (I’m waiting for it to gain the power of speech).

        If I’m feeling charitable I’ll let coworkers use my online-pickup order fridge (which is intended to hold perishables) to keep lunches in with the understanding that it will be thrown out if left overnight unless your name and the date is on it.

    6. Ally McBeal*

      Ooh, yeah, I worked at a university when Covid hit, but we were given permission to go back one at a time if we needed to retrieve something from our office. We only had a mini fridge so I cleaned it out when it was my turn (I’d left something in there and realized that most of the remaining items had been brought in by a couple coworkers who were laid off and wouldn’t be coming to the office at any point).

    7. AnotherOne*

      luckily our office manager has always made sure we gave holiday presents to one of the facility guys. he handled all of that for us.

      i don’t want to know what it would have been like.

    8. Scooter*

      One of my team was a very green accountant just out of school who had some quirky eating habits. He brought a potato, just a plain semi-washed potato not even in a baggie, for his lunch a few days before we were sent home to work. The day he brought the potato, I ended up ordering pizza for the team so he stashed in a corner of his desk for another day. When we returned to the office in May, there was an entire mass of potato eyes and shoots on his desk.

      1. Bryce*

        It sounds like it was at least dry. Most of the time those get old and musty, but I’ve had a couple that rotted and melted. Absolutely nasty smell. Take care of your potato storage.

        1. Princess Sparklepony*

          And that is why one of the houses on Zillow Gone Wild has a dedicated potato shed. Now everyone asks if the latest wacky house has at least a potato room if not a shed of it’s own….

    9. NotAnotherManager!*

      A friend who still works at my former employer told me that, when they moved offices late in the pandemic, everyone was required to come and clean out/pack their own offices. In March 2020, they shut the office down over a weekend and some people left their office as they expected to return to it on Monday, I guess.

      When the office moved happened, there were some people with medical issues that allowed them an accommodation (someone else packing their office), and more than one of those folks discovered that there had been food or drinks left out in the offices. One coffee cup had degraded and then spilled all over someone’s cluttered desk, basically glued the papers to it, and then molded. I understand one required cleanup of a “liquified salad” as well.

      I understand their are pictures but declined to see them.

    10. Recovering grad student*

      A similar fate befell our office drip coffee maker over the Covid shut down. I cleaned the fridge when I had permission to return one day about two weeks in but completely forgot the coffee maker. After a few unsuccessful cleaning attempts we switched to French press coffee.

    11. Sleeping Panther*

      When I was an intern, the campus where I worked had a nice cafe with espresso drinks, and my department’s office had its own little drip coffee maker and some tea bags and coffee. One afternoon, I decided that tea sounded nice, so I decided to just run some water through the coffee machine to heat it up. I checked the filter basket and found that there were still coffee grounds in it from the last time the machine was used, and none of my coworkers knew exactly when that had been.

      It was HIDEOUS. I’ve never seen so much mold in one place.

      I bought some distilled vinegar on my way home that night, brought it to the office the next day, and then ran the coffeemaker with a tank full of vinegar three times and a tank full of water twice. Even after that, it still made my tea taste like moldy coffee, and I stuck to espresso from the cafe for the rest of my internship.

  2. SMH*

    When I worked in an office we had a few folks go to a discount grocer during lunch and buy a TON (not a literal ton, but still a lot) of steak on sale. They lived too far away to go home and back during lunch, so they came back to the office, threw everyone else’s stuff out of the fridge freezer, and packed it full.

    Well, people were upset, so they took the discount steak and put in all a huge pile next to the fridge. Chaos ensued and my boss’ boss’ boss got involved. Eventually the people with the steak just got to leave early for the day. People would bring this up and argue about for it years after the fact.

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      So Tom throws out my Lean Cuisines and HE gets to go home? Oh hell to the no.

      1. Poison I.V. drip*

        Hey boss, I just bought a whole ice cream cake and it’s 80 degrees out so I’ll see you tomorrow, is what I’m saying. Thanks for being so understanding, bye!

        1. Cei*

          I feel like this should be an official policy. Twice a year you get to go home early if you can prove you need a freezer asap .

    2. Meep*

      We had a guy with Chron’s disease of all things fill up 1/3rd of our office fridge with packages of expired (red) lunch meat. Ham and salami. Things like that. I had to tell him to get rid of it or take it home with him. He literally argued he was only taking up his “1/7th” (there were 7 people in the office) of the fridge. That wasn’t the problem. The problem was you opened every package of almost expired meat, took one slice each to make a sandwich, and left the packages open so it shunked up the entire fridge with rotten meat smell.

      I will tell you, though, between the candied nuts and this, it made a lot of sense why he was always running to the bathroom. I swear it was a weird kink.

  3. Madison*

    Not exactly a war, but I once had a very busy day in which I knew I had to bake something for an event immediately after getting off work. To save time, I ran to the store on my lunch break and bought a pound of butter which I knew I needed to bake and put it in the work fridge. When I went to retrieve my butter at 5pm, it was gone! Who steals someone else’s work butter??

      1. Barbarella*

        Depends on the butter, the room, and the storage container.

        Salted butter can be left out if the ambient temperature is 70 F or lower, and it’s best if it’s in an airtight container.

        Unsalted butter should not be left unrefrigerated.

        1. Bookmark*

          also depends on the baking project! lots of baking recipes call for cold butter because it makes things flaky.

        2. Cheeto*

          Former health inspector here: butter (salted and non) can be left outside of the refrigerator without it going bad

          1. Jo*

            Depends where you are It may not go bad but it will definitely be in a puddle. I left some margarine out last night and when I got up at 5am this morning it was partially liquid. (But it is an Australian summer and it was 38C yesterday)

            1. Ace in the Hole*

              If your office is at 38 C (100F), that’s a health hazard on it’s own. The melting point of butter is 32-35C (90-95 F), which is considerably hotter than most workplaces ought to be!

    1. Unknown Number*

      Everyone, from what I have seen.

      I’m so glad to have worked from home for 10+ years. The only butter thieves I’ve had to contend with had 4 legs.

      1. starsaphire*

        We finally had to just always keep ours in the fridge. No butter dish could defeat the Mighty Paw.

        1. Unknown Number*

          My dog once ate two pounds when we stupidly left it on the counter and went out to dinner. Needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep that night.

          1. Taketombo*

            My autistic son loves to “skate” on by greasing our kitchen floor (pristine sheet asbestos, as smooth as when it was installed in the 50s) with butter.

            The asbestos is dirt colored. I love it. But the butter doesn’t show, ans my husband took a nasty tumble and fucked his knee for weeks. Butter lives in the top sheet of the fridge now.

        2. lilsheba*

          I had a cat that loved butter and I like to have my butter out of the fridge so it’s soft and I had to get a covered butter dish to keep her out, but it did work.

          1. Not a Morning Person*

            Same here. I have a cat that ate a half a stick of butter left on the counter. He can smell it when I take off the lid to the new glass covered dish. He comes up and tries his best to reach the counter. Fortunately, he is now too old to jump that high!

      2. lost academic*

        In my house, they have 4 and now 2. My kids will stuff all butter not attended into their mouths. Temper tantrums have ensued when we held to the rule that butter was not in and of itself a meal but had to be places ON the food. HOW DARE WE.

          1. Dahlia*

            It’s honestly super common for toddlers to eat straight butter. They need a LOT of fat to grow their brains.

            1. Le Sigh*

              I just assumed it was because it’s squishy, with the bonus of making them sticky again right after someone cleaned them up.

        1. Memily*

          Mine once tried to drink the melted butter that came with my crab legs at a restaurant. I feel your pain.

        2. BlueSwimmer*

          When my sister was a toddler, she loved to open the fridge and grab a stick of butter and just start chomping on it, which is why we had our fridge tied shut with a clothesline for a few years.

          1. Sally*

            My friend came home from work once and heard giggling coming from under the kitchen table. See bent down to look and found her two kids sitting on the floor eating butter & grinning.

        3. The OG Sleepless*

          My husband has occasionally gone on weird midnight fridge raids when he got “get in bed first THEN take your meds” out of order. I found a bite mark in the butter one morning. Sigh.

        4. tamarack etc.*

          My grandmother lived through the “bad times” during and after WWII, and later in her life was extraordinarily fond of butter and cream. This came to my brother’s mind when my niece, who never knew her great-grandmother as a toddler developed a habit to get up at night, go to the fridge, and sneak some butter. Her parents found the finger tracks in butter dish in the morning.

        5. Princess Sparklepony*

          My dad was allergic to most everything, especially things that made dessert. But butter was good and so was sugar. His idea of a snack was a half spoonful of butter then dipped into the sugar bowl. It’s pretty tasty.

    2. Lynn*

      Stealing butter is ridiculous! This year my work bestie gave me a warehouse club box of Kerrygold butter for Christmas, and I kept it at work on purpose so that my children would not devour it.

  4. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    (I was out, this was shared by coworker)
    Just last week, a coworker, Jane stopped by our four desk area and said, “someone took my salad from the fridge.” She described this awesome salad with all kinds of stuff (I’d be bummed, too!)
    Weird. That does not happen here.
    She moved along, popping into each cube group around the kitchen sharing her woes.
    Nobody knew anything.
    Her boss let her go home because she was upset (yeah, our office pretty people friendly)
    About an hour later, friendly, helpful Fred heads to the kitchen area and discovers a group of people talking about salads.
    “Oh, salad. Yeas. My wife told me she sent a salad with me for lunch. I was surprised. It was really good. It had…”
    oh yeah, he did.
    His little salad, sans awesome stuff, was in the OTHER grocery bag.
    So not the crime of the century, but…poor Fred.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I feel bad for Fred and what sounds like the worst case of lunch misidentification. He was sent with a salad and just messed up and ate the wrong salad. Wondering if the grocery bags and containers were also very similar/identical adding to the confusion.

      1. Zephy*

        This is why I bought a very distinctive lunchbox and put that in the fridge. It’s bright blue with cat faces on it.

      2. WellRed*

        I don’t feel bad for Fred. Did he think his wife delivered the salad and put it in the fridge for him? Does he not remember what he did with the lunch he brought in?

        1. At Lunch*

          It’s plausible that it was a simple mistake. At my office, some people bring their lunch in generic grocery bags. Things also get shuffled around throughout the mornings as more people arrive and make room for their own lunch in the fridge. I’ve found mine moved to a different shelf before, but I’ve never heard of a lunch thief here.

        2. DataSci*

          As I understood it, Fred’s wife packed him a salad. It was in a generic grocery bag. She told him “I packed you a salad”, without a full list of ingredients. Jane also brought a salad in a generic grocery bag. Fred goes to have lunch, grabs grocery bag with salad, eats it. Oops. It’s not nefarious lunch theft in this case if I understand correctly.

      3. Ama*

        I had this happen to me once — coworker and I ate the same brand of microwaveable lunches. He used to buy a whole bunch at a time and keep a stack in there so he wouldn’t have to go to the store every day; one day he was out but didn’t realize it, and ate mine by mistake. Thankfully he realized it quickly, ‘fessed up, and bought me a replacement.

        After that I started writing my name on the box in Sharpie — in part because I realized it would have been very easy for me to do the same thing to him and we needed to be more careful with labeling.

        1. The OG Sleepless*

          A coworker and I did the opposite: a frozen meal languished in our freezer for months because neither of us were sure whose it was and we were afraid of swiping it from the other. It finally turned out to be mine.

      4. tamarack etc.*

        Well, yeah, sortof, but a grown man not knowing which salad is his is a bit… less adult than I would expect.

    2. Butterfly Counter*

      I’m weirdly mad at Fred on a LOT of levels.

      First, he has a wife who packs his lunch for him. (Mad on an envious level.)

      Second, he doesn’t even appreciate that enough to look at the lunch his lovely wife made. (Mad on a feminist -is that the right word here? not sure- level.)

      Third, he eats his coworkers delicious salad. (Mad on a human level.)

      1. I'm Just Here for the Cats!!*

        Why are you mad? If roles were reversed and it was Freda whose husband packed her a lunch would you be this mad? I know of spouses both husbands and wives, that pack their SO’s lunch. Most days my co-worker’s husband packs her lunch, especially if he’s also doing the kids’

        Maybe Fred didn’t have a chance to look at the lunch before he left, which is why he asked his wife what it was. Maybe Fred and the other person had similar containers. This is so common. I actually threw out my boss’s veggie dip because I thought it was mine and had been in the fridge for several weeks because we had the same containers! (she was cool with it and laughed.)

        It was a mistake. No reason to be mad.

        1. Silver Robin*

          Butterfly Counter was pretty explicit that they were “mad” about Fred’s wife packing him lunch in the sense that they are envious they do not also have somebody who packs their work lunches. By that logic, I expect Butterfly Counter would, in fact, be just as mad about this aspect if the genders were swapped.

          I read it as rather lighthearted, “Oh Fred is so lucky that his wife is so sweet to pack his lunch every day, I wish I had somebody like that!”

          1. Butterfly Counter*

            Yes. This. I’m not actually mad at Fred. Just envious that someone makes his lunch for him, seemingly often enough that he doesn’t even look at it.

            1. LifeBeforeCorona*

              I spent years making school lunches and when I went back to school as a mature student I had to make my own lunch. I’m going to call my kid and tell her she owes me at least 10 years worth of school lunches.

      2. NotAnotherManager!*

        Wait until you find out that he probably went home and told his wife that Jane’s salad was awesome, much better than hers.

        1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          My (laughing in my head) thought was that if this didn’t come out at work and he brought home the wrong container, she’d be like, what the heck did you eat and where is MY GOOD tupperware?

      3. Theo*

        Your second “mad” is wild. My husband made my lunch for me in the beforetimes and I regularly didn’t know what it was until I opened it at work. Why would I look at it before then? He knows what I like to eat. There’s no need to interrogate it before I leave.

    3. Random Dice*

      The fact that this was such a huge deal says wonderful things about your work environment.

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        Truly. Everyone felt bad for all parties. We are too cute up in here. And that’s with 200 people.

    4. A Poster Has No Name*

      I have a similar story, but it was caught in time. I brought lunch one day, which was a couple pieces of leftover pizza in a ziploc and an orange, in a plastic grocery bag from a local chain.

      When I went to fetch my lunch from the fridge, I pulled out the bag with the pizza & orange in it but when I started to put the pizza on a plate I noticed it…had mushrooms on it. I don’t eat mushrooms.

      Yes, someone had brought nearly an identical lunch to mine in the same type of bag and I very nearly accidentally stole someone’s lunch. Or exchanged it for a similar item, I suppose.

      1. The Cat's Ass*

        ah yes, did the same with a co worker-same mushroom risotto, EXACT same glass container. Got about 1/2 way through and realized it was a little different, at around the same time co-worker was realizing the same thing! We both laughed and though lunch was delicious!

      2. Gathering Moss*

        Yeah, I accidentally grabbed the wrong yogurt from the fridge at work once, then sent out a ‘Did I steal your yogurt?’ email to find out who I needed to apologise and hand over my proper yogurt to.

    5. Zennish*

      On one level, I kind of hope he didn’t find out about the mix up. It sounds like an honest mistake, and he probably thought his wife went to extra effort to fix him a particularly good salad, and was happy about that. Though I also feel for the person who lost their salad.

    6. Rebel*

      Yeah, aggravating, but Jane was so upset she had to go home over it? And the boss agreed to that?

      Good lord…

      1. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

        I mean, she had been robbed and was probably quite hungry by that point, I think if you’re her boss and it was a slow work day, why not just be compassionate?

        1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          That was it. We have a little cafeteria that is open for like 2 hours at lunch. The woman has some health issues. And it was a REALLY slow day.
          It was compassion, not giving in to a Ramona Quimby style great big noisy fuss.

        2. Willow Pillow*

          Plenty of workplaces aren’t located near any food options too, so she might not have any choice but to leave if she wanted to eat.

    7. Skippy*

      Ohhh… This reminds me of me. I had leftovers from a local restaurant that I was excited to eat for lunch. When I went into the fridge, in was very annoyed that someone had written their initials on my lunch! I heated it up and ate it and thought someone had a nerve. Sometime in the afternoon I went to get a can of soda and discovered… An identical take out container with no initials on it. *My* container.

      I figured out who had the other container, apologized profusely, and offered to buy her another meal. She thought it was hilarious, thank goodness.

      1. Uranus Wars*

        This made me laugh A LOT. Probably too much. Because I can see myself doing the same thing you did.

    8. Labelit*

      Didn’t they use names? I’ve worked in a lot of offices and in every single one anything without a name on it was considered fair game. No name, free to anyone who wants it. If I’d been there and it looked nice I might have eaten it too.

  5. Brownie Points*

    Once upon a time, my office that was spread across three floors hosted a reception for customers during our user conference. There was food, including some delicious chocolate brownie wedges, in the various conference rooms around the office.

    The next day, I found that there were leftovers on the fridge on my floor. I realized all the leftovers were from the conference rooms on that same floor. I went to the floor that had had the brownies to see if there were any left. There were boxes and boxes of them in that fridge.

    The floor where the desserts had been given out was an area that the company had just expanded into, and only a few of the offices were in use yet, so there was very little traffic to their kitchen. I had brownies at lunchtime every day for almost two weeks, and considered them to be my just reward for being a smart person who was good at keeping company secrets.

      1. sherlock*

        It seems like sharing the leftover brownies with other coworkers so they could all be eaten in less than 14 days would be a way to combat food waste. One person eating increasingly-stale brownies over 2 weeks just seems like…quite a choice.

    1. GreenDoor*

      I can relate. One of our Admins put three boxes full of single-serve snack chips by the trash because they expired a few days prior. No they didn’t. She was looking at the “best by” date. I said, “those are still good!” She was shocked and insisted that they had expired and looked like we’d be setting off a plague if we left them out for guests. I waited until she was gone & moved them into my office. If those chips are “expired” then expired = darn tasty! Months of free snacks for me – all because someone didn’t understand the difference between “best by” and “expired.”

      1. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

        Frankly I’m impressed anyone even looked for a date! Pretty sure we’ve got Clif bars from 2005 in our “hospitality” basket.

        1. Sharp-dressed Boston Terrier*

          At my current job, in the days just before the pandemic struck, I found a jar of mustard with a best-by date in 2017. The glass container it came it made for a lovely tumbler, so I rinsed it out and put it in the dishwasher. It now resides with all our other office glassware.

          I had thought I’d done a thorough job of it until, after our return to the office early last year, I found a squeeze bottle of strawberry jam with a best-by date in 2016.

      2. Free Meerkats*

        According to my spouse, in the 2 seconds that transpire between 11:59:59PM Day 1 and 12:00:01AM Day 2, a food will change from delicious and nutritious to poison and not fit for consumption, even by wildlife; it must be thrown away.

        Did you know that Himalayan pink salt, a rock that is advertised as millions of years old, has a “Best by” date on it?

        1. Salty*

          Just grabbed the jar of salt at our little condiments area and confirmed it has a date. July 2019

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I once horrified a coworker explaining that sell-by dates on pepper is pretty much used to keep packaging from fading on the store shelf.

      3. Jaid*

        The Philadelphia Inquirer ran an article about Amish/Mennonite run discount grocery outlets that sell dented and “expired” food.

    2. Brownie Points*

      Having read so many stories about secret food thieves in this thread now, I want to emphasize that the leftovers from the reception were available for anyone to eat. It just happened that no one else deduced that there might be a stash of brownies off the beaten path (other than the like 3 people that worked on that floor regularly who I presume noticed the goodies there).

  6. Nannerdoodle*

    My old office was in a building made up of a bunch of different research labs and some administrative staff on each floor. Each floor had a schedule for cleaning the kitchen and fridge, with each lab on a floor being responsible for one month and the administrative staff on a floor would also be in charge of 1 month.
    When it would be any lab’s month to do the cleaning, they would have their undergraduate student workers do it. Of course, since the main offenders for leaving things in the fridge were full time workers, the students did not remove any of the moldy food from the fridges. This meant that the month administrative staff did the cleaning, there was months of moldy former food piled in the fridge. This also meant that for a large chunk of the year most of the fridges were unusable due to people leaving things in there.
    Eventually one admin, who worked in the building forever decided that she was done with the nonsense for the fridges on her floor. She posted a notice on the fridge that anything left in the fridge without a label (including name and the date it was put into the fridge) on Friday at 3pm was getting tossed. Of course barely anything was labeled, so she tossed it all. People were ANGRY that their containers were tossed, even though these same people had left the containers for months. However no one said anything since the admin had been working there longer than some of the researchers had been alive.

    1. Cathy*

      This is what I used to do with our office fridge. Everyone knew the policy. The last Friday of every month everything went into the trash unless it was labeled. I was ruthless, even with nice storage containers.

      1. Adultiest Adult*

        I used to do this every 3 months at one of my jobs, and I was also ruthless. I ain’t cleaning people’s Tupperware for them, and if you were given the chance to label it or eat it days in advance, I feel absolutely no sympathy for you if I end up tossing your food!

      2. Bexy Bexerson*

        I lost one of my favorite pieces of vintage Tupperware to a situation like this, and I wasn’t mad at anyone but myself…I knew I’d messed up.

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        My husband’s office has the policy of emptying the fridge at the end of the day Friday. Then came the day he was in back to back meetings until well after his usual lunchtime and was shaky with low blood sugar–and the admin had discarded everything before leaving early for her weekend. Including his labelled lunch.

    2. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Our admins are also pretty ruthless about chucking anything in the fridge with no label! We’ve got a dishwasher though so people do get their dishes back.

      1. zinzarin*

        If there’s mold inside, I’m not opening your container to empty it and wash it. Those admins were generous to take that step.

    3. I'm A Little Teapot*

      The indiscriminate toss seems to be the best way to handle fridge food. Its clear, there’s no judgement involved, and you only have yourself to blame if you don’t label your food.

      1. Love to WFH*

        The person cleaning out a fridge should NOT have to open a sealed container that may contain ghastly sights and smells!

      2. hellohello*

        I’m fine with it as long as there’s a “label your food with a date and name and it won’t be thrown out” exception. We had an overzealous hr person who decided it was also her job to empty the fridge after work hours on entirely random dates, with about two hours notice, and without any willingness to let things stay in the fridge when they were properly labelled. This did not go over well with my coworkers and I, most of whom had a stock of frozen lunches we kept on hand, were not paid very much so couldn’t really afford to replace $30-50 of food easily, lived at least an hour commute away so couldn’t easily move things from work to home.

    4. Bagpuss*

      Yes, a few years ago, in the run up to Christmas (when the office was going to be closed from Christmas Eve through to 2nd Jan) I decided to take the opportunity to get all the old crud out of the fridge. SO warnings were sent 2 weeks before the office closed (plus a notice on the fridge door) with reminders at the start of the last week and 24 hours before – all making clean that the fridge was going to be emptied and turned off (it had a little ice box which was totally solid because people didn’t close the door properly) and that anything in the fridge at 5 on the last day would be binned – no exceptions.

      Most people did either remove or bin their old stuff, and when I emptied the fridge after the last person left the stuff binned was a few extremely elderly yogurts (I think all at least months past their best before dates) , and almost empty tub of butter (1 month past best before date, and full of toast crumbs) and a small plastic container with some form of unidentifiable black sludge in it, which had to my certain knowledge been lurking in the fridge and probably begging to achieve sentience for at least 2 months.

      When we came back in January the owner of the black sludge was furious with me for throwing out their snacks and because I had ‘not even had the courtesy to warn them’ or to wash out the container.

      I pointed out that I had sent three separate e-mails over a period of two weeks, that a notice had been on the fridge for 2 weeks and that I had remained everyone at lunch on the last day that everything in the fridge was getting binned at 5 p.m. She shut up, but apparently still complained to her closest office friend about how unreasonable it was and how we ought to have replaced her container since there was ‘no reason’ to throw it out.

      (If I had know whose it was, I might have been tempted to leave it, sludge and all, on their desk, but I didn’t. Plus they shared an office so that would have been mean)

      1. WellRed*

        By far the most commonly tossed item from our office fridge was old yogurt. Cmon, people. Just admit you don’t actually like the stuff!

    5. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

      Well done. I also tossed food every Friday and did a complete top to bottom purge before any long weekend.

      As we had a dishwasher, I did wash containers and left them to be collected. If not collected in 4 to 8 weeks, and if they were nice containers, they were now MY containers. I now have several really nice containers.

      We were a small office and we had the space and patience to handle things this way.

      Top to bottom also meant if the food was still good but in the fridge before our weeklong shutdown over Xmas, the food was mine to take home too. I brought home a full box of frozen meatballs one year.

      If I take care of the “gross” work, I reap any benefits. :)

      1. BasketcaseNZ*

        Cleaning out weekly is genuinely the only way to avoid the issue of seriously mouldy stuff. It’s long enough that anything that went in Monday might be gross, but only mildly so.
        That was the rule in one of my offices too – one of the admin staff cleaned out the fridge at 2pm on a Friday so there was space to put in the snacks for after work drinks.

    6. UnpopularOpinion*

      We moved into an new area with nice big fridge used by several disparate groups. For a couple of years, pre-COVID, with management permission, I posted a sign that everything would be tossed on a day near the end of the year. On the note, I literally put that “your aspirational yogurt, good Pyrex and Grandma’s Tupperware would be tossed on Dec date” on said sign.

    7. Beets*

      YEARS ago when I started my current job, we all had to go to induction training for 2-3 months in a different site where they had the training rooms. Most classes were smallish like under 10 people but there had been a mass exodus right before my group was hired and we had about 30 in my group. There was only one normal size fridge in the small break room to be used by the training class and the 4 trainers. Needless to say things got messy very fast. And, one day we were all called in and lectured to by one of the trainers about how we were all adults and there was no excuse for the break room and fridge to look the way they did. I never used the fridge as I always went out for lunch so I did not appreciate being scolded. Then the trainer said that we were all being put into small groups and assigned a week to clean the fridge and break area. That everyone should label their food and containers with name/date and that on Friday when the fridge was cleaned at 3:00 pm everything without a name & date would be tossed. No exceptions. Well, my group was first that week and we went through and cleaned up and there were a bunch of really nice and expensive looking ‘Tupperware’ containers that were not labeled. There was some debate between my group about what to do and I finally had enough and just grabbed the all and threw them in the garbage can. As luck would have it, those belonged to the trainer and she was off that Friday. When she came back on Monday she was so mad. Her face always turned red when she was embarrassed or mad so it was very obvious. And, the best part was she called us in again to scold us about how we could just throw her expensive containers away and I had to remind HER that SHE was the one who made the rules. And, how were we supposed to know they were hers if they weren’t labeled. That just made her madder but she couldn’t do anything about it.

    8. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

      > Of course, since the main offenders for leaving things in the fridge were full time workers, the students did not remove any of the moldy food from the fridges.

      I don’t understand the “of course” bit here. Did the undergrads only clean the kitchen and ignore the fridge? And why would they not toss moldy stuff? Did they never use it themselves?

      (And I applaud that admin. I’ve done that myself, always putting a note on the fridge with a date over a week out. My favorite was when I found 8-12 different jars of condiments. Like, mustards, ketchups, etc. I put them all in a box on the top shelf with a note saying to take it out if it’s yours (and label it please) and I tossed the remainder, which was most of them. So much more room in the fridge after that!)

  7. UKgreen*

    Going back about 20 years, a former colleague crashed the company email server by emailing the entire staff (including those who were working in entirely different countries) to request that whoever had taken her ‘advacado pear’ [sic] from the fridge replace it immediately with one of equal size and ripeness.

      1. Random Dice*

        My question too!

        I’m guessing nobody in that entire company has ever referred to an avocado by its proper name again

      2. word nerd*

        I am guessing this is an avocado shaped like a pear, i.e., the shape that most avocados are?

          1. Isben Takes Tea*

            I remember a character on “Call the Midwife” referring to them as an “avocado pear,” so that’s my assumption!

          2. Nina*

            British people still call them avocados. Highly technical nitpickers call them avocado pears (but that should still only be to distinguish them from beurre bosch or nashi, which are completely different fruits in everything but shape!)

        1. Shoryl*

          It’s been years now since this happened, but. When I first started in my department, we had a lunch thief. One lunch would go missing nearly every day. But with 200 people, it was hard to pinpoint the culprit. There were management admonishions about every 6 months, but it never changed.
          Then, one day I had the misfortune of having to call HR about a guy who was making inappropriate comments to a young, conventionally pretty woman in my direct team. About a week later, we got notice he no longer worked there.
          As a bonus, we stopped having lunch theft problems.

      3. Peanut Hamper*

        Another name for avocado is “alligator pear”. Maybe that’s what they were thinking?

        1. Usagi*

          That’s what they’re called in Japanese! “Waninashi” literally means “alligator pear.” Nowadays though people just use the borrowed word “abokado”

      4. Sel*

        Another name for an avocado is an alligator pear, so I wonder if she just got the two names confused and ended up mashing them together.

      5. Short’n’stout*

        A long time ago, when avocado was only just becoming mainstream, it was commonly referred to as an avocado pear. Just because of the shape.

      6. Ate so many pears*

        In the Caribbean avocados are referred to as pears :) I spent a semester in Barbados and was very confused when my receipt said pears when I didn’t buy any pears, I got avocados!

      7. SaffyTaffy*

        @Butterfly Counter, in Chinese the word for avocado is ‘aligator pear,’ so there’s some precedent for people thinking it’s pear-like. :)

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      How did she crash the server? Did that email trigger a reply-allpocalypse?

      1. The Person from the Resume*

        In the old days that could do it especially if there was a picture or something. Or course reply all wouldn’t help. The message was copied for everyone it was sent to and servers could run out space.

    2. Wombats and Tequila*

      It’s a kind of avocado, and given how rare perfectly ripened avocados are, I feel for this coworker.

    3. Engineer mom*

      My husband was born in Jamaica and they call avacado “pears” but it’s pronounced “pier” but drawn out.

  8. Daffodil Library Tech*

    When we went on lockdown in 2020, people didn’t really think we’d be working from home for so long. When I was finally allowed back in summer 2021, nobody had been in to clean out the fridge we had (which got turned off when they shut the power off because nobody was using it). Everything was in containers, which was fine, but I had to take pictures of the containers because people wanted them back – with like, disgusting black slime and mold cultures in them. There was a hint of “oh, can you wash them out and put them on my desk for when I get back?” which I shut down pretty quickly.

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Good for you. I know they weren’t really thinking it through, but think it through.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      OMG… I once cleaned out the office fridge and messaged my boss with, “Hey, one of your containers is super moldy and gross, I’m going to toss it” and he asked me not to. At least he took it home with him, but… no. No piece of Tupperware is that valuable.

      1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        Even with a dishwasher and a desire not to waste, I’d toss that tupperware because some kinds of mold can really embed itself into plastic! Especially softer plastics. I’m not sure you can actually get containers clean in some situations.

        1. Giant Kitty*

          I’m still bitter about the ex roommate that ruined one of my good food storage containers I’d owned for over a decade by that point by letting their food rot in it.

        2. I have RBF*

          Yeah, I had to toss a lot of vintage Tupperware when I was at a convention and the power went out in my apartment. Left Thursday morning, drove to 50 miles or so, went to the convention. Got home Monday night, late, and had no lights. Found out from a neighbor in the complex that power went out in the building Thursday afternoon, and stayed out. Tuesday the electrician finally fixed it. Tuesday evening was spent cleaning out my fridge that had a bunch of leftovers rotting in Tupperware over a long, hot, Fourth of July weekend.

          The Tupperware could not be cleaned – even after bleach it still smelled of mold. I lost over half of my food storage containers.

          Ever since I primarily buy the cheap “reusable, but disposable” containers for leftovers. If I’m taking something to a potluck I use disposable aluminum trays because of not getting my good Corningware back.

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      I’m so relieved you didn’t wash them. Yikes people. Eat the loss cost of them already. Especially if they had plastic or rubber lids or gaskets there’s no way that’s coming clean.

      1. Worldwalker*

        I had to toss the lid to a Pyrex container in which a sourdough starter went *really* bad some years ago. I don’t know how it went that bad that fast, or what kind of hellmouth had opened up in my refrigerator, but the stench was mind-destroying, and nothing would detoxify (or at least destenchify) that lid, including soaking it in peroxide for a week. The glass bowl was fine, but OMG that plastic lid!

    4. Artemesia*

      I would have thought the refrigerator would have to be tossed. A turned off refrigerator full of food is among the worst and most enduring smells in the universe — you will never get the stench out of the rubber gaskets.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This is work-related since I was employed part-time in their office. An apartment complex I lived in in college had to deal with this when an evicted tenant left a ton of raw meat in his freezer. He turned the fridge off well before vacating, too, The guy ate takeout all the time and left all the garbage on the floor; nobody knew where the meat came from. By the time we got to it, the smell was indescribable and the freezer looked like a crime scene. They had to haul that thing away.

        1. Lynn*

          When my parents were downsizing to move into a retirement community, they asked me to empty and drain their giant chest freezer. My dad still shopped at Costco even though it was only the two of them, so that thing was crazy full! He didn’t think it through, and a couple of weeks before I was due to get there, he unplugged it to “help” me. So when I got there it was a horrendous stew, and I can now testify that mold grows in every color of the rainbow.

      2. Jesicka309*

        Not office related but fridge related.

        We bought a new fridge. Three days later our house burned down. Once we got the all clear to re enter the house we saved everything we could starting with valuables, clothes etc.

        We were very torn up about the fridge (undamaged, brand new, but at this stage no power for 2 weeks and full of rotting food). Bless our parents for dealing with that mess! We saved the new fridge! We cleaned and scrubbed that fridge countless times but the “off smell” lingered for a good 18 months? Used charcoal and vanilla extract alternating but you’re right, it was the seals that suffered most.

        Happy to confirm that 7 years later the fridge is still in commission no smell. Miracles are possible. Save that work fridge.

        1. Mary*

          My parents had that happen; went on vacation for three weeks and came back to discover that there had been a thunderstorm early on that caused our breakers to flip.

          Fridge and freezer both completely full. Walked in the door jet lagged out of our minds, kids all under 10… my poor mother. The fridge styrofoam absorbed the odor – the fridge never did smell quite right again despite sitting outside for a while and every known cleaning trick employed known to man (yes, vanilla and charcoal helped but not enough). Eventually replaced all the styrofoam and that was enough to get it usable.

          I’m certain if this had happened in a work context it would have been tossed; there is no way the ROI on the labour was there lol

      3. Daffodil Library Tech*

        We did end up getting a new fridge in the fall, thankfully! Also a new microwave because it had mouse droppings in it and it was just too gross for some people. (note: only SOME people, I work with people who were absolutely happy to wipe it with a Lysol wipe and get rolling.)

    5. Once upon a task*

      When I was an administrative assistant someone tried that with me. Ive never shut anything down so hard and fast in my life. I am NOat washing anyones dirty tupperware other than my own.

  9. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    We’ve started to head back more often, and so people are looking to hit up the basket of free snacks again.

    Yesterday I found several bags of Cheetos that expired 18 months ago. And half a dozen people promptly made the joke that they didn’t realize that Cheetos could expire.

    1. ecnaseener*

      Pshh, 18 months is probably fine for something like Cheetos. A little stale but they’re not going to be, like, rotting.

      1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        Honestly, this is true for most things! It may be stale, less potent, or have a slightly off taste but food that goes in boxes / cans / jars is safe for a really really long time

        1. JustaTech*

          One time I found a dozen cans of soda that were past their sell by date in the compost bin in the work lunch room. (The compost bin!)
          The guy who filled the soda machine had taken them out of the machine and just dumped them in the (thankfully empty) nearest bin.

          So I fished them all out and put them on a table with a sign “free but expired” and most of them went away.

          1. Anon Supervisor*

            Diet pop doesn’t taste good if it’s way past their sell date, just as an FYI. It won’t make you sick, but it just tastes really weird.

    2. T. Boone Pickens*

      If one of your colleagues could test out the expired Cheeto theory….for science that would be great haha.

    3. ThursdaysGeek*

      I had chocolate in my desk in Feb 2020. When I came back a year and a half later, it was still there. I’m still eating it. I would at least try the cheetos.

      1. Elitist Semicolon*

        Given that I just finished a jar of barbecue sauce that was “best by” 2016, I would totally eat the Cheetos. (At least the sauce was in my own fridge.)

      2. I edit everything*

        I wonder if anyone thought to go around to all the abandoned office and steal snacks, especially chocolate.

        1. Slightly Above Average Bear*

          I ate a 2 year old Reese’s peanut butter egg (found it in a closet while moving) and said the same thing. I still finished it.

      3. Mr. Shark*

        yeah, I think those expiration dates are just so the companies can have plausible deniability in case someone actually gets sick. Cheetos aren’t going to go bad. Definitely should try the cheetos!!

      4. Anon Supervisor*

        I bought my parents some wine when I was in Greece. They’re not big drinkers, so they wanted to save it for a special occasion. The wine I bought doesn’t really get better with age, but they still wanted to save it. Unfortunately, they stored it upright and the cork dried out. My mom said the vinegar smell was righteous.

        1. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

          Oh no, is that why wine racks are like that? I don’t drink, but some neighbors gave me a bottle of wine for getting their mail while they were on vacation, and I was too polite/shy to refuse it. So I just stuck it in my cupboard thinking maybe someday I’d cook with it or something… This was fully 2 years ago, at least… Ugggh.

    4. Can't Sit Still*

      Rancid Cheetos taste disgusting. 0/10, do not recommend. My co-workers check expiration and best by dates obsessively now.

      1. Daisy-dog*

        My husband found some Cool Ranch Doritos and didn’t notice they’d expired ~10 months earlier. (It was a snack bag that wasn’t needed due to staying home all the time.) Definitely disgusting.

    5. NotAnotherManager!*

      When we came back to the office, I had a pile of individually-wrapped snacks in my desk that were two years old. Some fared better than others. Famous Amos mini-cookies are apparently the Twinkie of the modern snack world.

    6. Anonymous, colleagues who read here will recognize it*

      Cheetos can indeed get stale — if the bag is open and the atmosphere is not bone dry.

      I give my husband a bag of cheetos every year on our anniversary. With ribbons and a fancy bow.

      Many years ago we were driving to visit a friend who lived in tornado alley. Bad storms were predicted, and we drove just ahead of (and sometimes in) some scary weather. It was a long day. We outran the storms, got to our friend’s house, went to dinner, had drinks, tried not to keel over from exhaustion.

      Realized somewhere north of 11 pm that it was our 17th anniversary…neither of us had remembered. No gifts, no cards…I go out to the car, retrieve the bag of cheetos, go up to my husband, and say: Guess what day it is! Oh no, he says–our anniversary!! Yes, and you know what the 17th anniversary is? It’s the STALE CHEETOS anniversary!

      It’s a tradition!

  10. cardigarden*

    My team moved to an office suite off-site that used to be that building’s break room (which I’m sure caused its own drama before we moved in). Because it was the break room, it had it’s own sink and cabinets and a piece of environmental storytelling: a sign above the sink in 72pt font and topical clipart reading “DO NOT PUT CHICKEN WINGS IN THE GARBAGE DISPOSAL”.

    1. JelloStapler*

      Mis-read that as tRopical clipart and thought “oh how nice- chicken wings and palm trees go well together”. ;)

    2. Ally McBeal*

      Oh I love passive-aggressive break room signage. I once worked at an office with your standard clip-art and “Please do not leave dirty dishes in the sink – use the dishwasher” … to which the admin had scribbled underneath “otherwise your mugs will not get cleaned and you will have to drink coffee from your hands, which sounds awkward and painful.” Good for a giggle.

      1. Free Meerkats*

        We have a ‘Most Interesting Man in the World’ meme posted that says, “I don’t always take the last cup of coffee. But when I do, I make a new pot.”

      2. lia*

        ohhhhh could we do a “passive-aggressive signs” ask-the-reader? because I have collected a few doozies over the years in both kitchens and bathrooms…

    3. JustaTech*

      My friend once worked at a daycare where her coworkers regularly put tea bag (with strings) down the garbage disposal. After the third time my friend had to disassemble the disposal she made a big sign with pictures about not putting tea bags in the sink.
      (These same coworkers put dish soap in the dishwasher and created a mountain of bubbles twice in one week.)

    4. Alliesaurus*

      One OldJob had a horror story of someone who tried to flush leftover watermelon in the bathroom toilet (small office, bathroom was right next to the kitchen). No idea the logic there, but it was a legendary mess.

  11. The Prettiest Curse*

    No problems since I’m working a hybrid schedule now, but in my last job I would clean out the fridge periodically because nobody else wanted to do it. During a clear-out in around 2018-9, I found a bottle of salad dressing that expired in 2008. (!!)

    Salads and salad dressing seem to be the worst item in the category of “I feel guilty that I didn’t eat this, so I’m just going to leave it here to rot.”

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Every time I visit my parents I have to toss old salad dressing and mayo etc for them. Mom’s started writing the expiration year on the lids now, that helps a lot for them to keep track of it.

      1. CL*

        I did this every time my FIL was in the hospital or nursing home. He would get mad if I tossed them when he was around but wouldn’t notice if he had been gone a few days/weeks.

      2. EvilQueenRegina*

        It was much the same with my grandad. After an attempt (in 1994) to throw out some old cooking chocolate dated 1991, he changed the date on it to 1994 and said “Look, it’s not out of date!”

        1. ErinWV*

          There is definitely an old person stubbornness at work here, especially for people who lived through the Great Depression. My grandmother was notorious for keeping food items long past their expiration date, and fighting tooth and nail about anything getting thrown away. This lasted until she got E.coli and got really, really sick, and then the process was a bit smoother.

      3. Bagpuss*

        When I was helping my parents do some clearing and de-cluttering before they moved house, we found some hundreds-and-thousands (sugar sprinkles) where were old enough that they were marked with both a pre-and post- decimalization price (the UK changed to decimal currently in 1971) In fairness, they didn’t have an expiry date, but we decided that they should be binned. The funny part was that assuming that they were bought in 1971 or thereabouts they must have travelled with us on two previous house moves, and that over the course of nearly 40 years and four children having birthday cakes and parties, less than 1/4 of the pot was gone!
        We also found a very old bottle of revolting french liqueur which a student who stayed with us on an exchange visit brought as a gift. WE politely tried it when the gave it to us, decided it was revolting, and it had been sitting in the back of the drinks cupboard ever since.
        We debated trialing whether it would be effective as a cleaning product but in the end wound up pouring it over some of the paper and cardboard waste we were getting rid of (along with garden waste) on a bonfire. I have no idea what the ABV was but the flames were very impressive and a pretty shade of blue.

        1. Mr. Shark*

          Well, the sprinkles and alcohol may have went to waste, but they provide some good stories!

      4. Librarygirl*

        This would have been in 2005 or so when my mom was cleaning out my grandma’s fridge. She happened upon a jar of canned venison (blech!) and asked how long she had it. My grandma thought for a minute and said, “Well, your father didn’t go hunting that year before he died, so…” My mother responded, “DAD DIED IN 1967!” My brother and I joked that the technology to clone that deer was now available.

      5. Baby Yoda*

        McCormick Spices tell us– PSA–According to reps from McCormick, you should throw out spices from that brand if their labels say they were made in Baltimore — because they’re 25 years old or more. While spices don’t go bad as quickly as other kitchen staples do, it’s still not a good idea to keep them around quite that long.

        1. I have RBF*

          We have some unopened “curry powder” in our cabinet that has been moved at least twice. Why? Because there is no such thing as powder made from “curry”, it’s a mixture of spices in unknown proportion, and no one wanted to risk it in something they cooked. I think it was a well meaning gift at some point by someone who didn’t realize that I am really picky about ingredients for allergy reasons, and tend to distrust stuff made with unspecified “spices”.

          1. Engineer*

            If you know full well you aren’t going to use it, why have you kept it through *two* moves? You’re not taking some kind of principled stand by keeping it.

    2. Zephy*

      There are also just people who believe that salad dressings and other bottled stuff like that is good forever. My MIL refuses to ever throw out a condiment until the container is completely empty. We eat dinner with them on Sundays and my husband and I both make a point of checking the sell-by date on whatever sauces get put out on the table. At one point my SIL was visiting and attempted to dispose of all of the extremely out-of-date food in the fridge and pantry and MIL pulled it all out of the garbage and put it back.

      1. I'm A Little Teapot*

        To be fair, depending on what it is, it may be good for far longer than the date listed. Acidic foods will last a really long time if properly stored. It takes some thought/judgement though, which is the part that isn’t applied.

      2. Just Here for the Free Lunch*

        My father in law is like that. I was staying with him for a few days, so I cleaned out his fridge of expired sauces, condiments, and salad dressings. I even went to the store and
        replaced everything I tossed. He was still mad.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          If someone is old enough to remember the Great Depression or wartime rationing, a lot of the time it’s less about having the food itself & more about not wasting what they do have.

          1. Amityville Borer*

            Yeah, my grandma was like this. I helped her clean out her fridge and freezer once and she wouldn’t let me throw away all her little plastic baggies with literally less than two bites of leftovers, freezer-burned beyond recognition, in each of them. She grew up during the Great Depression and would bring her own tupperware to restaurants to stash anyone else at the table’s little bits of leftovers that they didn’t think were worth taking home.

            1. Lizzie*

              My grandmother did that with her own dinner scraps, BUT she’d then bring them and feed them to our dog!

      3. The Prettiest Curse*

        Some supermarkets in the UK are now removing use-by dates from produce to reduce food waste, which is a good idea. But I did see a lot of salad items which had devolved into inedible sludge and/or mould during my fridge cleaning days, so sometimes you’ve got to bow to the inevitable!

      4. Ro*

        I remember helping my cousin clear out my grandmother’s pantry once. She was on the floor pulling out cans from all these nooks and crannies and handing them to me (I cannot get on the floor due to a disability) and I would check the sell by date and sort them into piles (throw away, keep savoury, keep sweet etc). I was finding stuff a year or two out of date all the time, occassionally something 5 years out of date. Then my cousin hands me a tin of hotdogs with branding I don’t recognize I check the date and it expired month and year my cousin was born… at the time my cousin was 27.

        1. frystavirki*

          Yeah, when I was 10 my mom and I went up to my grandma’s to make her house a bit more livable and I took it upon myself to go through her cans cabinet under the sink. I got rid of a whole bunch of stuff that was maybe one or two years expired, expired and in dented cans, etc. — I know now some of that stuff could have been kept longer, technically, but the cabinet was entirely full and she was living by herself at that point so she was unlikely to ever get through it all — but my “best” find from that was a can of salmon with a really old-looking label. I looked closer and it was from the 1970s. It was, at that point, 2003. My grandma grew up during the Great Depression and had to feed a husband and five kids at one point, and I think she was just, like, buying the amount of food she was used to buying without thinking about the fact that she was buying for one instead of seven and then never getting through it all. There were eight large cans of pineapple rings in that cabinet.

      5. Giant Kitty*

        I can still remember the way an old boss of mine rolled her eyes when her boyfriend came in the shop to tell her about the night he had to spend in ER because he ate several years expired salad dressing that was languishing in his fridge. He was HALLUCINATING from it.

        1. I have RBF*

          *twitch*

          One time my roommate who has a cast iron stomach at a package of “fancy” ramen that was in a metallized plastic bag, and veryexpired. But, it was ramen, a dried item, it shouldn’t be bad, right? WRONG!

          The plastic and metal-ish packaging had started to break down, and the ramen itself has started to go rancid. He was sick for a week.

          Now we will date stuff as it comes in the house. Plus, we smell even packaged dried food if there is even a smidgen of fat content in the ingredients. Because while it may be good for a year after sell-by date, it probably isn’t good by five years after the sell-by date, and some stuff only has a manufacturing date code on it.

        2. The Prettiest Curse*

          Wow, I knew that eating salad dressing that old probably wouldn’t do you much good, but not that it could cause hallucinations!

    3. Decima Dewey*

      One time in my library branch, it was my turn to clean out the fridge. Tossed a lot of stuff that expired, then took a look at the open baking soda box meant to fresh the fridge.

      The scrawled on date included the year. That box of baking soda had been in the fridge longer than my boss had been in our library system.

      1. Nina*

        a mix of baking soda and coffee grounds actually works better, but yeah, you gotta stir it once a month or so and replace it… ever?

    4. MusicWithRocksIn*

      I used to work for this place where it felt like 50% of the people there would bring in a giant tote with all the fixings to make salads for the entire week on Monday, and boy did that clog up the fridge. And we had huge fridges! Three of those commercial gas station/grocery store double side fridges with the sliding glass doors. But if you weren’t in at least ten minutes early on Monday morning to wedge your lunch box in the whole thing would be filled with giant reusable bags filled with veg that would sit there until Friday. It annoyed me so much.

      1. Anon Supervisor*

        We had people bring in whole gallons of milk and we had one fridge for about 90 people. It was infuriating.

      2. The Prettiest Curse*

        A senior manager at one of my old jobs would bring in about $30 worth of fancy salad stuff every week, stuff it into the fridge in a huge bag which took up half a shelf – and then barely touch it because she was usually too busy to eat lunch. It would then be left to rot. Good intentions, bad consequences!

        1. Usagi*

          To be fair, $30 is way less than what a lot of people spend on lunches for the week! I live in a very expensive city and some people eat out every day. An average lunch-sized portion of food here is going to be $15 ish, up to maybe $25 if you wanted more meat/something fancy/etc.

    5. Fullaboti*

      Not related to a work situation, but related to really old condiments.

      My grandma had a bottle of tarter sauce she kept specifically for an ex, that had expired (but the sauce and the relationship). She brought it out one family dinner for someone else, and it had gone a weird color. Maybe orange? It looked bad. My dad said that he kept throwing out the bottle every time he came over and my grandma would pull it from the garbage because it was “still good.” I think finally my dad just took it back to his house to throw it out.

    6. Zombeyonce*

      When I moved in with my now-husband years ago as we saved money for a house, he lived with a few other people. During my first time trying to cook in the kitchen, I found really old mayo in the fridge and tossed it. I got curious and started looking through all the condiments in the door and found only 1 thing that wasn’t expired. Many things were several years past their expiration date, including a jar of maraschino cherries that expired a full decade prior.

      1. Mary*

        The cherries would be in the category of things I would say “but can they REALLY go bad”? Hahaha

        1. Hosta*

          The only things that survived intact in my poorly tended teenage compost pile were Maraschino cherries and a slice of ill-thought-out Kraft singles. I still can’t eat American Cheese.

          I’m all about the Maraschino cherries, though.

  12. Emma*

    Oh I’ve got a couple!

    One of my friends at work would make loaded oatmeal for breakfast, she liked adding hemp hearts, flax seeds, chia seeds etc. Since that stuff is kinda expensive she’d buy in bulk and keep the bags in the work fridge. One day she went to make her breakfast and it was all gone. We’re talking like 3-4 pounds of seeds worth probably over $50. She put signs on the fridge asking the thief to return the stolen seeds and even asked security if there were any cameras pointed towards the kitchen. There weren’t any cameras and the thief never returned the pilfered products.

    We also had dishwashers at this workplace and the company supplied plastic coffee mugs for people to use. There was always one lady who would empty the dishwasher in the morning because she got in super early and was really nice. One morning we all get into work to see an email sent to the entire floor with an emotional rant about dishwasher loading practices. Turns out people had loaded the bottom rack with cups THREE DEEP. Literally stacked them up in the dishwasher until there wasn’t physically room and then ran it. Obviously none of them came clean and the whole thing was a mess. Who knew adults were so incapable of loading dishwashers.

    1. Lifelong student*

      Not in an office- but according to an article I read a few weeks ago- arguments about dishwasher loading are one of the leading points of contention among married couples. I thought it was funny as I rearranged the dishwasher AGAIN!

      1. coachfitz13*

        Also not office-related but dishwasher-related. I’m pretty OCD about dishwasher loading. My wife often rearranges what I’ve loaded to cram every.last.possible.item into the washer. I go back and re-rearrange it even if it means I have to hand-wash stuff.

        When we moved recently, we stayed with my wife’s cousin for a month until our house was ready. She is also OCD about dishwasher loading. But her OCD and mine don’t mix, so I would rearrange what she loaded when she left the kitchen.

        What I don’t know is if my wife’s cousin loaded the washer, I rearranged it, then my wife re-rearranged it, and then I went back and re-re-rearranged. Probably happened at least once.

      2. Lizzie*

        I am not looking forward to the day my BF and I co-habitate. he is MAJOR OCD about the dishwasher. I am not. i just shove stuff in willy nilly and it makes him stabby. so I told him, when the day come,s HE can be in charge of loading.

        1. zinzarin*

          This is a case where it’s *definitely* acceptable to give a task to your partner. If one partner is going to get bent if a task isn’t just *just right,* they get to be the full-time manager of that task. Full stop.

          (Note: it is unethical to apply this rule in the manner of poorly performing a task to get out of it! That’s a different thing altogether.)

          1. Bronze Betty*

            Yup. My hubby declared that I wasn’t loading the dishwasher properly, so now it’s his job. Fine with me.

            (No, I did not perform the task poorly.)

      3. Short’n’stout*

        My position on dishwasher loading wars is: if you insist on critiquing or rearranging the contents after I load the dishwasher, you just absolved me of any obligation to load the dishwasher.

        1. Shira VonDoom*

          this is me too

          a bf once complained about how I handled washing his dress shirts, which I’d only thrown in with my laundry as a COURTESY.

          I told him that was fine, he could continue to do his own washing after that. And I never washed clothes for him again. LOL

          (yes, I forgot to hang his shirts. but like, if he’d been nicer about asking me to do so next time, I wouldn’t have been mad. he was rude, and so the laundry service was ended.)

          1. I have RBF*

            When I was a pre-teen, I didn’t like the way my mom washed and folded our clothes, including how often she did it (not often enough for my tastes.) I complained. She figured she was punishing me by saying “If you don’t like it, do your own laundry” and made a biiig point of showing me how. I was happy as a clam. I washed the stuff I wanted to wear, folded it, and never had to wait for her to decide it was finally laundry day – I did it when I had a full load.

        2. A Girl Named Fred*

          This is exactly why I’ve never criticized the way my boyfriend loads the dishwasher. The one time I considered it, my next thought was, “Do you want to be right, or do you want to only load the dishwasher half of the time?” Pretty easy choice for me, but I get that others might choose differently.

        3. Bexy Bexerson*

          Yeah. My teenage son is very good with spatial relations when it comes to most things…but he can’t properly load the dishwasher to save his life. And it’s not some sort of weaponized incompetence; he’s just REALLY bad at it. So now I’m the loader, and he’s the unloader. He’ll need to figure it out someday when he lives in his own, but for now I’m cool with dividing the duties this way.

          1. highelec*

            “Spatial relations” is my immediate family’s in-joke/slang for the task of putting leftovers into Tupperware after dinner. I’m chuffed to see someone else using it in similar kitchen-chore-type way.

        4. NotAnotherManager!*

          My children have attempted to weaponize this position regarding dishwasher duties (deliberately misloading and then trying to pull the, “well, if you don’t like it you do it” or “but you’re soooo much better than I am at it”). Dishwasher physics are pretty basic – water doesn’t spray in places covered by other dishes, and you can’t put tall things in the way of the spray arms’ swing.

          We got a new one a few years ago, and it took me about four runs to figure out where everything fit. They don’t even have to noodle that out themselves, I showed them.

      4. happilypartneredIswear*

        I have often remarked that it’s amazing how someone can go, in just a few short years, from “intriguing mysterious hottie who makes me giddy just by walking into the room”, to “person who loads the dishwasher in a way that annoys me more than all the other problems of the world combined.” Ain’t love grand?

      5. Emma*

        When my partner and I first got a dishwasher, I went ahead and read the manual, because I hadn’t had one before. One of the things it said was to mix up the cutlery in the compartments in the basket. If you put a bunch of spoons, forks etc in the same compartment, then the water can move them around so they stack neatly together and then they don’t come clean. Cool, that’s logical.

        After a few weeks, I happened to be in the kitchen while my partner was loading the dishwasher. I had been carefully not saying anything about the cutlery always being dirty because I figured it was just one of those minor accidents that happens, and it’s easy enough to run it through again.

        But no, this time I watched her carefully sort the cutlery so that each compartment contained just one type. I threw caution to the wind, and said, outraged, “You ARE! You’re intentionally doing it the exact opposite way from what the instructions say to do!”

        The cutlery basket isn’t as neat any more, but it’s certainly more effective.

        1. Sharp-dressed Boston Terrier*

          Sonofa… Really?!

          But it makes it so easy to put everything away when the cycle’s done… gonna have to try the other approach now.

          1. Engineer*

            Yup, it’s a thing! That nice, neat way they stack up in the drawer isn’t so nice when you’re trying to clean them.

            It’s also better to stick them in handle-side down – also helps prevent the grouping. Anything sharper than a butter knife should really be hand-washed (prevents dulling) so only the fork prongs should be an issue.

    2. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

      As a person who has a new Samsung dishwasher that had to be designed by sadists*, I’m giving your coworkers HALF credit for at least putting the stuff in there and turning it on. The other 50% is probably their fault.

      *It plays a tune when it’s done, so there’s that?

      1. an infinite number of monkeys*

        Oh lord, all my kitchen appliances play cheery little jingles. I’m pretty sure they were made by the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation.

        1. Recovering grad student*

          The centrifuge at OldLab played music when it was done. I think you could even set it to play a tune of choice though ours was the default. I thought it was strange but it grew on me.
          NewLab has the same model but it has the music turned off, which was surprisingly disappointing.

      2. Former Kitchen Lady*

        Oh geez. My Samsung washer AND dryer play a song when they’re done. Not 5 or 6 notes, but a good 30 seconds at least. It was cute the first dozen times, now it’s maddening.

          1. The New Wanderer*

            Same setup here. I did turn it off accidentally on the washer so it’s totally silent. I don’t know how I did it so I can’t apply the same action to the dryer…

        1. miss_chevious*

          Aww! I miss my Sansung washer and dryer songs! I moved to a new place last year and the new set are boring old GEs.

          do do do do dodoDO
          do do do do do dodoDO
          do Do dododo do do do DO

        2. April*

          Ours plays Schubert’s Trout. I have no idea why you’d pick that to play when a washer/dryer finishes, but at least it’s interesting.

          1. Sharp-dressed Boston Terrier*

            The cycle is completed, another cycle has begun.
            The stains have been defeated; detergent made them run.
            What care we for whatever caused it –
            Hard work? A hobby? Food or fun?
            It doesn’t make a difference, for now the laundry’s done.
            ‘Tis a time to sing in jubilation!
            For now the laundry’s done.

    3. Fluffy Fish*

      If I’ve learned anything in my career its that grown arse adults are incapable of a great many things.

    4. Lady CFO*

      Maybe someone tossed the seeds because she was routinely storing FOUR POUNDS of them in a group fridge… If I were her, I would have brought what I needed for the week in small bags and restocked weekly.

      1. Kate Lathrop*

        THIS! A co worker brings in a week’s worth of veg and fruit and stores it in the fridge. Granted, there are only 7 of us in the office, and 3 of us use the fridge on a regular basis. But it’s not a huge fridge and there are BAGS and BAGS and CONTAINERS on at least 2 shelves.

        My poor Tupperware container with muffins, cheese and turkey gets squished to the back – heaven forbid I touch the sacred bags to find my food!

      2. MusicWithRocksIn*

        That was my thought too. No one wanted those seeds, they just were really annoyed someone thought they could keep sam’s club quantities of something in a work fridge. I bet if she checked the bin she would have found them.

      3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        I agree that this isn’t an appropriate use of a shared facility in a workplace.

      4. Observer*

        Please. These are supposed to be functional adults. People who you would expect to be able to, as we tell pre-school kids, USE THEIR WORDS.

        You know, like an email saying “you know our fridge is not all that big, and your bags are really making it hard for others to use the fridge. Could you bring in smaller amounts?”

    5. GermanCoffeeGirl*

      I just saw a tweet the other day (by @ColeyTangerina):

      In every partnership, there is a person who stacks a dishwasher like a Scandinavian architect and a person who stacks the dishwasher like a racoon on meth.

      1. Not the maid!*

        It my house there is the one who loads the dishwasher like a racoon on meth (me)and the one who walks past an open , empty dishwasher to sit his dirty plate on the counter( my dear husband)

      2. SeluciaMD*

        I love this and laughed so, so hard. That is so real! (I’m also going to go follow @ColeyTangerina so thanks for that recommendation)

      3. Jack Russell Terrier*

        If you’re my husband, it’s a racoon on meth whose mission is to place everything for maximum breakage

    6. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      There was a tweet last week “In every partnership, there is a person who stacks the dishwasher like a Scandinavian architect and a person who stacks the dishwasher like a racoon on meth.”

      I am the architect! I tell anyone who lives with me to put anything anywhere, and I will rearrange later — no judgment on my part. I don’t expect anyone to care about it like I do or figure out my system. (That said, my old dishwasher could be tightly organized and packed and I took full advantage of that. My new place came with one that doesn’t hold items well at all so my architect ways are frankly not very useful here and I’m giving up.)

    7. Rocket Raccoon*

      I don’t have a dishwasher at home precisely because I loathe loading them. I would rather wash all of our dishes by hand than deal with a dishwasher. Luckily I’m self-employed and have always worked at home so it works.

  13. It's Marie - Not Maria*

    Before we moved into our new facility, we had a tiny lunchroom for a lot of employees. There was always “who stole my lunch” drama. The Peak of the Drama was not stolen lunches, but Fudgsicles.
    During the summer, the company would periodically stock the freezer up in the lunchroom with frozen treats. We always made sure we got enough for everyone to have at least two, and we ran three shifts. But of course, people got greedy, so there were usually not enough for second shift and none for third. I literally stood by the exit door at the end of first shift, and had another Manager stand by the other door, and we checked bags as people were leaving on Frozen Treat Day. A lot of people were caught with contraband Fudgsicles. We named names and wrote people up.

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Someone wrote about a coworker who would eat seven ice cream bars and throw up. But he was going to get “his fair share.”

    2. Czhorat*

      An actual write-up for taking an extra ice-cream bar is a LOT. Once it goes that far it’s pretty much a sign that the office culture can’t handle free ice cream day.

      1. DisneyChannelThis*

        It beats 99 polite people losing free ice cream because 1 person is a thief though!

      2. Cyborg Llama Horde*

        I’m imagining entire boxes stuffed in someone’s bag, tbh. But I’ll grant that a write-up over it is A Lot.

        1. Nina*

          I mean, if it’s made clear ahead of time exactly what your share is and that taking more than your share is stealing from your third-shift coworkers, then yeah, write them up just like you’d write them up if they were caught stealing any other food or personal items from coworkers.

        2. Michelle Smith*

          Over theft of company property? Seems reasonable to me. It’s not like it was a BIC pen or something.

      3. foolish fox*

        if they bought enough for two each per person for three shifts and usually ran out before the end of second shift, I assume that people weren’t taking one extra.
        Assuming equal size shifts, and that every person on the first and second shift had their fair share and then took extra, that works out to one extra per person (the two for third shift distributed down to first and second). But its never everyone, and is usually only a few, so I would assume that the people caught had something like a whole extra box, rather than one spare popsicle.

        1. It's Marie - Not Maria*

          We were catching people taking full, unopened boxes, and trying to sneak them out. The door check happened after multiple communications about being respectful to your coworkers and leaving some for others. This is why they were written up.

          1. I edit everything*

            I think that’s fair. It’s theft, frankly. Sure, it was fudgsicles, but still.

    3. Hiring Mgr*

      It was the missing Fudgsicles that drove Captain Queeg over the edge in the Caine Mutiny

  14. bean*

    I used to work at a media site that had a vertical that made very popular food videos (you know the one). They would post in the free food Slack when they were done and it was up for grabs and the STAMPEDE was REAL. This was in an office where they provided lunch several times a week, bagels for breakfast on Fridays, and there were abundant free snacks at all times — I only went for it a couple times, because the video food was good, but it wasn’t ~that~ good. And the slice of enormous cheeseburger was downright gross, but a fun story.

    1. happybat*

      I need to know more about the cheeseburger grossness. Cold? Bland? Wet? I had my doubts when I saw it….

      1. bean*

        Mostly cold, yeah, but also the proportions were just… off? The bun especially was insanely thick so that it’d look proportional, but it made it really hard to take a bite, and when you finally managed it felt like it was like 90% bread. That + a ton of weirdly congealed cheese = yuck!

      2. rayray*

        Looked it up using my best guess about the company bean worked for. It has a high rating but looks like it would make me feel absolutely awful after eating it.

        1. ecnaseener*

          I choose to believe it was Sesame Street and the “Grover Serves a Big Burger” sketch, and I do not want to be told otherwise :)

    2. Hungry Student*

      In grad school we would similarly get an email on the listserv when a meeting was over and there was leftover food. We would also stampede over to the kitchen. In our new eco friendly building, there were windows everywhere. Thus things got bad when we started to hover outside the conference room when we could see the platter of sandwiches that was barely touched.

      1. Emby*

        part of me wonders if we were in the same grad program. but i doubt it’s that unique of a story

        1. Michelle Smith*

          I still can’t eat Dominos a decade later after all of the free pizza during/after events in law school. Grad students living on free food is definitely a thing in a lot of places lol.

        2. AcademiaNut*

          Pretty standard in my experience. In my program, it was done semi-secretly, because you weren’t supposed to take leftovers from catered meals (some sort of food safety regulation, I think), but throwing out perfectly edible food when there were hungry grad students waiting to pounce didn’t make sense.

      2. Nina*

        When I was at grad school we had one professor in the department who was an absolute saint. She ended up organizing a lot of seminars and conferency things for other academics from other universities – the kind of thing the university happily paid really nice caterers for.

        The grad room had a fridge. The physics lab had a fridge. Like three professors had personal fridges under their desks. There were no other fridges for food use anywhere, including in the lunchroom (what did people who brought their lunches do? I don’t know, I was sufficiently poor and busy that ‘eat food I paid for during the day when I could be working’ was a very low priority, I never brought a lunch).

        Professor Saint would always, without fail, remove the catering leftovers promptly after the conference/seminar attendees were done and place them in the grad room fridge with a prominent sign saying FREE FOOD PLEASE EAT.

      3. NotAnotherManager!*

        I worked in the infamous BigLaw for years, and the senior attorneys, most of whom pulled in at least $1M/year, were the ones vulturing outside the conference rooms for a free meal.

        1. Anonymouse*

          The senior partners at my old law firm made sure that the admins got all the leftover food.

          One of the secretaries put Friday’s leftover food on the bottom shelf of her refrigerator. It was usually bagels, or croissants, or fresh fruit, or crackers and cheese and meat slices.

          She trained her kids to get up Saturday morning, take the food from the shelf, go into the living room and eat and watch cartoons. She and her husband got to sleep in and not fix Saturday breakfast.

      4. JustAnotherKate*

        When I practiced public-interest law, there was a monthly (?) lunch meeting at the Bar Assocation for nonprofit legal orgs to meet attorneys interested in pro bono. It was a running joke among the biglaw folks that the nonprofit folks were like wild dogs/vultures/etc. with the food, which we were not. Only once in 2+ years did I see anyone really going to town: I was agonizing about whether it was piggish to take three cookies back for my teammates — and the executive director of another org put 10-ish cans of soda in her huge purse, stacked two trays of leftover sandwiches, put the cookies on top, hoisted it all up and walked out! I was never sure if I was horrified or impressed, particularly because she was likely walking or taking transit back to the office, in heels.

      5. April*

        I ran a school club for a while, and we got free food from the same provider that ran the cafeteria. We did not have great attendance, so we’d often have leftovers; to minimize waste, I’d bring them down to the computer lab mini-kitchen.

        The (horrible) vegetarian sandwiches made it an hour or two, usually. The cookies would last maybe ten minutes if it was a very slow day.

  15. HailRobonia*

    In my old office, we shared the suite with a different organization. The common areas were reception and the kitchen.

    The staff, particularly the director, of the other organization were shameless in stealing our food. Their director literally said (in a sort of “ha-hah kidding but really I’m serious” tone) that he loved to help himself to our food. We witnessed him taking people’s food multiple times despite the fact that the containers were clearly labeled with peoples’ names (and increasing levels of “do not take” messaging).

    Our executive director did not want to confront him about this. It’s great to know that our Big Boss won’t stand up for us for even the smallest things.

    1. Random Dice*

      Hopefully somebody brought in a small tureen of Visine-laden gravy.

      Sorry, crossing sites, I mean hot sauce.

      /a reminder that Visine can actually kill people if ingested

    2. Mandie*

      I would never, ever eat anything that someone at work packed into a container for their own lunch. What if they’re a terrible cook? What if their kid has the stomach flu? What if they licked their utensils while they scooped the food into the containers? Just no. People who steal food like this are seriously disturbed.

      1. I have RBF*

        Yeah, if I’m packing my lunch? I will lick the knife when I make my sandwiches. It’s only for me, so it’s not gross. If someone steals it, it’s their problem.

    3. Bagpuss*

      Did you club together and buy a mini fridge you could keep elsewhere? Or lockable lunch boxes.

      I’m grateful I’ve never worked anywhere with a food thief – the closest I ever came was a gut who used to hoover up any shared candy / cakes, and he would at least wait a reasonable time before going back to 2nds / 3rds so generally no one missed out (when he left, we changed over night from ‘any tub of chocolates left in the kitchen will be empty by 3 p.m’ to ‘a tub of chocolates left in the break room will *probably* be empty by the end of the third day, unless it is a tub of celebrations in which case 3 sad bounty bars will remain for another 2 days.. )

    4. Starshine*

      My former workplace had a food thief. Turns out it was the president of the company. Even a couple of cases of food poisoning did not stop him. This is the same guy that introduced the no smoking rule at the company years and years before it was pretty much mandatory every where. He claimed to be a new non-smoker. Then he would go into the board room, smoke, and put the filters into the sink food disposer. That clogged up the sink.

    5. Iron Chef Boyardee*

      “In my old office, we shared the suite with a different organization. The common areas were reception and the kitchen. The staff, particularly the director, of the other organization were shameless in stealing our food.”

      I used to be a volunteer for a major comic book convention. One year the volunteers’ room was next to the area used by a major cable network, one that specialized in programming music videos.

      We had set up snacks in the volunteers’ room – chips and pretzels, things along those lines. The snacks weren’t provided by the convention, we paid for them out of our own pockets. We’d see people from the cable network come in to our area and help themselves to our snacks; we’d complain to those in charge of volunteers but nothing was done.

      The frustrating thing is that if any of the volunteers were caught in the cable network’s area, we’d have our volunteer badges confiscated and kicked out of the convention without a moment’s hesitation. But it was okay for the cable network to steal food from unpaid volunteers.

  16. Fluffy Fish*

    Some jobs in our office are 24/7 with shifts of 12 hours. For these staff there are two LARGE commercial fridges. There’s an additional regular fridge + freezer for the rest of the regular office staff although the freezer can also be used by the shift workers.

    As the freezer is small, people are asked to only to use it for things they plan to eat that day. So like a frozen dinner. There is a sign reiterating this as well as that its cleaned out regularly and items will be tossed.

    Despite this the shift workers like to bring in things like gallons of ice cream, bags of tater tots, a box of frozen breakfast burritos and leave them there for days/weeks.

    And yet still magically get pissed off and complain when their stuff that’s too freezer burned to even be palatable is thrown out.

    Other run of the mill annoyance, the breakroom is kind of in the middle of several offices – people who cook pungent food that lingers (biggest culprit is eggs).

  17. Oogie*

    Yogurtgate. I was working in a place where two offices had recently merged and there was…friction. A pregnant woman had brought yogurt to work and put it in the fridge. Another woman from the previously separate office ate it. The pregnant woman openly confronted the yogurt eater in the office and accused her of taking nutrition from her fetus. The yogurt eater doubled down indignantly and said if it was in the fridge it was up for grabs. The pregnant woman huffed off. It was awkward for months afterward.

    1. BatManDan*

      If it was in the fridge, it was up for grabs? That’s not even the policy in my HOME, and there are only two of us!

      1. Random Dice*

        The sheer raging GALL of that lady. Some people are lacking a much-needed shame gene.

      1. LabelIt*

        In every office I’ve ever worked in if it didn’t have a name on it anyone could eat it. So yeah, if it’s in the fridge without a label it’s up for grabs.

    2. Tuesday*

      Oh my goodness. Do NOT mess with a pregnant woman’s snacks! Yogurt was the only thing I could reliably eat for a long stretch of the first trimester. If someone had stolen it, I would be livid and also probably vomiting.

    3. The Rise and Fall of Sanctuary Moon*

      If it’s in the fridge it’s up for grabs? What? That’s not how this works! That’s not how any of this works!

    4. Lady Kelvin*

      My first pregnancy was pre-pandemic, and my normal sweet tooth became a craving for salty, with the biggest culprit popcorn. In the cubicles outside of my office, someone had a popcorn maker and it would make me so (irrationally) angry when they made popcorn – multiple times a week! – because OMG all I wanted then was popcorn. I could have asked for some, but I didn’t need it and I didn’t know the people making it so I didn’t want to be weird. But gosh, if I had made popcorn and someone else ate it, shit would have hit the fan.

    5. Observer*

      The yogurt eater doubled down indignantly and said if it was in the fridge it was up for grabs.

      No, that’s not how this works. In fact this is SUCH an insane thing to claim, that I have to wonder what other boundaries she pushed and what else she took because it was up for grabs (ie stole)?

    6. Lizard*

      Claiming that items in office fridges are “up for grabs” is pretty awful, but if the pregnant lady was hoping for apologies or contrition she probably shouldn’t have started with “you’re stealing food from my fetus”. Wow… just wow.

    7. Anonymous, colleagues who read here will recognize it*

      When I was pregnant I kept expensive, organic, fancy-pants milk in glass quart bottles to have with my granola snack (I was ravenous).

      Someone kept using up the milk.

      I put a label on it. It got used.

      I taped a baggie over the top. It got used.

      I put a large and aggressive note on the fridge door stating, Your pregnant co-worker needs the entire bottle of milk, stop stealing food from the pregnant woman (all caps, exclamation points, arrows, frowny faces). It got used.

      I finally caught the thief pouring the milk into a gigantic mug. It was one of my friends! What the f are you *doing*??? (I may have shouted)

      Oh, I like it in my coffee, I didn’t think you’d mind.

      And that is why I have my own mini fridge in my office and never ever use the breakroom fridge.

  18. Mona Lisa*

    I worked in an IT department at a university where I was the only woman. I was very conscious not to take on too much “women’s work” even if it meant the office was occasionally disgusting or ran out of basic supplies.

    The kitchen was an area where this got particularly bad. Our director had a tendency to buy food, leave it in the fridge, and completely forget about it for months. I’d occasionally clean off my shelf once his moldy food encroached on it, but I didn’t touch the rest of it.

    At our university, the entire campus would shut down over the winter break for two weeks. The year we moved to a new building, we discovered that maintenance turned off the power there during the break, and we came back to a fridge entirely covered in black mold. I was 9 months pregnant and absolutely refused to clean the thing. I brought lunches that didn’t need to be kept cold to avoid it. Two weeks later I went on maternity leave and forgot about it.

    When I began planning my return to work three months later, I stopped by the office and noticed the same fridge was still there. I opened it and discovered that it was still a science experiment inside. Not one of the six men in my department had done a single thing about it.

    I brought my own fridge to my newly assigned office and never touched that thing again. I think they eventually threw it away and got a new one when the department expanded and the new hires were horrified.

      1. Roland*

        I don’t see why it’s sexist if no one ever told Mona Lisa to deal with it. Just super gross.

        1. Mona Lisa*

          A bold and generous assumption that six men never once picking up after themselves or performing any administrative task in our office meant that they weren’t operating under sexist expectations. I promise you there were plenty of examples of overt sexism and microaggressions from the time I worked there.

  19. Czhorat*

    At an old job we had a Keurig machine which many of us would frequently use for a midday pick me up. One morning I walked into the break room and saw an sign. I sadly put my mug away. No coffee.

    A coworker looked at the machine, looked at the sign. Grabbed a K-cup, stuck his mug into it, hit the button — and a perfectly good cup of coffee. Someone else walked in as he was sipping.

    “Did they fix the machine already?”

    “It wasn’t broken. See? Fresh coffee”

    “The sign was there because it was full of bugs.”

    He looked at his coffee, looked at the machine, looked at us, shrugged, and continued to drink it as he walked back to his office.

    I chose to forego coffee for the balance of the day.

    1. Random Dice*

      I actually do eat cricket protein – humanely killed, roasted to be germ free, chocolate flavored – for environmental reasons. (Thanks Becky Chambers for making me think.)

      But bugs in coffee gives me the horror shivers.

      1. zinzarin*

        On review I see that the dashes are placed appropriately, but for a moment I was wondering how chocolate flavoring was an environmental choice….

        1. Worldwalker*

          Nitrogen, maybe?

          I’ve seen a lizard eat half a cricket (the head half) and the remainder kept moving. Apparently they are rather decentralized.

    2. MusicWithRocksIn*

      Yea… right when keurig fist came out I worked for a company that did demos on the machines and it was a nightmare. There is no way to get water out of the hose once they are used, you can only suck more water back in – so if you try to ship one somewhere it leaks everywhere and if you try to store it after you use it bugs will crawl in and mold will grow. I heard so many horror stories – I’m never touching one again.

    3. lilsheba*

      I have never used a Keurig and never will, they are notorious for being nasty. YUCK. Pour over coffee all the way for me.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, or a French press if a percolator is out of the question.

        When I started at my current office 15 years ago, they had percolators. Our employer provided the coffee, and the office manager, who was a great coffee enthusiast, actually volunteered to ensure that the percolators were reasonably clean, at least on her floor. When she went on vacation, I often cleaned them because I really enjoy fresh coffee.

        At some point, my employer banned percolators as a fire hazard and replaced them with vending machines. Sadly the coffee-like substance they provided was almost undrinkable. The taste was horrible, and the milk substitute they used made my stomach ache. If I really needed caffeine and it was the only option available, I stuck to black coffee. To add insult to injury, they charged 50 eurocents for a small cup!

        Happily water kettles were still allowed, and my employer even provided some, so I bought a French press and used that instead, or drank the employer-provided tea. I enjoy tea, but because I like it fairly weak, I never seem get enough caffeine from it.

        At some point not long before the pandemic, our facilities department did a survey about working conditions. The results were clear, if people could change one thing, they’d switch to a better cofffee vending machine. And facilities actually did it! The coffee the new machines provide is made from coffee beans that are ground on the spot, and the black coffee is delicious. I don’t trust the powdered whitening stuff, though, so I’ve learned to drink black coffee at the office. Even better, the coffee’s free now!

        My employer pays for cleaners to clean the fridges every 6 months or so. Everything in the fridge is thrown out that day, but my employer posts signs on each fridge, as well as on the intranet, about two weeks before the cleaning date, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.

        Once I’d forgotten a portion tub of yoghurt in the fridge at the office. I’d labeled it, so I knew it was mine. When I finally ate it, it had a slightly watery surface and the texture was a bit grainy, but there was nothing wrong with the flavor. I just mixed it with my spoon and ate it. When I threw the lid away, I realized that it was almost two months past its best before date. I didn’t get sick from eating it. This just goes to show that it’s worth trusting your senses rather than staring blindly at dates before throwing out fermented milk products. If you have a normal sense of smell, you’ll know if it’s gone bad. That said, I’m not particularly fussy with this, when I had a cold and my sense of smell was impaired, I happily drank a cup of coffee with milk at home, and only realized that the milk was bad when I got to the end and there were lumps of milk on the bottom of the cup. Yuck, luckily I didn’t get any in my mouth, though.

        1. lilsheba*

          I didn’t mention it but I love french press coffee too and have a couple. I’ve just been doing the pour over thing for several years now and haven’t switched back.

  20. Andy*

    Kitchen Wars are at a weird but peaceful place with us. We are higher ed, and everyone is hybrid so we are all more used to the comforts of home kitchen. Some people are re creating that feeling moreso at work…and therefore forgetting more stuff in fridges but also more EW THROW IT AWAY I’M SO SORRY I FORGOT IT. It’s a kind of detante.

  21. DarthVelma*

    The office kitchen wars followed me home. I love my partner. But he engages in my one major office kitchen pet peeve. He pulls food out of the microwave before the timer is done and doesn’t reset it to zero. But at least when I’m working from home I know exactly who to blame.

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      I blame AAM for this. I didn’t know how annoying it was until I read about someone complaining here. Seriously. Turn it off. Are you done? Did you just pause it? Is your food in there? Can I check?
      Got the love of cheese, cancel.
      Oh. And don’t microwave your freaking fish.

      1. Random Dice*

        This is SUCH a weird thing to be bothered about!!!!!

        Just use the +30 sec button – it’s fewer presses than 1:30 start.

        1. Chilipepper Attitude*

          My son, when he still lived at home, was SO SO bothered by this! Apparently, I do it all the time. I set the timer for the built-in 30-second intervals but know that the last 30 seconds are too long, so I pull the food when I know it is done. Why the timer does not reset after 20 seconds is not clear to me.

    2. MBEClerk*

      OMG, this bothers me so much, and everyone in my office thinks I’m totally a crazy person for being bothered by it!

    3. PuppleShark*

      Done is kind of relative. I read a thread once where a lot of folks leave the extra time (home microwaves) and don’t clear it for other tasks like a coffee warm-up. I gave up and now if there are 30 seconds on the timer and I need 10 I will roll with it. It was a really contentious thread as I remember with folks very much in their “camp” about it. Though it doesn’t matter to me.

    4. Elle*

      You are my people. I always reset the clock to zero when done. I’m so glad to know I am not alone.

    5. Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced Bouquet!)*

      I have a vague memory of reading that leaving time on the microwave uses more energy than when it’s cleared. Not a ton, of course, but I’m sure it adds up over time? Might be an argument in favor of your partner learning to hit cancel.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I can’t imagine why that would be the case, although I am fanatical about hitting clear/cancel personally.

      2. Michelle Smith*

        I don’t believe this. Whether it’s time left on the display for cooking or the actual time, my microwave display is always on. I can’t imagine it taking more energy to display :08 (cook time remaining) than 1:57 (EST).

      3. Roland*

        That really doesn’t sound widely applicable. Like many others, my microwave displays the current time tonthe minute, so if anything it takes less power when there’s cooking time left because it’s not updating once a minute. And in any case, any differences would be miniscule.

    6. HailRobonia*

      Didn’t you know that microwaves are like movie time bombs… don’t let the time run out!

    7. Aaron Read*

      GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE.

      No, seriously. My wife does this and IT DRIVES ME CRAZY. >:-(

      Fortunately she is a good cook (and yes, we trade off) so I’ve learned not to get too feisty with someone who cooked something yummy for dinner for me. :-)

      1. MigraineMonth*

        My roommate does this, but I never brought it up at the beginning and it’s been too many years now. I decided that “handwash the quality knives” was the only kitchen issue worth the fight.

      2. Anecdata*

        I named this as a pet peeve to my housemates once (why does it always say 00:02 seconds??) and it turned out one of them was specifically taught it was polite to grab your food right before the timer expires so everyone else doesn’t have to hear the beep! (And pressing clear on our microwave would make another beep). All kinds of people in the world :)

        1. elle *sparkle emoji**

          The microwave beep in my current apt is awful and doesn’t stop until it finishes its cycle of 9 beeps minimum, regardless of if you’ve opened the door or hit off/cancel so I occasionally do this to skip the beeping(I try to remember to clear it out though).

      1. Professional Cat Lady*

        Get a microwave with a mute function! Changed my life at home when our new one was capable of just … not beeping.

    8. Former Young Lady*

      Ha! I had an officemate who did that. For ages I shook my head — “Does he think someone will come along and be delighted that he ‘saved’ fifteen seconds for them?”

      Turns out he hated hearing the six or eight beeps when the microwave timer went off. (Hitting the “cancel” button would also have added an insufferable beep, I guess?)

      1. Mary L*

        I’m somewhat like this, only it’s the tea kettle whistle instead of the microwave. The noise is like nails on chalkboard to me. My husband bought me a silent electric kettle for our 18th anniversary. He finally understood:)

        1. HR Nimrod*

          Several years back, at the incredibly dysfunctional school district office, the somewhat deaf admin let her electric kettle at the almost-whistling-but-not-quite stage for what felt like HOURS, but was probably only several minutes.

          Turns out, several minutes of that is when the Business Superintendent and I both hit our limit of Nearly Whistling Tea Kettle Noise and he came out of his office at the same time that I went over to her desk to make sure she knew it was whistling.

          Yeah, she felt the office was dry that day, so she had the kettle nearly boiling as a humidifier. That was easily 5+ years ago and I’m still agog.

    9. Harried HR*

      I have a coirker that opens the microwave door at 1 second EVERY.SINGLE.TIME !! The reason…. the don’t like the noise the microwave makes when it’s done !! (smh)

    10. coachfitz13*

      So much this. I walk into the kitchen every morning (I’m first one awake) and there’s the microwave blinking between “00:01” and “PRESS START”. Clearly been like that since the night before.

    11. Jaydee*

      Okay, apparently I am the weirdo in the middle for this issue. I hate the beeps, so I will always pull my food out a few seconds early. But I also don’t like the timer just being set to :02 or :15 or whatever. So I always hit the stop/cancel button to reset it. One beep is infinitely better than many.

      This worked great with my office’s old microwave which had a broken display. You couldn’t see how much time was put in or left. So best practice was to hit stop/cancel to make sure it was at zero, then put in your cook time, then hit start. And unless you let it go till the very end, you needed to hit stop/cancel again so there wouldn’t be time left on the timer which the next person wouldn’t be able to see.

    12. This Old House*

      There’s a sign in our office kitchen – that predates our department moving to this area/using this kitchen, quite possibly by several decades – with a list of kitchen etiquette rules. Clean up after yourself, wipe up splatters, etc. I never really understood why “reset the microwave to zero” was on there, because – leaving seconds on the microwave doesn’t hurt anyone? Or make more work for anyone? I can understand a preference, but it makes a petty rule, IMO. I never knew how strongly some people apparently feel!

      1. Worldwalker*

        I couldn’t tell you *why*, any more than I can tell you why it irritates me if a cabinet door is open 0.5 degrees, but it makes me itch. I have to close that cabinet door, and the microwave thing *really* annoys me.

      2. Ev*

        I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me it’s entirely about the clock. For various reasons, I am an obsessive time-checker – I will check the time at any clock I pass, even if I just checked a different clock two seconds ago. My coworkers leave time on the microwave all the time and I cancel it every time I pass because I need to see the clock.

        (I’m also always the one to reset the microwave clock after a power outage, for the same reason. None of the rest of them ever even notice it’s wrong, which is just astounding to me.)

        1. Daisy Avalin*

          You’d hate us, we don’t bother changing the time on the oven between summer and winter times, unless the power goes out, so currently it’s on summer time and thus an hour ahead!

    13. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      I do this. I had absolutely zero idea it was a problem or annoying until my last co-habitant complained. I don’t get why it’s a problem but now at least i know to try!

    14. NotAnotherManager!*

      My spouse does this as well, but I lost my right to complain by nuking things, forgetting about them, and him finding them in the microwave the next morning. Repeatedly.

      1. Emma*

        A while ago I borrowed a relative’s holiday home for a week. It had been empty for a while – probably at least a month. I don’t normally use the microwave when I’m there, but luckily I did this time – because I opened it up to find a tupperware of something beige which must have been there since the last time the relative visited.

        Luckily the box was still sealed (don’t know why the lid didn’t pop off due to steam), so I just chucked the whole thing without opening it.

    15. lilsheba*

      oh my god this irritated me so much when it happened at work ALL THE TIME. Finally the last place got microwaves that reset the timer when opened so that wasn’t an issue anymore. Just CLEAR the damn thing!!

    16. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My teenager hates the beep so they stop it early. I’m trying to get them to follow up with “clear”…and to CALL ME if they stop my coffee!

  22. Cathy*

    We had lunch theft problems at my old workplace. At one point someone took a bite out of my boss’ sandwich and then put it back!

  23. Nannerdoodle*

    In that same office building of my previous comment, the plumbing, particularly under the kitchen sinks, was awful. If you put any food waste down the pipes, they’d clog. Some people really liked their pour-over or french press coffee. They’d rinse their coffee grounds down the sink and clog it. Every. Single. Day. Signs were put up by the sink and the coffee pots. The people who were the issue were spoken to by their peers. Their specialty coffee prep devices were even hidden for a week. A bunch of other people complained to management about talking to the people who were clogging it, since it affected everyone, but management didn’t think they needed to do anything.
    Then the facilities people who were sick of coming out and unclogging the pipes in our building sent a notice that those who were renting the building would get an upcharge on services if the pipes needed to be dealt with more than once a month. Management put the hammer down and said that those who were putting the coffee grounds in would be held responsible for the bills (since it’s research labs, it’d come out of their funding). The heads of the labs very quickly told the few that were drinking the fancy coffee what would happen if funding was diverted to fix the pipes, and the problem was (for the most part) solved.

    1. Artemesia*

      I drink pour coffee and would never think to put grounds down the disposal — it is EASY to just grab the filter and toss it grounds and all in the trash. This is just weird.

      1. lilsheba*

        I use reusable filters but always put the grounds down the disposal, never hurts it at all. But one thing that could be done in an office is compost the grounds in a bin.

          1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

            I’m doing that here at home! I make cold-brew coffee in large batches and generate about 3 cups of grounds twice a week. I’ve been pouring that into a large black plastic planter that a landscaper left behind that I set up on a bit of soil. Over a year later it was full so I set up a 2nd pot and moved the top foot or so from old to new and — red wigglers! All thru that lovely compost.

        1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

          It doesn’t hurt the disposal but the grounds will clog the pipes after awhile, fyi

      1. MusicWithRocksIn*

        “Who’s putting coffee grounds in the disposal? Am I running a Bed and Breakfast for a biker gang?” Poor Tony.

    2. Starfleet HVAC Engineering*

      At a plant I worked at, the facilities people got tired of having to roto-rooter the flushed tampons from the sewer line in the building. They said the next time the toilets clogged, those responsible would get to do the plumbing work. It never happened again.

      1. lilsheba*

        UUUUGGGGHHHH that is so annoying. Tampons are NOT flushable, I don’t care WHAT they say on them! Yet people insist on flushing them anyway. Totally forgetting the part where they are made to expand when wet….sigh.

  24. Elle*

    I had a boss that would microwave water for tea and walk away while the microwave was going. When it was done she expected someone to bring her the water. She never requested this out loud but the microwave would keep beeping until someone brought her the water. I refused to do this. If the microwave beeped I would walk over and turn it off, leaving the mug in the microwave. It was my personal stand against a terrible boss.

    1. Xavier Desmond*

      Is it bad that, as a Brit, I’m more outraged by someone microwaving water for tea than I am by the rudeness?

        1. WellRed*

          And yet, it quickly produces a hot tea beverage with a lot less fuss. Signed, Damn Yankee

          1. JTB*

            What’s wrong with pouring hot water into the mug? Half the fun is watching the colour from the tea bag get into the water.

            1. Emma*

              Oh, isn’t it just? My partner doesn’t drink tea at all, but she loves making it for me because it’s such a visually pleasing process.

          2. Nessun*

            A hot beverage, yes, but not a better tasting one. The bubbles from the boiling process matter!

      1. Michelle Smith*

        Seems better than needing an entire separate contraption just for heating up water, but to each their own.

      2. cabbagepants*

        Hi, I make my tea in the microwave! I make herbal tea so it’s not as particular about exact temperature. Teabag + cold water + 2 minutes in the microwave = perfect temperature, perfectly steeped tea. Teabag + boiling water = burn mouth repeatedly over the ten minutes it takes to cool to drinkable temperature.

        Also, in the US our outlets are 120V so it takes much longer to boil water in an electric kettle than in countries like the UK with 230V outlets.

        1. Sapientia*

          Interesting. Here in Germany all herbal teas come with the warning that they should be brewed with boiling water and steeped for at least 5-10 minutes to get a safe food product. I don’t always follow those instructions to the letter, but I would probably not use the microwave.

      1. Elle*

        She would also refuse to run her outgoing mail through the postage machine. She would leave it on top of the machine for someone to do it for her. Again, never asked just assumed. I always moved them to the side when I mailed my own stuff out.

        1. Maxie's Mommy*

          Ah, the Wodehouse method. PGW didn’t like going downstairs to mail a letter, so he’d throw a stamped letter out the window, as close to the post box as possible. Some nice person would always see the letter on the sidewalk and mail it.

      2. The OG Sleepless*

        My boss does a number of small things that I am convinced are based on the “nothing in life is free” principle of dog training…i.e. things that serve only to remind us that she is the boss. Like we’re going to forget.

  25. thatoneoverthere*

    One time someone put a large glass of (not covered) milk, filled to the brim on the door of the fridge in our breakroom. I mean to the BRIM. It kept sort of spilling all over every time someone opened the door. Someone went and poured it out. The guy it belonged too was upset, but everyone agreed with the person that poured it out. There was milk spilled all over!

    I cleaned out a fridge on my floor after realizing there were quite a few containers that were several months old. I threw away items that were YEARS old. I know bc they had dates of 2016 on them. It was 2019 when I cleaned the fridge out.

    1. rayray*

      This one is hilarious because it’s just so….bizarre. Why would anyone do that? And then he was upset, it just seems so childish.

      1. allathian*

        Ha! And if he’d just put the full glass on a shelf, it wouldn’t have caused problems for anyone else.

  26. Dragon_Dreamer*

    Once at my high school cafeteria, someone put buttered bagels into the toaster. The resulting flames were quite impressive. The toaster was replaced within a day or so.

    However, the cafeteria workers did not appreciate the posterboard sign that quickly appeared with two blackened bagel halves attached to it: “Bagel, bagel, burning bright.”

    1. Zephy*

      My university has a little cafe that sells things like burritos and breakfast sandwiches that need to be heated up, and they put a sign on the microwave that reads as follows:

      Three Simple Rules for Using the Microwave

      1. Please don’t put metal in the microwave, it can start a fire.
      2. Please cover your food so it doesn’t splatter all over.
      3. Seriously, don’t put metal in the microwave.

      1. Robin Ellacott*

        In my university dorm building there were 3 floors of women and one floor of men. We constantly had fire alarms going off overnight because the dudes would microwave things for fun. Once it was a sofa cushion.

        1. BluRae*

          When I was in college and living in the dorms, some genius a few floors above me microwaved a cup of his own poop.

          I believe he was thrown out of res hall for it.

        2. t-vex*

          I went to a residential high school and a group in the boys dorm started a club where they would microwave some new item every night, in the interest of science.

      2. Willow Pillow*

        I had a friend in high school who put an Arby’s sandwich in the cafeteria microwave… She learned the hard way that foil is metal, too!

    2. Music With Rocks In*

      Our work toasters have a sign next to them reminding people not to put butter pats on the toaster. I guess people were putting them there while their toast was going in order to melt the butter so it would be spreadable – but either the butter would get all over the toaster, or the plastic butter containers would melt on the toaster metal.

      I would have found the “burning bright” sign hilarious, though.

      1. HappySnoopy*

        Was this a toaster oven or a pop up toaster? Because I have been mentally picturing the latter.

    3. Oysters and Gender Freedoms*

      Bagel bagel burning bright
      In the toaster of the night
      What human snack or lunch
      Could mask thy fearful ashen crunch?

      1. HipsAndMakers*

        Little box, who flamed thee?
        Dost thou know who flamed thee,
        Gave thee bagels buttered free
        In the kitch’n, near the tea;
        Gave thee fuel to set alight
        Smoky, ashy, burning bright;
        Making workers take a fright;
        Little box, who flamed thee?
        Dost thou know who flamed thee?

  27. Berlina*

    My boss, when visiting our small 2-person-office, would often get a late Friday evening coffee on our fancy coffee maker, after everyone had already left. He then never cleaned it or at least threw the coffee ground out. Every Monday following one of his visits I would find mold all over the machine. After a couple of months I had enough, made him take it to the main office and ordered a simple filter machine. Happiest decision of my life.

    Our other boss (his wife) once microwaved fish for lunch, ate it and then immediately left for the main office, leaving a week of smell in her absence.

    1. learnedthehardway*

      Not work, but college – I got so fed up with my roommate’s boyfriend sleeping over in our dorm room, that I would make tuna or salmon salad sandwiches and eat them in the room, when I was out of patience with them.

      They invariably decamped to his dorm room. Blessed peace and quiet for me.

    2. Avid Reader*

      I know someone who placed a pickle slice under the keyboard of a colleague, just for laughs. My colleague looked and looked for the source of the offending odor. Evidently, it did not occur to him to follow his nose and lift up his keyboard. Those recent finance grads play hardball.

      1. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

        I’m sorry, it’s clear to me that in fact they play pickleball.

        (I’ll show myself out.)

    3. La Triviata*

      Years ago, we had a woman who would order catered lunches and often chose fish as the entree. Fish in a steam table pan. When it was Friday, the catering company wouldn’t pick up the steam table pans and sterno holders until Monday … which, since the AC went out over the weekend was terrible to come back to.

      1. Dragon_Dreamer*

        Reminds me of how my Comparative Anatomy professor learned such a lesson the hard way. It was her first semester teaching the course.

        We dissected sharks over a two week period. This was not the problem. The mistake she made was doing it with Spring Break between those 2 weeks.

        The smell when we got to lab for week 2 was HORRIFIC. The department had to get everyone new sharks. The professor also had to promise the chair that she’d never stretch a lab over break again.

        1. Lady Knittington*

          Something about the phrase ‘the department had to get everyone new sharks’ really tickles me.

    4. Mother of Corgis*

      I worked with someone who would microwave cauliflower and broccoli for lunch every day. In a small poorly ventilated room shared by four people. And couldn’t understand why the rest of us were complaining about the noxious fumes. He would stare at us blankly and say “but it’s healthy” as if that excused the fact he was making the rest of us cough, gag, and wipe our watering eyes.

      1. Fran*

        When living at home my mom had me microwave her cauliflower for her… I can’t stand cauliflower now

  28. ATC*

    Someone kept eating my desserts from the work fridge. It wasn’t a mistake because I labeled my food and I have a unique name. For example, I had a small ice cream cup and someone would eat half and put in back. It freaked me out because I wondered if someone was doing this to my lunch and I didn’t notice. I asked admin person who was tasked with kitchen duties, “Is this happening to anyone else?” and she said no.

    Eventually, I had to put a fake name on my desserts and those wouldn’t be touched. It was definitely retaliation of some sort. Retaliation for what, I don’t know. I did try making a spicy chocolate cake (heavy on the cayenne pepper) and putting that with my name in the fridge. No takers for it because I guess it looked obviously homemade. So I had to keep using an alias for my food.

    1. Random Dice*

      I love the challenge inherent in this. So we need to punish someone, with a storebought dessert that appears not to have been opened. We can make this work…

  29. Peanut Hamper*

    The first year at my last job, our HR person decided to rent a snow cone machine for our summer barbecue. This meant she also had to buy GALLON jugs of the flavoring.

    The rental lasted for a week, and then the snow cone machine went back. But we still had four gallon jugs taking up space in the break room. Nobody ever used them or even touched them.

    Finally in October, the boss told me to get rid of them, so I got rid of them. (These things attract ants like nobody’s business.) Suddenly, everybody was asking me where the snow cone flavorings went. When I told them I tossed them out, people flipped out. I have no idea why. They had basically been ignored ever since the snow cone machine went back.

    1. mlem*

      Those jugs were a promise the snow cone machine might come back! You’ve cruelly smashed their dreams!

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        That’s the weird thing, though. We bought a ten pound bag of ice and used maybe one pound to make snow cones. Nobody really wanted them!

        1. Jaydee*

          It’s not about the snow cones. It’s about what snow cones represent! Summer! Fun! Play! Freedom! Sunshine! Joy! Childhood! Frivolity!

          Seeing those jugs every day was a promise that your company cared about those things and by extension its workers. But the joy of pretending to be a “Smurf vampire” after eating a blue raspberry snow cone has been replaced with the despondency of working at just another soul-sucking corporation draining the lifeblood of its employees.

      1. Worldwalker*

        I’ve used the cherry one in fruit salad when I was out of cherry simple syrup.

    2. LCH*

      LOL. did you ask them what they had been using the flavors for? i mean.. looking for some logic here.

  30. Portia*

    At my last in-office job, people tended to put a bagel or a Pop Tart in the toaster, then wander back to their desks. (I’m sure those 2-3 minutes of toasting time were super productive.) The toasters were more or less antiques and never, ever cleaned, so the eventual result of this was a series of small toaster fires.

    Thankfully we had people who were handy with extinguishers and they were put out quickly, but soon enough the powers that be stopped replacing the toasters and put in a toaster oven, citing safety reasons. Yes, they thought people who couldn’t be trusted with toasters could handle the responsibility of a toaster oven.

    After the inevitable toaster oven fire, they only let us have a microwave.

    Despite a fairly high proportion of eccentrics and general space cadets — the job was music-industry-adjacent — I still miss that office. Best job I ever had.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          It turns out that if you microwave bread long enough, it will ignite. We had a building evaculation triggered by someone microwaving buns.

          1. Sophie*

            I put a ramen bowl in my microwave without water, set it to 7 minutes, and walked away. In my defense, I was sick. The fire had burned itself out by the time I noticed something was wrong. I had to replace the microwave, counter it was on, microwave nearby, and overhead cabinets to get rid of the smell.

      1. Anonymous, colleagues who read here will recognize it*

        A previous boss set fire to the microwave because she set the timer too long, walked away, forgot…

        The office smelled of carbonized popcorn for weeks. And we had to wait for the end of the fiscal year to get a new microwave.

  31. Clefairy*

    My old boss was super weird- she liked to “fight for her employees” and felt like she was an amazing hero, while still being super crappy to us. Our corporate office originally didn’t get us a fridge because fire code wouldn’t allow it to be placed in the back hallway where the timeclock was. The only other back of house area was the leadership office…so she got a fridge and oh so kindly offered to give up space in her office so the team could bring lunch. So charitable, right? Well, she also liked to lock herself in the office for hours at a time, and would write people up for knocking. So she essentially was holding everyone’s lunch hostage multiple times a week, and didn’t get why everyone wasn’t super grateful to her. She ended up going on a leave of absence, and I stepped up as interim manager for 4 months- during that time, I kept an open door policy for the office, made it clear that everyone was allowed to grab their lunch even if the door was closed except in emergency situation (like, if I had to terminate someone or hop on a video call with HR about something sensitive) in which case I would put a sign on the door asking not to be disturbed- and I used that so infrequently that they understood that that was the tradeoff for having a fridge in the manager’s office. Well, when our original boss came back from leave, she was FURIOUS at how entitled people felt towards being able to grab their lunches from HER office- she thoroughly reamed me out for building bad habits in the team, and then very publicly sold the fridge on craigslist and pocked the cash as a “punishment” to the team. I ended up reporting that to HER boss, and in addition to some other bigger deal stuff, she ended up being let go a couple of months later. At which point I bought a new fridge for the team.

  32. Anon-na-na-doo-doo-doo-doo-doot*

    About 5 years ago, the building I’m in got entirely remodeled and the staff break room was appropriately stocked with a reasonable amount of plates, bowls, mugs, plastic cold drink cups and silverware that was communal and the expectation was that you’d wash, dry and put away as needed. But slowly, about 3 years in, silverware started disappearing. Finally, we had ZERO forks to use. The building had a new manager, and the expectation was that the manager would use branch funds to replace/repair things as needed. But the new manager never did anything about the forks. Finally, after more than 2 years of being frustrated there were no forks, I bought 4/4packs of cheap forks at Walmart myself for communal use. A co-worker gave me a “shout-out” on the staff bulletin board, but I still am a little salty that the branch manager didn’t handle it like they should.

    1. Robin Ellacott*

      We had this issue with teaspoons! Another manager and I used to complain about it all the time, but when she left she sheepishly came in on her last day with a bunch of spoons. She’d been absentmindedly taking them home “to wash” and they were getting lost amongst her cutlery until she moved in with her partner and paid attention to how many spoons she had and whether they matched. I think she had 14 of our teaspoons.

      1. Abogado Avocado*

        I once worked for a legal services non-profit that was heavily law-intern dependent and, it turned out, dependent on interns who allegedly bogarted the office flatware forks. Not the teaspoons. Just the forks.

        So, the office manager decided we wouldn’t have forks. Not flatware forks. Not plastic forks. Not sporks. If you opened the flatware drawer, you found knives, teaspoons, soup spoons and an empty space for forks. And if you asked the office manager why, she went into this long and crazy rant about the fork-stealing interns that ended with her straight-faced recommendation that you bring in your own personal flatware fork and keep it hidden somewhere n your desk (you know, with all the other office detritus). This was the same office manager who kept every broken fax machine the org had ever owned and strategically located them on the floor throughout the office (for some reason, one was outside the men’s room) “just in case we hire a lawyer who likes to fix fax machines.” (Spoiler alert: we never did.)

        Although I realized I had accepted a job in Crazytown, I went to Ikea and bought 15 of their cheapest forks to place in the office flatware drawer. And, notwithstanding the continued presence of alleged fork-stealing interns, these forks remained on the premises for the entire time I remained with the nonprofit.

        1. Robin Ellacott*

          Hahaha I love how weird, and yet how similar, people can be.

          I used to buy more spoons at the charity shop acorss the street.

    2. the Viking Diva*

      In a fit of generosity, I bought several sets of Ikea flatware for the communal kitchen and tagged them all with pink nail polish. Since there are 2 sizes of forks and 2 sizes of spoons, that was a lot of the most-needed utensils. Within 6 weeks, all the forks and most of the spoons had disappeared. I suspect they are still on people’s desks, or maybe in their lunch bags – they took one to use, and then took another one instead of finding and washing their old one. Learned my lesson and will not resupply!

    3. Rara Avis*

      We are encouraged to use mugs instead of disposal coffee cups, but every mug donated to the break room grows legs and walks away. I mean hundreds of them over the years.

      1. Zombeyonce*

        I left a mug to soak in the office sink (it had some stubborn hot chocolate rings) and when I returned 30 minutes later, it was gone. I didn’t see it again for 4 years, when I walked into the office kitchen to see my mug (it had unique wording on it) sitting in the office sink like it had never left. I “stole” it back.

        1. I have RBF*

          I had that happen with an imprinted mug once. It was something like six months between disappearance and reappearance. I decided I liked it too much to risk losing it again, and took it home. I had already brought in a trade show “gimme” to replace it.

    4. Pink Flamingo*

      We had zero forks left in the communal kitchen as well, around 100 employees, to the extent that management gave every employee a fork for Christmas as a gift (in addition to whatever normal practices happened).

  33. Judge Judy and Executioner*

    My office has assigned kitchen duty by department, each department gets a quarter, and smaller departments are combined with others. My team has had it the last 2 months and in the past 3 weeks I’ve spent hours on managing the obligation as the assigned individuals work mostly from home due to health/medical issues. It’s been a nightmare and I’ve already talked to HR. There have been multiple complaints when the dishwasher isn’t unloaded in the morning and I’ve told people to direct those complaints to me or HR because my team doesn’t need that drama.

  34. Kirsten*

    I was once an office assistant at a law firm, and my boss, the office manager, asked me to do a fridge cleanout. We agreed that we would give everyone plenty of notice about the fridge cleanout, and my boss explicitly told me that it was NOT my job to clean out dishes or Tupperware or any containers, condiment bottles, etc. that I found in the fridge — I was given permission to just throw it all in the trash.

    So, a week out I began sending daily all-staff emails noting that the Big Fridge Cleaning would occur at 4pm on Friday and reminding people to remove anything they wanted to keep by then because Tupperware, condiments etc. would be trashed and NOT cleaned and returned. Friday at 4pm hits and I begin my grim work of cleaning out the (very full, very gross) fridge and chucking everything into the bin.

    About halfway through this work the crunchy granola office bookkeeper walks into the kitchen and asks me very angrily what the hell I’m doing. I tell her that, per my several emails, I’m throwing out everything left in the fridge. She proceeds to start digging into the trash can and heatedly showing me all of the Tupperwares in there asking why I’m being so wasteful. I again point her to my email and say that my boss told me to do it this way. She even gets out a moldy apple out of the trash and says to me “you can just chop off the moldy part and it’s still good!” Thankfully while she was berating me my boss walks into the kitchen and backs me up, telling bookkeeper to back off. The bookkeeper couldn’t understand why I wasn’t handwashing everyone’s moldy, smelly containers and going around trying to rehome disgusting apples with their original owners. What was I supposed to do, walk into all the partner’s offices and say, excuse me, is this your nonfat milk that expired 3 months ago?

    Total insanity.

  35. anonforthis*

    Fortunately, my workplace has been good about our nice kitchenette. People are decent about dishes and fridge, the faucets have been working most of the time, and the worst that’s happened is that someone once brought in some kind of innuendo-themed Magnetic Poetry kit and reception to that was…mixed. A couple of other funny stories:

    Our microwave very much has a mind of its own. At one point about a decade ago, the thing stopped doing anything at all in spite of everything we tried, so we unplugged it and made plans to have someone haul it away. One of my colleagues wrote a touching obituary for it and sent that to the unit listserv (“In memoriam: Kitchen Microwave, 2009-2013”). But then someone who hadn’t heard about any of this plugged the thing back in and it mysteriously worked fine – necessitating a subsequent announcement that rumors of the microwave’s demise had been greatly exaggerated. I’m pretty sure it’s still the same microwave.

    We have a little group of people whose job it is to provide coffee, and a totally different little group of people whose job it is to provide tea. Both groups have sheets posted on the walls with the (similar, but separate) policies for how to pay the small amount if you want coffee or tea. The one for the tea policy has by this point been annotated extensively by people making relevant but unabashedly terrible puns wherever possible such that the text is now full of handwritten references to (for instance) qualitea, generositea, parteas, and the committea itself.

  36. Yecats*

    I once came into the kitchen in the morning to find that someone had thoughtfully washed all the communal knives… and then left them in the dish drainer with the points facing up. I very, very carefully put them away and sent out a picture to Slack captioned “Don’t do this!!!”

    1. CreepyPaper*

      Someone in a former job I had kept putting knives blade upwards in the dishwasher. After someone managed to cut their hand twice on these knives – and I’m not talking dinner knives here, I mean full on like steak knives – there was a beautifully ranty email sent out by HR which contained the line ‘are you all bl**dy stupid?! I thought we employed adults, not children with no common sense!’

      After this, guess what happened? The steak knives still went in point up, and the same victim cut their hand again. I left about a month later but the point up problem still hadn’t been resolved when I left!

        1. Observer*

          Especially since it’s not clear who the idiot is. Because, honestly? You get cut once, that’s an accident? A second time? Come on, look what you are grabbing. When it’s a third time – that’s someone who should not be withing 6 feet of a knife or any other dangerous object.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        Food safety training teaches that all silverware should be placed handles down so that the business end gets properly cleaned. (Info courtesy of my restaurant manager SIL.)
        That said, running sharp knives through the dishwasher is a good way to have dull knives.

        1. zinzarin*

          ^this!

          If washed in a dishwasher, blades *should* go up.

          They probably should be hand-washed in the first place, but if you’re going to do it in the dishwasher, this is the proper way.

          1. Michelle Smith*

            A quick Google search says exactly the opposite. That for safety reasons and sanitary reasons, the handles should go up and the points down. Perhaps it’s different in the type of dishwashers used in restaurant kitchens.

            1. The OG Sleepless*

              There was a recent Bon Appetit article about dishwasher loading. Spoons and forks go business end up, knives go business end down, for safety reasons. I still have a scar on the side of my hand from when a college suitemate put a steak knife in the dishwasher point up, over 30 years ago.

            2. sb51*

              The only restaurant kitchen I ever washed dishes in, the knives went flat on their sides in a tray with no dividers.

        2. Really?*

          Yes, but the business end is not touched when the cycle is over. The cutlery cups are inverted into other cutlery cups so the handles are up. Industrial dishwashers are nothing like home appliances.

      2. Gumby*

        At some point, however, you have to ask why the victim is just grabbing silverware without looking to notice if they were grabbing handles or the business end of knives. I’m on team “handwash sharp knives” but I’m also on team “look before you grab things.”

      3. JTB*

        That would render people literally bl**dy. I’m Team Sharp Side Down. It’s more hygienic to take it out by the handle rather than the part that comes in contact with food anyway.

    2. Butterfly Counter*

      My husband used to do this because, “they dry better.” He also did this with the forks.

      I had to explain I’m not willing to risk stabbing myself to do a chore I already hate doing.

      1. Random Bystander*

        Not to mention that, when the “use end” is up, you’re going to have to touch that part to get the silverware out after it’s clean.

        1. cabbagepants*

          I don’t see why this is an issue, at least at home. At home you have to touch your own food to prep it, anyway so it’s not really more dirty if you also had to touch the knife.

        2. allathian*

          That’s why I’ll never have a dishwasher without a third tray for cutlery again.

      2. Daisy Avalin*

        My Other Half does this – forks and knifes point up… he also mixes the cutlery in the basket (and we’re hand washing currently, because the dishwasher is broken), so I go to grab some clean cutlery to eat with, and unless I want a fork prong under my fingernail, I have to *very* carefully pick each item out one by one.

        Mind you, neither of us is keen on washing up, so we’re currently playing ‘washing up chicken’, in which we both wait as long as possible, in the hopes that the other person will do it first, and that applies to putting it away once it’s dry too!

  37. Cat Mom*

    I started a new job during the pandemic so wasn’t sure about normal office behaviors. For the most part we are still WFH. I was told there were snacks and sodas on the 4th floor that could be purchased for pretty cheap. One of the sodas I bought ended up being two years expired. Now I know better!

  38. Squeaky Cleaner*

    One of the owners of the company that I used to work for would make lunch for the staff on Fridays. Most people enjoyed this, and considered it a fun little perk of the job, hey free lunch, and it’s usually pretty good? Why not?!

    However, this chef/owner was the MESSIEST cook you have ever seen. The counters, sinks, and tables would all get FILLED with dirty dishes, from roasting pans, to different utensils and bowls needed during the cooking process. After the masses had eaten, the office kitchen was filled with dirty dishes, leftover food that needed to be put away and floors that needed to be swept. The idea was that a few people each week would clean up the kitchen, and then the next week a different group of people would do it.

    I think it comes as no surprise that eventually the same group of people ended up cleaning the kitchen each week, myself included. While the entire office would all enjoy the fruits of the chef’s labor, there would be a mass exodus from the kitchen area from the same repeat offenders in order to avoid the mess. After I got stuck cleaning up for an office of about 30 by myself I started opting for lunch elsewhere those days so I would no longer feel that I needed to help clean up. Apparently the others who would traditionally help as well started feeling the same way. One Friday not a single person lifted a finger to clean up and the food, dishes, and mess sat for an entire weekend until the other owner of the company came in first thing Monday to see/smell the mess. I believe then that a few additional people had to help lift a finger then.

    The food was good, but I do not miss Friday lunches and clean up.

    1. Warrior Princess Xena*

      The thing about even semi-professional chefs is that they go through a LOT of dishware! There’s a reason one of the key members of the professional kitchen is the dishwasher. Organizing a kitchen around making a wide variety of foods in bulk does not lend itself to minimalism.

      1. Worldwalker*

        My father was a short-order cook in his youth. He was a very good cook, but my mother wouldn’t let him cook, because he cooked like he had a potboy. He could manage to dirty every single pot, pan, and utensil in the kitchen, and leave it looking like a cyclone hit it.

        1. I have RBF*

          One of my roomies was a cook in the Coast Guard. He always made a big mess, and he never could make a proper pot roast.

  39. MCL*

    This is less a story than a story-in-waiting. My university department is going to move to a new building in the next couple of years. The architects unveiled this lovely building with open kitchens on every floor that apparently can be used by faculty, staff, and students (graduate and undergraduate) alike… with apparently no plan for upping the number of custodial staff. Apparently they will just magically stay clean!

    1. Llellayena*

      Ah, university architecture. As an architect myself this reminds me of the brilliant design of my architecture studio building with a two story studio space with one story “pods” in the middle for closed offices. A seen from the mezzanine, the depth of accumulated dust on the roof of the pods was…impressive.

      1. Observer*

        My favorite story is the set up where a set of stairs were transparent. Like you could look up and see what was under the skirt of any woman who was not warned in advance.

        PS One of the administrators of the building had the gall to say that the women were over-reacting, because there is only an “illusion” of transparency.

        From News10 TV:

        Franklin County Administrator Don Brown said on Tuesday that county leaders are looking into theconcerns about the glass staircase at the new courthouse.

        Some people, including a judge, raised concerns that the glass staircase could allow someone topeek under women’s dresses or skirts.

        Brown told 10TV News that he believes the fears are overblown.

        “I think it’s not as serious a concern to most members of the bench as one member hasexpressed,” Brown said. “There’s an illusion on the stairs of transparency but the stepsthemselves are solid concrete.”

        Link to follow

          1. Imtheone*

            They risers are transparent and provide a pretty clear view of who is going up the stairs!

  40. Coffee slacker*

    There is one co-worker who has never, ever even once filled a coffee pot, he will leave the empty pot to scorch and burn and claim it still had a cup in it, and while he may be a fine human being in every other way I found myself plotting petty revenge fantasies for years.

    We were both up for a promotion recently, and they actually asked me what qualities I brought that he did not, and I said I haven’t avoided making coffee because I think it beneath me for 8 years.

    I got the promotion. Now that’s probably not the reason, but I am assuming it was.

    1. NeedRain47*

      No, yeah, that seems like a good reason to me. Next time I interview I’ll be sure to point out I’m not the guy who takes all the silverware from the break room and leaves it (dirty) at his desk forever so god forbid you forget to bring your own fork.

    2. zinzarin*

      This is an aside, but I am *horrified* that you were asked to state why you were *better than* the other candidate. What an abominable question! Ask me what strengths I bring to the role, sure, but don’t ask me to throw my colleague under the bus to get the new job! That’s awful….

    3. LCH*

      ahahaha, i wonder if they asked him about this during his interview. like, bro, have you ever made coffee for the office?

  41. Robin Ellacott*

    We just have the usual issues: people helplessly leave dishes in the sink if the dishwasher is full, as if the next logical step is unclear; only a few of us ever taking out the compost; unfamiliarity with the concept of wiping up your spills, etc.

    I did just text a photo of the sink, which was full of cutlery and artistically arranged ramen noodles, to a colleague with the caption:
    I present to you a still life, which I would like to call “Raised By Wolves.”

    1. ICodeForFood*

      LOL! We used to ask if some of our coworkers were raised by wolves where I worked in the 1990s. There was also a catchphrase “What? Are your hands painted on?” for those who didn’t lift a finger to help…

    2. DishwasherDisabilityIncompatibility*

      I loathe places that expect you to use real plate, silverware, etc then get upset if you leave the dirty stuff in the sink. I’m disabled and getting the damn plates into the sink is a major effort for me. Paper plates are much more disability friendly, but if you want to use the real stuff for environmental reasons don’t complain about the people doing their best with what you allow in the kitchen.

  42. The Eye of Argon*

    I was a commuter student in college. We had our own lounge in a separate little building on campus with a kitchenette, couches, lots of tables, plus… The Refrigerator. There was no room to put stuff in it because of all the old stuff: plastic containers full of moldy… mold, half drunk sodas, bottles of salad dressing that no one used because if you did you’d piss off the original owner, but none of them were labeled. Even insulated lunch bags that people put in there and never touched again.

    One year I was on commuter council and the council president decided she’d had enough of The disgusting Refrigerator and we were going to clean it. She put signs up all over the lounge warning of the impending cleaning a week ahead of time saying that anything without a name and date on it was going to be thrown away, so if you wanted something back, either label and date it or take it home.

    On the day of the cleanup we threw away the containers full of mold and the orphaned dressing bottles. One particular horror that sticks out in my mind was a half gallon of milk that had solidified. Someone tried to pour it out and it wiggled but didn’t budge, so into the trash it went. The insulated bags were emptied and left on a table for their owners. We cleaned all the shelves with bleach because they were disgusting. The Refrigerator was clean and spotless and not disgustig anymore, and the council president put a big sign on the door that all items had to have a name and date, and anything in there more than 3 days was going in the trash.

    Of course world war 3 erupted because we’d thrown away people’s containers, opened their lunch bags, and thrown away their stuff. And it was unfair to threaten to throw away people’s food and what if they didn’t have a marker and they were going to complain to someone and blah blah blah. The president’s response was basically “screw you, then; enjoy your Fridge from the Black Lagoon” and in no time The Refrigerator was just as nasty as before.

    I personally never put anything in it because ew.

  43. I guess I'll drink tea then...*

    My old boss (the owner of the company) used to drink at least 7 cups of coffee everyday but only ever the cheapest instant stuff that tasted horrible. Eventually I got sick of that coffee and so decided to buy my own tub of slightly more expensive, but a lot tastier coffee. She then tried my coffee (without asking), declared how delicious it was, used all of it within a week and then refused to actually buy anymore of it and just went back to guzzling the same crap as before. Livid.

    1. I have RBF*

      This is why you never leave personal supplies like coffee or tea in communal areas – some entitled jerk will decide they like it, consume it, and not replace it.

  44. Rainy*

    For whatever reason, in TWO DIFFERENT office suites, I have had an office very near the office refrigerator, and I am very sensitive to the smell of old food/food going off, so I am the defacto fridge cleaner. We’re in the office less now so it’s less of an issue, but my office is full of very polite people who don’t want to step on other people’s toes or throw away food if it might be someone else’s, even if it’s a visible hazard, and so you can probably imagine what the fridge looked like before I started cleaning it.

    Now it does not look like that. If a personal container is in the fridge at the end of the week and the food inside is visibly moldy, dessicated, or off, I toss it. If the container can be saved, I will dump the food (in the composting bin down the hall!) and bring the container back, with a post-it describing the previous contents to aid in identification. If the container cannot be saved or is disposable, I dump the whole thing. Life is too short for this nonsense. For things like coffee creamer, yogurt cups, or milk I check the expiry date and toss when expired. For half-drunk Pepsis or teas, or half-drunk cups of Starbucks, if they’re sealable I make a mark on the container so I know if it’s the same half-drunk Pepsi, and if it’s been in the fridge long enough to already have a mark, I toss it. If it’s a half-drunk beverage in a non-sealing container I toss it at the end of the week.

    I think one person ever has complained, and they were shut down very quickly indeed by everyone else, none of whom want me to stop cleaning the fridge (probably because they might have to do it). We used to have a rota, but it didn’t work.

  45. NeedRain47*

    The longer I work in offices, the less I am willing to use any of the “shared” things. I bring coffee in my own thermos and a cold pack for my lunch if it needs refrigerated. People are gross and horrible and this thread isn’t helping change my mind.

    1. Tuesday*

      Totally agreed. My coworker gave me a hard time for bringing soup in a thermos instead of heating it up in the microwave. The microwaves are so nasty! I’m not putting my food in there!

    2. Anon4This*

      My employer has no custodial service, so they made a schedule for us all to rotate cleaning the restrooms. No surprise, the guys rarely do the task.

      They also have a refrigerator, which no one cleans. The boss and family do not clean it. Ever. So no one cleans it. I pretend it doesn’t exist so I don’t have to think about it, but when I near it I of course watch out for insects and rodents. Unfortunately they tend to post notices on the thing…I never see any posts so I never know what’s going on.

  46. Ray Gillette*

    When I was fresh out of college and working at a startup, it was nobody’s job to clean the office fridge, so it got pretty gross because people would regularly forget leftovers or even whole, untouched entrees from nearby restaurants that they must have purchased with the intent of taking home for dinner.

    I went rogue and instituted a rule that everything in the fridge had to be labeled with the owner’s name and the date. Anything unlabeled or more than 3 days old would be thrown away. Did I have the authority to make a new office rule? Probably not, but everyone agreed it was a good idea and nobody else had a better one.

    I got a lot of perfectly good free food that way. One time someone abandoned a whole pizza. I gave that one a full day even though it was unlabeled, but the owner didn’t go back for it.

  47. Jason Stacey*

    I worked in a university communications office and sat in the office just outside the kitchen. Sometimes the smell of the refrigerator would be so overwhelming that it would penetrate even my closed door. In that case, I’d have to clean out the fridge myself–my foulest find was months-old milk. Only one person drank milk at work (ew) so I knew immediately who the culprit was, and loudly discussed my disgusting find in his presence. Frequently. The most vile-smelling thing someone ever microwaved in that kitchen was a whole fish. Whole, like one that would be fileted tableside at a fine dining restaurant. It barely fit in the microwave. My other drama was the constant microwave beeping caused by people heating Lean Cuisines and returning to their desks to wait out the cook-time–only to forget they’d put something in the microwave. For hours. I made it a habit to get up and open and close the microwave to stop the racket after a few beeps. But I’ve always been fascinated that people who were hungry at noon never wondered where their uneaten lunch was at 3 p.m.

    1. Another Librarian*

      I was in a similar close to the kitchen situation and, oh my god, THE BEEPING. It was somehow worse than the smells.

      1. Rainy*

        It took FOUR YEARS to convince our office fish microwaver to stop. There’s a microwave down the hall in a room that no one sits near! She could use that! But for four years she microwaved fish 3x week in the microwave in the office, while people said “Ugh” and “Please don’t” and “That smells really bad”. She finally started asking people “Do you have a problem with my lunch? I’ve heard people are complaining, is it you?”

        Everyone said yes. Yes it’s me, yes I have a problem, yes I want you to stop.

        She seemed genuinely confused.

  48. ITman*

    This was probably 20 years ago. I worked for a startup, and the president of the company had… issues. One day he got tired of seeing dirty dishes in the kitchen sink and started hiding them. Find a dirty dish– hide it, until there were no dishes left. Finally, he revealed at an all-hands meeting that he had taken all the dirty dishes as a lesson to us all… and gave them to the office manager to clean and return to the kitchen.

    1. The OG Sleepless*

      When I was in vet school, we had a rounds room that was used as a general hangout/lunchroom by 4th year students. People would leave food, backpacks etc. in there all the time. One of the surgeons was a major neat freak and the mess drove him absolutely crazy. I mean, in retrospect, he wasn’t wrong, we were kind of a bunch of pigs. He started tossing entire backpacks in the dumpster outside and telling people too bad. That stopped abruptly when he threw out somebody’s insulin with her backpack. To his credit, the moment somebody told him about it, he sprinted outside and climbed into the dumpster himself to retrieve her backpack. Apparently I was one of the few people who didn’t get to see Dr. C in the dumpster tossing garbage around.

      1. I have RBF*

        Tossing backpacks belonging to students? WTF?

        I would have had a major cow when I was in school, because my backpack had my very expensive school books in it, and I couldn’t afford to replace them. If there were no lockers or even cubbies, where the heck did he expect people to put their stuff? Totally irrational.

        1. Rainy*

          Carry it with you. Sorry about that, but random rooms are not for your backpacks. It’s a university, there’s no bag drop.

          1. TinyRaptor*

            Clinical programs are a little different than the classic undergrad experience—often the late year students are in clinics or on rotations, shadowing people as they meet with patients and perform procedures. In those sorts of curriculums, the U should absolutely provide access to a safe storage area! Can’t bring a backpack into an OR…

            1. Rainy*

              Oh, definitely, but I was responding to “I have RBF”‘s comment.

              When I was in grad school (and not in a clinical program), my master’s program had (small, shared) offices for us, and my PhD program had a reading room where you could leave stuff. When I was in undergrad, I carried my stuff around. It sounded like RBF was talking about their undergrad.

  49. Pangolin*

    This is possibly a mortification story as much as a food/kitchen story. The kitchen in my office pre-lockdown was not a good place to keep things. It wasn’t actually a kitchen, just a corner of the office cordoned off as a storage area. The ‘kitchen’ part had a fridge, which made anything that went in it smell like rot, a table for putting sharing food on (so anything left there was taken), and a filing cabinet where cutlery and mugs lived. That was it. Therefore it was pretty common to keep snacks in one’s personal desk drawers. At one point I was on a health kick and replaced the crisps in my drawer with satsumas. Then I got quite ill. Five days later I returned to a silent office bathed in the smell of rotting citrus. I quietly threw the satsumas away (in an outside bin) and never kept fresh things in the office again.

    1. Hydrangea McDuff*

      I had a desk in a hallway at my first professional job. (Three of us, more entry level/admin types sat in the hallway while five colleagues had offices. It was genuinely a hallway used for foot traffic and we didn’t even have cubicle walls for privacy or to avoid distractions.) After lunch I would tuck my lunch bag under my desk because I didn’t have a space to keep it in and I didn’t want anyone to trip on it.

      Once I forgot to take my bag home after i’d had leftover chicken for lunch. Then I went on a business trip for at least a week including travel days and a weekend. When I got back the whole hallway smelled like spoiled chicken. No one could figure out why and was blaming the plumbing or the ventilation. I took my bag home super quietly and tossed all the containers. And then I would put my lunch bag IN my work bag so I didn’t ever forget it again!!

  50. Red*

    So I used to work for a company where the boss was an extremely old Italian man who grew up during WWII in Italy. The man NEVER threw anything away and would insist food that was months past the sell by was still good. He washed and reused the tinfoil, he ate peanut butter that had been in our cabinets 2 years past the sell by (I’m not a religious stickler for sell by dates, but two years is uh, a long time), and my least favorite thing was he would get upset if he caught you not reusing the coffee grounds. You had to be stealthy in the kitchen lest he catch you and you get a lecture on wasting perfectly good whatever (trash).

  51. Ann Onymous*

    I once worked in a small office where one person (Bob) had a habit of getting distracted while his coffee was reheating in the microwave and forgetting to come back for it. Most of us just saw this as slightly annoying and slightly amusing, but one person (Jane) was driven crazy by it. One Friday afternoon, Bob forgot his coffee in the microwave and then left on vacation for a week. Jane found it at lunch time on Monday, and put the still half-full coffee cup on Bob’s desk where it remained until he got back from vacation. And since Bob took his coffee with cream, it was pretty nasty by then.

    1. DawnShadow*

      At first I thought OMG DO I WORK WITH YOU but my boss took his coffee black (I would be Jane in your scenario)

    2. anywhere but here*

      I am guilty of forgetting coffee in the microwave at home & not realizing until a day or two later when I’m missing the mug . . . fortunately the only person for that to bother is me.

    3. Reed Weird*

      Not office, but my dad always does this at home! It’s a running joke in my family to yell “Found it!” when you open the microwave and there’s a mug in there. Dad claims it doesn’t count as “found it” if the coffee’s still hot, haha!

  52. Donut Manager*

    Not really kitchen drama, but it always makes me giggle: the fractional last donut.
    I’m guessing no one wants to be the one to take the LAST donut. So, someone will cut it in half and leave half. Then, someone will divide that one and leave a piece, and so on.
    Once when I went into the kitchen I think there was 1/16 of a donut sitting in the box.

    1. Elle*

      I used to sit next to the kitchen and overheard people debating if they should take a donut. Bagels were also debated. This was all due to dieting/fear around ingesting calories. The solution was to take a small piece. These folks would return throughout the day and continue to cut off small pieces. They were wracked with guilt and apologetic for wanting the food.

      1. Emma*

        It’s miserable, isn’t it? I have a coworker who is prone to this. On one occasion I had been overhearing her debating at passersby whether or not she should have a doughnut for at least 10 minutes. I wanted a doughnut, so I got up to get one, and she accosts me to ask if I’ll split it with her, because she “really shouldn’t have a whole one”.

        I responded “Sorry, I don’t share doughnuts”, picked up a doughnut (yes, a whole one!) and walked away with it. Probably a little petty, but it hasn’t happened again!

      2. I have RBF*

        Aaaaaugh!! I hate that.

        At one place they would have bagels one morning a week. Four boxes of them in a common area. Inevitably, some hard-core dieter would take the top half of a bagel, and leave the bottom half prominently displayed so the rest of us would know that they were dieting and healthy. Repeat this by several dieters.

        So there would be bottoms of several different types of bagels. Not once did these diet people think to take the bottom of some other diet person’s bagel – oh, no, they had to take the top off of a fresh, whole bagel so everyone else could see how f’ing virtuous they were for only taking half a bagel, and if they just took the bottom everyone would think everyone was taking … shudder … whole bagels!!!!1!!!!

        I would regularly take the bottom halves and stack them pointedly on a single plate, just to show the waste. If, by some lucky measure, there was a bottom of one and a top of a not too dissimilar bagel, I put my cream cheese on that pair, just to discourage the wasteful diet virtue displays.

        The worst were the people who would cut the bagels in half vertically, not horizontally, as if they expected someone to come along and eat their virtue signalling leftovers.

        I now WFH, and any bagels that come into my house are eaten whole, or split between two mutually agreeable people.

    2. Bad Wolf*

      An infinite number of mathematicians walk into a bar. The first one orders a pint. The second one, a half of a pint. The third one, a quarter of a pint. The fourth one, an eighth of a pint. When the seventh mathematician orders 1/64th of a pint, the bartender slams two pints of beer on the bar and says – “You boys need to know your limits.”

    3. Charlotte Lucas*

      This drives me crazy! Just take the whole donut. They are already portioned out, & because they’re fried, the stale really fast once you cut them.

      And who wants to eat half a donut that someone’s fingers have been all over. Ick!!

      1. Gumby*

        Tip for halving donuts – pizza cutter while they are still in the box. This is what I do when putting out donuts for a group where inevitably someone/most people will want half. Or two halves of different types of donuts. (Ok, coffee hour, I do this when I provide donuts for coffee hour.)

      2. Butterfly Counter*

        There’s a infographic out there that shows in donuts how much sugar other food contains. Like a can of soda has 2 1/2 donuts of sugar or whatever. It really did a good job of helping some people realize that a donut or two really aren’t all that bad for you.

    4. Shira VonDoom*

      I’ve never understood that.

      I’m also the oldest of 4 children, and while we were certainly well fed, we were also…siblings, LOL…so competition for Favorite Foods could be intense solely on principle.

      A coworker at an old job once insisted he couldn’t take the last donut because he was an only child and “that would be rude”. I told him that as the eldest of 4, I would happily eat it just to deprive anyone else of having it. I was (mostly) kidding.

    5. MagicEyes*

      This reminds me of a long-ago Horrible Boss. She was sick, but she came into the office for a meeting, carrying a bag of cold pills and guzzling herbal tea. I had made some Very Good Brownies. She cut a brownie in half with her filthy, germy hands, then cut it in half again and left the rest of the Plague Brownie for some unsuspecting person. I was so mad!

  53. Alex*

    This wasn’t technically in the kitchen but has to do with food.

    I used to work in an office where we would routinely have a lunch for a small group of people. There were usually leftovers from this lunch, and after the group had left, the people in the office were allowed to eat the leftovers.

    There was a rule that whoever was the person who organized the lunch (there were 2-3 different people who could be in charge for any particular lunch) were responsible for giving the “OK” for people to come and help themselves. It was sort of understood that the organizer had first dibs.

    Well, there was this one organizer who would often order italian food–baked ziti, lasagna, etc. When the lunch was over, before giving the “OK to the rest of the office, would take ALL of the cheese toppings from all of the italian dishes–you know, the best part? She would peel off the layer of baked cheese, put it in a tupperware container, and put her name on it and put it in the fridge. And then invite everyone to eat the pasta underneath.

    It was so weird, and bizarre, AND selfish!

    1. Tuesday*

      What the heck! This is like someone peeling all the skin off a fried chicken and taking it for themselves!

      1. merula*

        My family doesn’t like poultry skin. I try to overlook their objective wrongness in that opinion since it means I get ALL the poultry skin at Thanksgiving or other poultry-centered occasions.

        1. Selena's nan*

          The only thing better than turkey skin is that overdone lump of stuffing that falls off and soaks in the pan drippings!

  54. DisneyChannelThis*

    One office I worked at did a monthly fee which was then used to all the little expenses like a monthly birthday cake+ individual cards. It was 5$ a month, which wasn’t a lot for most people but I was one of the tier only making 20k a year so it was not in my budget and I made sure not to use any of the shared items or eat the cakes. Some people there were making 6 figures for contrast. But every month without fail the admin would send out the most obnoxious e-mails about it. Subject line always in all caps “FEED THE KITTY”. Why it was called a kitty I never understood, some attempt to be cute maybe. (What cat eats cash??). The e-mail always had a body with a cat photo at least. But in a fast paced job the all caps about paying for cake of all things was extremely obnoxious. Either write the budget to have department funds for celebrating birthdays or don’t celebrate. Don’t ask the employees to cough up money…

    1. Robin Ellacott*

      “The kitty” is a term I grew up with for this kind of communal fund people chip small amounts into. I am half British so maybe it’s an expression from there?

      1. Moira Rose*

        If you Google “kitty definition” it’s the very first meaning. Not just a British thing

        1. DisneyChannelThis*

          That’s pretty hilarious. I never bothered googling kitty because I know what a immature cat is…

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          Same! For me, it specifically means the pot where you keep the ante for a card game.

    2. Llama Identity Thief*

      https://www.collinsdictionary.com/us/dictionary/english/kitty

      The “kitty” thing wasn’t her own weirdness, it’s commonly used for a pool of money either for communal expenses or within gambling. I’ve seen kitty used similarly in other places – I play a fair amount of cribbage, and the side cards the dealer gets as a second hand are called the “kitty.”

      Still gotta love that obnoxious all caps.

    3. Marketing Unicorn Ninja*

      Fun fact! ‘Feed the kitty’ is an actual term, not just your admin trying to be cutesy. It originates in gambling, and incorporates a pun, since ‘kitty’ can mean ‘cat’ as well as ‘pool,’ like a pool of money. “I can’t make a big donation this year, but I’m willing to feed the kitty something.” Origin late 1800s.

      1. Nina*

        It’s a reasonably enduring urban legend in NZ that ‘kitty’ meaning a collective pool of funds or other items comes from the te reo Maori word ‘kete’ meaning a bag (usually woven from flax fronds), and here it’s not unusual to see ‘contribute to the kete’ emails.

    4. Hlao-roo*

      I looked at Merriam Webster, and as best I can tell, “kitty” derives from “kit”, as in “a collection of articles usually for personal use (a travel kit)” or “a container for any of such sets or collections.” Not related to the cat/kitten “kitty” (though I have seen a few kitties with cat ears and faces drawn on).

    5. LCH*

      oh yeah, i got guilt tripped at one job about a year in because i hadn’t contributed. to this fund that no one had ever mentioned before…

  55. nora*

    we have a team member with a history of perplexing, norm-bending behavior. just this week, a “help yourself” email went out for 12-15 unclaimed boxed lunches from an event. it was discovered that mere moments after that message (or perhaps before), this person had unsealed and removed the chips and cookie from each of them before returning the solo sandwiches to the fridge.

  56. SleepyHollowGirl*

    This is not drama, but I still thought it was funny.

    I worked in an office that provided clean dishes and had a place to put dirty dishes. I saw a grown man grab a clean mug, look inside, decide it was not clean enough, and then put it back on the *clean dishes shelf* rather than in the dirty dish box behind him.

  57. BellyButton*

    I WFH so I should not have to deal with any kitchen wars. However, yesterday I was eating at my desk and stepped away for a moment. My little dog jumped in my chair and stole some pasta. NO ONE IS SAFE!

    1. old curmudgeon*

      I feel your pain – I was WFH earlier this week, eating a cheese sandwich at my desk while battling an uncooperative spreadsheet, and my brat cat took advantage of my distracted state to take a chomp out of my sandwich WHILE IT WAS IN MY HAND. Which is why said cat’s last name is MacDammitcat.

  58. Warrior Princess Xena*

    Not a kitchen war, precisely, but we’ve got some ice cream bars in the shared freezer that we got for an ice cream day back in June. I’m curious to see how long those will stay there until someone caves.

  59. All Het Up About It*

    Years ago I worked in a non-profit with an upstairs and downstairs kitchen. The downstairs was smaller without the stove or seating as the upstairs, which supported our client events, but the downstairs kitchen did have several appliances that staff used for heating and storing their lunches and sometimes overflow from upstairs.

    One of these appliances was under a repair contract and it started going out where it would just working, but if you turned it back on it would work again. We called out the repair tech and he came and said that if it was working, he couldn’t really do anything. So the next time it happened, don’t reset it, leave it “broken” and call him. This was a conversation had with the office manager. As my office was closest to the downstairs kitchen, I became the sort of the defacto appliance person. Multiple times this appliance would stop working, but someone would just reset it, and then I’d get pulled into the discussion and of course repair tech could not be called and it was a THING.

    Exhausted by this and being a person who likes things fixed and a plan followed, I finally put a sign on appliance that said that if it was to suddenly stop working DO NOT reset it. I think there was various other details and I’m sure many exclamation marks. And of course that dang appliance didn’t break down again for months. But finally it did. FINALLY. And I called the office manager person who was the one I had had the conversation with about the repair tech and with whom I had made this plan and was definitely a person who had seen that sign for months and told her that he appliance is broken and hasn’t been reset, so she can call the repair tech.

    That woman waltzed downstairs and reset the appliance. I nearly lost my mind.

    I directed all questions regarding the appliance to her for the rest of the time I was there. But it completely scarred me. At my next job I was heading into the breakroom one day and just as I was walking up someone said “Oh the Appliance is broken.” I turned around and walked back out. Never again. Never again!!

  60. Marketing Unicorn Ninja*

    At a work place several jobs ago, the VP of Finance and Operations (literally the second-in-command at our org) declared herself the Fridge Czar. She would clean out the fridge on Friday afternoons just before she left for the week. She was ruthless — even things that were labelled and dated got thrown out.

    She also started work at 7 a.m., so her EOD was 3 p.m. We were an organization with evening/weekend events, and many of our events team staff didn’t start until 2 p.m. on Fridays, preparatory for their long nights.

    There were constant all-office emails: ‘VP, don’t throw out my container, it’s my dinner!’ And sure enough, it would be tossed. This got so bad — emails, and reply-all emails and grousing on internal Slack channels and complaints through our employee portal and even complaints to our governing Board (!!!) — that finally the CEO, who was generally hands off, had a come-to-Zeus meeting with her in which he said, essentially, ‘If you touch anything in that fridge that isn’t yours ever again I will fire you.’

    I mean, this was MONTHS and MONTHS and MONTHS of her throwing out perfectly good food and people being outrage (rightly so). Also, no one abused the fridge system; we were all really good about taking stuff home and not eating each other’s food and etc.

    She was just bizarre.

    1. LCH*

      Possibly she was scarred from working at one of the offices mentioned here that had fridges growing their own ecosystems and just went to the other extreme.

  61. Keymaster of Gozer*

    Mostly it was just the engineers and us IT people in the office – but we did have one incident that caused a few hassles.

    One of the engineers decided that she was going to go on a specific diet – supposedly to reduce her chances of getting Covid (!) – which was all fine and dandy until she put an A4 note on the fridge door saying that anything meat, dairy or green leaves could NOT be stored in the same fridge as her food.

    That note was defaced within 5 minutes! Lots of silly drawings and ‘get over yourself’ and a few words I’m not gonna repeat here (it was kinda feral for a while at work)

      1. lilsheba*

        When I worked for a bank call center *cough WF cough* We weren’t allowed to have appliances of any sort. No fridges, no microwaves, no Keurigs, nothing at our desks. Not even plants real or fake.

    1. Worldwalker*

      Sounds like she needed her own fridge, then, so her food was sufficiently far from those menacing green leaves!

    2. EO*

      We should have a thread someday for those of us who didn’t get to work from home during Covid to talk about how wild it got in our offices. “Kind of feral” is perfect.

  62. Your Computer Guy*

    When we got a new water dispenser for our kitchen one of our execs was really emotionally invested in it. Like, he was the one to unbox it, and set it up, and was very clear that we should leave the clear plastic film on all the shiny plastic parts.
    One day someone peeled all the film off. The water-exec sent out a completely insane email: “who did it” and “what a terrible thing to do” and “I said not to” and “we won’t be able to return it if something is wrong”. We all already knew he was bonkers about inane stuff, but this was next level.
    Peeling the plastic film off of things became a joke around the office, and I still think about this whole thing every time I have cause to do it.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      I remember when my local Walmart updated all their price checkers but the person doing it didn’t peel the plastic off the screens. I spent a happy hour wandering around, peeling the plastic off the screens.

      I think I peaked early, alas.

      1. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

        This is both strange and deeply relatable and I love it.

  63. mostlygrammatical*

    Years and years ago, a coworker emailed the entire company of a few dozen people with the subject line, “The unthinkable has happened”

    Now, this coworker could come across as peevish and even a little combative at times. We all opened the email with trepidation, wondering what grievance (or summary resignation letter!) we’d find. The email had only one sentence in its body: “Someone ate my big bopper ice cream sandwich.”

    I thought it was hilarious. The email caused a lot of consternation within management, however — was feedback in order? discipline? was this the straw that broke the camel’s back? (I should point out that this person is a fine professional colleague today.)

    The best part of this is that months later — months — another coworker replied-all to the email with a single line that makes me laugh to this day: “I think it was me”

    1. River Song*

      I just spat my coffee laughing at this, I did not expect big bopper ice cream sandwich.

    2. Foxy Hedgehog*

      OK, I admit I would have needed to take the rest of the day off if I had received “I think it was me.” I would not have been able to work through the tears of laughter.

  64. rayray*

    Only thing I’ve seen happen at my current workplace, there’s one team/department on my floor that will order pizzas almost weekly. At one point, the floor was pretty quiet so it wasn’t a problem for them to put the leftovers in the fridge for them to pick at and take slices till it was all gone. One day, someone just happened to open the large costco pizza box that had been in the fridge for days and it was empty. From then on, I’d just check it to see and I think I caught empty pizza boxes two different times. I will never understand the thought process behind taking the last of something and leaving the empty package behind, or even worse – if they took the box out, took the last slice, and put that empty box back in the fridge. I don’t get it!

    1. Harried HR*

      Our teenagers did the same All.The.Time
      1. Drink the last soda
      2. Leave box in fridge
      3. Expect tirade from Mum about paying to keep cardboard cold !!!

      Eventually they figured it out and remove the empty boxes now

  65. Daytripper75*

    This is the best, best, best part of working with 98% females. One of us gets exasperated and cleans. We do have a staff for cleaning, and they do a good job.

    1. ricki*

      My office is 99% male. Last week I found a giant plastic bag of cooked chicken in the fridge growing its own ecosystem. I would hate to see their kitchens at home…

  66. River Song*

    We have an ongoing all in good fun “war” over the water pitcher with the team across the hall. We each have a keurig beverage station but need to bring a pitcher to the water bottle filling fountain down the hall to fill it. Somewhere along the way, one team’s pitcher disappeared into the great unknown. When I got back from maternity leave this past year, I noticed our pitcher had mysteriously been relocated across the hall. I asked our office admin for another, and she ordered one- only by accident, she got the exact standard plastic pitcher…miniature sized. It holds less than two cups of water. Naturally I had to switch it with no explanation whatsoever to the other team who had a genuine moment of “who shrunk the pitcher and how??” Many sticky notes were left, with extensive punctuation. Eventually they found the original pitcher (which I maintain was originally my team’s) and since then a friendly war of pitcher swap has been ongoing. It has involved ransom notes, puns, extensive thought and planning. Of note, we each also have a full sized hot water kettle that works just as well to fill up the Keurigs, but using those would be boring.

    1. Name (Required)*

      This one legit made me LOL – I can imagine the reaction to the same (tiny) pitcher.

  67. Ms. Teacher*

    I’m a teacher, and the school I work at has a program that sends non-perishable food items home with kids who sign up for it. The last day of school before the “two week COVID shut down to flatten the curve” was a distribution day for it. One of my kids forgot her bag; it’s dry goods, no big deal right?

    Wrong. When I came back to school three months later to bring stuff home, the mice in our school (deprived of their usual school lunches) had clearly turned to desperate measures. There was mouse poop EVERYWHERE in my room, ripped open bags of beans, and a few dead mice for good measure. It was disgusting.

  68. Shira VonDoom*

    *pops popcorn and settles in*

    YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

    (I have no tremendously funny or appalling stories, but I CANNOT WAIT for the chaos, LOL)

  69. ShysterB*

    The firm started stocking “snack baskets” in each floor’s kitchen during the pandemic. It continued even after the hybrid return to office. On our floor, someone kept opening bags of chips, rummaging around and taking a few, and leaving them on the table — multiple bags each day. It caused quite a consternation, because no one wanted to eat from a bag someone else’s hands had been in, and frustration because it was MULTIPLE BAGS EACH DAY.

    We eventually figured out who it was, and when confronted (with amusement and gentle teasing), he said he was on strict orders from his wife not to eat high fat/salty food (family history of heart disease), and he thought other people would just eat what he left behind. He had no explanation for why he couldn’t just finish off the first bag he opened or why he needed to open MULTIPLE BAGS EACH DAY and leave each one unfinished.

    Me, I’m still working mostly from home, and the only kitchen contretemps I experience is my dog waiting for me to drop something on the floor.

  70. coachfitz13*

    I work in an office where the Executive Assistant is a former U.S. Army drill sergeant. She got fed up with the break room fridge one day and tossed everything that was expired, not labeled, or looked like a science experiment. Then she posted a note on the fridge that anyone who had an issue with that could come see her about it.

    No one did.

  71. ThatGirl*

    When I started here, we had fairly sturdy paper plates and bowls, styrofoam cups, and a dispenser of plasticware utensils. Folks were encouraged to bring their own water/coffee cups, but disposable were available.

    Last year we were acquired by another company and our office manager left and for awhile things were dicey – paper towels weren’t refilled/purchased quickly, we started running out of utensils, the nice paper plates disappeared.

    This week it was announced that we were moving to reusable everything – cups, mugs, plates, utensils. The direction is to put them in a tub in the kitchen so the cleaning crew can load the dishwasher, run it, and unload overnight. We shall see how well this works…

  72. Molly*

    One time I had the entire office evacuated because of a toaster oven error. For a now-forgotten reason, I sprayed cleaner – fake orange scented (gag) – into the very hot toaster oven. The resulting fumes were horrendous and they pushed us into the hallways. I was treated generously despite my stupidity, thankfully!

    1. ricki*

      my office has been begging for a toaster for years! we’re in a forty-story building, and they tend to ease up when reminded of that looong walk for a fire evac

      1. Molly*

        Hah! Maybe this little story will give you more ammunition when faced with toaster pleas. Although I was pretty stupid and maybe your co-workers/employees aren’t. Older me shakes her head at younger me and cringes down to her toes.

    2. Rara Avis*

      For my first job I drove 3000 miles across the US, accompanied by a friend. It was a boarding school, but the dining hall wasn’t open yet when we arrived. There was a small kitchen for use of boarding teachers. We decided we would make french toast that morning — and discovered that the smoke alarm was located directly above the stove. The steam from the first piece of toast hitting the pan set off the alarm. And that’s how I met all my new colleagues — a Sunday morning false-alarm fire evacuation. Never used that kitchen again — if I was on campus when the kids weren’t, I ate snack bars in my room.

  73. irene adler*

    The local municipality has mandated that all food waste must be separate from regular trash and placed into special green containers for weekly pickup. This goes for residents as well as businesses. The city has provided us with the special green container.

    Everybody from the CEO on down is complaining about this-loud and long to anyone who will listen. What does the city think this program will accomplish by such nonsense?

    The smell. The inconvenience. The fruit flies. The hassle of taking the special green container outside for weekly for pick-up (someone said we cannot leave this container outdoors next to the dumpster as someone might steal it). Where will this special green container go in the meantime?

    What exactly qualifies as food waste? Should we wrap the food items in paper first? How much paper? Do paper plates go into this container? What about coated paper plates? Are we going to be required to switch to biodegradable utensils?

    Management provided a countertop container for the lunchroom to collect the food waste. Are the liners for this container biodegradable? Are you sure? When full, who is tasked with emptying this countertop container into the special green container? Not surprisingly, there are no volunteers for that task.

    We’ve been collecting food waste for just two days now. For a company of less than a dozen employees.

    1. irene adler*

      Small update: Late today, the special green container was relocated to the lunchroom. There will be an uproar tomorrow.

    2. Emmy Noether*

      My former municipality has had biowaste containers for years (though usually workplaces don’t participate, probably because it would descend into disgusting mayhem). It’s not that hard, really. Everything that can go in a home compost can of course go in (non-cooked things of plant origin, eggshells, small amounts of uncoated paper). Industrial scale composters can also handle cooked food and food of animal origin (meat, cheese, bones,…). Avoid putting in liquids. Dryish plant stuff (carrot peels, apple cores, leaves) get the least disgusting. Don’t wrap stuff, but paper (again, uncoated) is fine. Use reusable utensils and plates that you don’t have to throw away.

      The main problem, is, indeed, fruitflies. They seem to be unavoidable in the summer if the container isn’t emptied daily. A container that closes very tightly seems to help to mitigate the problem.

      Apparently it’s one of the most efficient things an individual can do for the environment! My current city doesn’t have bio containers (well, they do, but you have to participate in the special program and there are waiting lists a mile long). I’m kind of pissed about it.

  74. ricki*

    Fergus is the office food police (ugh). Most of us tune him out, but he will bend your ear about all his food rules and beliefs. We have “Tuesday treats” at my office (mostly as a lame come-back-to-the-office effort) and Fergus will always dash to the cookies/doughnuts/whatever, wrap them up in a napkin, and stash them for his Friday “sugar day” because it’s unhealthy to eat sugar more than once a week. He’s so committed to this and I have seen him begrudgingly bite into a stale/mouldy (!) pastry on a Friday just so he feels his still gets his treat. Why not switch your “sugar day” to Tuesday, Fergus? Unthinkable.

    Fergus is also, unsurprisingly, the most likely offender to finish the milk and put the empty bottle back in the fridge because he can’t be arsed to walk two feet to the recycling.

    I wait for the day when some newbie finds Fergus’ stash and eats it without realising.

      1. ricki*

        honestly, the next time Fergus tries to lecture me on the carb content of a banana, I’m saying f it and eating his day-old doughnut.

  75. AuroraDream*

    An office that I worked in was above a birdfeed store, so we had to police our desks quite often for mice, who seemed to love our chocolate stashes the best (one coworker once found a nest in an unused desk drawer with babies inside!). But worse than the desk mice, were the kitchen roaches.

    Our office admin was pretty strict about cleaning out the fridge every week and even spent time wiping down surfaces and working with our cleaning staff to make sure that the trashcans were emptied frequently. But one day we started to notice roaches making themselves at home. We couldn’t figure it out! Pest control kept coming buy and checking on things and the roaches kept coming back! Well, we had a Flavia coffee/tea machine that supplied us with our daily/hourly fixes. One day, someone went to make a cup and out came a roach.

    ‘Okay,’ we all thought, ‘maybe it was just the one that was hanging out in there.’

    Nope… A technician for Flavia came out to check on the machine. It was INFESTED with cockroaches. We’d been drinking roach coffee and tea for who knows how long…

    Needless to say, not only did we get a new machine, but we all went to Starbucks a little more frequently for a while.

    And in my current office, which also has a Flavia machine, when we started noticing a few roaches, I let them know to check the coffee machine!

    1. Juror No.7*

      While the Flavia machine back at the office never had roaches, it would occasionally become jammed when people neglected to empty the basket the used pouches went into. I would remove the basket, and reach up and up into the machine to unjam the final one-to-three pouches.

      Since I was up past my elbow in the coffee machine, I referred to this maneuver as “helping birth a calf.” (Of course, it also helped birth the caffeine.)

  76. Jessie*

    I used to work in a building with seven floors. I was on the seventh, which included our fancy board room for our recurring board of directors meetings. In the kitchenette on our floor, they ended up expanding the k-cup offerings to include some really fancy choices, since we always had visitors and members of the board on-site. Word got out, and employees from other floors would come up to get their coffee. Company-wide emails went out saying folks needed to stick to their floor, signs were posted, the president’s assistant was constantly monitoring the kitchenette to make sure only seventh-floor employees were using it. Eventually things calmed down, but if I ever needed something from someone on another floor, it usually came with a demand that I smuggle them a particular k-cup or two.

  77. Jo*

    I count myself extremely lucky never to have been a part of workplace kitchen drama. To such an extent, in fact, that I had a sandwich disappear exactly one time, in an office where I worked for a decade and a half. I didn’t make a big deal about it. I stood there looking confused for a bit, moved things around to see if it was under or behind something else, mentioned to a nearby coworker that my sandwich was missing, agreed it was very odd, went out to buy some lunch. And then, for ACTUAL YEARS, that coworker would ask me if I found my sandwich every time she saw me open the fridge. She told the story to newcomers. She thought it was hilarious. It only ended when she retired.

  78. JustMe*

    I once worked in an office that leased space on the third floor of a nice new office building. It was a small staff with the executive’s assistant doubling as payroll and an office manager of sorts. Some people would inevitably leave old food in the shared fridge or crumbs on the counter, as is common in pretty much all offices, but Exec. Assistant/Payroll/Office Manager made kitchen cleanliness her crusade. This usually meant leaving printed notes on the fridge in 72-point font about cleaning, which became more and more exasperated as time went on. I remember one that said, “LEAVING CRUMBS ON THE COUNTER ATTRACTS ANTS. YES, THERE ARE ANTS THIS TIME OF YEAR, AND YES, THEY CAN CLIMB TO THE THIRD FLOOR.” I spent that whole year imagining an army of ants making a slow migration up three flights of stairs to our kitchen and wondering how long it would take.

    1. Decima Dewey*

      I’m now envisioning a caravan of ants on this multiyear mission, ensuing generations taking up the storied climb to the third floor.

    2. Artemesia*

      nearly 50 years when I started my longest job, I arrived on a Saturday to do some work getting a head start on the week. I noticed a shimmering ribbon leading under the door. My office was on the third floor and as I walked up the stairs to the third floor this undulating shimmering ribbon was right next to me about an inch wide. It ended at the vending machines on the third floor hall as ants moved into the machine, disassembled the pastries, candy bars, and chips within and carried the goodies back to their nest — in one long shiny simmering undulating stream of anthood.

    3. Bibliothecarial*

      I live on the second floor and it did not take years for them to make it up the stairs to me. Weeks, maybe? They are persistent!

    4. Michelle Smith*

      I don’t know, but I have seen ants on occasion in my 12th floor apartment. Not a stream but one or two randomly. Maybe they took the elevator? LOL

  79. CSRoadWarrior*

    I once brought a pulled pork sandwich with cheese for lunch. It was homemade; my aunt made it for me and I was really looking forward to eating it. Only come lunchtime, I went into the fridge and it was gone.

    I was livid. I was also nearly sure I knew who did it, and I had a lot of problems with this person who threw me under the bus at every chance he got. That made the situation feel a lot worse.

  80. I edit everything*

    I started a new job in November, office manager for our local park. The other park employees are all guys of various ages, blue collar, maintenance, roads and grounds type guys. All great to work with and good at their jobs. Except the kitchen sink. They routinely leave dirty lunch dishes in the sink for days. Normally, someone will wash up once a week or so, but recently, there have been three dirty bowls sitting there, food still in them, for a solid week and a half. They’re green and fuzzy now.
    I wash my dishes immediately after using them and put them away. Not so much because I’m a tidy person, but because there’s no way I want my stuff to come in contact with theirs. I have not been asked to wash the dishes (mildly surprised about that), but if anyone does, I will steadfastly refuse. But I’m almost to the point of putting up a “Your mother doesn’t work here” sign.

    1. ADHDSquirrelWhat*

      I’ve always felt weird about those “your mother” signs. I mean – yes, you shouldn’t leave things expecting someone else to clean them, but also, why is it mom’s job to clean up after people anyway???

      subvert the paradigm! “Your Father doesn’t work here.”

      1. Lily Rowan*

        The only time that sign was hilarious was when I was a kid, at my mother’s office for the day. “YES SHE DOES!!!” Oh, how I laughed!

      2. Charlotte Lucas*

        My mother definitely expected her children to clean their own dishes. So if she did work somewhere like this, the expectations for Cleaning Up After Yourself would be even higher.

      3. 1LFTW*

        100% agree.

        Every time I see one of those signs, I think “if my mother worked here, she’d tell me to do my own damn dishes, because she raised me clean up after myself”.

        My father would say the same thing, with the added bonus of a lecture on the optimal and most efficient way to wash dishes by hand, to prevent 1) wastage of water, soap, and the energy required to heat said water; 2) unnecessary drips and spillage that could create a slip hazard; as well as 3) the importance of thoroughly rinsing and wringing out the dishcloth or sponge for reasons of hygiene, and to prolong the life of said dishcloth or sponge.

    2. Giant Kitty*

      My husband constantly complains about the men he works with leaving their dirty dishes all over the break room because they are so used to their wives & mothers cleaning up after them. My husband cleans up after himself like a responsible adult (and is honestly, far cleaner than I am LMAO.)

  81. QuilterGirl*

    It’s not exactly office lunch room, but once my office arranged a good bye party for a soon to be ex coworker. It was at Bucca De Beppo, which if you don’t know is “family style”, in that everything arrives at the table in big bowls and everyone serves themselves. The cool kids sat at one end of the table and had the servers bring all the bowls to that end first. I was at the other end…of course all the bowls were emptied by the time they arrived at our end. I got half a serving of green beans and a spoonful of mashed potato. It cost me $45. I stopped for a burger on the way home. I always say, go out to eat with your coworkers to find their real character.

    1. BlueSwimmer*

      I went to a wedding rehearsal dinner like this. It was at a nice Italian restaurant in their back room. There were platters of antipasto spread out along one long table with small snack-size plates. It was clearly meant to be a stand and mingle while having a small plate of antipasto situation and not dinner, even though it was at dinner time and billed as a rehearsal dinner. We shrugged and figured we would get a slice of pizza on the way home.

      Then, the family of the groom all pulled chairs up to the buffet table and proceeded to pile the tiny plates to towering heights and cleared all the platters in about 15 minutes, leaving nothing for anyone else. The groom had to go and ask the restaurant for another round of platters. The bride and groom were paying for the wedding themselves and I know weren’t expecting this expense.

    2. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

      ” I always say, go out to eat with your coworkers to find their real character.” This is so, so true. I never fully trust anyone until I’ve shared a meal with them. (And then sometimes I never fully trust someone *because* I’ve shared a meal with them.)

    3. Charlotte Lucas*

      That’s also a flaw in the service. Whenever I’ve gone to a place like that, they distribute the food more evenly over the table.

      1. QuilterGirl*

        My lovely coworkers were very insistent about where the food should be delivered, to the point of taking the plates out of the servers hands. I don’t hold the server at fault at all.

        1. I have RBF*

          The servers should have evaded that. People who were paying weren’t getting food. The servers could have told the cool kids that only serving one end of the table was against policy.

  82. Turtle Dove*

    When I transferred departments at the IT company where I worked, I was assigned the only available cubicle in my new area. It was empty for a good reason. It was closest to the lunchroom, so loud conversations drifted straight into the cube. And, I soon learned, nasty fumes drifted straight in too. The single fridge in there hadn’t been cleaned out in ages and was full of spoiled food. Wafting commenced every time someone opened the fridge door. I emailed the facilities team to ask about the cleanout policy. The main facilities dude replied defensively that it was up to employees, not his team or the janitorial team, and no way would they take it on. I responded politely that I was just checking, and maybe I’d do it myself because the smell was unbearable. So after a week or so of procrastinating and gagging at my desk, I stayed after work on a Friday and cleaned out the fridge. I threw out all spoiled food but left condiments in place and washed out non-disposable containers. It took about two hours, and the few people who wandered in as I worked expressed their shock and gratitude that someone was *finally* cleaning it out. I kept my responses light and positive. I viewed it as a favor to my new team (and to myself), so I didn’t want to complain. The really cool thing was that something corporate or cosmic shifted after that: The facilities manager announced that her team would be regularly cleaning out all fridges in all kitchen areas. I like to think I helped make that happen.

  83. Help Desk Peon*

    We (ok, I) have a kitchen mystery. Pre-Covid we rotated who cleans the kitchenette/refrigerator monthly, and it was very necessary. Lots of stories, from the jerk who’d leave half filled paper coffee cups in the fridge, to the moldy science experiments to the 6 months old pop leftover from parties.

    Post-Covid return to office, there’s no rotation. The thing just stays clean somehow. Granted, many of us are only in office a few days each week, but still. Who is cleaning it? I don’t ask, because I’m not volunteering.

  84. katkat*

    Last summer, out of the blue, our manager gave us some company cash to buy some treats for the team. It was really rare and unusual to get ANYTHING extra, so we took our time to plan together what we should buy. We decided to stock the freezer with ite cream, so People in different shifts etc could easily help themselves over several days. The Day came by and everybody was exited about the Several piles of different kinds of ice cream that were brought in. Until we realised that there was no freezer… so It became a single afternoon of ice cream tasting. It was delicious and we were able to take some home, so not too bad.

  85. Fabulous*

    This didn’t start in the kitchen, but it ended there.

    In 2019 when I was working full time in the office (and several months pregnant) I brought in boxes of oatmeal packets and grits for me to eat for breakfast at work, which I stored on the floor under my desk. Now, my desk was in the back corner of the office, but people would still walk by frequently because the printer was down my aisle. The boxes were somewhat hidden by my file cabinet, but if you stopped at my desk for any period of time, you could clearly see something was there.

    After a while, I noticed my boxes were magically starting to empty faster than I was eating them. I first thought I had pregnancy brain, but then it happened when I had literally just opened a new box the previous day and I came in with only three packets left! I reported it to the office manager, but nothing happened. I bought a new box, started keeping them in a drawer; life went on.

    Then, I bought the Behemoth Box – it was the biggest variety pack you could find, and obviously didn’t fit in the drawer, so on the floor it went. Well, the next day, it was gone! The whole entire box just disappeared! I threw up such a stink because a) I was hungry, and b) I was pregnant hungry. Thankfully, later in the day, the office manager discovered the box had been moved to the kitchen cabinet, so I miraculously got it back. I wrote a very colorful note about how you don’t steal a pregnant lady’s food and placed it on top of the box (now back under my desk). The next day, thankfully the box was still there, but the manager did talk to me about my colorful note. It apparently didn’t occur to them that whoever complained about the note was clearly the one stealing my shit!!

    Goodness, I’m still incensed about this, LOL. I thankfully only worked from the office a few more weeks before going remote, but man. Don’t steal a pregnant lady’s food!

  86. Meep*

    I have told this story before, but the year was 2020. The month was July. We were at the start of the pandemic and we weren’t quite sure how COVID spread but knew it could spread via the air and saliva. It was just me and her in the office because my boss was batsh*t insane and an anti-vaxxer. I opened my drawer to get a piece of chocolate as I was working on a complex problem and discovered my half-eaten chocolate bar that I had taken a bite out of the day before. Apparently, she had snuck into my desk and taken it because she needed some chocolate. She later confessed to it when she asked if I had any more chocolate.

    I am not normally squicked out about sharing food, but again, this was the start of the pandemic and we knew COVID could live days on surfaces and she had thought to take food I had obviously put my mouth on. No amount of removing the bite marks and sanitizing her hands could make that OK.

    1. JelloStapler*

      But yet Vaccines aren’t safe.
      Some people’s brains work in mysterious ways.

  87. RabbitRabbit*

    I have a few:

    1. Several years back, our office was in the least-desirable part of the complex, and we were all ecstatic when we found out that we were moving to a better area, window views, all kinds of lovely things. Nice architectural plans, Herman Miller chairs, whole nine yards.

    Except the fridge. The fridge was smaller than our old one, which was tough because we had a lot of people – and were adding more with the move – and already had catered lunch meetings a few times a week. And we began hiring even more people, so combining that with those people who insisted on putting their insulated bags in the fridge and others who would pack a week’s worth of lunch ingredients into a corner of the fridge and it got insane. The edict came down that catered lunch trays/pans could not stay in the fridge, and that food needed to be broken down into individually-claimed servings, or taken home at the end of the night. I started just packing in an insulated bag with enough freezer packs and kept my lunch at my desk.

    2. That ended up being a good thing because we had a lunch thief. It was usually noticed for things that were leftover from the day prior (like if you snagged a sandwich from a catered lunch the day prior and put your name on it for the next day’s lunch). We also knew that our nice remade office that was out of the way was absolutely a third-shift hangout spot for at least a few people with keycard access (housekeeping staff and/or security staff) judging by the meal crumbs/stains left on some desks, and occasional unexplained outgoing phone calls in our desk phones’ call logs. So we blamed those staff categories but knew we couldn’t do anything about it because of who they were, basically.

    Then one day we noticed no lunches had gone missing for a while, even though the after-hours use was still a thing. I asked one of our department heads, who I had actually been discussing the issue of after-hours cameras with, about the lunch thief issue, and she told me that the culprit was someone who had been let go. The only people that had been let go in that time were all executive level.

    3. Out of necessity we had a rotating calendar (both posted on the wall and via Outlook invite) which you were voluntold that you would be handling the cleaning of our kitchen for that week – generally this was just general throwing out left-out trash/food each day and a proper scrub-down of the sink, counter, table, and fridge at the end of the week. Our institutional biosafety officer shared the office so we did not have many of the worst problems – and he even got into a debate with an employee who had brought in a particular dish-drying mat that would cause moisture/mold accumulation, and threw it out. The worst part was basically trying to navigate the “stashers” who would leave their own special stores of food tucked away in the fridge – usually condiment bottles (a few didn’t date their bottles in addition to putting their name on, and got into a heated argument with a colleague who threw out their very new bottles of special expensive salad dressing because ‘it wasn’t even EXPIRED’) but some would fill part of one of the crisper drawers with enough ingredients for at least a week worth of salads. You’d have to eyeball if it looked like it was abandoned food and whether you wanted to argue that point with a particular person, so sometimes you’d just leave it and hope either next week’s cleaner would do it or the person would realize they didn’t mean to leave that bagged salad in there.

    1. QuilterGirl*

      I used to have a cubie near a training area, local K12 teachers would be there after hours or on weekends. I started noticing that stuff on my desk was moved, small change gone, etc. I figured I was imagining it. Then my supervisor questioned my phone log…LONG phone conversations to other areas of the country, or other countries. I also came in one morning to my handset reeking of after shave. I’m not a dude. And one day, I found my hairbrush had been used. Gross.

      1. I have RBF*

        And one day, I found my hairbrush had been used.

        Oh, gross.

        Sounds like you had to lock everything in your drawer, including your phone…

        1. QuilterGirl*

          Oh in K12 there’s no locks, we have all passed FBI background checks and we are all lovely upstanding citizens. No need for locks!

          Yeah we didn’t have locks, and our workstations were easily accessible and also private. Hence the problem.

          It stopped when they moved me to a new space though so that was okay.

  88. LeaveMyShellsAlone*

    This is an old story but one I will never forget. It happened at my first job out of college, which was at a classic startup: overworked and underpaid employees, an egomaniac owner, and a lot of “perks” that didn’t really feel like perks at all.

    We had a weird refrigerator thief who would seemingly just take whatever they wanted out of the fridge a few times a week for lunch, but they didn’t always just take a whole lunch or item; sometimes, they would open someone’s lunchbox or paper bag and take individual things out and leave the rest. Once I opened up a container I had brought with leftover stuffed shells, and 3 of the 5 shells had been eaten! I threw the rest away because I had no idea if the thief had touched them when they were pilfering the other ones.

    After a few weeks of this happening, I was sitting in the lunch room with some other people and the president of the company (who was almost universally hated because of how he treated us and because he loved to talk about how much money he made while we were all getting way below market rate) walked in, opened the fridge, and proceeded to rustle around, looking in bags and opening boxed of leftovers, and then he just took one, grabbed some silverware, and walked out. And it wasn’t like he was in a part of the room we couldn’t see or thought he was hiding from us; the fridge was less than 5 feet from where I was sitting and was in my direct line of sight!

    I told my boss, who was mostly great, and he had to tell the president he couldn’t keep stealing peoples’ food! My boss didn’t give me the full rundown of the conversation but said the president seemed annoyed but promised not to do it anymore.

    It was one of the wildest experiences I’ve ever had. He was kind of socially clueless, but I also got a strong vibe from him that he just didn’t care about what any of us plebes thought of him, so it wasn’t terribly surprising.

  89. Crystal*

    I used to be the refrigerator cleaner and I tried every approach. Make everyone label and date? Didn’t work. Toss everything as a pre-announced time? Didn’t work. Clean every Friday? Didn’t work. Nothing worked, and everybody was mad every time.

    What DID work (for me, anyway) was to clean out first thing in the morning, put everything on the lunchroom tables, photograph it, and send an email blast with the photo, then toss anything left at lunchtime. My personal favorite was the grapes that had grown mold, which I captioned “grapes + mold = wine, but pretty sure you need a bottle and a plan rather than a Ziploc bag.”

    Also, I got to rick-roll my whole office more than once.

  90. Love to WFH*

    My husband told me that someone was stealing yogurt from his lunch bag. I said that he must be imagining it. Why on earth would anyone do that? Then he walked into the lunchroom, and one of his coworkers was eating a carton of yogurt. The coworker looked up, and said “Oops, I guess I’ll have to bring you a replacement.”

    Didn’t even look embarrassed.

  91. Joyce to the World*

    1 microwave for an entire floor with about 200 people. One annoying person would microwave her Lean Cuisine for 18 mins all while there was a growing line of people waiting. She would also talk loudly on her cell phone the entire time and everyone would have to hear her conversation. I would try to clock out for lunch a few minutes early to beat her to the microwave. I had a system down. I brought my Lean Cuisine and stuck in an insulated lunch bag in the refrigerator and it brought the cooking time down to about 3-4 minutes.

    1. ThatGirl*

      There isn’t a single Lean Cuisine on earth that needs to be microwaved for 18 minutes! The whole point is that they microwave in 3-5 minutes from frozen!

      1. zinzarin*

        That hasn’t always been true. I definitely remember some frozen dishes (a lasagna, likely) that took well over 10 minutes to microwave. May not have been Lean Cuisine specifically, but people interchange names like that (all facial tissues are Kleenex, for example).

    2. BlueSwimmer*

      I’m a teacher. My department has 25 minutes total for lunch, including waiting in line for the one faculty bathroom we have all been waiting to use all morning.

      We had two microwaves for about 18 people, many of whom brought frozen meals. We simply didn’t have time to wait for everyone to microwave before the bell rang and we had to get back to our classrooms. We instituted a rule that everyone had to start defrosting their meals in the fridge in the morning and could only microwave for 3 minutes tops. We had signs printed out and hung all around the fridge and microwaves about this rule. When a substitute teacher came in and put something in the microwave that took 12 minutes, I thought everyone was going to kill the poor guy.

    3. Dahlia*

      Insulated bag in the fridge means your lunch is just sitting at room temperature ’cause the cold isn’t getting in.

  92. starsaphire*

    And here’s a just-the-opposite moment:

    I made a new friend in the office kitchen the other day. I’d been reheating some soup in one of the four available microwaves, pulled it out to stir it, and left the door open (to signal, this one’s in use). In the 2.5 seconds it took me, someone else walked up, put his stuff in the open microwave, started it, and turned around to see me standing there with a bowl of semi-hot soup.

    Of course he apologized profusely, we both laughed about it, and shook hands and introduced ourselves. Because when everyone involved is a reasonable person, there’s no kitchen war.

  93. Cheshire Grin*

    At one of his previous jobs, my engineer father worked with a fellow that even their group found a bit… much. *Stewart* had a few sets of cheap metal cutlery from a local discount store that he liked to use for lunch, but had a habit of misplacing or taking home and forgetting about. However, when those items went walkabout, it of course was because they had been stolen. How dare the rest of the group do this! Heathens! Betrayal! Mutiny!

    He finally sent out a very angry email describing how disrespected and insulted he was and that he would like the culprit to either bring his property back or replace it. Unfortunately for Stewart, he sent the email out company wide, not just to his specific site. This lovely gem went out globally to a few hundred thousand people who had no idea who Stewart was, where he was, or what was going on. Replies started coming in from across the country and then overseas from folks that wished to reassure Stewart that they had not seen his knives, forks, or spoons but they could keep an eye out. It was a glorious mess. If I recall correctly, someone on site went to the discount store and bought about 20 more sets of cutlery for him to use. To this day, people still laugh about the absurdity of it all.

  94. MoodySloth*

    I work in higher ed. Our building has a fridge that is open for commuter students to use. Someone spilled (or poured) cooked oatmeal and cooked ramen noodles in the freezer, which leaked down to the fridge. Didn’t clean it up. Someone else was trying to be helpful and unplugged the fridge so the freezer would defrost, which caused the whole thing to start molding and stinking in record time. Cleaning people refused to clean it. I also refused to clean it, since I started gagging if I even opened it. Every time I would plug in the fridge, someone else would unplug it. This went on for weeks. I finally put in a work order to have the whole thing thrown out, as there was no salvaging it, and even that was a hassle as I had to convince them there was no way it could ever get clean enough to be safe for other people to use.

    The microwave that was over there would always get crusted with spillover that people refused to clean up. The coffeemaker was never cleaned. Before the ramen oatmeal incident, things would be in the fridge for months, lunches would be stolen or partially eaten. It’s mind boggling how these are issues in every open kitchen area.

  95. CountessofBeans*

    all office email sent out recently! because one does not think to bring their own and instead relies on the thrift store purchase of utensils a kindhearted soul made years ago….

    subject line: kitchen forks MIA
    “Does anyone know what happened to ALL the forks from the office kitchen? They seem to have gone missing overnight”

    1. sequitur*

      Someone once stole (we assume) an entire container of steak knives from our work cafeteria!

  96. sequitur*

    We used to occasionally run cocktail-making events in the office, until one got really messy and someone puked in the sink in the kitchen area and left it for housekeeping to discover the following morning. The event also happened to fall on a Thursday, with some notable absences and late starts the following morning, leading to a management decree that future heavy drinking events should happen offsite and ideally on Fridays.

  97. Where’s the Orchestra?*

    Not an Office/Job – but the communal kitchen for my freshman dorm: 35 double occupancy rooms of 18 year olds (at least half of whom shouldn’t have been let out without a keeper because they had no clue how to cook or clean on their own). Well, we had one girl who was notorious for burning everything she cooked – she was seemingly convinced the fire alarm was a timer. Her greatest hits:
    – the 20 minute bag of microwave popcorn at 230AM of finals week
    – the two hour pot of boiling rice (which burned almost thru the pot and destroyed a burner on the stove) at midnight of midterms week
    – the three hour sugar cookies at 11PM
    – the forty minute scrambled eggs at 2AM
    – the thirty minute TV dinner at 1AM (that also ruined the kitchen microwave because she took out the turntable and it adhered to the microwave floor)

    If you are noticing a late night trend, it’s because she had to “borrow” a key without permission to get into the kitchen after repeated incidents during the daylight hours in the first three weeks of the semester (that spawned three fire alarms in that time frame). Her key was deactivated for the kitchen – so she would take her roommates key if she could find it to go and “cook” (housing didn’t think it was fair to deny the roommate access to the kitchen when she wasn’t burning food and destroying appliances; but did order her to keep the key safe and not loan it to the roommate).

    Oh – and all of those were in the Fall semester of my freshman year – 8 “cooking related” fire alarms – all by the same person between August and December. She was kicked out of housing for refusing to abide by kitchen safety rules at the end of her first semester.

    (Oh – and sorry for no fridge science experiment stories. There are none because they didn’t trust a dorm building with communal fridge or freezer – which given the cooking antics was probably really, really smart.)

    1. sequitur*

      A guy I knew at college (not in my dorm, thankfully) once got drunk and puked into a pan that he was using to heat up some food, then forgot about it and left it on the burner, until the whole thing became an absolutely disgusting mess of burned-on vomit. I think it even triggered a fire alarm.

      1. Alice*

        A guy I know once woke up after a night of drinking with an incredibly burny crotch. He eventually figured out that he had gone for a poo, puked in his own pants, then immediately forgot it had happened, put his pants back on and gone to pass out on the floor.

    2. elle *sparkle emoji**

      I lived in upper-classmen on-campus housing for one year of college, and the fire alarms were frequent and often late. We had 2 nights in a row the first month with an alarm around midnight. There were also frequent alarms for gas leaks because people couldn’t operate the gas stoves. My roommates and I eventually stopped evacuating for alarms– not the safest choice but oh well.

    3. Charlotte Lucas*

      I know it’s not the same, because we had microwaves but no kitchen, but I lived in a 12-floor residence hall that had a fire alarm due to burning popcorn in a microwave during finals. We all had to clear out at 3 in the morning. In December. In the Midwest.

  98. Aurora Borealis*

    After multiple attempts through email and signage, I finally had enough of our “adult” employees not cleaning up after themselves. Finding a sink full of greasy dirty silverware/dishes on Monday morning from the previous week was the final straw on the camel’s back. I removed all utensils and warned that tableware will also be removed if it is not kept clean. I gave 3 days notice of a fridge clean out and in the end threw away multiple containers that were not labeled. I can’t tell you how cathartic it was to lock up the silverware and throw away the containers. Now I’m waiting to see if the plates and bowls will make a new home in the locked cabinet.

  99. ChatGPT*

    In college I worked in the university’s catering department. I typically would pack, deliver, set up and later break down coffee services for various meetings at different academic departments. It was left to me to decide how much coffee, how many tea bags, how may hot cocoa packets, how many napkins etc would be needed based on the order sheet and number of attendees. Not rocket science, you’d always pack a bit extra and then load up all the non-perishable leftovers later in the day when you cleaned up. It always worked – except for when I went to set up a weekly coffee service at the business school. So each week I would bring a bit more and then still more and then even more. But no matter, it would always be completely used up when I drove back to clean up. A mystery, since I would have thought the picky admin who ordered the service would have complained about being shortchanged.
    Literally months of this went on until one day I went to set up a service and realized I hadn’t packed napkins. I opened up a cabinet door to see what I could find and it was full from top to bottom with napkins. Next cabinet full of tea bags. Next one full of cocoa. Next one full of paper cups and boxes of sugar packets. I had been unwittingly funding the break room coffee service for the most posh and plush department on campus.
    After that? Ten attendees on the order sheet = ten napkins, ten cups, two tea bags, two cocoa packets, 10 stirrers, 5 regular sugar and 5 splenda. I learned a bit about business with that gig.

  100. RSTchick2011*

    My boss got sick of people leaving unwashed mugs in the sink, so she threw them all away. No more issues.

    Also, our staff kitchen got demolished to install a student run coffee shop. Great idea, except no one has storage space for lunches now.

  101. Adultiest Adult*

    One of my early clinics had a large conference room on the 3rd floor next to the kitchen that would sometimes be borrowed by allied programs located elsewhere for the space. I came into work one Monday morning after one of those groups had been meeting there on Friday, frozen meal in hand, and discovered a disaster in the freezer. Apparently someone at the meeting had decided to celebrate something by bringing in two liter bottles of fancy lemonade. Glass bottles. Which I am guessing they put into the freezer to chill and then forgot about. One of those bottles had completely shattered, covering the freezer and everything in it with fine particles of glass, while the other had popped its cork like a geyser under pressure and left an inch of frozen lemonade coating the bottom of the freezer.

    Needless to say, it’s not my job to clean freezers, but I quickly realized that it was both unusable and a safety hazard, and it couldn’t be left like that. I did grumble plenty as I had to remove both sticky lemonade and shards of glass. It was a lot of work for lunch that day! Only ever got an offhanded, oops, thank you!

  102. Lalalala*

    Our company was global, so each office location had their own chat room on Slack. However, in our office chat room, a few people from headquarters (like head of HR, etc.) were also in it.

    Our of nowhere, a message comes through from an entry level employee: “who the F took my gatorade out of the fridge?”. A few people messaged they didn’t see it, the the head of HR was like “theft is a very serious issue”. Then the employee edited the message to remove the “F”.

    My coworker friends and I were silently laughing. One of my coworkers told me later on that our IT guy reviewed the camera footage of the kitchen and didn’t any bottle of gatorade.

    This employee was pretty entitled, I think it was her first real job and she would literally watch TV on her computer with her boss sitting next to her. Once I actually saw her sleeping at the top of the stairs in the building in the middle of the afternoon. I mentioned it to my coworker, who then told the employee’s boss.

    This employee was one of the first let go during the COVID layoffs for “poor performance”

  103. LondonLady*

    I worked for a privately owned consultancy firm where the owner/CEO was, let’s say, extremely vigilant about cost control. The dishwasher in the office kitchen broke down. The main appliance retailers in our location will remove your old machine, connect the new one, and take the old one away (at a price). Our CEO decided to purchase from a much cheaper supplier; only problem, they literally just delivered the new one and did not touch the old one.

    The new machine sat there for weeks, while we first waited, then requested, and finally nagged the CEO to hire a plumber to fit it and someone to remove the old one (while we had to wash our dishes by hand which created another set of drama including the appearance of a poster saying “there is no dishwashing fairy”).

    In the meantime the new machine, parked in the corner, became adopted as side table where people put things like cakes they had brought in for the office. So when it was eventually installed, people requested an extra table for the kitchen.

    I am sure at some stage the CEO realised it would have been cheaper to pay for the installation package up front, but he never said so.

    1. LondonLady*

      Another place where I had a volunteer role had a chilled cabinet in the staff room that was stocked by the organisation with fruit and snacks for people who did evening volunteer shifts, partly as a thank you and mostly because often we were coming straight from day jobs without time to eat. That was the theory. In practice the fridge was usually empty by 6pm as the day shift employees would raid it on their way home. It became an early victim of organisational cost saving.

  104. Half April Ludgate, Half Leslie Knope*

    Working at my very first job out of college, I had a favorite coffee mug that I brought from home and drank out of each morning. It was covered in little donuts and was very cutesy. I also loved it because it was really big, haha.

    We had a kitchen where everyone washed and left their own mugs, etc. to dry. We didn’t have any communal dishware or mugs, everyone used their own thing, though we did have some paper cups in case we had visitors.

    One day, my mug went missing, and my boss discovered it later that day in my executive director’s office. She made an offhand comment and he said “oh yeah, I found this mug in the breakroom and really liked how big it is!” She had to fully break in to his office when he was in another meeting to take it back for me, because he refused to give it up. In writing this post, I realize that young me REALLY missed what a big red flag that was…

  105. Shoney Honey*

    One day, my boss put broccoli in the company breakroom microwave for 30 minutes instead of 3, then walked away to do something and forgot about his broccoli entirely. There was no one else in the kitchen or nearby. When I ran into the kitchen about ten minutes later, burnt broccoli smoke was billowing out of the microwave. I shut it off, but the damage had already been done. Everything, everywhere in the building – including the retail sales floor – smelled like smoky farts for DAYS.

  106. Elle Woods*

    I live in the Midwest where summers can get awfully hot and humid. At a former workplace, the powers that be decided to allow everyone to work from home the first week of July because Independence Day fell on a Wednesday. That meant no one was in the office for about ten days. During that time, we had multiple days of severe storms that knocked the power out for a couple of days. Our office, which was in an old, old building that had been remodeled was one of those affected.

    When we returned from break, we were greeted by the awful stench of rotting food. The fridge, which was nearing the end of its useful life anyway, had died. Rather than try and clean it up, my boss duct taped it shut and had it hauled out. It took a couple of days for the odor to stop lingering. On the plus side, the PTB bought a much nicer, larger fridge that everyone loved.

  107. The Eye of Argon*

    My office doesn’t have a break room. We do have a microwave in one of the offices. One coworker brings something to nuke every day. Her lunch tends to be some variation of either riced cauliflower or egg whites, although on one memorable occasion she brought in some concoction made of garlic, garlic, imitation crab, garlic, garlic, garlic, garlic, and garlic. Plus I believe there was also some garlic in it.

    As these foods are just a wee bit aromatic (as in “could knock out a congested goat at 50 paces”) she considerately tries to cover the smell by lighting a vanilla cupcake candle, the result of which is a miasm of cauliflower or egg smell with cloying overtones of vanilla.

    You can always tell when it’s 11:45 am when The Smell starts up.

    1. pencils600*

      I hate when people try to use a candle (or more frequently) air freshener to cover up a bad smell. You’re not covering anything up, you’re just adding another awful smell that is also headache-inducing.

  108. slashgirl*

    My parents bought a corner convenience store (we were actually at a corner!) in 1979. The people they bought it from had owned it less than 2 years and they had bought it from old Miss Baker (that’s what everyone called her), who’d owned it for decades and taken over from her father who’d owned it for decades prior.

    When my parents were going through the groceries ON THE SHELVES FOR CUSTOMERS TO BUY they found many items in containers that were labelled “Packaged this way because of War Restrictions.” I can’t remember what types of foods, but as they were on shelves, it would’ve been dry goods. Needless to say, they cleared those off the shelves and donated them to a nearby local museum that had an “old fashioned store” set up in one of its rooms.

    At my larger school, when I started there, the principal would wash up/dry the dishes that got left in the sink–his wife had trained him well, I guess. When our new (current) admin started, she was like, oh, hell NO. So she said that any dishes left in the sink that weren’t washed, dried and put away would be thrown out–tbf, most of it was lunchroom dishes anyhow, but even if it wasn’t, they’d get tossed. One of the Educational Assistants then made a social story (as you would for a student), with pictures, on how to wash and dry your dishes and what would happen if you didn’t.

    My previous school, we had a two person per week staff room clean up rotation and we’d usually end up doing it few times a year (small school). Anyhow, I was partnered with E one year–and after that, always wanted her for my clean up buddy. We both hated all the crap left in the fridge and we were two of the few who’d actually clean it out. We’d often end up doing it on the Friday of our week, as it most likely hadn’t been done in the months since we’d last had our turn. We’d email/put a sign on the fridge warning folks at the beginning of the week. There was also a dishwasher, so as long as there didn’t seem to be sentient life in the container, we’d often dump the contents and put them through the dishwasher, although there were times we certainly didn’t.

    At my currents schools I hardly ever use the staff room at the larger school and never use it at the smaller school, so I don’t do much with clean up anymore. I don’t miss it.

  109. It is what it is*

    I worked at a company that provided an apartment size (smaller than full size) for about 15 people.

    People would bring their insulated lunch boxes with cold packs and put them in the fridge.

    Despite numerous attempts we could never convince them that insulated lunch boxes with ice packs did not need to be refrigerated.

    So five of us bought a mini fridge which we kept in a corner of the mailroom. Works great for us and the rest can fight for space among the insulated lunch boxes

  110. Miri12*

    Kitchen-adjacent since the cleaning supplies were kept in the kitchen:
    I once spent my two-week notice period slowly stealing every single cleaning supply and taking them home with me in my backpack. In my defense:
    – The company sucked and repeatedly lied to us about layoffs.
    – The company had laid off almost my entire office by that point, all of whom were good, talented, lovely people.
    – The company was switching the survivors to remote work and the last day in office happened to coincide with the last day of my notice period.
    – I got some really great Clorox wipes out of it.

  111. Mieki*

    Years ago our department had an extremely unpleasant, passive aggressive jerk who each morning would microwave a giant plastic tub of scrambled eggs and what smelled like dog food. He cooked it for like 5 minutes, then bring it into the department to eat. It smelled horrific. Each morning while he ate his breakfast he failed to notice that everyone anywhere near him, left the department. Even after he was told that it made people nauseous he still did it. He eventually got fired for googling “how to kill your boss” on his work computer.

    1. I have RBF*

      He eventually got fired for googling “how to kill your boss” on his work computer.

      Yikes on bikes! This guy was a Red Square full of red flags!

  112. Fives*

    This isn’t really a war but years ago, I used to get “chicken-fried” tofu at a local grocery store and would have it for lunch. In the container (unlabeled), it looked an awful lot like popcorn chicken. It tasted really good but, it had the slightly mushy texture tofu sometimes has. Someone in my building took several pieces out but then never touched it again. I like to think that person thought there was something seriously wrong with the chicken.

    1. Your Computer Guy*

      You’ve made me realize that I’ve probably escaped most office food theft by being a vegetarian. No one wants my tofu!

  113. English Rose*

    It was raining outside. Jed came into the kitchen/dining area where a few of us were having lunch.

    Jed’s hair was wet. He grabbed our only clean tea towel (US = dish towel) and vigorously towel-dried his hair.

    “Jed” we protested, “That’s the tea towel!” “Don’t worry he said, I don’t mind.”

  114. urguncle*

    Less scandalous, more baffling.
    One guy I worked with came on Monday morning with 5 Hungry Man salisbury steak frozen dinners, which he would eat throughout the week. The joke was that if you ever forgot what day it was, just check the freezer for how many Hungry Mans were left.
    Another guy ate 4 hot dogs every day for lunch. Most of the time he had buns, but sometimes it was just a plain frankfurter. No condiments either way.

    1. Tuesday*

      I have a coworker who heats up chicken patties in the toaster oven every morning, then eats them in a meeting room alone with mountain sounds on. I think he’s figured out something about life that the rest of us can only aspire to.

  115. LaLinda*

    A group of co-workers at a retail job felt entitled to place there coats on the back of break-room chairs (instead of using the locker rooms available), leave their garbage on the table, and go back to work. To use the table—one of three–someone would need to remove the coats and garbage and wipe the table down. After complaining to their direct boss and having them dismiss me as a whiner, the next day I took each pile of garbage/empty pop cans and stuffed them down the sleeves of each coat. I made sure each coat received the proper pile and that each sleeve was attended to. It was messy. Next day, coats were gone and the table, while not clean, was at least clear of garbage.

    1. Indolent Libertine*

      You are a hero! Let us all hope you continue only to use your creative power for good.

        1. MoonPie*

          No, this is what’s called “finding out” after the “f*ck around” stage. Highly recommend you don’t leave your crap lying around, then you don’t have to fear this reaction.

        2. Observer*

          Why?

          @LaLinda tried to get the situation rectified in the normal way, but was brushed off. I almost certainly would not have done this, but I really do understand why they would do that – it was probably the only way they could get a table that didn’t require that much clearing off and work.

          1. Rebel*

            As many say around here, caring more than management just isn’t reasonable. MegPie made a good call.

          2. Slothy*

            Couldn’t they just use another table? I think if you’re at the point where you’re stuffing trash into your coworkers’ belongings, it’s time to pause and wonder what went wrong in your life…

            1. sherlock*

              Same here. It also never occurred to anyone that when someone puts their coat on a table or chair, they’re probably coming back to it in a few minutes.

              I’m just trying to picture the coworkers coming back to find their coats full of garbage and just wondering to themselves “okay, which of our coworkers is an unhinged psycho and are they going to key my car next????”

              1. Susie*

                Right? This isn’t a cute story, stuffing trash in people’s coat sleeves is really messed up.

                1. Slothy*

                  Yep, and the person who did it is likely not the office hero…they’re the person new workers are warned about. “Yep, she stuffed garbage into coat sleeves when some folks stepped away. Yeah, I don’t know…just don’t leave your coat out if she’s around.”

              2. Meg*

                We are talking retail, so I am guessing she knew her coworkers were off break and back on the floor, meaning they would not be back for several hours. Also she said there were 3 tables, so if it was a big enough store, the other two might be taken up by others on break.

    2. Random Dice*

      ^^^ WINNER

      Vengeful Sleeves of Garbage is another delightful top contender in this thread

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        A palate cleanser from a friend. He says: “I’m a software engineer and I was transferred to a new department. My 1st week on the job I was washing my dishes after lunch, and the sink was a mess. I had a little time before I had to get back to my desk so I cleaned the sink and was drying off the area with the towel when I heard a gasp behind me. I turned around and saw the department secretary looking at me in shock. I said “Did I do something wrong?”

        “No!” she said. “Most of the programmers don’t clean the sink– please tell me you’ll stay!”

      1. LaLinda*

        Apparently they couldn’t figure out how to complain about it without admitting they were self-entitled pigs. It was very satisfying.

    3. Siege*

      I did something similar at university. I had an Italian roommate my first year who was pretty typically Italian in that his mother had cooked for him (he was in his late 20s) his entire life, so his repertoire was both limited and very, very weird – his signature dish was pasta with tuna, Jack Daniels, and sugar made into a sauce. He was a really great guy but he also didn’t see any urgency to doing dishes, which is just as crucial in a shared house as in an office. When he moved into the house a bunch of us got in second year, I was extremely clear that if he didn’t do his dishes in a timely fashion, they would end up in his bed, upside down.

      Only had to do it once!

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Ah but sugary FISH whiskey… yeah even sugary SALTY OILY fish whiskey … that’s another matter. /s

          (Bleh)

  116. TotalAnonHam*

    Someone left a whole frozen ham thawing in our office refrigerator for I think around two weeks or so. It might have been around Easter or Thanksgiving. Ham juice melted all over the bottom shelf and bottom drawers. Everyone was grossed out and the ham just kept sitting there. Finally an anonymous, ALL CAPS printed note appeared on the fridge addressing the mysterious ham owner in outrage and disgust (the gist being “how dare you, a functioning professional, do this to your colleagues”) and the ham finally disappeared, leaving dried up pools of ham juice for somebody to clean up.

  117. queensansasnark*

    It’s not remotely as good a story as everyone else’s here, but it is a head scratcher: there has been a box of Thin Mints available in our office kitchen for a week. I appear to be the only person eating out of it. Starting to think my coworkers are monsters?

    1. Michelle Smith*

      Mint with chocolate is a highly controversial flavor. A LOT of people hate it.

      1. I have RBF*

        The only way I like mint flavor is if it’s mixed with chocolate.

        Otherwise it makes me want to gag, especially the artificial junk they put into dental products. Why companies think that “everyone” likes mint flavored mouth stuff is beyond me.

  118. Jane Bingley*

    When I worked at an office job, I regularly volunteered to clean the office fridge. I genuinely liked doing it, especially as a break from computer-based work – it was physical, tangible, and gave my eyes a rest. And it’s just so satisfying to come back to a clean fridge!

    I always communicated a couple of days before that a clean-up was approaching. My policy was that anything moldly would be tossed. Anything expired and unlabeled would be tossed. Anything labeled, expired or no, would be kept unless it was clearly a health hazard. Very reasonable, and generally people were just thrilled to have a clean and empty fridge that was once again usable after a round of scrubbing.

    One day as I was cleaning the fridge, I came across a container of tuna salad sandwich mix. Not the sandwich itself, just tuna and mayo and spices mixed together. It had expired three months ago. I was pretty generous on expiry dates, but the combination of fish, mayo, and time seemed bad, and I tossed it.

    The next day, a colleague went to take her lunch and came back quickly. She asked me where the tuna salad mix had gone because she’d brought it in the day before. I explained that the only one I’d found couldn’t have been the one she brought in, it was over 3 months expired.

    She went through the garbage bag full of expired and moldy food. She found the container of wildly expired tuna salad mix that had been sitting at room temperature for nearly 24 hours. She made a sandwich. She ate it. We all watched in absolute horror and shock.

    1. anonexpiredyogurt*

      I think that might even be too much for my former boss, and that’s saying something. Fridge cleanings were a source of much strife because she would dig through all the expired stuff being thrown out and declare various yogurts and fractional bottles of salad dressing “still perfectly good.” Eventually she claimed a crisper drawer and it was understood that anyone cleaning the fridge was to stay out of boss’s crisper drawer. And cleanings started getting scheduled while she was on vacation so she wasn’t there to see the other yogurts and salad dressings and whatnot being disposed of.

    2. Schnookums Von Fancypants, Naughty Basic Horse*

      “When I told you I’ve never known someone to die of food poisoning that wasn’t a call for volunteers “

    3. What's me name again*

      Meanwhile, once I brought in a yogurt cup that was expiring that day, put my name on it and left it in the office fridge in the morning. At lunch time I went to grab it and it was gone. After asking around the very small office, my coworker said she threw it out because it was expired. Obviously this stuck with me and I still think she is an idiot.

  119. Prefers Schmear*

    My most memorable incident was at my old job with a fellow assistant (who was new to the work force, I think). The boss would bring in breakfast on Fridays, which would sometimes include bagels. And the office kitchen included a toaster for our convenience. Everything with fine and dandy.

    Until I watched the new assistant cut open a bagel, put butter on it… then put the buttered bagel in the toaster. Inches away from an actual toaster oven. And she never cleaned up the melted butter even after I pointed it out to her.

    1. Prefers Schmear*

      Replying to my own comment:
      Was she new to the work force or just new to toasters? Today on Unsolved Mysteries…

  120. Dragonfly7*

    Not wars, but grudges:
    1. Coworkers bought me a cake for my birthday. My personal and work project storage space at the time wasn’t large enough to hold a cake, so I left it in the shared break room. Another department ate 3/4 of it before I got to have any.
    2. The coworkers who didn’t announce they were cleaning out the fridge ahead of time and threw out my unexpired, unopened cans of Dublin Dr. Pepper.

    1. EvilQueenRegina*

      That sounds like something my coworker would do with the cans. She threw out my coffee a couple of weeks ago which was not expired – what I’d bought was a Nescafe refillable jar, and the jar had been refilled who knows how many times, so although the jar had 2021 on the label, the coffee was in fact only a few weeks old.

      Half the refillable sachet was still there next to it, plus I’ve been doing it that way for years which she knows full well, but if she’d been unsure I’d have been okay with her asking.

  121. Bad Wolf*

    We have a counter in our break room kitchen (office setting) where folks can leave stuff that is “free” to a good home. It’s a long tradition usually used for stuff like books, what have you. But some people have started leaving stuff there because they are apparently too lazy to throw it away at home. Last week, a half-used bottle of Bath & Body Works body scent. This week I found a 3/4-used bottle of Gold Bond lotion on the kitchen counter.

    I played cat and batted it off the counter into the trash and then dumped a paper towel on top.

    1. Cat Herder*

      I’ll see your Gold Bond and raise you a half a bottle of Karo syrup and tampons. Gosh, I miss the give away shelf!

    2. Michelle Smith*

      We had a table like that. Someone decided it would be a good idea to leave a bunch of Catholic religious pamphlets and tracts for people to take. It was a government office.

    3. Caffeine*

      We had a giveaway shelf in the women’s bathroom that would always end up with Korean skincare masks, travel size beauty/hair products, etc to take.

  122. McGonagall, Professor McGonagall*

    In my first office job, we had an assistant that I referred to as the kitchen goblin. Essentially, any food item that was brought into the office: hers, yours, work lunches, gifts, etc. was open to her for use however she saw fit.

    Tub of margarine brought in by Dumbledore? Goblin used.
    Frozen meals brought in by Snape? Goblin used.
    Christmas goodies sent to the office by clients, and located in a different department? Goblin used, and stolen back to her desk (she had enough good graces to not overtly steal the whole thing, but a generous helping).
    Leftovers from work lunches? Goblin’s grandkids needed to eat.
    Carton of milk brought in by me? Goblin used.

    Complaints to management was met with commiseration and a “whaddya gonna do?” attitude. “That’s just how goblin is” (she also used to try to raid my LOCKED desk for my office peanut butter.)

    One Tuesday afternoon after discovering 99.9% of my milk gone, which was a fresh 1 litre carton the morning before; I had enough. Wednesday morning, I brought in a fresh litre of milk and slathered on lipstick with my inner five year old controlling that tube, I opened the carton, wrapped my bright red lips around the spout and took a quick sip. I admired my red lip marks around the opening and put it in the fridge.

    Goblin was annoyed. She didn’t find me funny at all and she actually had enough entitlement to confront me on my lipstick marks on my milk carton. She didn’t touch my milk after that though…nor did anybody else.

    : )

    1. I have RBF*

      Perfect revenge. She couldn’t complain about you obviously drinking from your carton of milk that she felt entitled to.

  123. Bad Wolf*

    We have a counter in our break room kitchen (office setting) where folks can leave stuff that is “free” to a good home. It’s a long tradition usually used for stuff like books, what have you. But some people have started leaving stuff there because they are apparently too lazy to throw it away at home. Last week, a half-used bottle of Bath & Body Works body scent.

    This week I found a 3/4-used bottle of Gold Bond lotion on the kitchen counter. Whyyyyyyyyy?? I played cat and batted it off the counter into the trash and then dumped a paper towel on top.

    1. Bad Wolf*

      Oops. I got an error message the first time I tried to post that! Apologies for the double.

  124. SquarePizza*

    So on the flip side, I worked for a large company that employed people from all over the world. A lot of different folks eating a lot of different lunches and using a lot of microwaves. When they opened a new office, they created a separate room (with great ventilation) entirely for fridges and microwaves. You could have nuked a whole salmon in one of those and the smell wouldn’t register. It was a great system.

  125. The Eye of Argon*

    At a retail job, my coworkers were addicted to scratch-off lottery tickets. There were machines conveniently located just outside the breakroom door, making it easy for people to pump their crummy wages right into them.

    Then they’d go in and scratch off their tickets on the breakroom tables, leaving behind a coating of little bits of whatever the scratchable stuff is that never got wiped up. So gross.

  126. Still Queer, Still Here*

    When my boss, “Jane” started in our office, we were all so relieved to have her. We had just gone through a period of craziness not helped by a lack of supervisory authority in an office of 5. Jane is a great manager, and just genuinely kind and understanding, and we were all thrilled when she started. My coworker “Lane” was especially thrilled, and made several comments about how we really don’t want to scare her away or let others in the hierarchy of our organization scare her either. Also something to note: Lane is known as a highly structured and organized person with some hygiene fixations. She’s very into hierarchy and tends to be a little more deferential to supervisors than is wholly necessary.

    Jane starts, everything is going well! Then one day, Jane and I are in the office and goes to throw something away and goes “why is my sandwich in the trash?!” It was still sealed up, so we just fished it out and went on with our day. Someone mentions how weird it was to Lane later in the day, and she is absolutely MORTIFIED. Our previous manager was a bit draconian, so Lane was immediately terrified that Jane would never forgive her for what happened. It all came out by the end of the day: Jane generally brings a sandwich in the same little tupperware container every day. We only have a mini-fridge, so space is at a premium. Lane came in that morning to put her lunch in, and sees the same tupperware with a sandwich in there that had (to her) been there all week. Thinking it was a week-old lunch, she tossed it.

    Everyone was good-natured about it and we all laughed. No real harm done. But Jane still occasionally will tease Lane when she goes on a tidying spree “keep your paws off my sandwich, now!” So not really a fridge war. But kinda cute.

  127. Sariel*

    One workplace, one person:
    – cooked fish in the microwave
    – did not wipe up mess from fish cooked in the microwave
    – also used their personal blender to make smoothies (fine);
    – leaving it and its parts in the sink for someone else to clean (not fine).

    This was a manager, so no one felt they could say anything.

  128. raincoaster*

    We sell food, so the rule is that if you buy food you need to put the receipt on it if you’re going to put it in the fridge. And you can’t leave food in the fridge overnight.

    So far so simple, EXCEPT…

    I bought some food, took it home, brought it in (with receipt attached) the next day, and the manager threw it out because he read the date on the receipt and thought it had been there overnight. I don’t put food in the fridge anymore at all.

    Another worker brought in some rather expensive exotic drinks she’d bought elsewhere, and the manager threw them all out because they didn’t have a receipt on them.

  129. Moonlight Elantra*

    My company was remote from March 2020 up until August 2022. You could come in if you wanted, but nobody had to, so few people did. Our IT staff would try to have someone in the office at least one day a week in case someone needed help and wanted to talk in person.

    So this past August we had an all-hands meeting about our return to work schedule and the CEO mentioned that building management (we work in a downtown high-rise) was going to send someone to deep-clean the kitchen, including replacing the old items in the vending machine, at which point, one of the IT techs sheepishly admitted they had been eating the stale chips and candy out of it for the past two years. They claimed everything tasted fine.

  130. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

    I posted this in comments a few weeks ago in the coffee wars, but it continues. Someone on the floor keeps their butter knife in the sink…always. They use it out of the sink and then put it back in the sink. It never gets washed and put away. We don’t have any org-supplied dishes and silverware so it’s their own property and no one else is going to touch it. There are only about 8 people regularly on this floor and it’s not a hinderance to use the sink; it’s just gross.

  131. Jodi*

    I’ve never been able to get my head around the fact that people who would never steal money or belongings from a coworker can justify stealing food from them.

    1. Bronze Betty*

      OK, not co-workers, but brothers. I have three brothers who, while growing up, definitely had the appetites of growing boys. We used to joke that you could leave money all around and no one would touch it, but food was a whole different story. You could have a piece of chocolate cake, wrapped securely in foil (and thus not evidently cake), and hide it in a back corner of the fridge with a note threatening “DO NOT EAT!” and . . . it was not safe. (Joking, but only slightly.)

      Not that it was OK, but it’s one thing to deal with food-stealing family (non-adults), and quite another with food-stealing co-workers who think their actions are justifiable.

    2. pencils600*

      Can anyone shed light on the psychology of stealing other’s food? Especially since it’s pretty easy to find out who the culprit is

  132. raincoaster*

    A friend of mine used to be a steward on a very fancy ferry between Victoria BC and Seattle.

    There were very high standards and very strict rules. One of the rules was that by the time they docked in Seattle all tableware MUST be washed and put away.

    So an unofficial but important part of his job was to literally stand at the back of the ship, throwing overboard fine bone china and silver plate so that the kitchen team didn’t get written up. Puget Sound is lined with a fortune in Lenoxware and EPNS.

      1. Becky*

        And might be a violation of international maritime law? I know on cruises they heavily warn you about throwing anything overboard for any reason and there’s some treaty or something cited for it.

  133. LabRat4Life*

    At my former workplace, our breakroom was 2 separate, connected rooms. One held fridges and vending machines, the other the microwaves and tables. A coworker put her leftovers in a microwave to heat, and walked into the other room to get a cup of coffee. She returned to find someone sitting at a table, eating her leftovers! When confronted, the lunch thief offered to give them back. She not-so-politely declined!

  134. Goldenrod*

    No stories to add to the wonderfully disgusting pile, just wanted to say THANK YOU to Alison (and all the commentators)….this is 100% my favorite feature of AAM (with “worst boss of the year” a close second)….I just LOVE all the themed overshares about various workplaces gone wrong.

    LOVE! :)

  135. Anonymous ID*

    I work in a government agency that shares office space and a break room with an entirely separate agency. Think of us as being a division of the Dept of Transportation and them as the Dept of Commerce. We had morning Huddleston and for a week, a newer coworker who was partof the leadership team was warning us all that the fridges were being cleaned out on Friday and everything not labeled and dated would be throw. I politely asked if anyone had told Commerce and she condescending said “They should know.”

    Cut to Monday morning when Commerce was in an uproar because all their food had been thrown out. Coworker had assumed Commerce was attending the Transportation morning huddles.

  136. Helen J*

    We have a housekeeping team that cleans out the refrigerators. Notices are posted that this is happening on X day, make sure you have your items labeled, throw out spoiled and expired food, any spoiled or expired food still in the refrigerator will be thrown out.

    Once they found a frozen fish meal that was expired by over a year. They were puzzled because they clean them out about once a month and surely multiple team members had not missed this. They toss it. A few days later there is a commotion from break room because the owner of the expired meal had gone to heat it and it was gone. He was very, very mad about his expired frozen fish meal. Housekeeping apologized profusely and offered to buy him a lunch in our Cafe but no, he wanted that expired frozen fish meal. You see, his mom had cleaned out her freezer and given it to him and it was special.

    He started writing his name on all his food and “DO NOT THROW OUT”. Apparently, his mom had given quite a few expired frozen meals.

  137. Elizabeth West*

    Office microwaves seem to bring out the worst in people. At OldExjob, people would use the microwave and never clean up their splatters. I tried ignoring it, but it was just too disgusting to bear. They also left a few seconds on the timer so you had to clear it before using it, every. single. time.

    At Exjob, it was burnt popcorn in the microwave. Thank dawg the break room had a door you could close. >_<

    I can't wait to see what happens in my new offices.

  138. ChrisM*

    I once realized I left something in the office and went back there late. I got there just as a coworker I know a little was leaving; she seemed oddly flustered to see me. When I went inside I saw that the floor was flooded; someone (who could it be?) had jammed the sink and left it on. I apologetically let the maintenance staff know and emailed HR. HR defended her to me, not sure if anything else came of this.

  139. SingingInTheRain*

    I’m currently as EA but have worked in the various roles of administration, from receptionist to office manager to EA. I’ve been fortunate to not have experienced too much kitchen drama (aside from my last work place where dried mangos were a valued commodity that people would hoard), but I’ve been on the receiving end of two similar incidents of absolute kitchen disrespect that to this day kind of blow my mind.

    At my first admin job, I worked for a small company as the receptionist/admin assistant. My desk was right in front of the door to the office, which was quite a bit away from the rest of the office where everyone else sat and the kitchen. The kitchen was one of my areas of responsibility. I would empty the dishwasher in the morning and start the coffee in the morning. In the afternoons, I would put the used dishes in the dishwasher, run it and wipe down the countertops. We also encouraged people to clean their own dishes and put their own dishes in the dishwasher, so I was really just there as a back up in case people forgot.

    One Monday morning, I walked in to see the reception desk – my desk – covered with dirty dishes. Plates, glasses, silverware – all clearly used with day-old food now firmly afixed to them. Turns out, a few of my colleagues had worked on the previous Saturday, ordered food, put it on our porcelain dishes and then, instead of bringing those dishes to the kitchen – which was closer to their work area than my desk – they walked them all the way over to the reception desk and left them there for me to carry to the kitchen and clean when I got in on Monday morning.

    This was my first admin job. I knew it wasn’t right but I was also processing the porcelain disrespect laid out on my desk. And then the CEO walked in.

    He was a little man who loved scarves and had a thick accent. He said, “What’s this? What’s this?” And as he said that, one of the people who had worked that Saturday came by and said, “Oh we worked over the weekend and had some food, so we left it on her desk to take care of.” The CEO threw back his head and laughed and replied, “Oh no, no, no. She is not touching these plates. You will bring them to the kitchen and wash them yourself, by hand!” And as he started walking towards his office he said, “You will never do that to a colleague again.”

    That CEO had his own issues, but I always carried some respect for him for that.

    Some years later a lesser but similar incident occurred at another job when one of my colleagues let me know we were out of peanut butter by putting the empty