the baked cheese thief, the missing pot pie, and other stories of office kitchen drama

Earlier this month, we talked about office kitchen wars, and here are 10 of my favorites.

1. The baked cheese

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!

2. The pot pie

In the early days of email, my roommate worked at a global company–thousands of employees with offices all over the world. Someone’s pot pie was stolen from the freezer in the DC office and naturally, he was furious about it. So he sent an all-company rant demanding to be reimbursed. To every office around the world. The reply-alls flooded in.

Some people had never heard of a pot pie; luckily folks stepped in, eager to explain the magic of the pot pie and share recipes. Some missed the pot pies of their youth and wondered if anyone knew where to find them in their region. Some thought the dollar amount requested was outrageous for a pot pie. Some couldn’t believe he would eat a frozen pot pie instead of making one from scratch. And why on earth did he get turkey instead of chicken?!

Entire conversations grew from this pot pie. Friendships and alliances were formed, enemies were made. My roommate would forward updates throughout the day and we would spend the evening rehashing the top pot pie stories. This was at least 20 years ago and we still laugh about it.

Best part? Weeks after the flurry had died down and the pot pie had been forgotten, someone came back from vacation and replied-all to let everyone know how unhealthy pot pies are. Which reminded the victim that he had still not been reimbursed. And so it began again.

3. The steak

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.

4. The single bite

My old line manager took her sandwich out of the fridge one day to find someone had taken one single bite, then wrapped it up and replaced it.

5. The boxed lunches

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.

6. The water dispenser

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.

7. The peanut butter

A coworker brought in a very large jar of peanut butter for her lunches for the next week. The following Monday-before she’d had the chance to open the jar- she discovered a large “divot.” Someone had taken their hand and scooped out a large fist full of peanut butter. Into the trash it went.

8. The cold cut bandit

We had The Cold Cut Bandit. If you had a ham and cheese sandwich in the fridge, the Bandit would take just the ham, and put the reassembled sandwich back. Or just the cheese. Or a piece of fruit. No one wanted to touch the remainder of their tampered with lunch for obvious reasons.

9. The note

My coworker’s noodle dishes kept getting stolen from our office fridge. Oddly enough, the thefts stopped when she started labeling the food, “If you take this, I will end you.”

10. The unthinkable

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.”

{ 432 comments… read them below }

  1. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

    I stan both victim and perpetrator in story #10. This anecdote really captures the essence of office food drama.

    1. NameRequired*

      I can’t stop smiling thinking about this email thread. “The unthinkable has happened” is perhaps the funniest way possible to inform people that someone ate your ice cream

      1. Clown Eradicator*

        I take ice cream very seriously. It is unthinkable. Lol

        I opened one of those gas station ice cream cones a few weeks ago to discover… THEY FORGOT THE CONE. I’m still sad.

        1. Expelliarmus*

          How do you forget the cone and still have everything stay together? Was it just an ice-creamy blob that you had to finish ASAP?

    2. Phony Genius*

      It would have been great if, in response, everybody else said “no, I think it was me.” Sort of an “I’m Spartacus” moment.

      1. MsM*

        I am also laughing out loud, but I have to admit if someone had taken my ice cream sandwich, I would probably be melodramatically upset about it, too.

  2. Goldenrod*

    “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.”

    This is the kind of thing that brings out my confrontational side. I know that, if I were in that office, I would for sure immediately unpack her tupperware container, put the cheese BACK on the pasta and help myself to THAT.

    Good thing I wasn’t in that office! There would have been a LOT more drama. :D

    1. The Eye of Argon*

      I’d fantasize about eating the cheesy goodness myself as soon as she went back to work, and put her empty tupperware back in the fridge. Possibly with a note inside saying “Thanks, that was delicious!”

      I don’t know if I’d do it, but I’d sure as heck want to.

      1. Carol the happy elf*

        I would.
        I’d add crumpled napkins (that I cleverly passed around to everyone wearing lipstick, with instructions to wipe their lipstick on the napkin and return it to me) and notes that said, “I don’t wear lipstick, so I licked your Tupperware” and several “Me too” sticky notes in different handwriting and ink. I’d also set it on a folded (fresh) hazmat bag and add a pair of exam gloves.

        Our food dictator works as a multi practice manager on a floor with several practices, including a urologist and a gastroenterologist. Who have fun with his revulsion with all things bodily-substance related. His email about fridge issues begin:
        “#Thisabominationmustbequelled.” Yep. He sends this as a subject line in his complaint emails. Usually has to do with coffee rings and “used spoons left filthily in the sink.” He sends photos. Of spoons sitting in coffee mugs. filled with soapy water. in the sink. Our dear Paul, may he rest in peace, actually got a mug shaped like a toilet (with a flip-down lid! And a logo for a name-brand stool softener inside the mug.) Paul would bring it to all meetings we had with this guy from upstairs.
        Mr. Upstairs would actually gag when Paul lifted the lid and schlurped his beverage with its specially added dark chocolate flavored marshmallows floating and sticking to his moustache until he licked them off.
        Mr. Upstairs would say under his breath, “Oh, not that toilet again.”
        Paul especially liked to drink lemonade from that mug when Mr. Upstairs was around, and he would set it down right beside him.

        Paul was 99% professional and very reserved, but he said “Some people simply invoke the inner juvenile delinquent we all keep in time-out.”

    2. pope suburban*

      I just…why?! I understand that some people really like baked cheese and that’s all to the good, but tampering with food that is meant to be shared with others is just gross to me. I don’t care about the cheese topping either way; if anything, I prefer less of it because it may be too greasy for my liking. But I don’t want to take pasta that someone else has messed with, for the same reasons that no one wanted their otherwise-okay sandwich after the Cold Cut Bandit from story 8 had removed part of it. It’s just nebulously grody; thinking about someone else touching my food, not knowing how stringent their hygiene is, just…nope. No thank you. Not for me.

      1. LimeRoos*

        Nebulously Grody is my new band name, thank you!

        (For a band I will never make, but man that is fun)

        1. pope suburban*

          I’m imagining a funk ensemble, a la Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem. Maybe still including Muppets.

      2. SunriseRuby*

        Hey, the baked cheese taker was just trying to make the leftovers edible for the vegans and the lactose intolerant!

      3. Random Bystander*

        Yes–other people’s questionable hygiene is a huge issue. I remember in-office days getting rather put off participating in eating at the office potlucks except for clearly store-bought items or what I had brought myself (which does kind of defeat the purpose of potluck) because there were several co-workers who were known to use the bathroom without washing hands afterward. Nebulously grody, indeed.

        1. IDIC believer*

          At a firm where I worked, we had a full kitchen in our new building. So for the open house to show it off to clients and opposing counsel, there was a potluck provided by staff. The executive director chose to cook her contribution in the office kitchen throughout the day. After seeing her stirring and tasting with the same utensil, I decided to never risk eating anything she made. I get people might do that (I don’t) with their immediate family, but with coworkers and others – yuck!

          1. Random Bystander*

            Eww … I thought everyone knew the two-spoon method for tasting while cooking–one spoon stirs and is used to drop the “taste bit” into the second spoon (spoons don’t actually come into contact), and the second spoon is tasted from but never goes in to stir the whole thing.

            1. Dr Sarah*

              I didn’t know that! I just use a separate spoon for tasting and put it straight in the wash. (We’re about the opposite of gourmet chefs in our house, so I’m never making the kind of recipes where you need constant taste updates; I do this once every three weeks when we make paella just to check the rice is done, so it’s not as though I’m adding significantly to the stuff in the dishwasher.)

      4. Cj*

        Taking the cheese topping off is bizarre and selfish, but I was assuming that they used a fork or spoon to take it off, not that they touched the food.

        1. Workerbee*

          Same. ‘Cause if you’re assuming someone used their bare hands to scoop off the cheese, you might as well assume someone assembled it the same way, and never approach undocumented food again.

          1. Dr Sarah*

            Hardly. It’s a fair assumption the office got professionals to make the meals in the first place, and there’s a crater of difference between ‘makes food for a living’ and ‘has so little concept of appropriate behaviour that they’re willing to scoop the cheese off everyone else’s food’ in terms of what kind of hygiene breaches you might anticipate.

            That said, after reading these I feel I *might* never approach undocumented food again…

      5. Momma Bear*

        The cheese is pretty integral to the dish (even if it can be peeled off). Weird and gross of her to remove all of it.

    3. Still*

      I’m always astounded with how okay some people are with going against social expectations. This just… isn’t how food works in social settings! If something is served in a particular way, like the lasagna with cheese, or the sandwich with crisps and a cookie, you take a portion and then do whatever you want with YOUR PORTION. If you get first dibs, you grab one or several portions of your favourite food… but you don’t go around DISASSEMBLING the dishes that other people are going to eat. You don’t dig through the entire salad and pick out every last olive. You don’t remove the ham from all the sandwiches. You don’t unwrap burritos and take all the jalapenos for yourself. I just. I know how much I cringe when I manage to accidentally commit a faux pas, I can’t even imagine being that immune to social expectations.

      1. GammaGirl1908*

        I listen to a podcast where the hosts often talk about how many people have no sense of shame, or how people have no sense of shame of certain topics. This person had absolutely no cheese shame.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          How do people end up like this? Who goes through their brain and decides to hit the delete key on “I’ve decided to not ruin everyone’s pasta experience no matter how much I long for baked cheeses?”

          1. cabbagepants*

            While I never did this with cheese, I’d do comparable things in the cringiest days of my youth. The thought process is “I want this” and then shame-avoiding thinking about how others might perceive my action.

            1. There You Are*

              What cabbagepants said.

              When you combine the natural myopic self-centeredness of children with the astonishingly large number of adults who never fully mature emotionally, you get people who take what they want without consideration for others.

              What’s wild is that, just like with children, they can recognize the behavior in others and be outraged by it, and then… just never connect the dots to their own behaviors and how outraged everyone else is at *them*.

              1. I take tea*

                “they can recognize the behavior in others and be outraged by it, and then… just never connect the dots”

                This so much. I work in a library. I had a person complaining a lot about somebody who hadn’t returned a book they were waiting for and then when I pointed out that they hade a late book, they just breezily said “but I still need it”. Yes, and so do others. Return your library book or buy your own.

          2. urguncle*

            One must assume that this was behavior condoned at home for someone in the family and just became standard practice. Or they just know no one will confront them.

          3. Ev*

            I think of these things as “Do not attempt to eat this giraffe” rules after a bit in a Terry Pratchett novel – rules that everyone assumes are so obvious that no one needs to ever actually articulate them. No one should have to be told not to peel the cheese off everyone’s food, just as no one should need to be told not to try to eat a live giraffe.

            The problem is that the very fact that these rules are so obvious and fundamental gives the person who decides to break them a weird sort of impunity. If a person just…tries to eat a giraffe in front of you, your brain doesn’t know what to do with that. And lots of people – I’m definitely one of them – instinctively react to a situation they don’t know how to deal with by just *not* dealing with it. “That person is trying to eat a giraffe and obviously they shouldn’t but the fact that they’re trying is so distressingly weird that I’m going to ignore it for my own safety. I hope someone else puts a stop to it.”

            The effect is especially strong if the giraffe eating infraction is on its face ridiculous or petty, like peeling the cheese off everyone’s food. Not only are you coping with brain-bending breaking of the default rules of social order, but you also know that you’re also going to sound absurd if you object! People might think you’re just as weird as the giraffe eater!

            A giraffe eater who realizes all of this, even on a subconscious level, can get away with a hell of a lot of weird antisocial behavior before someone else manages to step in.

              1. sub rosa*

                Someone I know once referred to the random strangers around us in the coffee shop as “NPCs.” (Non-player characters, for those of you who are not gamers.)

                (If you game, you know that some games do not build in consequences for harming NPCs… )


          4. Moths*

            Do you know how Alison is always saying that when you have an intern or a new-to-office culture employee how it’s doing them a favor to tell them when they’re doing something contrary to office norms? I feel like this is what happens when no one helps them align their norms when starting out. And of course, some people are just oblivious or don’t care at all, but whenever I think how awkward it’s going to be to correct someone, I think about the fact that if I don’t, this could be them in 20 years…

            1. LimeRoos*

              100% support this. I’m torn between Miss Piggy (from Muppet Treasure Island for costume) and Rizzo the Rat as the album cover.

        2. MigraineMonth*

          I have no “take the last donut” shame, which I’m sure shocks my Midwestern-raised coworkers.

          1. Ozzie*

            I existed in an office environment where no one wanted a whole donut. I do not live such a life, but I played a long because of donut shame.

            But because no one wanted to eat a whole donut, there were often half of quarter donuts left that no one would eat. This is shame I do not possess. I became the food disposal. Once people were collectively finished, the food would be set near me. And I would say, once this is by me I am going to eat it. So please take more if you want.

            And then I just casually munched all day until the donuts were done. Or whatever sweet it happened to be. (including fruit)

            Fortunately this worked out great for everyone, but I am not sure to this day if it made me weird, or if being forthright about it made it more socially acceptable…. Especially since everyone had already eaten what they wanted.

            At the very least tho, I did it without shame!

            1. Free Meerkats*

              When I was active in SCA in Atenveldt (Tir Ysgithr), there was a guy (we’ll call him Skip) who served this purpose. He was tall and skinny – like 6’5″ and 120#.

              I remember one Crown Tourney where there was a misunderstanding and in our group, everyone brought two meals for the group instead of one meal for the group, so we had double food for every meal. We invited Skip over to our camp and very little of it went back home with us. Fondly missing Marta’s Goodyear Blintzes; I have the recipe, must now make them…

              1. The Eye of Argon*

                I played D&D in high school with a guy of similar build and appetite. He seriously looked just like Shaggy from “Scooby Doo.” He also had an amazing bass singing voice.

                I once saw him eat two 10 packs of Taco Bell tacos in a sitting and then finish up everyone else’s leftovers. I still don’t know where he put it, or what space-age metal his digestive system was made of.

              2. Ozzie*

                Yes! I weight just over 100lb and have kept my teenage metabolism even into my 30s. I try to take advantage of it as much as possible. And as was mentioned below, being the Office Goat was definitely a way I did so!

                I’m glad others have seen this before – fondly!

            2. Old Woman in Purple*

              There is absolutely nothing wrong with being the Designated Office Goat, as long as it is a collectively agreed-upon designation.

          2. AceinPlainSight*

            My Midwestern self genuinely wants you to take that last donut; the only thing worse than taking it myself (and I usually want to) is having it just sit there sadly while I try to get up the courage to take it already.

            I may be trying to get rid of the donut shame. Also, I’m not precisely concerned about dying an old maid, which is what my grandma (jokingly!) said would happen to the person who took the last of anything.

            1. Loredena*

              For my father (and his parents) there was this funny split between Not Enough to Save! Which required it being finished by someone even if we were all full. Versus being embarrassing to run out of anything because Someone Didn’t get Enough! This clearly split between family and hosting manners, and was cultural. A cousin who had it more ingrained said she was an adult before she realized most families didn’t serve two entrees at every meal.

          1. linger*

            One that comes to mind is “Wheel of Misfortune” on BBC Sounds (developed by Alison Spittle and Fern Brady, currently hosted by Alison with Kerry Katona).
            Anonymous voicemails from the general public, and hosts (+ a celebrity guest each week), share embarrassing stories on the week’s set theme (though, regardless of the theme, bodily fluids tend to be involved).

      2. My Name is Mudd*

        It’s like the movie Big, when Tom Hanks’ character scoops up all the caviar. We adults watching it know that it’s a garnish, but his child-like character hasn’t quite figured that out yet. It’s very cringe when adults know better and still behave that way.

        1. My Name is Mudd*

          A similar move that Tom Hanks makes with the caviar in “You’ve Got Mail” when he’s actually an entitled adult and knows better.

      3. MigraineMonth*

        I remember this being a lesson from middle school gatherings: you may not take just the M&M’s out of the trail mix. You take a scoop, eat the M&M’s, and throw the rest away.

    4. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Reminds me of the person who wrote about the coworker who would scrape the toasty top off of the mac and cheese and other casseroles before others got a chance to serve themselves. Or even while, just reach across with a utensil and put it all on a plate.
      Because he was a special boy and he liked that part best.

      1. cabbagepants*

        I think that most people do a more subtle version of this, and I judge them for it. If you take a round-bottomed scoop of something rather than a rectangular portion that scrapes the bottom of the dish, then you are taking more than your share of yummy topping!

    5. goddessoftransitory*

      It’s just SO peevish and petty and selfish and rude all in one ball of passive-aggressive yarn–there is absolutely no way she didn’t know she was ruining those pasta dishes for everyone else!

    6. WheresMyPen*

      I don’t get this one, the baked cheese topping is only good when it’s fresh and hot, not cold and congealed in the fridge :(

    7. SpringIsForPlanting!*

      The baked cheese is not even the best part! It is intended to be just a piece of the harmonious whole! Baked cheese without its accompanying carbs is nothing. Fight me.

  3. The Eye of Argon*

    Dante needs to invent a new circle of hell for people who steal the melty cheesy goodness from the top of baked pastas and pizza.

  4. Aerin*

    2 and 10 both made me legit cackle. I love a good reply-all. The chaos energy sustains me.

    1. Goldenrod*

      “I love a good reply-all. The chaos energy sustains me.”

      AGREED! It’s one of my favorite office dysfunctions.

      My very favorite part is the inevitable person (or people) who reply all with the message: “Stop replying all!!” CLASSIC.

      1. bamcheeks*



        “Sorry, didn’t realise it was reply all. Apologies everyone!”

                1. PleaseRemoveMeFromThisList*

                  I’m one of the admins for a professional list-serv. This still comes up a LOT (no food dramas though)

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

        Once, while in truck brokerage, a customer happened to send a mass email to every broker she had ever worked with- and didn’t BCC it, just CC’d it to everyone. One of the brokers had the name of a famous football player. WACKINESS ENSUES. There were over a hundred addresses on the list and probably, 1000 emails go back and forth- mostly the standard, “Take me off this list!” and “Don’t reply all!” but a decent portion were football jokes and jokes comparing trucking to football. Then memes. I mean. It was chaos but it was glorious. My coworker, who was also on the list and sat across from me, was livid but I just cackled every time another one came through. I think it lasted at least two days.

        1. Jay (no, the other one)*

          I’m a doc and in 2017 I briefly worked as a contractor for a telehealth company. They sent an Email to all the contractors (hundreds of us across the US) and didn’t put the mailing list in the bcc field. The expectable replyallocalypse ensued – along with the unexpected and unwanted (to the company) result that a group of contractors banded together to push for higher pay.

        2. Trucker*

          I work in truck brokerage and its exactly the kind of environment that revels in this kind of chaos.

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

            When you started, did you Google, “Is truck brokerage legal?” within the first week? Because…that industry is buck wild.

        3. truck brokerage, surprisingly legal*

          I think I was on the same truck brokerage email thread (mine was 2020?). I laughed for two days straight.

        1. asterisk*

          Me too! It’s been pot pie all over my world lately–I was just explaining one to my non-US spouse a couple of weeks ago, then my parents mentioned that they had one yesterday for Pi-day dinner, and now I just want a pot pie!

      3. cabbagepants*

        my favorite passive aggressive thing to do is to reply individually (not reply all!!!) to the people sending the useless “unsubscribe me” emails and point out how to use Outlook’s “autodelete all future emails in this thread” feature.

        People get really mad haha because they don’t actually want to solve the problem, they just want to bellyache.

      4. Sovawanea*

        The pot pie one reminds me of the only Replyallpocalypse that hit my inbox. A small transportation committee sent a plan proposal to every state employee and contractor on a mega email list somehow. Nestled within the neverending barrage of unsubscribes and mistaken notifiers were a few brave souls who knew they got it by mistake but still read the whole thing, seriously considered it and wrote back with their suggestions!

    2. rayray*

      I started reading 2 and was expecting it to be about an endless chain of “take me off this email!” and “stop replying all!!!”

      I wonder if it’s the kind of story that could only have happened back in the earlier days of internet and email. 20 years ago, email forwards were very much a thing. I was only a teenager so I never did email forwards in the workplace but remember my eldest sister would often forward on things she got from work. In my first post-college office job, some of the older workers would occasionally send those emails on too. I guess back then people used email for fun with things like email forwards or discussing pot pies on a mass email.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        Yeah I think if it happened now, people would just google “what is a pot pie?” which was apparently the question which lit a torch under everybody.

        1. LunaLena*

          I dunno, a lot of people still seem to have an ancient and un-eradicable instinct to ask the source of the info instead of using Google. I see it all the time on public message boards and comment sections, even those where the main audience is young people who have grown up with the Internet all their lives. I’ve been known to occasionally direct people to LMGTFY (let me Google that for you) dot com, which is basically just an animation of how to use Google that you can tailor to the hapless asker, when I’m feeling snarky.

            1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

              Two large chocolate chip cookies sandwiching a layer of vanilla ice cream (probably ice milk). It’s one of those goody bar/good humor type ice cream treats.

                1. Berkeleyfarm*

                  I live in It’s-It territory and I would be most annoyed if mine disappeared from the freezer.

                  (For those who don’t – it’s a dipped ice cream sandwich. Big oatmeal cookies and various flavors of ice cream. Mint is my jam.)

                2. Sandy Beach*

                  They’re DIPPED now? Back when I lived in SF (early 1980s) the exposed ice cream was rolled in chocolate chips. I can’t believe anyone would mess with the perfection of an OG It’s-It.

            2. coffee*

              In Animal Crossing, there are “hats” your character can wear that are a headband with two metal springs coming up off it like bunny ears, with little decorations on the end, so they “bop” around as you move your head. They’re called boppers.

              All I can think about is a headband with two ice cream snacks on it.

            3. Ellis Bell*

              I think it’s fun to talk about that here, but I wouldn’t at work? very industry and culture dependant though I suppose.

        2. ferrina*

          Then they’d lose hours of productivity when they found the Pot Pie Influencers on Instagram, and the de-influencers showing their imperfect pot pies on TikTok

      2. alienor*

        The thing I miss from the early days of email is how people would treat it like writing regular letters. In my first job out of college I had an office buddy who also liked to write and had a lot of similar interests (books, history, etc) and we would send 2,000-word missives back and forth to each other from two rows away.

        1. Maglev No Longer to Crazytown*

          This is embarrassingly how my spouse and I first really got to know each other (via work relationship). Evolved as a legit work email with a throw away closing of “hope you have some good weekend plans ahead,” realized we had a ton of common hobbies and interests, had a bunch of those 2000 word buddy missives back and forth. Got married 18 months later, been together in total now a decade!

    3. CareerChanger*

      These are glorious!

      This happened on time in grad school, during finals week. There were HUNDREDS of emails, many of them “stop replying” all, some begging admins to shut it down, and then a few going, “hey guys, actually this is awesome, this is more than we’ve talked all semester, I think it’s kind of beautiful!”

      1. MigraineMonth*

        I had a CS professor who gave their class an assignment to create an email browser which connected to the school’s email server, not realizing that the debugger maintained every connection. The class managed to bring down the server multiple times during the semester, including finals week, before the teacher realized they’d accidentally created a Distributed Denial-of-Service Attack.

    4. AnonAgain*

      Me too!!! Reply All is one of the best things about working at a large company.
      It would go off the rails. Someone then created a Teams channel so we could all laugh and make comments/bets about the email chain.

      The saddest day was when IT was able to implement software to stop accidental reply-alls.

      1. Aerin*

        I work the helpdesk, so a reply-all would basically drive our volume into red alert territory as people contacted us to 1) figure out how to stop it by filtering to trash, 2) alert us that it was happening just in case we didn’t know, and/or 3) frantically report that their computer was being hacked or something because the volume of notifications was turning it to slag. But unlike other times when someone randomly unleashes the apocalypse on us, I would spend the whole time giggling until they finally nuked the source email from the servers.

        It was entirely sensible of them to restrict the all staff email groups, but man I miss it sometimes.

      2. There You Are*

        The Fortune 1 company I worked for (for the longest year of my life) has cloud email and it’s essentially pay-per-use, with an accelerator for unusually high data usage.

        A Reply-All fiasco got so far out of hand that IT shut the email service off entirely, because we were already into the millions of dollars in overages, after just 3-4 hours of almost every employee in the company replying to all the employees in the company.

        It was hilarious.

      3. Berkeleyfarm*

        I am an email administrator … being on the “FIX IT!!!” end of a reply all chain is NOT FUN.

    5. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      My org used to get some real good Reply All drama until IT did something with the All Employees etc. lists that disable any replies…let alone reply all. Can’t even add the list to the TO field, it has to be BCC. No more fun.

      1. Freida*

        The “all students” and “all faculty” list permissions changed at my workplace after a student sent an “all students” email complaining, at confusing and misspelled length, about one of my courses.

        He was a freshman, and I was his advisor, and he had to spend the rest of his time in the major taking my classes.

        I’ve never had so many people forward me an email so quickly. I never responded or in any way indicated to him that I’d read it, although of course he must have known that I would. Bless his heart.

    6. RabbitRabbit*

      Not about food, but my workplace had a reply-all flood in response to some questionable use/overuse of mailing lists. The list in question had probably a few thousand people on it, and so someone eventually got sick of the frequent announcements during a particular season of presentations, and started the “take me off this mailing list” reply-all cascade. Hundreds of these went out, along with admonishments to stop replying-all, and it was chaos much of the day until IT stepped in.

      One day several months later, I saw a strange email come in. It was a reply-all to that cascade of nonsense earlier in the year, and said something to the effect of “I am working my way through old emails – please take me off this mailing list.” I still wonder if a supervisor/advisor of his ever noticed that.

    7. El*

      This story took me back. There was a nationwide reply-all email fiasco regarding trains within the National Park Service a few years ago (mid-2020 maybe?). It went on for days, with people adding to the conversation about trains or asking to be removed from the conversation about trains. Eventually it faded away, but some time a few months later, someone replied all again just for goofs and brought it all back.

      Good times…

    8. NotAnotherManager!*

      My killjoy office has only allows a select set of high-level users to use the “All Company” email, cause, in no small part, by several Reply-All Incidents.

      1. alienor*

        Same at my office, and there’s also a limit on how many people you can send to even if you add the addresses yourself. I’ve heard it’s because of an incident several years ago where someone accidentally sent some niche p0rn (not anything illegal, but very much NSFW) to a large group.

        1. Berkeleyfarm*

          There was also the time the HR assistant forwarded all the Halloween context pictures to the entire company. We almost lost our highly redundant email system.

          (They had a web site they could have posted them to. )

          That person is very much message-size restricted now.

          I learned about restricting who can use the All group as a young admin. It doesn’t take long to set up in Exchange and reaps a lot of benefits.

  5. Jamboree*

    Re water bubble boss – T here is no better feeling in the world that finding a rogue plastic film on some random, years old object. It goes something like this: Is that … protective film on my years-old blood pressure cuff that I’m about to donate bc I have a fancy one on my smartphone now … peeeeeel … hey I have a brand new fancy blood pressure cuff! Win!

    I leave the film on just so I can get that feeling years later!

    1. Wendy Darling*

      Nothing brings me joy like peeling off that plastic film. The only thing better is when you did not expect to find plastic film but you discover some on, say, an obscure piece of trim in the back of your 2 year old car, or the back of an old printer, and get to peel it off.

      I would absolutely have been the film-peeler in that letter.

      1. Cards Fan*

        I legit just pulled off the plastic film from the control panel of my Instant Pot. I’ve had the pot for at least 5 years, and the film was just starting to bubble on the buttons I use most. It was so much fun!

        1. Baby Yoda*

          I was saving a sticker with a star on it to peel off an exterior side window. Someone else did it. I am still sad about that.

      2. Fake Cheese*

        I have a sticker on my portable battery, and I thought it was supposed to be translucent with an opaque line-art design. The edges started peeling up and I was sad to lose the pretty sticker… but it was just the transfer film on top! It was quite the happy surprise :)

      3. Miette*

        Conversely, nothing is sadder than SOMEONE ELSE doing it to/with an object of yours. My sister did The Unthinkable to my last new iPhone–she not only unboxed it (l’horreur!), but she peeled the plastic film off (la tragédie)!!

        I was FUMING and she was completely clueless

        1. ferrina*

          YES! This fills me with fiery rage.

          I leave my film on for ages until I’m having a really, really bad day and need to feel better.

          1. Wendy Darling*

            My partner does not understand the joy of peeling the film so he always lets me peel it when he gets something with film.

            Alternately he does understand but enjoys me standing behind him vibrating and asking “CAN I PEEL IT????” more.

            1. radiant*

              My husband is the same. He will dramatically present me with anything that needs de-filming, which is a gift in and of itself.

      4. pandop*

        Me too. I love peeling – peel off face-masks are the *best* (peeling my lips in winter not so good, but I can’t help it)

    2. Your Computer Guy*

      That was my story!
      In the wake of his meltdown (which was truly bonkers, he also spent like a week complaining to anyone that happened to come into the kitchen while he was using the water dispenser to make his tea), we techs started filming ourselves peeling the plastic off of various devices at client sites and sharing them in the team chat. There’s a lot of technical odds and ends out there with the plastic film.

    3. GammaGirl1908*

      This reminded me of when I found a new roommate who moved into my apartment, and she was very tense about keeping her couch nice. She asked me to move my two small old couches out so we could have her nice couch to furnish the living room, but then she aggressively did not want anyone to sit on her couch, ever (not eat on it, not sleep on it, not do anything wild on it … sit on it). I got several emails about how soon I would be moving my old couches, and then I got emails when I had people over and they sat on her couch. Then she took the cushions and hid them, and put a big plastic sheet on the couch. She and the couch eventually moved out, leaving me couchless.

      I hope she and that couch are very happy together.

      1. There You Are*

        Gah. I had a similar roommate. We co-leased an apartment for a year and then she bought a condo. I moved in and was going to pay rent equal to the apartment we had just left, to help her pay her mortgage.

        She bought all new furniture but the dining table wouldn’t be delivered for awhile, so we put my [old, used, belonged-to-my-grandmother] table in the dining room in the meantime. The new table arrived the morning of the big “New House” party she was holding with all of our friends invited. My boyfriend worked for Sony and was going to provide the sound system and all the music. I had agreed to pay for half the pizzas.

        I moved my table into the storage shed off the back patio. It slid right in and I said, “Ta-da! It’s a perfect fit!” And she said, snottily, “Not for long. It can’t STAY there. I’ll need that storage space for MY things.”

        I left and called my dad and my boyfriend and, right at the start of the party, we showed up and got my table out of storage, carried it through the crowd of people, and took it back to my dad’s house, several towns away. I stayed at my BF’s and didn’t go back until the next day.

        Roommate was PISSED because her “new home” party had no music (other than her tiny portable radio) and she had to pay for all the food on her own. I was like, “You told me the table had to be moved.” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

        I moved out of the condo within a couple of weeks.

      2. WestsideStory*

        I will see your roommate and raise you my brother-in-law. He is younger than me, but commissioned custom-made clear vinyl slipcovers for his living room suite (long sofa and two armchairs).
        He is a very lovely man, but this is whack.

        1. Jaid*

          My parents had done this to their furniture…but this was in the 70’s and my brother and I were toddlers…

    4. Allornone*

      I was wondering my relatively new car’s backup camera seemed kind of blueish compared to my boyfriend’s. I mentioned to him how clear his car’s back up-cam is compared to mine. When we got home, he walked over to the trunk and pulled off the blue film that I had been literally driving around for MONTHS with. You’d think you’d notice the film that you are ACTIVELY LOOKING THROUGH EVERY TIME YOU DRIVE. Nope. Not me. He hasn’t let me live it down.

      To be fair, the film has only a slight blue tint and my vision wasn’t obstructed. It was just….kind of blue.

      1. Skytext*

        Reminds me of a story from Walmart. An old couple bought a microwave, then angrily returned or exchanged it because it was “blue” and it was supposed to be white. I think this happened 3 times before someone at the Service Desk caught on, opened up the box in front of the couple, and calmly peeled off the blue protective film to reveal the white microwave underneath lol.

        1. BatManDan*

          Similar. Sold a customer a knife set in a woodblock, had a brass plate custom engraved (probably the family name, that was the most common) mounted on the front. Customer called me to tell me the brass plate was discolored, I drove over to see it. Pulled the film off the front (there to protect during boxing and shipping), met their gaze, smiled, got in my car and drove off. I think they were glad I didn’t actually say anything.

        2. Reed Weird*

          Ha, that got my partner and her roommates! She was venting to me about the chaos in the house from the landlord deciding to “renovate” the kitchen, and in the middle of it said “so THEN they had to put in a new dishwasher, and not only is it worse than the old one, it’s freaking blue! What godforsaken clearance site did he go on and find a blue dishwasher?!” I didn’t tell her in the moment and interrupt the rant*, but the next time I came over, I peeled the film off to reveal their new stainless steel dishwasher.

          *It was a much deserved rant. The landlord made enough chaos in the reno that “he found this awful dishwasher for dirt cheap from an outlet or something” was not an entirely unreasonable conclusion.

        3. fluffy*

          When I was getting my bathroom remodeled a few years ago, the contractor didn’t realize that the blue film on my white cabinet was a protective film. He asked if I really meant to have a blue cabinet, and warned me about how the color was going to clash!

          (This was, unfortunately, after plenty of other stuff that had me wishing I’d gone with a different contractor.)

    5. arthur lester (savor the peelies)*

      I didn’t realize I had a film on my microwave buttons, and assumed something was just going wrong with the actual buttons themselves. Imagine my delight when I found it was a film I could peel off and have everything be nice and clean!

      1. Dahlia*

        Oh my god this was me and my slow cooker. I was panicking thinking something was wrong with them and then I got a fun film instead!

      2. Critical Rolls*

        This happened when our office microwave got replaced. It was, shockingly, not expensive, and no effort was made to distinguish the protective film — no tint, pattern, “peel here” corner. Finally figured it out when it started to bubble over the buttons.

        1. arthur lester*

          Yep, this was exactly what happened with me! Microwave came with the house and was not expensive, so I had initially figured that the bubbling was just that the microwave was kind of cheap and crappy…

    6. Slightly Above Average Bear*

      As I’ve upgraded things in our new house (appliances, door hardware, plumbing fixtures, etc.), I’ve had to make sure that my kids have equal opportunities to remove the plastic film so no one feels slighted. They’re 15 and 17.

    7. profe*

      When my boyfriend moved in with me he was incredulous that I had the plastic film on my YEARS old microwave buttons… I just thought the coating on the most used buttons had gotten funky and worn over time. Now the microwave looks great again. I think it’s a win. He still gives me a hard time about it.

    8. fluffy*

      I know someone who refuses to remove the plastic film from his years-old TV, because he wants it to “stay looking nice,” except the film itself makes it very much not look nice. Especially since he uses this TV as a display at trade shows! A couple of minor scratches would look way the hell more professional than janky, bubbling, ragged, ancient plastic film.

    9. Adds*

      Once, back in the early 1990s my dad bought a tiny, “portable” TV to keep on the kitchen counter, the whole thing was plastic or plastic-like including the screen (that was maybe 9″). My brother and I would, of course, touch the thing because it was there, on the counter, enticingly handy, and as pre-teens, we didn’t have the sense to not touch it while watching it from 6 inches away. And eventually, the screen was kind of scratched and gouged or whatever. Dad was Mad at us, pretty sure there was yelling, although the screen, strangely still functioned with the hole in it. My brother and I discovered that for the past 2 or 3 years we’d been watching this tiny black and white TV through the protective plastic film. We pulled the film and presented Dad with a practically new and unblemished 9″ b&w TV. He was glad but not nearly as amused by the whole thing as we were.

    1. rayray*

      a google search comes up with an ice-cream sandwich that has ice-cream sandwiched between two chocolate chip cookies.

      1. Wendy Darling*

        It looks really good, I’d be upset if I went to eat mine and someone had beaten me to it.

        1. rayray*

          Trader Joe’s makes ice-cream sandwiches like this. They come in a box of 4. One time while in a ravenous state of PMS, I ate all four in under 24 hours.

          They are really good and I’d be upset if I had one that I was looking forward too and it was gone.

          1. Guacamole Bob*

            The Trader Joe’s ones are amazing. The cookies are softer than other brands, almost like they aren’t fully baked.

          2. Your Computer Guy*

            My wife and I love those sandwiches and also have to be very careful about when we choose to buy them.

          3. The Prettiest Curse*

            The San Francisco version of this food item is called an It’s It. (I always wondered if the Sugarcubes stole that name or came up with it on their own.)
            Sadly, I never managed to eat one (allergy reasons), but I did once offer them as treats during a training on a super hot day. They were well-received, but kind of messy

          4. ferrina*

            These are soooooo good. I have to be careful when I buy them, because they are so very eatable.

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          I mean, that was clearly a special treat for a hard day and I would be pissed off if someone stole my treat!

      2. Aerin*

        Oh man, they used to sell a version of those at The Mouse, including in the backstage cafeterias, so I would get them all the time. I would be inconsolable!

    2. Hlao-roo*

      Google says it’s made by the company Blue Bunny and it’s an ice cream sandwich made with vanilla ice cream between two chocolate chip cookies.

        1. Phony Genius*

          A Chipwich has chocolate chips around the outside of the ice cream layer, which a Big Bopper does not. This recipe was actually patented, but it the patent recently expired.

        2. Hlao-roo*

          According to Wikipedia,

          The Chipwich is an ice cream sandwich made of ice cream between two chocolate chip cookies and then rolled in chocolate chips.[2] The Chipwich name and logo is trademarked by Crave Better Foods, LLC based in Cos Cob, Connecticut.

          The Big Bopper is vanilla ice cream between two chocolate chip cookies without the extra roll of chocolate chips to get the chips stuck in the ice cream. Blue Bunny also makes a “Chips Galore” ice cream sandwich, which is their answer to the Chipwich.

          I have learned a lot about ice cream sandwiches today!

    3. Ardys Paramount*

      I don’t know but this subthread had better get really, really big. Let’s go, people.

    4. NotBatman*

      This is just to say
      I have eaten
      the cookies
      that were in
      the company freezer

      and which
      had beautiful ice cream
      sandwiched between them

      Forgive me
      they were delicious
      so sweet
      and so cold

      1. Forrest Rhodes*

        Perfect poem. I’m now trying to think of a response that includes purple plums.

      2. BubbleTea*

        my name is thief
        and wen its quite,
        or all the colleegs
        emails rite,
        and all the fridge
        no one can peek
        I sneak in quik
        I eat yor treat

        1. Silver Robin*

          I had forgotten this meme (trend? absolute delight?) and I am overjoyed to have it back. A+

          1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            I have a whole Pinterest board of bredlik poems in the wild.

            All hail Sprog.

        2. Jelizabug*

          Good thing I’m working from home, so my cackle of delight didn’t scare anyone! Thank you for this!

    5. Longtime Lurker*

      and Thank You for asking and starting a reply train vs. googling for yourself – way to tie 2 & 10 together!!

    6. Fiorinda*

      I had no idea what one was before reading this thread, but I’d have assumed chantilly cream was involved somewhere. :)

  6. The Person from the Resume*

    For #4 (the single bite), I imagine it was either very malicious or completely innocent.

    Innocent: You take a bite of a sandwhich, realize it’s not yours, and then wrap it back up and return it to the fridge because you are not a food thief.

    1. rayray*

      If I innocently took a bite of someone else’s food, I wouldn’t wrap it, walk away, and pretend it hadn’t happened. I’d find them and compensate them for it. This was absolutely malicious.

      1. Silver Robin*

        I can absolutely see somebody panic and try to hide the evidence/run before it was noticed and then just lay low and hope it never reaches them.

        Is this the mature response? No. But it feels plausible

        1. Budgie Buddy*

          I’m like “Dude – hide the evidence in the trash can if you’re not going to own up and pay for the sandwich.” Having your lunch stolen is so much less bad than opening what you think is your lunch only to get a nasty surprise at the last second. Ewww

          I think someone had a grudge against the line manager and wanted petty revenge.

        2. ferrina*

          Oh yeah. I can see a younger me doing this (and being mortified for the rest of my life)

      2. The Original K.*

        Yep. “Oh my God, I’m so embarrassed – I accidentally took a bite of your sandwich. Lunch is on me.”

      3. So Tired*

        Nope, my anxiety would definitely have me not wanting to fess up to it. I’d wrap it back up and return it, while feeling like a nauseous wreck the whole time. If I was brave enough I’d probably write a “I’m so sorry!” on a sticky note and put that on the sandwich.

    2. Silver Robin*

      I wonder about the ethics in the innocent version. Yes, not a food thief, but they have effectively prevented somebody from eating their lunch. Perhaps a post-it note apology and $10 for a new sandwich would make it right?

      1. rayray*

        Yeah, even if it was an accident, it’s the pretending nothing happened that bugs me. It’s just as bad in my opinion.

        1. Silver Robin*

          Haha looks like we responded to each other simultaneously! Definitely on the same page; running away is not a good look.

      2. jj*

        Yeah it’s not ideal but I can see a middle ground version of it. Like, when I was younger – I had pretty intense PTSD from an abusive childhood, and would have had a literal panic attack over being caught making a dumb error. I absolutely would have panicked and covered my tracks. Having a laugh over an innocent error and venmo’ing someone 10 bucks wouldn’t have possibly occurred to me. Absolutely not ideal or okay, but definitely not malicious either. We have no way to know what happened in this case but I can imagine there are quite a few folks like me out there who are learning to work through fear of making errors…

        1. ferrina*

          Yep, this. For me it was the cPTSD of a traumatic childhood where a simple mistake is proof positive that you are The Worst Person Alive + zero models of what a normal person would do (srsly, my family only gave me models to avoid- I watched Gaslight and thought “yep, this all makes sense. Wait, that’s not normal?”) + undiagnosed ADHD which meant I struggled to pick up social rules that most people absorbed subconsciously + being really frickin poor because zero family support and graduating into a recession.

          So a simple mistake was definitely something Young Me would panic and hide, then be utterly mortified about for the rest of my life.
          (fwiw, Current Me is in a much, much better place. Many thanks to Alison and the AAM community who helped me with work norms and self-advocacy!)

          1. jj*

            Wow very similar stories! My ADHD was diagnosed, but only medicated and also part of my abuse so I never learned to cope in a healthy way and that compounded things

    3. JSPA*

      If my hands were spotlessly scrubbed, I’d cut the bite mark out, and write, “sorry, wrong sandwich! I washed my hands, if you’re comfortable with that, but let me know if you’d like me to buy you a replacement.”

      If my hands were imperfectly clean, I’d dump it, and leave a “sorry I ruined your sandwich, contact me so I can buy you lunch” message.

      1. JSPA*

        …but I can see me age 18 going panic mode, then wiping all awareness. Now that you mention it.

    4. Meghan*

      One time I accidentally ate a co-worker’s TV dinner and we shared an office. It was SO awkward. It was a flavor that I had gotten in the past, but thought it was too spicy and I remember being like “weird that I brought this flavor of TV dinner for lunch today, oh well.” And just prepared and ate it like it was mine. Obviously I offered her the one that I brought (the less spicy one) but I can’t remember if she took me up on the offer and ate it, or bought lunch out that day.

      Needless to say, our working relationship took a nosedive that day but it was an honest mistake! Same brand, just different flavors.

      1. jj*

        aww man I’m sorry to hear that. To be honest if that happened with a co-worker I otherwise liked and they apologized, I can’t imagine staying peeved for more than a day or two. Mistakes happen!

        1. amoeba*

          I cannot even imagine being peeved for more than 5 mins (or at all!) I’m sure most people I’ve worked with would’ve laughed it off. Sorry this happened!

    1. chocolate lover*

      I’m imagining the next post-it (if needed) saying something along the lines of “I have a very particular set of skills” aka Liam Neeson in Taken.

    2. MEH Squared*

      Searched to find this comment because this was my first thought as well. I could see myself thinking this, but not actually doing it.

    3. goddessoftransitory*

      Like, this is a F— Around and Find Out situation. You do NOT mess with people’s lunches!

    4. Van Wilder*

      Dorm situation when I was studying in England. If I labeled my milk with my name, someone would steal it. But if I just wrote “Not yours, don’t f*cking touch,” it would be left alone. I couldn’t believe that worked.

      Reminds me of mental Ross Gellar and his moist-maker sandwich.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        At my previous job, I used to put my name on my coffee milk in the communal fridge, but to be on the safe side, drew a skull and crossbones on it as well.

    5. Momma Bear*

      At one job we had a communal kitchen for several businesses on the floor. One of my floormates wrote all over their take out container saying that it was their food, they had already spit on it, do not eat my food. I never found out the food thief but since the container notes happened more than once, I assume it was an ongoing feud.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Same. So gross. Why oh WHY didn’t that person at least use a spoon? (I still prob would have thrown it out, but the hands part is just next-level disgusting.)

      1. 1-800-BrownCow*

        I’ve seen people in buffet lines use their hands to scoop food out of containers. Yeah, I’m so not a fan of buffets…..

        1. UKDancer*

          Yes that’s why I don’t like buffets either. A lot of people have terrible manners and use their fingers despite available tongs. I try and avoid them where possible.

      2. I edit everything*

        Dipping a knife into a brand new jar of peanut butter is one of life’s great joys. But a hand? Ewwwwww!

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        It’s like before DNA testing when a burglar would take a poop on their victim’s bed before departing–adding deliberate insult to injury.

      4. LifeBeforeCorona*

        One time I bought a jar of Nutella, brought it home, opened it and discovered a finger sized scoop was gone. I returned it to the store and sadly the clerk said that it happens.

        1. irene adler*

          Yeah- At a grocery store, I watched a couple open, peel back the seal and sample a variety of honey bottles, then recap and replace on the shelf. I wanted to purchase honey, but not after witnessing that scene.

          Found a clerk to report it to and he absolutely would not put a stop to it. Nor would he go through the bottles and toss the ones which had been opened. Told me it happens all the time. Said the store would be happy to replace any honey I purchased and found had been previously opened.

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      Years ago, a coworker brought a homemade 9×13″ cheesecake for a potluck. She left it in the office fridge until it was time & took it out to find someone had scooped the middle out with their hand.

      It was a very sad day for all, as she had worked as a pastry chef & made phenomenal cheesecake.

  7. Mads*

    My entire neurodivergent body is quivering at the idea of a fistful of peanut butter. The *texture*.

    1. Team Eve: Parkour Enthusiast*

      I know, right? I’ve mostly given up on why people do the stuff they do because usually they don’t even know, but stories like this still make me wonder sometimes.

    2. So Tired*

      My neurodivergent self is over here like, yeah that’s a terrible texture. While my peanut butter-loving self is like, HOW COULD YOU DESECRATE THE PEANUT BUTTER LIKE THAT. FUn dichotomy :D

    3. Dr. Doll*

      For me it would be peanut butter under my nails. I haaaaaaaaaaate eating with my hands (a standard practice in my husband’s culture) for this reason.

      1. UKDancer*

        I’m not keen either. My ex used to laugh at me for eating pizza with a knife and fork but I just don’t like food under my fingernails.

    4. NotAnotherManager!*

      We used to have peanut butter in our shared kitchens (along with utensils to, you know, get your PB like a civilized human), but there was one particular uncouth guy who legit used to stick two fingers into the PB, lick it off, and then double-dip. His boss’s boss ended up being the one to catch him in the act and read him the riot act. He was banned from company PB after that, and someone followed him into the kitchen to make sure he stayed away from any communal items for the rest of his tenure.

        1. Boof*

          Frankly my work just has tiny packs of everything. Keurig cups, so no coffee flavor wards; little pats of jam, peanut butter, honey, etc in the break room/kitchenish area. I never appreciated before just how much drama is spared.

    5. FD*

      I know! And peanut butter is such a contagious food where the stickiness spreads to everything else. It’s not as bad as maple syrup but still… /Shudder

  8. Just Courtney*

    Gosh, these are brilliant. I laughed out loud at several. #2 is amazing. Nothing quite like the early days on the interwebz.

  9. 1-800-BrownCow*

    #10’s “reply all” person is my new hero! I almost fell off my chair from laughing so hard.

    The Pot Pie story is awesome. I wonder if Pennsylvania Dutch Pot Pie was added to that conversation, which is a completely different version altogether and not in the last what those who don’t know expect to get when they order. And the fact it was resurrected again weeks after it had died down, that’s priceless.

    Sadly, a few others of these stories brought up memories of similar stories in places I’ve worked. The last place I was at, we had one guy on 2nd shift who’d periodically raid the refrigerator for leftovers. His theory was, it’s a communal fridge, so any food in there is part of the community and free for anyone to take. But his favorite was every three months when the cleaning crew did a fridge clean-out. He’d raid the trash can after because in his mind, it was still good enough, even if expired or old.

    1. Relentlessly Socratic*

      I had pot pie noodles in the pantry (when I lived in Montco, they were easy to come by), and looked at the cooking time (I think it was 20 or more minutes) and I was all “,lolszz no way” and tried to cook them like plain old egg noodles.

      20 or more minutes later they were done.

      1. Jojo*

        Relentlessly Socratic – Never heard of these growing up in Delco, now I’m in Montco. I’ll look for them the next time at Freddie Hill.

    2. Veryanon*

      My grandma used to make PA Dutch Pot Pie from scratch (she even made her own noodles!) and it was delicious. For those who are not familiar with it, it’s basically like a beef stew but with doughy noodles and brown gravy in addition to potatoes. I can’t remember if Grandma put carrots in hers or not, but I know she added chopped parsley and celery. I remember encountering actual pot pies once I became an adult and left home, and being confused.

    3. PA Dutch Girl*

      I’ve had a conversation on this very comment about PA Dutch Pot Pie in a post that was about an office fight around the definition of a pie. (I believe Brits’ minds were blown by the idea of a “pot pie” that has neither crust nor lid.) Growing up, this was the only kind of pot pie I knew existed. When I first encountered a literal pie-shaped pot pie as an adult, I was: a) dumbfounded; and b) actually thought it was some kitschy creation of chef trying to be clever about the word “pie.”

      1. Just a different redhead*

        Contrast: I always had pie-ish pot pies and then had a “pot pie” at a restaurant where I’d taken my mom for Easter dinner. It was in PA, but it wasn’t a non-mainstream restaurant and there wasn’t a detailed menu description… but goodness stew with bread floating in it was not what I was expecting. Managed to eat it because of the bread, but generally I hate the texture of everything in a stew XD

      2. In the middle*

        Another PA Dutch girl stopping in to say I know what’ I’m craving for dinner tonight! Some of our food is gross-ew scrapple-but I love me some pot pie and chicken corn soup.

        1. Veryanon*

          OMG – the local volunteer fire company in the little town where I grew up would have a chicken corn soup sale every year as their main fundraiser. I have never seen chicken corn soup ANYWHERE outside of Central Pennsylvania.

        2. Veryanon*

          Also – my mom used to make something called “chicken and waffles” which was basically stewed chicken in gravy served over homemade waffles, with a side of mashed potatoes. We’d basically fall into a carb-induced coma after eating that for dinner.

      1. arthur lester*

        It’s also not Dutch. The Pennsylvania Dutch are, by and large, the Pennsylvania Deutsch.

        But calling it a “Pennsylvania German Beef Stew With Noodles In It” is a little less catchy.

    4. londonedit*

      OK, right, I in my British ignorance always assumed a pot pie was one of those ‘pies’ that’s really more of a stew with a pastry lid*. Now people are talking about noodles?? What do noodles have to do with pies?? Is there even pastry involved in a pot pie?

      *source of much controversy here in the UK, as many people argue a pie is NOT a pie unless it’s completely encased in pastry

      1. Deidre Barlow*

        Indeed. And if you’ve ever had a Wigan kebab (meat pie sandwich) you know the importance of that extra layer of pastry!

      2. arthur lester*

        A standard pot pie is a proper pie– sometimes just topped with pastry, but frequently fully surrounded. But food variations get *weird* in America. (There’s a lot of socioeconomic factors that lead to it, but most of the weird food concepts from America really boil down to immigrants making stuff that’s as close to familiar as possible with what they have access to, while also having suddenly much more access to meat and sugar than they did before.)

        1. Lexi Vipond*

          A lemon meringue pie is fine – you can have something else on top as long as there’s pastry round the sides. The problem is when a pub serves you a dollop of stew with a kind of small pastry cloud vaguely on top, and says it’s a pie. It isn’t. (It might be very tasty, but it’s not a pie.)

  10. EPLawyer*

    So many gross people.

    The peanut butter. Just UGH. No one should have touched it anyway, but still to use your HAND to scoop out the peanut butter. GROSS.

    Same with the Cold Cut Bandit. Just don’t go through people’s food okay? Someone brought that to eat, not to have you manhandle it.

  11. Sad Desk Salad*

    I’m not sure what a big bopper ice cream sandwich is, but I agree that stealing one is unthinkable. For shame.

      1. RLC*

        Is it a regional treat in the US? In the western US we have an ice cream treat known as “It’s-It”, two large oatmeal cookies with ice cream sandwiched between and covered in chocolate. Sounds similarly delicious!

    1. UrsulaD*

      Right? I bring (or buy at lunch) a treat when I need work late and I’d be very upset if my treat disappeared.

  12. Not a nepotism baby I think*

    I once accidentally ate someone else’s Tv dinner. (I was in a hurry and grabbed the wrong one.) I left a note on the fridge that I’d replace it next day and if you’re really hungry go ahead and eat mine. Not only did mine not get eaten but when I left about a year later the replacement was still there. I had it my last day so it wouldn’t go to waste.

    1. Relentlessly Socratic*

      In a plot twist where you are me–All of the TV dinners were, in fact, mine and I had forgotten.

      1. Amelia*

        That’s the only reason I label my food in my work fridge. No one steals anything, but if I don’t put my name on it I will forget I bought it.

        1. Someone*

          I put my initials and the date on everything or someone will assume it’s old and throw it away.

    2. Meghan*

      Hah, I just posted that I did that with my officemate!!! We had both brought the same brand of TV dinner but different flavors, and hers was one that I had bought in the past but thought it was too spicy. As I was preparing it I thought “weird that I brought this flavor today. Oh well.” And just ate it like it was my own. Obviously I offered to let her have the one that I had brought and even though it was an honest mistake, our working relationship took a nosedive that day.

  13. Brain the Brian*

    I missed the sharing post last wee — but I’ll share here. In my first few months at this company, someone who was especially sensitive to smells got annoyed about her neighbor’s reheated fish. She had gotten high on her break (perhaps part of the reason she was so sensitive to smells that day?), and instead of kindly asking her neighbor to avoid bringing in fish or eating it near her, she complained to her boss, who didn’t like the neighbor and went to HR about it. We got an all-staff email about 30 minutes later permanently banning fish from the office — all fish, of all kinds, ever. Years later, that rule is one of the few that Definitely Survived the pandemic.

  14. Marna Nightingale*

    I actually have a good office food story to share:

    When I worked in Road Service, one year we had simultaneous storms in the Maritimes, on the Prairies, and in the Montreal-Toronto corridor.

    The “calls in queue” indicator topped out at 99 and it did not go below 99 for a full week. Everyone who had every worked phones, regardless of current rank, worked phones. I pulled a 26-hour shift in there somewhere before my supervisor realised I just hadn’t gone home the night before and threw me out of the building (and into a cab).

    On the worst day, the CEO bought pizza, which doesn’t sound like so much but:

    The CEO went from desk to desk with pizza, making sure every rep logged off and got some.

    And, I mean, he also asked everyone which pizza they wanted and then went and grabbed you some.

    Inevitably we got bought out and everything went to Hell the second year I was there, but I will always remember that guy.

    1. EPLawyer*

      That is an amazing boss. Sure it was only pizza, but that the CEO realized you guys needed a break and made sure you GOT ONE is really amazing.

      Also kudos to your direct boss who threw you out of the building. You can’t help people if you are too exhausted to think straight.

      1. Marna Nightingale*

        She was a good’er.

        It wasn’t in any way her fault I was there so long; I did that thing where I had an 8-4, I picked up an extra shift because I was young and stupid and saving up PTO to go see the long-distance Boy, and then the storm hit and when my second shift ended at midnight I looked at the queue, shrugged, and kept picking up the phone. And then I had an 8 am shift so why bother going home? And so on until she asked me why I was casually washing down chocolate-covered espresso beans with coffee …

        1. EPLawyer*

          And there is when I expired from laughter. Casually washing down chocolate covered espresso beans with coffee……

            1. ferrina*

              This is a thing! Chocoloate-covered espresso beans are real and can be found in certain chocolate shops.

              Weirdly, I prefer espresso-ground covering chocolate chips, which are not a thing. But that’s one way to function when you really need to.

            2. DataSci*

              Ah, the observational astronomer’s “winter night at the telescope” snack of choice.

      1. La Triviata*

        Years ago, when I worked for an association, they would have conferences with staff working at least 16 hours each day with no scheduled breaks for meals or even the rest room. Meals were whatever, if anything, was extra meals from the lunches and dinners. At one conference, the president’s wife brought us her home-baked cookies. We were SO grateful to her.

    2. Nina*

      My 26-hour shift story is that the boss I had at the time
      realized everyone who had started at 5:30 that morning was still going to be there well after 5:30 the next morning which was a Saturday
      identified the people who weren’t needed right that second but had to stay because they’d be needed in an hour
      told those people to take a nap in their cars or the first aid room
      went around the entire building asking people what pizza they wanted
      ordered and went to collect the pizza
      stayed until nearly midnight because we had minimum staffing requirements and people who were asleep didn’t count
      kept everyone supplied with tea and coffee and water and snacks
      went to bat for us with the payroll team to make sure everyone got paid properly for this activity, which was not something payroll was set up to handle.

    1. Jojo*

      I bring my lunch in a small cooler bag because I refuse to use the communal refrigerator. I had a manager ask why I wasn’t using it when I was pumping for my baby, and I think I just stared at him like he was out of his mind. I have no doubt it would have ended up in someone’s coffee, and then what would my baby eat?

      (Coffee creamer is one of the high refrigerator theft items in my office.)

      1. SJ (they/them)*

        “I have no doubt it would have ended up in someone’s coffee, and then what would my baby eat?”

        aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaggghhghghhghghghhghg thank you for this, exquisite

      2. Beebs*

        Creamer theft is a multibillion racket, I swear. I bought my own mini fridge after too many creamer thefts/disgusting incidents and the thing paid for itself in six months or less.

      3. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

        I literally bought my own minifridge when I was planning to pump at work. (Actually I put it on my registry and my wonderful FIL bought it for me.) The pandemic scuttled those plans but I have it in storage for next time!

  15. DarthVelma*

    I will never understand why people mess with other people’s food. Happened to me at a previous job and it should have been my warning to get out then.

    I went to the fridge to grab my mid-afternoon snack and it was gone. I look in the trash can and someone had taken my grapes out of their tupperware container, thrown away the grapes, and then also thrown away the container separately. WTF?

    The fridge wasn’t full. The grapes had not gone bad. I just worked with assholes.

    1. Constance Lloyd*

      On my first day at my first job after college, some guy threw my lunch away. Apparently he was known for keeping the fridge incredibly tidy, but I had written both my name and the date on my lunch and he still threw it out before noon. He did not apologize and my manager simply said, “Yeah, he does that sometimes. Just keep an eye out.” She did not explain how I was meant to keep an eye on the fridge while doing my work on another floor, and we didn’t have cubicles where I could store a lunch box. I worked there for over a year and had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich every single day from that moment onward, because it didn’t need an ice pack and I could fit it in my purse.

    2. AngryOctopus*

      I used to bake for birthdays for a former company, in my department (I liked it, and we had a rotation of people who loved to bake). I once brought in a cake, and then someone threw out the base of my cake carrier! I didn’t realize until it was too late (I assumed it was in the sink being washed and didn’t look for it until a couple days later). Lovely colleagues banded together and bought me another one. Someone threw out the base of that one too! The second time one of my friends noticed and sent an email to the department that was like “Hey, stop throwing out the base of AngryOctopus’ cake carrier, or there will be no more cakes coming in”. Privately he came to me and was like “how do you not realize that the base is Not Disposable??”. We never found out who did it, although we did have our suspicions.

  16. Type A is for Accountant*

    #10 Had me DEAD. I love the drama! Oh, the unthinkable!! xD
    Who among us would not go home and tell That to our spouse/friend/whoever you vent to?

  17. MicroManagered*

    The baked cheese (#1) made me go “nooooooo” out loud. I was *not* expecting that to be the twist.

    Now, I like the baked cheese on top of pasta or pizza as much as the next guy, but no. Just… no. Why? WHY? What are you going to do with *multiple* slabs of melted cheese? And like, people are just supposed to eat the pasta that you picked at with your fingers? (And yes I’m 100% convinced this person used their fingers. I just know ok? Although if they did use a utensil, that somehow makes it even worse to me lol)


    1. WhoKnows*

      Not only that, but melted cheese that you’ve then put in a tupperware in the fridge? You want reheated leftover melted cheese? Are you crazy?

      1. Marna Nightingale*

        I mean, I would, I like it reheated because it gets really crispy, but only if it were cheese I lawfully owned all rights to.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          My BIL mentioned that my sister did this bizarre thing where she would put cheddar cheese on a plate and microwave it until it got crispy. I pointed out that I do the same thing. It’s delicious!

    2. Artemesia*

      If I worked there, I would have taken that cheese and thrown it away. No way someone like that should be getting away with this kind of ugly.

    3. Cj*

      I’m trying to know why on Earth do you think using a utensil to take the cheese off with make it worse?

        1. Danish*

          My thought is that it adds just an extra level of Intent to it. You had to go all the way to the utensil drawer and back, which is enough time to think, “should I be doing this? Is this weird to do?” whereas fingers might be more spontaneous.

          But then, she clearly did this a lot and clearly was not wondering at all if she was being weird.

    4. Delta Delta*

      I actually don’t love the cheese on top. It becomes a weird cheese forcefield, and I could do without it most of the time. That said, removing all the cheese from everything to take home for later is deeply weird.

  18. Alex*

    I’m the LW for #1, and I’m laughing because this is the second time that a story from that office (with one of the same characters!) made it into “Alison’s favorites” of a different call for ridiculous office stories. Man that place was ridiculous.

    1. Casper Lives*

      We need more stories of your time there! I don’t understand what she did with the cheese. That’s SO MUCH cheese.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        I want to know if: a) anyone ever said something like “No thank you, I don’t want that because someone scraped all the cheese off” or “that’s just scraped pasta that someone else has already been through” with a significant look at her, or b) She ever realized that no one ate the scraped up pasta, or if she actually did have a clue and was okay with it all going to waste, because that was the plan.

  19. DrOO7*

    This is why I just heat up my food before I leave for work and then take it out of my lunch bag when it’s time to eat. It might only be lukewarm instead of piping hot, but at least it hasn’t been swiped.

    1. Kara*

      Just as a heads up, that’s a food poisoning risk. You want to keep food out of the Danger Zone of 40-140°F, and this sounds as though it’s spending at least a couple of hours in the temperature range where bacteria double in number every 20 minutes.

      As an alternative, do you have any place you could instead plug in one of those mini- crock pots? They come in personal size, and are perfect for keeping your food all nice and toasty until it’s time to eat. Fair warning, i don’t know if food smells at your desk might be an issue or not. I’m in construction, so any smellsthat might or might not escape the crock pot would be drowned out by the various other smells on site.

  20. The Prettiest Curse*

    My current office has a pretty clean kitchenette and fridge. They recently sent out their first ever reminder to please label items and remove them from the fridge – which, having worked in multiple offices where the fridge would smell so bad that I was the only person willing to clean it, was completely hilarious to me. Though I’m wondering now if office fridges automatically go bad as soon as I start working somewhere – hopefully, I won’t curse this one!

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      I have cleaned the office fridge (and in one memorable and disgusting occasion the downstairs, switched off standup freezer) multiple times, and it amazes me how many people buy perfectly good food and seemingly deliberately let it rot. There’s a thing of pineapple chunks in there currently that you can watch molding in real time.

      Why pack a lunch you are never, ever going to eat? Why buy yogurts you clearly hold in nothing but contempt? What is so precious about that salad dressing from 2017? I can only imagine what horrors their home fridges contain.

      1. urguncle*

        In all honesty, it’s because Morning me and Lunch me are two distinct and separate people who will never be hungry for the same thing or remember what each of them brought to the office. Unless it’s leftover takeout that I really really want.

  21. Caz*

    I actually worked with someone who had one bite of a sandwich taken and the remainder left, before my time at the office. I laughed when she first told me the story because surely, surely, it was too ridiculous? People didn’t really do that? There were witnesses, though, and a photo, and a “suspected” food thief (and other food thefts that stopped when the “suspect” moved on to a new job).

    1. Sopranohannah*

      I can imagine it happening once by accident. You and coworker have similar lunch bags and you both brought sandwiches. Oops, I brought turkey not chicken salad. More than once though? That is extra levels of weird.

  22. StillSalty*

    We had the Salt Shaker Wars in my office. Our kitchen was right next to our conference room, and it was common practice for people to gather around the conference room table for lunch when it wasn’t in use. Not all at once – folks would come in and out depending on their schedule.

    One day, we noticed that the salt shaker kept disappearing. Someone would buy a new one, put it out for general use, and within a day or two it would be gone. Questions were asked. Accusations were made. Venting occurred. Who steals SALT? Repeatedly? Discord crept into our happy little lunch gatherings.

    The culprit apparently confessed on their way out the door – they were in charge of keeping that room tidy, and got annoyed when people left the salt shaker behind. So they kept throwing it out to “teach people a lesson.” Except since no one knew WHY it was disappearing, I’m not sure anyone “learned” anything – at least not anything constructive.

    1. Totally Minnie*

      It would never occur to me that keeping the office kitchen tidy meant that there couldn’t be a salt shaker on the table. When I clear the kitchen table at home, I leave the salt and pepper shakers there, because that’s where I’ll be the next time I need them.

      1. StillSalty*

        It was the conference room table (the kitchen didn’t really have seating), so I can understand not wanting to have keep putting things back in the kitchen. But you know, say something? Or at least write a nice passive-aggressive note? Because we just kept buying more salt….

    2. Fluffy Fish*

      What a glassbowl. It would have taken just as much effort to move it to the kitchen. How wasteful.

      1. EPLawyer*

        Taken even less effort to USE HIS WORDS and mention it. Instead, he just kept throwing it out while probably mentally complaining no one was getting the hint.

  23. Damn it, Hardison!*

    #7 the peanut butter thief – I’d like to assume that Ted Lasso worked in that office.

    1. arthur lester*

      Every time I think I might be able to guess what Ted Lasso is about, some new comment on the internet comes along and I realize I have no idea. (don’t feel the need to explain it to me; sometimes I enjoy being confused by things)

  24. Captain Dunkirk*

    I missed the submission post, but to add my silly work food story here:

    I worked at a place where it was pretty normal for departments to organize pot lucks for themselves for lunch, and then send an email to the rest of the office to come grab leftovers if they wanted.

    One day I answer a call on my phone extention and it’s Suzie from accounting. Now, I’d only interacted with her a handful of times, but they were always friendly in nature. After I say hello she says, “Hey, it’s Suzie. Get your a$$ down here to get potluck food before we let the rest of the office know!” in a very jovial and friendly way. I guess she thought we were better friends than I thought we were? In any case I said I’d head way.

    Well when I get there and start making myself a plate, something feels off about it, but I just thanked them for the food and went back to my desk.

    Long story short, she had meant to call a different coworker that shares my first name and she had dialed the wrong extension off the phone list, getting me instead.

    That’s why there was a weird vibe and strange looks when I showed up to take their food!

    She came to me later that day, hat in hand, to explain what happened and apologized for speaking in such a familiar way.

    I just chuckled and assured her it was no big deal. Besides, I got free tasty food out of the deal!

    1. learnedthehardway*

      I hope Suzie explained to the rest of her department that you weren’t just a food pirate, but that she had mistakenly invited you.

      1. New Jack Karyn*

        Captain Dunkirk: food pirate, swashbuckler, leader of sloop ‘The Uncheesed Pasta’, and ruler of the seven seas. Ahoy, matey!

  25. Bleepblorp*

    i once worked in a office where everyone at the company loved refrigerated airheads and insisted that all airheads only be kept in the fridge. I’ve never had another food that felt as much like new cavities.

    1. CommanderBanana*

      I can kind of see this though. I bought some Laffy Taffy at an airport recently and room temperature Laffy Taffy is impossible to separate from the wrapper.

    2. MEH Squared*

      I did not know that airheads were candy (until I Googled) so this read much differently to me and made me so confused!

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        “Please let us out…we’re so cold and we promise not to be dumb anymore…”

    3. EPLawyer*

      UGH, my husband is a candy in the fridge person. I am not. There have been … discussions … when he put MY candy in the fridge.

      1. I have RBF*

        I only put chocolate candy bar minis in the fridge, because otherwise they seem to melt at the most inopportune times.

  26. Phony Genius*

    #7 actually happened to me with a store-bought jar. About an hour after I got home with it, I went to make a sandwich. I opened the jar, and saw several finger-shaped tracks in the peanut butter. (Chunky, for those who need to know.) From then on, I unscrew the lid in the store to make sure that the seal is intact.

    1. Ellis Bell*

      I wonder how often this happens with other types of condiments with less of a clay footprint texture. If someone did this with a jar of jam, you’d never know. I’m currently blessing my lunch bag right now.

      1. Phony Genius*

        Most jam jars that I buy have a pop-up button on the lid, so you know if it has been opened.

        1. ferrina*

          This is also because jam needs to be sealed tightly in order to prevent bacteria from growing. If the seal has been broken, the jam may not be safe to eat.
          If you are making canned jam at home, you always check pop-up button on the jar to make sure it has sealed properly. If the button has popped up, it means that the jam isn’t sealed and isn’t shelf-stable, and needs to be refrigerated.

    2. goddessoftransitory*

      Apparently this is a subset of some especially revolting Tik Tok or similar where people film themselves opening and LICKING the tops of ice cream containers and putting them back because people are horrible and disgusting and need to be taken behind the barn.

  27. Sopranohannah*

    I can understand why the pot pie incident caused so much controversy. I love a good pot pie, and even the frozen ones are pretty tasty if you bake them in the oven. But if for some reason you have to microwave them it still takes almost 20 minutes. Sounds like a waste of lunch time.

  28. BaskingInMyWindowlessOffice*

    Some of these are gorilla warfare tactics – taking the ham off a sandwich and putting it back in?! Taking the cheesy part off the top?! Sticking your hand (please let them be wrong and there was a spoon not a hand involved)?! Taking other people’s food out of the freezer to make room for your grocery store purchases?! Taking a bite out of a sandwich?! Stealing is bad, no doubt. But these are other acts are just terrorism.

    1. ferrina*

      Oh man, I could see the CIA using these tactics.

      How to Destroy Morale in the Enemy’s Office
      Step 1: Take the ham off the sandwich or the cheesy part off of the pasta, or even stealing the cookie from the boxed lunch. Never let them see you.

      Step 2: Take 50% of any pen shipment immediately. From the remaining pens, bleed the ink out of 50% of those. If you can, try to have the ink jammed so it will stain the user.

      Step 3: Don’t sign up to bring anything to the potluck, then bring rolls. The cheapest rolls you can find.

    2. New Jack Karyn*

      Gorilla warfare–because this is what gorillas would do if left unsupervised in an office kitchen!

  29. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

    #5 Boxed Lunches: I have seen this happen repeatedly!! You go to take one of the boxed lunches up for grabs only to find the chips and/or dessert is gone.

  30. HonorBox*

    “The unthinkable has happened” and “I think it was me” were just what I needed today. Thank you!

  31. Somehow_I_Manage*

    I want to believe that all people are inherently good. That we are all guided by the same light, slowly moving forward towards enlightenment. Office food stories are the counterpoint. There is evil lurking among us.

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      There are apparently many among us who read the Decent Human Being manual and decided “nah.”

  32. Lady Blerd*

    Every time these stories come up, I am always baffled by this kind of behaviour. Like seriously, who does this!???

  33. Student*

    Kitchen Office Drama, malicious nerds edition:

    I was working in a nuclear research facility on a college campus. Every year, people who work with radioactive stuff have to take a refresher course. It covers all the rules on safely handing radioactive stuff.

    At the end of the course, this particular lab always added a few slides that were specific lessons-learned from the prior year’s incidents. These were things someone had actually done, gotten caught at, and possibly caused a safety incident of some level. They were always interesting!

    One year, the lessons-learned contained a gem. It will haunt my dreams until I finally retire from this cursed industry. I’ve found out over the course of my career that it is, sadly, not an isolated issue.

    The lesson-learned explained that it is completely against all radiation safety protocols to store or use radioactive sources in any of the break-room appliances, including but not limited to the refrigerator and oven.

    I never used a shared refrigerator or oven in a radiation lab again.

    1. urguncle*

      On the flip of this, I know someone who was incensed that she was written up, and eventually fired, for repeatedly putting her lunch box in the specimen fridge in the phlebotomy lab. “The samples are sealed,” she argued. But frankly, once you use a fridge for blood, that’s it for the fridge. It belongs to the bodily fluids.

      1. Sedna*

        I went from my first job (DNA lab with carefully cleaned and separated freezers, with NO FOOD OR DRINK AT ALL allowed in the lab) to my second job in clinical work (yeah, I guess we’ll keep the labs separate). I opened the common fridge one day to find someone had left a bunch of half-used vaccine vials in the door. WHY. The risk was probably low, sure, but there are labs full of perfectly good refrigerators right down the hall! Get clinical stuff out of the food fridge!!

    2. GammaGirl1908*

      My mom worked in a city-government office where people kept their lunches in the refrigerator. On the other side of the floor was the city’s infectious diseases research lab, which explains why, one day, when she was on a conference call, she heard a commotion coming toward her office. Her admin burst in, and, seeing that she was on the phone, slid her a note saying that an intern had made an error and put [brace yourselves] a cooler full of dead birds with West Nile virus in the fridge. Chaos was actively ensuing in the kitchen.

      1. Cyndi*

        If I was that intern I don’t know if I would have shown up for work ever again. If I was ANYONE who worked in that office I definitely wouldn’t have used that fridge ever again.

        1. GammaGirl1908*

          Then there was a whole drama about that head of the other department offering to buy a new fridge, promptly realizing what a bite that would take out of her budget, and offering to “sanitize” the old fridge. BLLLECCCCHHHHH.

    3. Missb*

      shared fridges are horrible things.

      Before we went permanently remote, our floor had a communal kitchen that had a full sized fridge, sink and microwave. that’s it. You could maybe sit 2 people at the small table. It was not a place to hang out in, and the fridge was consistently gross.

      Our little section of the floor (the technical field staff) had a small fridge in our space – definitely not approved. We got around it by slapping a “specimens” sticker on the fridge. The safety inspectors never looked inside.

      1. Dog momma*

        ^^^For..Student, Gamma girl,Seems & urguncle! Nurse here, so I know exactly what you mean!

  34. Sparty07*

    I had a coworker who I was not a fan of based on his business (not personality) efforts. He was liked by the one director he worked directly for. However, he deemed himself to be master of the floor fridge. He would clean it out randomly. One Friday before a long weekend he had posted that it was to be cleaned out at 5:00PM sharp and to get your stuff out before then. He then proceeded to actually clean it at like 4:30 and took all of the yogurts and sodas out, into his own desk to take home for the week. He also tossed some expensive tupperware that people had planned to get closer to 5:00 so the leftovers would remain healthy. Was the final straw in my true disdain for him.

  35. ConstantlyComic*

    The months-later “I think it was me” reply has me wheezing trying to hold back my laughter. Perhaps reading this while at a library reference desk was a bad idea.

  36. Jessica Ganschen*

    Number 10 is absolutely incredible. That email truly reads like a Tumblr sh*tpost that I could have encountered any time in the last five years.

  37. sharrpie*

    “My coworker’s noodle dishes kept getting stolen from our office fridge. Oddly enough, the thefts stopped when she started labeling the food, “If you take this, I will end you.”

    Ross Geller?

  38. Fig Nothings*

    Not a work story, but I used to rent a room in a house where the owner very loudly voiced her suspicions that someone was eating her Fig Newtons. The suspects were me, another renter, and her teenage daughter who could do no wrong. The kicker? The other renter and I BOTH had to follow gluten-free diets. She still couldn’t believe it was her daughter even after I calmly explained that Fig Newtons do in fact contain gluten as they are made from wheat. Let’s just say there’s a reason I only lived there 9 months.

  39. Cyndi*

    That post got a lot of horror stories about people throwing tantrums when their moldy lunch boxes were thrown out, but I’m here to assert that my tantrum was TOTALLY JUSTIFIED.

    For the first yearish of Covid, I had a job where 1) my team was the only one still working onsite at the office, so custodial shifts had been reduced accordingly 2) I had a Thurs to Mon work week 3) I was in the habit of packing 2-3 days’ lunch at a time, just to save a few brain cells in the morning. There was the standard sign on the fridge warning that it would be cleared out at 5PM every Friday, but it never actually happened, and it was truly a non-issue because like six employees total were using it. There was hardly any food in there at all, no new civilizations growing in the back, it was fine.

    Until I’d been there about six months, and when I came to work on a Saturday the fridge HAD been cleared out and my insulated lunch bag had disappeared. There was fresh fruit and yogurt in it–so it clearly wasn’t a biohazard! I still feel that after months of the cleanings never actually happening, we should have gotten some extra warning first. Plus it was a cute bag.

  40. Edward Williams*

    #1 reminds me of people who, when a platter of asparagus stalks is passed around the table, cut a few in half and take the tender tips.
    I read once a prospective groom lost his marriage plans when he did this at a family dinner.

    1. DataSci*

      Ugh. I mean, nobody would care if he took the whole spears and only ate the tips! Why act like someone else will eat the tough parts you don’t want!

  41. Penny Pingleton*

    Alison, can you please put out a call for anyone who has ever purposely eaten/stolen someone else’s food from a shared work fridge? Who are the people doing this and what is their motivation? As Inigo Montoya says, “I must know.”

    1. Porchgal*

      Does using a few dashes of of salad dressing from a fairly full bottle count? Asking for a friend…

    2. Parky*

      I stole a Diet Coke from a fridge once because the machine was broken. I left $3 in its place But I still feel like a dick

    3. GammaGirl1908*

      My father was an attorney with a small private practice, and between him, his partners, and their admins, maybe 5-7 people worked in that office on any given day. One gentleman in particular firmly believed that if anything was in the refrigerator for longer than 24 hours, it was, as he put it, “fair game.” I’ve also heard my mother mention that she had employees who believed this as well.

      My sister, who worked for my father for several years, is still furious about a time in the late aughts when a client had sent a huge catering tray of some type of shrimp fettuccine on a Friday as a gift. Everyone feasted at lunch on Friday and it was delicious. There was plenty left, so Sis was looking forward to having some on Monday. Nope. The scavenging gentleman: “Hey, on Saturday, it was fair game.”

      1. learnedthehardway*

        Honestly, I have to agree with the scavenging gentleman about the shrimp fettucini – I wouldn’t keep seafood over the weekend and I’ve have been leery about eating it on Monday.

    4. amoeba*

      In my time in academia, we may once or twice have stolen alcohol from the stash of the neighboring lab during parties… (I’m sure they would’ve done the same to us, but we kept ours locked away)

  42. lizabeth*

    I knew there was a reason I would always put a cold pack in my lunch bag and keep it at my desk instead of using the fridge all these years.

  43. Porchgal*

    I work in a Catholic school, and it’s Lent. Last week our front desk receptionist sent an email to faculty and staff asking that anyone who needed to reheat fish for their lunch NOT use the microwave closest to the front desk. She suggested one in a more remote area of the building known as the Tower. This immediately received a reply-all that said, “The Tower Ladies beg to differ with this request!” It was eventually decided that fish should only be microwaved in the student cafeteria (where it will presumably be overpowered by the ever-present scent of burnt popcorn).

    1. Cyndi*

      Once when I was alone at the office late and pretty fried, I went down the street to Trader Joe’s for dinner, grabbed the first frozen thing that looked good, microwaved it at the office and dove back into work. I only realized the next day that I really shouldn’t have chosen the fish curry.

      I was laid off shortly afterwards and I can’t PROVE there was a connection but if there was…honestly, fair.

  44. Moira Rose's Closet*

    these always make me so happy. I can just feel my mood lighten when I see that one of these lists has been posted. thank you, Alison!

  45. Exploding Soup*

    In the early noughties I was working in an office which didn’t have anyone tasked with facilities management. The kitchens were kept clean and stocked with tea, coffee and milk but they were equipped with a random selection of cutlery and crockery that had accumulated over the few years we had been there. Some things were in high demand and short supply. If you didn’t remember to bring what you needed from home, you could be out of luck, especially if you had lunch later in the day. All of which culminated in my favourite ever all-staff email, sent by a splendidly dry and pithy colleague, which read, in its entirety, “has anyone seen the head office fork?”

    It led to much merriment, one of the PAs being sent to IKEA to buy some cheap and cheerful cutlery and crockery, and a total ban on the sending of all-staff emails by anyone other than senior management…

  46. New Senior Mgr*

    Just when you think you’ve heard it all… Also, the peanut butter scooper sounds deranged!

  47. It is what it is*

    I worked in an office with two very clueless coworkers.

    The first would take out a random lunch and eat it thinking nothing was wrong as long as they replaced it days later.

    The second was caught taking a single bite out of several people’s sandwiches. When confronted he said he was just trying to figure out which sandwich was better to eat that day.

    Neither one could grasp the concept of you only take out exactly what you put in nothing more nothing less.

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

      “trying to figure out which sandwich to eat that say” is such a stone-cold bonkers level of audacity, I love it.

  48. Lirael*

    4!! Either one of my old colleagues is here, or this has happened twice. Hi if it’s one of my old colleagues :D

  49. CSRoadWarrior*

    #7 – I love peanut butter, but I would NEVER touch anyone else’s in the office, let alone put my finger or hand in it. And if somebody did that to me, I would be livid. I don’t blame the employee for throwing it out either. Somebody contaminated it with his/her hands.

    Still, all because of the culprit, nearly a whole jar of peanut butter had to go to waste.

  50. raincoaster*

    People who’ve never seen one get weird about boxed lunches. Way back in the day I worked at a summit of world leaders, handing out coffee. The KGB guys saw the boxed lunches (sandwiches, veggie sticks, and dip) and grabbed literally six or eight each, and sat there and ate them all, throwing the boxes on the ground around them. This, naturally, left us short for serving the Secret Service and RCMP, who were off doing their actual duty instead of hoovering free food. When we told on of the Secret Service guys he sniffed, “As if we would eat that anyway.”

    When last seen the KGB guys were at the nearby beach, copying down a sign to take to their translator. The sign read “CLOTHING OPTIONAL BEYOND THIS POINT.”

    1. arthur lester*

      This is one of my favorite short stories I think I’ve ever read on this here internet.

  51. Toasterstrudel*

    At my previous job an email went out to the entire building. This lady was very unhinged and ranting about someone stealing and then tossing her leftover fried chicken. It went on and on about how disrespectful it was and that the chicken was expensive. As it turned out, she had put her lunch away in such a way that when someone opened the fridge door next, her chicken fell out of the fridge and the box opened and spilled it onto the floor. So the person who opened the door obviously just tossed the chicken. I didn’t work in the lady’s department so I do have to wonder if she was embarrassed by her tirade after that.

  52. RB*

    These are all really doozies of a story, but I can sympathize with the ice cream sandwich. It sounds like a really good kind. We have Ruby Jewel ice cream sandwiches where I live (PNW) and I’d be really upset if I had one saved up for the afternoon and it disappeared.

  53. ooops*

    I’m pretty sure I was a perpetrator once. I usually brought in one of say 6 different frozen meals. One day when I opened the freezer I saw one of my normal meals there and had it for lunch. When someone asked later what happened to their frozen meal I went to the freezer and sure enough there was ANOTHER of my regulars in there. Ooops

  54. UpstateDownstate*

    The Pot Pie made my week, thank you for sharing! If there’s ever an update again please let us know. :)

  55. NoIHaveTheBestJobEver*

    The pot pie . . . the pot pie!!! I would have loved to have been on that thread-story made my month!!

  56. Dennis Feinstein*

    No. 4. Disgraceful. Better to steal the whole sandwich than to take 1 bite, surely? Gross.
    Reminded me of my brother’s office where someone once took someone else’s container of fried rice, ate everything but the peas and put it back. Did they think the fried rice owner wouldn’t notice? (As a pea hater, my brother would’ve been my prime suspect, but he’s too much of a germaphobe to eat another person’s lunch).

  57. Manfred Longshanks*

    #8 reminds me of the one time I volunteered to do some door knocking on election day. There was food provided as it was an all day thing.

    One of the local councillors was whining that none of the catering was GF and if she ate the bread, she’d get ill, which was reasonable. What was not reasonable was that she then proceeded to take the ham out of all the sandwiches – griping all the while that the crumbs would still make her ill – and left the bare bread for everyone else, while she went off to the chippy round the corner instead.

    I was really glad I’d brought my own sandwiches at that point.

  58. BatManDan*

    This line from the author of #5, “We have a team member with a history of perplexing, norm-bending behavior,” makes me want to know more stories of such behavior. LW – are you game for sharing?

  59. Freezer Shoes*

    Okay this is more food adjacent than specifically about food but it fits in the spirit of these stories. I used to work in an office where it was normal for people to use their lunch breaks to work out in the building gym. It was a casual office so it wasn’t too unusual for people to wear their sneakers, have their gym bags around, etc.

    Someone who worked there before me would go for a run during the work day and then *store her running shoes in the freezer.* Her reason for this was that her shoes smelled, so she didn’t want to keep them at her desk, so her solution was to put them in the freezer. People talked about this YEARS later.

    1. The Eye of Argon*

      This actually made my brain grind to a screeching halt, so well done, Ms Stinky Feet. I guess.

  60. Fluff*

    For the single bite sandwich, I had this happen with donuts and a fundraiser for sports. I had to sell Krispy Kreme donuts. I finally got all my assigned boxes sold and then the complaints came. Luckily most buyers were neighbors and family friends.

    My mom had taken a single bite out of all the donuts and put them back in the boxes with the bite side down. All donuts and ALL boxes.

    She also HELPED me sell them.

  61. Jam Today*

    I don’t know if this is an OTT reaction from me, but I would consider the baked-cheese topping thief, the chip-bag-from-boxed-lunch thief, and others in that vein (taking all of a free thing, etc.) disciplinary actions. In addition to being able to perform your job functions, part of working in an organization with other people is the ability to adhere to basic norms of social interaction, which that type of behavior violates. If you can’t function in a professional setting with basic manners on display, you do not belong there.

  62. Librarian the Ninth*

    The peanut butter divot reminded me of something!
    This isn’t a work fridge story, but it’s a communal fridge. I’m part of a group in my city that maintains a couple of “community pantries”- basically fridges/cupboards on the sidewalks (plugged into a couple of businesses that are donating their space and power) that are available to everyone to put food in or take food out. We have a crew that does maintenance, checks regularly for expired items or things that aren’t allowed (alcohol, homemade food with no ingredients or allergens listed, opened/used items), cleans up messes, and shops for the fridges using donations to our Venmo.
    It’s also not a story about theft, but a well-intentioned mistake.
    One day I was checking on the fridges and saw two HUGE jars of peanut butter in the pantry. I checked the tops, and unfortunately, both had been opened and about 1/3 of each scooped out. Next to them, a half-used squeeze bottle of grape jelly. And then I saw that two loaves of bread had been opened and partially used. Sadly, I had to trash all of these used ingredients. Then I opened the fridge. There were a full ten messy peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, at least two on each shelf. They were cold and soggy and had probably been there overnight. It took quite a while to clean the smeared peanut butter off of everything.
    My assumption is that someone was hungry and exited to make themselves a sandwich. Then they either made too many or kindly thought to pay it forward and make sandwiches for someone else. Unfortunately, as the custodians of the fridges, we can’t just have mystery sandwiches lying around with no information on how or when they were made. Especially since as I was cleaning up, I found no evidence of a spoon or knife being used to spread the ingredients or cut the bread. In fact, I’m pretty sure our reverse sandwich bandit used their bare hands.

  63. Interrobang*

    So sad I missed this thread. I have a great story for this.

    In our shared kitchen some people would leave dirty dishes in the sink. Not a ton, but enough to royally piss off someone with a laminator and label maker at their disposal.

    First it started with copious laminated signage to clean up after yourself. Then dirty spoons received personalized labels that said “clean me” and other less nice things. Then the dishes started going missing entirely!

    Favorite cereal bowl? Gone. World’s Best Dad Coffee cup? Gone. We all assumed someone was throwing the dirty dishes away. But no…

    Months later I found several dirty dishes, complete with curdled milk (cereal bowl) and caked on food in an upper cabinet. Someone was taking the dishes and just putting them, food and all, in a cabinet!?! (Side note: this may explain the mouse problem)

    A few months later I discovered the culprit. Who should I see putting a dirty coffee cup in the secret cabinet after hours? Could only be the head of HR!

    (My cube was directly adjacent to the kitchen and I worked A LOT of hours. I pretty much lived at the office)

  64. Nut Lover*

    I once worked in an office of about 20 people, where someone (who didn’t have an allergy) got really obsessed with nut allergies (even though there were very few permanent or full-time staff with nut allergies). A whs committee was formed to discuss the issue, which resulted in an office-wide ban on any nut-food. One non-committee staff member was coeliac and eating nut bars was a key part of her diet. She tried to continue to eat her nutty bars at her desk discretely, but they would get thrown out when she wasn’t looking. Battle lines were drawn, nut-gate went on for a while, but my favourite part was the poor coeliac staff member who eventually gave in by taking her nutty bar, putting one foot outside the glass door of the office, one foot inside the office, and poke her head out the door to take bites of her nutty bar, and popping her head back in between bites to talk to colleagues in the office. The whole thing was…. nuts.

  65. slowingaging*

    You know that moment you realize you are living a Ask a manager comment literally this week. Jane suggested to Bob the baker that her birthday was coming up and she loved cobbler. Bob appropriately baked the cobbler. Virginia who had a cold and was coughing, went into Jane’s office and stuck her fingers in the cobbler. Jane took that section of the dessert and threw it in the trash… because cobbler. Bob in the past had baked specific desserts for Virginia. Sticking your fingers much less germ laden fingers in someone else’s food, much less their birthday gift, why?

  66. Jessica Fletcher*

    In a former job, our break room had two refrigerators shared by the entire floor. There were at least 100 people using them, a mix of full-time salaried workers and part-time hourly, plus temporary folks who came in to visit the training division. My manager was very into his beverages. He would bring in two soft sided lunch boxes every week, each concealing a different six or eight pack of Gatorade, flavored waters, seltzers, you name it. And every week, someone would find his drinks and take one or two, and he would have a fit. Besides complaining to everyone he encountered, he’d track down the head of our division and rant about it.

    He made such a huge stink, and became such a thorn in the side of our division head, that she finally ordered a separate fridge to be used only by our department. It was pretty basic and was set up in a secluded area in our section of the floor, where no one outside our department should have a reason to go. My manager announced the arrival of the fridge as the end of a long fought battle that deeply wounded everyone on our team, when it was really just him and his bizarre need to bring in 12 different bottled drinks every Monday.

    Maybe four people ended up using this special fridge. It was far away from the break room, so it was pretty inconvenient to anyone who wanted to microwave their food or leave the work area or watch tv at lunch. So they essentially spent probably $800 or so just to keep him quiet.

  67. OfficeVulturesGonnaVulture*

    Honestly I see nothing wrong with boxed lunch. Once the food is released to the masses it’s first come, first served and the chips and cookies always go first.

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