the dried apricots, the meat embezzler, and other stories of people losing their minds over free food at work

Last week I asked about times you’ve seen ridiculously bad behavior over free food at work, often from the highest-paid employees on staff — and you certainly delivered. There were so many hilarious stories on that post that I can’t fit them all my favorites into one column … so here’s part 1. Part 2 will be coming later this week.

1. The brie

The wildest thing I’ve ever seen, from an academic wine and cheese event, is a person I didn’t recognize marching up to the cheese board, flipping an entire wheel of brie into her purse, and marching back out. I almost respect it for how gutsy it is, but it just shocked me that you’d do this without at least playing the game of pretending to be excited about the forthcoming book/new minor program/new dean of whatever.

2. The budget trick

I catered special events, meetings, and trainings in a hospital and leftovers were typically reserved for volunteers and lower paid support staff. There was one department head, very well compensated but with a reputation for being extremely cheap, who kept what seemed to be a full set of Tupperware in his office and who would show up after meetings and events to pack away all the leftovers to take home to his family.

This was seen as an annoying and selfish quirk by the people whose department had paid for the food, until he wrote into a local newspaper column where readers shared tricks and tips on being thrifty, saying that he did what he did. He wrote in with his full name, job title, and the name of the hospital that employed him. Suddenly, I had instructions from hospital PR and the CEO’s office that they were to be notified if he was seen doing this again. The thing is, he didn’t stop. He was less blatant about it and stopped stealing leftovers from meetings in the executive suite, but he still managed to catch me in hallways and elevators, with carts full of chafing dishes, and he never failed to make himself a plate or grab several servings of dessert “for his staff.” I never turned him in because $11/hour was not enough to get me involved in that nonsense.

3. The meat embezzler

We do a monthly BBQ for all staff – I think you Americans call it grilling – sausages, steaks, bacon, eggs, onions all cooked on a flat plate over a gas flame.

Anyway, we had one woman who would volunteer to help each month and would do all the ordering for the whole group (three separate sites located in the same town). It eventually came to light that she was ordering her own meat for the month on the company account and hiding it in the purchase for the monthly BBQ by spreading it across the invoices for the three sites.

It wasn’t until she was on long service leave and another employee placed the order and the butcher asked about the extra box. There was some back and forth and the accounts team realized what she had been doing. She had gotten away with it for about six years. When she came back from leave she was terminated.

4. The mob

Once we had a Coldstone Creamery vendor bring his whole set-up into the lobby. The owner thought it was great and wanted to do it annually but we couldn’t get the guy back or find a different vendor because our staff had been so out of control trying to get them to make a dozen things for one person or threatening the poor guy over the serving size.

5. The delivery theft

At my last workplace, one of my coworkers was coming back into the office after her lunch break and let a food delivery driver into the lobby. He was in a rush, so she told him to leave the delivery on the front desk and she’d message the office to let the person know that their food had arrived.

The message went out on the office-wide Slack channel that “the lunch delivery from X is at the front desk.” Someone responded within about two minutes, “Thanks! Got it!” followed by the person who had actually ordered the food posting on the same channel five minutes later, “Wait, so did two of us order [uncommon food] from [tiny mom & pop restaurant] today???”

Person A had already scarfed down the entire order and sheepishly dropped off $10 to the person whose food they stole. I’m pretty sure they only paid for it because the whole thing played out on the company Slack channel like some kind of soap opera.

6. The Tupperware

A former colleague kept a drawer full of Tupperware that she used whenever anywhere in the building had an event that had food. She’d find out when the event would end and show up right then with Tupperware and load up on food. People made bets at what time she’d show up or how many containers she would take.

I was once at an event we were invited to and she was behind me in line. I had my purse with me and I felt rustling. Looked down and she had dumped a basket of butter packets in my purse and was busy shoving a bunch of mayo packets in there as well, “for safekeeping.” Horrifying! I made sure to never bring any bag with me to a work event until she retired.

Her retirement party on her last day? She brought all her Tupperware with her from her drawer to made sure she loaded up on everything. As well as a bunch of bags. She cleared out the leftovers down to napkins, plastic silverware, and even took the ice in the buckets that had cans of soda.

7. The library patrons

When I worked at a library, we would have a big Christmas/holiday potluck every December. Whatever anyone wanted to bring, from cakes and cookies, to spicy cornbread and butter, to meatballs, to my supervisor’s magnificent chess bars, all laid out on a long table in the circulation office.

My coworkers? Took only what they wanted, and asked the makers if they could box up a piece or pieces to take home for kids/family before doing so.

Librarians from other floors/departments? Called down to see if they could stop in, thanked everyone profusely for the treat.

Patrons? Would literally try to barge into the office, or lunge past the low barrier between the circ desk and the space behind where the office entrance was. My two fondest memories are the woman who tried to guilt us for not feeding her and her child a full lunch (he was at least 12 and visibly embarrassed) and the longtime patron who pulled the “I pay your salary” card, insisting that after all his years of supporting the library, we owed him a sampler plate of baked goods. My supervisor refused to bend for either of them.

8. The candy dish

The — thankfully very minor — candy drama at my workplace just ended recently. There always used to be a bowl of candy at the reception desk. There wasn’t a budget for this, just something the former receptionist did on her own, despite making much less than anyone else here.

When I got put on the front desk full time, I decided I was not going to be wasting my rent money buying candy for a bunch of manbabies who made six figures compared to my minimum wage (and were sexist, classist jerks about it). So I just kept filling the bowl from the preexisting mega bag till it ran out. Then I … stopped. And put the empty bowl out of sight in a drawer.

The complaints! Good lord, the complaints over the next month. So many “I can’t believe you’re not filling the candy bowl anymore!” “This place is falling apart. They can’t even keep the candy bowl filled.” “I guess people just don’t want to work anymore.” (Yes, this was said over a freaking candy bowl.) “You’re falling down on your job, aren’t you, girl?” (LOLwut buying you candy is exactly 0% of my job, jackass. Also: not a/your girl.)

9. The apricots

My BigLaw firm, pre-2008-recession, threw serious events/parties. At one event for “alums” (i.e., for firm lawyers to schmooze with/try and get business from former firm attorneys now in house), every conference room on our meeting floor was a different theme. I was talking to a friend in the cheese room (which had assorted platters overflowing with cheeses, crackers, nuts, dried fruits, etc.) and saw my friend’s eyes go wide as she hissed, “Be casual, but turn around slowly.” I did, just in time to see a partner who was the head of her practice group and easily making a few million dollars a year tip the ENTIRE PLATTER of dried apricots into her designer bag. It had to have been several pounds worth. She then casually turned and walked out of the room. We speculated about “Tammy” and why the heck she needed so many apricots for years.

10. The hero

I baked some scones and muffins for a friend’s birthday and decided to bring the leftovers to the office, the following morning. Mind you, it was all untouched food since we had so much to eat at the party. I put the two trays in the kitchenette and let people know free food was there.

10ish minutes later, I saw a well-known colleague march to the kitchenette and leave with one of the trays. This person was famous because he would hoard anything in the office that was free (food, pencils, t-shirts, you name it).

Well, sir, not today! I followed him to his office, knocked at the door, entered after his answer, took the tray from his desk, and left with it, in complete silence.

He. Was. Livid. and followed me to the kitchenette. He started to complain in front of other colleagues about my rudeness and how the sweets were supposed to be for everyone.

“Everyone indeed. You are not everyone,” was my very calm reply.

He left the room and didn’t return that day. He still kept hoarding stuff until the day he got fired for other reasons, but he never put the stunt again when I was the one to bring something.

11. The spreadsheet

This was a positive food weirdness, but I interned once for a team that ordered pizza semi-regularly. In order to optimize the pizza order, this one guy kept a detailed spreadsheet of the number of RSVPs, the number of people who actual showed up and ate pizza, the number of pies ordered, and the number of slices left of each flavor at the end of lunch. He had a certain number of leftover slices he aimed for (because if there were none left over you hadn’t ordered enough) and would adjust his calculations each time based on the spreadsheet and who RSVP’d to the pizza lunch. Unusual but it seemed to work!

{ 620 comments… read them below }

    1. Kermit's Bookkeepers*

      I know this isn’t the same, but this behavior *reminds* me of an attitude I often perceive in people who are gifted with a certain amount of financial privilege: they believe they have earned their financial gains entirely through their own virtuous cunning and thriftiness, and are oblivious to the fact that they are profiting from an unbalanced system biased against those who don’t start the race several steps ahead. And sometimes as a result they focus so much on the moral good of being thrifty that they blind themselves to the moral cost of being a jackass.

      I recognize this is a LOT to read into a post about funny food scuffles, but the guy honestly thought he’d be patted on the back for being smart enough to put food aside for himself that was meant for other people! “Good job buddy, you saved money by passing the cost on to people who are paid less than you!”

      1. Kermit's Bookkeepers*

        I have either had too much coffee or not enough. Science is still uncertain.

        1. Violet*

          “…the moral cost of being a jackass.” I’d say you had just the right amount of coffee.

          1. NotRealAnonForThis*

            Agreed. Kermit’s Bookkeepers managed to verbalize (textalize?) what I was attempting to put into words.

            1. wendelenn*

              And the username fits; Kermit as Bob Cratchit supports his rat bookkeepers in their Christmas celebration!

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        I can also see it as a kind of reassurance to themselves that they aren’t “greedy,” weird as that seems–if they still “cut corners” and thrift and do all these life hacks, they’re “earning” their good fortune and don’t think of themselves as privileged glassbowls who should be first against the wall when the revolution comes. Stealing every last cheap ass roll from the company potluck is, inside their brain, a virtue since they’re not out throwing their money away on separate baked goods.

        The notion that people they interact with every day, like coworkers, aren’t on the exact same financial level as they are just doesn’t enter their brains.

      3. Majat*

        I also have elderly relatives who always bring extras from any situation like this when they don’t have to. But I believe that stems from growing up extremely food insecure. It never left them even after becoming comfortably financially stable or even very wealthy. They grew up having to take food wherever they could find it or risk starvation. It might not be the right thing to do, but sometimes is based in more then the callousness of having wealth.

        1. Chilipepper Attitude*

          My mom was food insecure as a child and we still see it tho she is in her 80s! She does not take food from events and even has an etiquette “rule” that you cannot eat the food you brought OR take it home unless you are asked to!

        2. Nargal*

          I mean, I grew up food insecure and am not wealthy at all and don’t do this. yes, I will take food home & stock up on leftovers, but I always ask and don’t take them all. You can do this without being an entitled jerk.

      4. You Don't Have To Yell*

        Wow. Splendidly said! Same people who believe in “bootstrapping” your way to success. Same ones who believe the path to wealth is just giving up that daily Starbucks coffee and avocado toast.

      5. münchner kindl*

        Like that newspaper article some time back, on how young people need to be thrifty and then they can pay back their college loans quickly, too …

        … where in the last paragraph the young (white woman) author revealed, by the way, she had also inherited several houses from her grandmother, and living on the rent she got from that, so all other income went to paying back college loans.

        That got some reactions on Twitter about cluelessness, entitlement and privilege.

      6. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Late to this party, but I just remembered a story from my second job, that was similar to that one. I worked for a fast-growing startup. When we outgrew our rented office, the owner built a new office building in a far suburb. Our product was training classes and rental management software for car rental dealership and so a lot of our staff worked in the field, were located out of town, and frequently traveled to our office. To that end, the new office was built down the road from a mid-class hotel. I didn’t hear this story until after I left and then came back for a get-together at someone’s home. A VP who was also there, told us this.

        He was on the phone with the hotel one day, arranging room bookings and such, when the hotel said something about the owner coming in for continental breakfast every day and that it was weird and could he maybe please stop. The VP confronted the owner, who was shocked. “But that’s free food! why can’t I? it’s for everyone?” This man, who already had a fortune, owned a company, owned the new office building, drove a brand new sports car and lived in an upper-end neighborhood, helped himself to the hotel food every morning to save on breakfast. Oh and lest anyone assume that he’d built his fortune by saving and thrifting like that, his dad owned several car dealerships in the area.

        PS. Last I checked, the company wasn’t to be found on LinkedIn or anywhere online, and the office building was now a (far suburb) branch of a large local clinic system. Good, good.

      7. LunaLena*

        Sadly, this is not a new thing at all either. I remember an old Ann Landers column from the 80s, in which someone wrote in to share his great money-saving hack: instead of tipping at restaurants, he left religious pamphlets. He also bragged that he and his wife went on lovely vacations every year with the money he saved from this.

        People were absolutely livid in their responses (and rightfully so). I still clearly remember the woman who identified herself as a taxi driver’s wife and said “our kids aren’t goats; they can’t eat paper.”

        1. Anon Y Mouse*

          I once saw a photograph of one of these pamphlets which had the outside printed to look like folded bills, which adds a further layer of cruelty to this. It is despicable in a country where servers’ tips are considered part of their wage (which in itself is awful).

    1. SirBluebird*

      Right? That’s so unbelievably charming. The sheer level of conscientiousness! You know he never forgets a birthday either.

      1. Random Dice*

        I was sure that one was going to involve tracking how much pizza each person ate and hassling them… and instead it turned out to be pure mitvzah. Awww.

    2. Mallory Janis Ian*

      For years at my old job, people would send the other admins to me to get my pizza calculations. All I did was allow 2.5 slices per person and divide that by the number of slices (8) at our regular pizza place to come up with the number of pizzas to order. I even told people that, and they always kept coming to me whenever they were going to order pizza for a large group of students.

      1. Bumblebee*

        A well-known formula in Student Affairs and related higher ed work, but Always mysterious to others!

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        I take pizza orders for a living, and it astounds me how difficult it is for people to mentally calculate this kind of thing. Even when I’m asked and give my basic recommendations I sit through long mumbled calculations over how many slices should be vegetarian, how much so and so is going to eat, on and on.

        I tell people that if they ever want to know what reading someone’s mind is really like they should do my job. You will sit through many a person’s entire thought process from beginning to end, whether you want to or not.

        1. teapot analyst*

          The example I always use in my work when people start protesting about how many questions I ask when we start an analytic program is literally ‘You know all the arguments people have when ordering pizza? Everything is like that, once you dig into the details. I ask these questions now in order to avoid you being upset later on getting a garlic and anchovy deep dish when you thought you ordered a thin crust margherita pizza.’

      3. Energiser Bunny*

        oh gosh 2.5 slices per person is not nearly enough in the places i have worked

    3. Char's Mom*

      I love him too – and if I was the pizza orderer, sounds like something I’d do. However, I wonder how you account for size of pizza/slice. Medium pizza slices are definitely different than extra large. And square vs triangle cuts. Oh my!

        1. Jiminy cricket*

          Yep. Very common in the Midwest. Especially for parties. You cut the whole pie into little squares about 3 inches on a side.

        2. ThatGirl*

          Mostly seen in Chicago and surrounding states, plus Detroit style is square cut but bigger, fluffier pizza.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            And the “corners” taste best!

            I’m in the Midwest & used to work with a guy from Philly. For some reason tavern-style cuts really weirded him out. He asked that pizza not be cut that way when he ordered. (It’s only done on really thin crust pizza.)

            1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

              Interestingly, rectangular pizza is pretty common for parties/catering in Philly. It’s very normal to get a really big rectangular pizza with square-ish slices, baked in a rectangle on a pan about the size of a big cookie pan (a “half sheet” pan, I think). Probably about the size of three normal large pizzas.

              1. ThatGirl*

                I lived near Philly as a kid and I miss tomato pie (which is a bakery/foccacia style crust with just tomato sauce and a sprinkling of parmesan, served cold).

        3. All Het Up About It*

          Google it! There’s quite a few interesting articles, discussions about it. Some people refer to it as the “party cut.” It can allow for a pizza to feed more people, because often people will still get 2-3 pieces, even if they are smaller. And for those who don’t like crust, there are pieces for them!

          But of course, as with all things food, there are detractors as well.

          1. umami*

            Oh interesting! I assumed it was more of a family cut, so that children who don’t eat a full slice can still get an entire piece and not end up wasting any. I don’t like the crust, but I still want it as a handle.

            1. SheLooksFamiliar*

              I’m from Chicago too, it’s also called ‘The Chicago Box Cut.’ Either way, you get more servings outta yer pizza, over by there.

            2. Ace in the Hole*

              I call it the “lunchroom cut.” School cafeterias here will occasionally offer pizza for lunch, baked on massive rectangular sheets and cut into squares.

              It’s not very good pizza.

              1. hellohello*

                the lunchroom pizza is different than party cut/tavern style/whatever you call it. The latter is a circular pizza that has been cut into square slices, vs. a large square sheet tray pizza cut into rectangles.

        4. Felicity Lemon*

          Detroit-style pizza has square/rectangle pieces. Growing up in Detroit, I didn’t realize until I was an adult that some people actually don’t know about square pizza.

          1. Christmas Carol*

            Detroit cut is not only cut in squares, it’s BAKED in a rectangular pan also. Legend has it, the pies were originally baked in the parts trays “liberated” from the automobile assembly lines

            1. Nina*

              TIL the way I have been making pizza for literally decades in New Zealand is ‘Detroit style’. I was just maximizing the amount of pizza I could bake per pan without needing to own any specialist pizza pans!

              1. allathian*

                Yes, and it’s also the way my dad used to make pizza when I was a kid, he just baked it in a standard oven baking tray.

              2. Phryne*

                It is also the way pizza is baked in tourist places in Italy. You will have hole-in-the-wall bakeries with a display of panini and square pieces of pizza they will heat on the grill for you. Handy for on the go.

              3. Seeking Second Childhood*

                some pizza placrd where I grew up offered the option of both kinds. They did round thin-crust pizza cut into wedges and rectangular thick-crust pizza cut into squares.

        5. umami*

          I just went through a whole ordeal on a different forum about square-cut pizza lol. Our neighborhood pizza place typically cuts pizza in squares, but you can ask for triangles, so we always do. Sometimes they accidentally do it wrong, and they ask if it’s ok, and we always say yes because … we’re hungry. Well they did it wrong twice in a row (we go every week with friends), so my spouse pseudo-complained, saying hey, next time, we will ask you to redo it. Next time we went, manager approached him to say that if it comes out wrong, they won’t redo it because it’s too expensive, so don’t make an issue of it. But … why have it as an option if you aren’t going to honor it if you do it wrong??

          1. Wilbur*

            Too expensive? I think he probably meant to say, “It’s costs us pennies to make a pizza, so just eat it.”

            1. umami*

              Nope, he literally meant they would NOT remake it due to the expense, so don’t complain if we bring it out square-cut. To which my spouse said, just … cut it like it says on the ticket? IDK, mostly people got into the debate about the slicing, when the issue was the manager saying it’s not worth it to us to do right by you, take it or leave it.

              1. Elbowgrease*

                Good grief. My husband and his best friend owned a pizza restaurant, and if you didn’t like the way your pizza was cut, they would give you a new one. If you dropped the box when you were walking out, they gave you a new one. Square pizza ? They would do it. It was so easy and didn’t cost that much. And this was in Michigan.

              2. Foreigner*

                Well, I do have an opinion about adults complaining about the way their food is cut. Do you really want to waste perfectly fine food over that? Are you a toddler? Do you not chew it into a pulp before it goes down? American consumerism at its peak. Get over it.

                1. nobadcats*

                  Cut the crusts off my bread, or don’t. I really don’t give a toss. LOL

                  Food waste is a real problem. It’s not all easily disposable or compostable.

                  If you’re pitching a fit and falling in it about how your pizza is cut, well, you have a few bigger issues that might be addressed.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              Pan-baked pizza IS the thicker crust pizza in my parts of the Northeast. (NY metro, NYS southern tiers, and Connecticut)

          1. nobadcats*

            Hey, now! We have many horrors in the midwest, but tavern-style cut on thin crust pizza is not one of them. Hrmph.

            1. Quill*

              It 100% depends on which restaurant you order from. *Glares at The One Restaurant from my midwestern hometown which did not understand that pizza sauce was supposed to be included on the pizza*

                1. Quill*

                  It technically had sauce before it hit the oven, I presume, because the cheese did not adhere to the crust. But they must have sprayed the sauce on so thinly that you couldn’t even see the red, because it was gone by the time they delivered.

        6. Lenora Rose*

          IMO weirdest when the pizza is not itself square but not totally uncommon even with rounds, because it’s easier on the person cutting. It does also balance the people who like lots of crust (take the weird looking corners) with those for whom the crust is to be tolerated as the topping vehicle (take a middle piece).

        7. goddessoftransitory*

          Professional advice: I don’t recommend square cuts on round pies. You end up with a ton of pieces that are just crust and nobody eats them. Waste of food.

          1. Rebecca*

            I happen to LOVE the crust pieces. My family fights over the corner pieces.

            Now that I think about it, the middle pieces are always the ones that are left when I go anywhere with pizza. Maybe that’s a Chicago/Midwest thing? I’ve seen it in Wisconsin too.

            1. SheLooksFamiliar*

              Same here. My friends know that those extra crusts on a round tavern-cut pizza are legally mine.

            2. nobadcats*

              It’s like the brownies debate. Some people like corner/side pieces, others like only the mushy, fudgey middle pieces. Luckily, my former roomie and I worked out a system: I’d get all the corner pieces, hands down, and that was enough, but she’d carefully cut her center pieces out so that I’d have the edges with a little bit of moist brownie.

        8. nobadcats*

          It’s called tavern-style pizza here in the midwest and ONLY done with thin crust.

        9. Sillysally Dillydally*

          Western Mass also had party pizzas with square cuts. Tony’s Pizza that took up most of the kitchen table ftw.

          Triangle cuts were for that fancy Papa Gino’s pizza you got if you got all A’s on your report card.

      1. All Het Up About It*

        I believe in this man.

        If the office ordered from different locations, I know he definitely had the sizes/cut calculated into the spreadsheet.

      2. ThatGirl*

        Yeah, that doesn’t work well with square-cut pizza, you’d have to go by the circumference.

        1. Angstrom*

          If you know the linear dimensions or the diameter, it’s easy to calculate the surface area. Square inches(cm? m?) is probably the best “unit” for comparing servings of pizza across different shapes and sizes.

        2. Critical Rolls*

          If it’s a round pizza with a square cut, you still get quarters out of it that are equivalent to 2 triangular slices.

      3. fhqwhgads*

        You account for it by always ordering the same size pizzas from the same place.

    4. MassMatt*

      It is funny, but I also have to wonder what his job duties are, as it seems he clearly has way too much time on his hands.

      1. Mrs. Pommeroy*

        Naaaah, he probably just enjoys doing stuff like that. Maybe he thought about it on his down time or on his commute or when trying to fall asleep in bed at night. Some people like the challenge of this kind of logistics without wanting to go into actual logistics.

        1. Margaret Cavendish*

          Totally. I love creating spreadsheets to keep track of random things, but I only do it because it’s fun! As soon as it’s work it becomes, well – work, and therefore not fun any more.

      2. Jessica*

        He only had the spare time because he has already applied this ruthless efficiency to all his actual job duties! (Did you think there weren’t spreadsheets for those?)

        1. snoopythedog*

          Exactly this. This guy is efficient and logical to a T.

          Also, after the initial set up, it probably takes him 5-10 min to maintain and enter data after a pizza lunch. And maybe another 5-10 to pull the information out when it’s time to order pizza. So, being generous, 20 minutes to figure out what pizza to order and how much for each party, that’s probably less than what is typically spent trying to decide how much to order and what kinds.

          1. Worldwalker*

            From my experience, that’s less than what is typically needed. I’ve repeatedly seen pizza orders degenerate into debating societies until the frustrated orderer just shouts “That’s it! We’re getting all cheese!”

            1. goddessoftransitory*

              Taken that order a LOT. You can hear the resentment seething through the phone line.

              1. Princess Sparklepony*

                OK, that did make me laugh out loud. If I had a cat they would have been startled.

            2. Some guy in Oz*

              I liked the technical group I used to go to where the Official Pizza Ordering Person* had a really simple rule: one pepperoni, one hawaiian, the rest vegetarian. Every now and then someone would whine about the lack of meat pizza and would be told: there is always meat pizza left over, never vegetarian. Until that changes the variable number is the vegetarian pizzas.

              * the second most important role in the group, behind only Person Who Arranges Sponsors To Pay For the Pizza.

      3. theletter*

        I think it’s something that makes sense if a team regularly orders pizza and the ‘what did we do last time?’ question came up often. By the fifth pizza order, the spreadsheet is paying for itself.

    5. lost academic*

      It is such a real problem! I use an online calculator for pizza every time I order for a group – especially if kids are involved.

    6. Food Tracker*

      I 100% had a similar spreadsheet at a previous job. It was a smallish family run business and I was the EA for one of the owners. He liked to have food brought in. We had to feed between 75 – 100 people each time and people complained if we ordered the same thing too often so you’re darn right I had a spreadsheet.
      It tracked: date ordered, restaurant, what was ordered, how many people from each department were attending, any discounts received, and what was ordered for our night shift staff (it was a 24 hour operation).
      Night shift had a separate meal ordered for them and it was CLEARLY labeled so they weren’t stuck with day shift leftovers.

      1. Yoyoyo*

        People…complained…about the same FREE food too often? I’d like to be able to say I’m surprised, but at this point I’m really not.

        1. Food Issues*

          I can see people getting sick of cheese pizza over and over again, and so eating less of it. Then whoever ordered the pizza enquire abou that, because they want people to eat the food that was brought and not have it go to waste. The reaponse “I am a little sick of eating cheese pizzas so I have simply not partaken” would be accurately described as a complaint, I think.

          It’s not necessarily about being rude, and I don’t think people should be compelled to eat something just because it is free.

          1. Kermit's Bookkeepers*

            I used to work for a catering company, and the family meal for the waitstaff (which we eat in shifts while the guests are having dessert) was usually leftovers from the guest meal filled out with big trays of lasagna or beans or something. So it was perfectly possible near the end of gala season to think “Ugh, filet mignon AGAIN?!’

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              Classic bit of food history–US colonies had laws about the max# of days you could feed lobster to your indenture servants. (It was seen as subsistence level food until fairly recently. As I’ve heard it, a Rockefeller mistakenly got something intended for servants and he liked it. Add cheap refrigeration and it became too expensive for fishing families to eat themselves.)

        2. RandomNameAllocated*

          I have a friend whose husband worked in The City (ie London financial district) and the offices had a subsidised restaurant. He was occasionally heard to complain : oh no, not salmon en croute again…

        3. AnonORama*

          Years ago I had a job that involved ordering food for multiple meetings each week, and there was ALWAYS complaining. Too much of this kind of food, not enough of that, too hot, too cold, blah blah blah. The meeting attendees (all high-level doctors and postdoctoral researchers) also left huge messes for me to clean up — how a lake of tomato sauce wound up under a 20-person conference table, I still don’t know. No surprise this was mentioned in my exit interview!

      2. Frequent reader, infrequent commenter*

        That’s a wonderful system! And kudos to you for making sure night shift got their own meal.

    7. Phony Genius*

      I wonder how he accounts for new employees. You never know who’s a human pizza vacuum.

      1. Margaret Cavendish*

        On the first order, he probably assumes an extra two (or three, or X) slices for any new person. And because he’s tracking all the other variables so carefully, he knows the new person is the only change to the standard order. So if the person hogs all the anchovy slices or insists they’ll eat six pieces but then only has one – he just drops that info into the spreadsheet, and they’re good to go for next time.

    8. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I once worked with what had to be his female cousin – who was the master of the sandwich* tray ordering (little local deli).

      Unfortunately she took her algorithm with her when she retired. But she was the nicest coworker around.

      *We did sandwiches because the Dept head was allergic to tomatoes-so pizza was automatically out. But that deli was amazing – after the first time you had their food, you were so glad we didn’t get stuck with pizza.

    9. Lead Ballooy*

      I agree. Spreadsheet guy is amazing.

      The last few times we’ve had pizza there’s always been too much vegetable and not enough plain cheese and tomato. Most of the non meat pizza eaters prefer cheese and tomato and the meat pizza eaters also eat it.

      I wish I had thought of doing a spreadsheet to convince our managers on the ordering strategy. They like spreadsheets too so they might be convinced.

    10. the cat's ass*

      I ADORE all the pizza data…round vs square, Detroit vs Philly. Reason 43,632 why AAM is the bomb. Life’s a rich tapestry, folks!

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’ll give you the marvelous idea my husband just reported: a pizza place he used to order from did pan pizzas square cut–but all 4 corners were bigger and cut into triangles.
        I think this “Compromise Pizza cut” should be the way of the future, for thick crust rectangular pans at least.

    11. StoneColdJaneAusten*

      I used to be a youth advisor at church. I have a friend who works for a tech company. He liked to go around asking people for app ideas. When he asked me, I said “Pizza Matrix. You enter a ‘pizza profile’ for every group member based on how many slices they like and their preferred toppings. When there’s a lock in and Jenny, Katie, James, Beth, Sadie, Zach and Jorge are the kids who showed up, plus Jane and Bob, the advisors, you select their profiles and tell the pizza matrix to come up with the best possible pizza order for that specific group. It could even be paid for by local pizza places that want you to know that if you want a weird topping, they can help you.

      My thinking is that any organization where the same pool of people show up with varying attendance show up over and over would like it. (Work meetings, volunteer groups, scout troops.) If there are two people who like ham and mushroom, they’d probably be happier splitting a ham and mushroom pie than the usual “two pepperonis, two cheeses and a veggie” that many groups get because they don’t know what people like.

      I could be accused of overthinking.

      But he DID ask.

      Yet, oddly, he didn’t go for it.

    12. Princess Sparklepony*

      I know. I really liked that. They called it weird, I call it being smart. He made sure that everyone got fed. Nothing wrong with that.

    13. kicking-k*

      I love that he was factoring in that for happy staff, there must be a little surplus.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        It’s how you dream of dealing with someone but usually the correct response doesn’t occur to your brain until 3 a.m.

      1. Plum*

        Aaaaah you people,thanks a lot!!! I am not usuathat swift, I just think I got SUPER fed up with that particular colleague!!!

      1. AngryOctopus*

        I would have come out with “so why did you take this all for your office?”. OPs response was miles better. May they enjoy the blessings of hot scones for all eternity.

  1. Good Enough For Government Work*

    I didn’t add this to the thread because it was not about _free_ food, but the weirdest office food thing I ever encountered was when my bus to work was cancelled, so I treated myself to a box of three Krispy Kreme doughnuts while I waited for the next service.

    I get to the office, settle in, do the usual morning stuff, and decide to eat the first of the three doughnuts for my elevenses.

    At which point… the woman who sat at the next bank of desks, WITH HER BACK TO ME, spun round on her chair and in complete sincerity told me off for eating a doughnut in front of her!

    Dear reader, I was speechless.

    So I silently picked up a second doughnut and ate THAT in front of her, too. Full eye contact the entire time.

    I delicately licked my fingers. She sat back down.

    1. Gherkin*

      So you were, in fact, eating donuts AT her. :)

      Times like this, I applaud passive aggression.

      1. Good Enough For Government Work*

        Same woman, at an all-staff event, saw me liberally covering my dessert with double cream* and tried to… stop me? Convince me to bin the dessert? by going into extreme gross-out detail of the biological processes through which we derive milk (and thereby cream).

        Sadly for her, I was blessed with a not-especially-pictorial imagination, so was able to respond, peaceably, “Yes, I did GCSE Biology too, Antonietta.”

        *To note: there was plenty to go round. I’d been presenting immediately before lunch so was one of the last people in the queue to get dessert.

        1. Juicebox Hero*

          I know how chicken nuggets and hot dogs are made, too, and still eat them in spite of people trying to horrify me with the details. If it squicks you out, don’t eat it, but MYOFB (Mind Your Own Foodie Business).

          1. Lily Rowan*

            “Oh, don’t you believe in nose-to-tail? Not wasting any part of the animal?”

            1. Lizzie*

              A former co-worker used to refer to hot dogs as “ass*s and lips” I still eat them though.

          2. Good Enough For Government Work*

            My best mates and I regularly make Terry Pratchett’s “meat from a named animal… and by named I may or may not mean ‘Spot'” jokes at each other about the contents of dubious-but-delicious meat products like cheap cocktail sausages.

            1. Cognitive Science Teacher*

              And I’m going to enjoy it on top of these plant reproductive organs (yes I know not quite but it works for effect)….

              1. Elitist Semicolon*

                I’ve been knowing to take a bite out of (for example) an apple and then say, loudly, “mmm, ovary!”

            2. Lyudie*

              Several years ago a local farm posted pictures of the pigs they would be butchering and selling on NextDoor, and the number of people who were HORRIFIED that they named the pigs Sausage and Bacon was kind of hilarious.

              1. All the Ham*

                Honestly, how silly were the complainers?

                We went to a petting zoo/dairy farm/ice cream shop and my sons girlfriend looked at the cute calves and goats and asked, why don’t any of them have their names above their stall?

                We explained you don’t name your food. She was horrified-a pure city bred gal. Sweet girl though. She’ll learn.

              2. Good Enough For Government Work*

                The kennels where we used to board our dog was also a farm. First time we went, the two lambs they were having to hand-rear were named Sunday Roast and Mint Sauce…

        2. Observer*

          so was able to respond, peaceably, “Yes, I did GCSE Biology too, Antonietta.”

          I LOVE this!

        3. goddessoftransitory*

          Like, did she pull this with EVERYONE trying to enjoy a nice dessert? Or are you specifically on her “must rescue from one of the most common foods on the planet” list?

          1. Good Enough For Government Work*

            I genuinely have no idea. My initial reaction was to chalk it up to being a bit on the chubby side*, but I was/am far from the biggest woman in the office. And she never seemed to learn that there is literally no way – short of telling me it was snatched directly from the mouths of starving infants** – to make me feel guilty about my food intake.

            *I have made my peace with this. Diligent teenage dieting and exercising successfully convinced me I could be skinny OR I could be happy, but I couldn’t be both. I am now very VERY happy… mainly because I have two desserts.

            **Not literally.

            1. Zweisatz*

              My other theory is that the stuff is on *her* “forbidden foods” list and she is managing her anxieties by proxy.

              Which is still completely rude.

    2. Juicebox Hero*

      One summer during college, I worked a horrible summer job with a girl who was a conceited jackass. She kept bragging about how she was the star of her college’s field hockey team, and she was very fit and careful about what she ate.

      Someone from another department brought in donuts for our office, a dozen donuts for five people, or at least however many deigned to actually come to the office that day instead of gossiping with their friends elsewhere in the building. I, who weighed about 110 pounds at that point, ate two. Miss Jackass watched me and then said, loudly and sneeringly, “Wow, Juicebox, you never say no to free food, do you?”

      I said “Nope!” just as loudly and as cheerfully as I could, and ate a third donut.

      It was one of the few times Young Me managed to stand up against a bully, and it felt awesome.

      1. MissBaudelaire*

        I never met her and I already hope she misses the garbage man every trash day.

        I never say no to free food either, damn.

      2. Good Enough For Government Work*

        *applause!* Brilliant work. <3

        One of the few times I ever managed to come up with an actual cutting remark when I needed one, another colleague had brought in the results of her weekend baking experiment and invited us all to sample them. I and a senior manager happened to walk up at the same time. We both, and I cannot emphasise this enough, BOTH took one piece each.

        Matt, to me: You know what they say, [Name]… a moment on the hips, a lifetime on the hips!
        My chubby ass: Matt, do I *look* the shape of someone who gives a f_ck?

        I suppose I could have got into trouble for that line, but it was a sweary office generally… and anyway, Matt, I double-triple-chocolate-chip-dare you to explain to anyone WHY exactly I'd said what I said.

        Matt walked off grumbling, but he never tried me on my food choices again. The cheeky fck.

    3. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      One of the first letters I read here…”my wife is trying to lose weight. A coworker keeps a bowl of candy on her desk for everyone and won’t move it. It’s really tempting my wife. How can she make the coworker remove the candy?”

        1. Hlao-roo*

          The closest post I can find is “my coworker doesn’t want me to have a communal candy dish because of temptation” from January 31, 2019. Written from the perspective of the candy dish owner, not the spouse of the employee trying to lose weight so probably not the exact letter Not Tom is referring to.

          1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

            It is not, but I can’t find the one. Maybe another site. I was reading multiples a few years ago. But definitely the same issue.

          2. Observer*

            Yeah, I remember the one you are talking about but it sounds a bit different from the one Not Tom seems to be referring to.

        2. Dhaskoi*

          Google ‘Ask Amy Candy Dish’ and it’s the first response, funnily enough . . .

          1. nobadcats*

            And… three pieces of candy per day? That’s … not what is inhibiting her desired weight loss. It’s less about HER than HIM.

      1. Some guy in Oz*

        When I worked in the office we all knew when the boss had been put on a diet by his wife.

        He’d turn up on Monday morning with half the junk food aisle from the supermarket in his car. Then he’d carry it all to the kitchen/break room, open random items, put them in containers on the bench, stack the rest in the cupboards and remind us that we were all free to help ourselves. We genuinely were. And it helped him not feel bad about completely ignoring whatever instructions his wife had given him.

    4. The Person from the Resume*

      Note the multiple comments on todays short answer that seeing someone else weigh their meal might be triggering for some people.

      Some people care a lot about what other people eat.

      1. Worldwalker*

        I think that one’s less about caring about what people eat and more about caring *how* they eat it. There are generally understood protocols for a business meal, and someone breaking out a scale and weighing the food kind of breaks them. It would distract me, too, whereas if someone at my table in a restaurant did the same, I wouldn’t blink.

        1. Hlao-roo*

          Put “del” in angle brackets to start the strikethrough and “/del” to close the strikethrough. It will show up like this.

          Above the commenting box there’s a link to the commenting rules, and at the bottom of that page there’s an explainer for how to use html formatting in your comments.

  2. Veryanon*

    RE: Candy Dish – I kept a candy dish on my desk at a past job, but it got so expensive to keep it filled that I stopped. The complaints! Good lord, you’d have thought that someone just cut everyone’s salaries by 25%.

    1. Lucy P*

      Our last receptionist used to keep a candy dish on her desk, just started doing it one day out of kindness. When she left, the company decided not to hire a new receptionist. Someone asked who would be filling the candy dish since it had been the receptionist’s “job” to do it.

    2. higheredadmin*

      We have a candy dish at our reception that is actually filled by a senior member of our office (so NOT the receptionist, but also, as I know as the person who pays the office bills, out of the office money). This kind person must spend thousands a year filling it up. I was recently told by my Dr. to watch my sugar, so in the spirit of AAM I had a very clear conversation with the candy dish person to let them know I would not be eating any more on doctor’s orders. They were so upset, and didn’t fill the dish for a few days. But it is back up and running now, as I reminded them that I wasn’t the only candy dish consumer.

      1. Boof*

        I’m confused, why did you let the candy dish person know about your doctor’s orders? Did you want or not want the to do something about the dish?

        1. linger*

          I’m going to guess: (i) to head off the otherwise inevitable kind invitations to partake, and possibly (ii) to allow the filler to adjust the rate of replenishment for the change in consumption rate.

          1. higheredadmin*

            Yes, exactly! This candy dish filler will ask everyone what they would like, drop candy by and generally encourage participation. This way the filler doesn’t need to take me into consideration and I’m not spending a year awkwardly ducking invitations to have some candy.

            1. Always a Corncob*

              This is the kind of thing that is meant to be nice, but can very easily become pushy and overbearing when the person providing it gets too emotionally invested. The fact that the candy person became so upset over one person not partaking is a case in point.

    3. Ally McBeal*

      I kept a candy drawer for my small team (4 people, myself included) when I was an admin – at first I spent my own money on a modest stash, but my team said they would throw in some cash if I would buy the specific stuff they liked, which was mostly gum. This went great until one of them developed a rather concerning habit – if it hadn’t been just gum I’d worry it was a full-blown addiction, because he started ***breaking into my locked drawer*** when I was out for a day and had left a day’s worth of gum out on the desk for them. Between the 3 of them they were going through 2-3 packs of gum PER DAY. Truly unhinged. After that I told him he’d ruined it for the whole team and stopped buying gum.

      (Except that I didn’t fully stop buying gum… one of my other teammates was a lovely person on whom I had a massive work crush, so he and I secretly kept up our gum-buying arrangement until I left that job.)

    4. WoodswomanWrites*

      At a former workplace, one of my colleagues kept a candy dish and filled it for quite a number of us. Periodically I and others would bring in a bag of candy to help with the financial burden. She was incredibly kind and generous.

      1. Introvert Teacher*

        This is what a former coworker of mine did. Kept a candy drawer and everyone who used it would periodically bring in their own bag of candy. They were able to collect an assortment of different candy that way and not spend all their own money. It was a smart move to have one because it brought everyone together and helped her build positive relationships with people that they would often need to ask favors of later by nature of their work. With the receptionist, I wonder if these superiors would bother to bring any in themselves.

    5. Who Plays Backgammon?*

      Place sign in empty candy dish:
      “Donations gratefully accepted.”
      Or “Will work for butterscotch.”
      Or “Does your dentist know what you’re doing?”

    6. Sprigatito*

      People get SO WEIRD about candy bowls. I have never seen a candy bowl that didn’t end up with drama involved, including the one I used to keep on my desk.

      My company had a tradition where they would put candy bowls in the break rooms for the week of the anniversary of the company’s founding. People would literally track what time the bowls were refilled during the day, then go in and tip the contents in a bag and take it all back to their desks. One of my managers would literally fill his desk drawer with candy that week and then used it to fill the candy bowl on his desk for the rest of the year, so I guess at least he was sharing?

    7. Bear Expert*

      My last job had candy bowls that were filled by the same person who tidied the kitchen and watered the plants. It wasn’t out of their paycheck, the company bought the candy just like the company paid for coffee.

      It seemed highly civilized to me.

  3. Snarkus Aurelius*

    I used to be a devoted reader of Etiquette Hell.

    One reader shared the story of her boss Bob who would take literal plates and trays of leftover food to his car so he wouldn’t “be in the doghouse” with his wife… whatever that meant. The staff revolted when a vendor brought a tray for of dozens of chocolates, but Bob intercepted it and put them all in his car. They confronted him after the vendor asked about the gift, and he sheepishly brought everything back. But no one wanted them at that point!

    Bob, just say you like to steal free food because you’re cheap! Just say it!

    1. MissBaudelaire*

      I laughed out loud at your last line. Just admit you want to take all the free food.

    2. Code Monkey, the SQL*

      I used to read there too – I remember Bob and the trays!

      I’d love to know if he at least backed off on the wholesale theft, but I’ll be he never learned.

    3. goddessoftransitory*

      Right? You’re not fooling anyone, Bob!

      And why in blue blazes would his wife know or care about office food??

      1. Raging Iron Thunder*

        I wonder if the guy really might have had marital problems and was trying to appease an angry, dysfunctional wife somehow.

    1. Phony Genius*

      I don’t know, but I’ll say this: I think that doing this at your own retirement party is considerably more acceptable than any of the other times that she did it.

      For example, my boss just left for another agency. At his party, we had a cake. Normally, we take the leftover cake, slice it up, and send pieces out to other departments. In this case, the boss said “no, that cake was for me and I want to take the rest of it home.” This was about half of a giant sheet cake. We said OK and put it back in the box, and wondered how he would hold onto that on his long bus ride home. We agreed, though. It was his decision to make. (Yes, it’s smaller scale than taking every last morsel, scrap, crumb, and ort home in Tupperware, but it’s the same principle.)

      1. Anne of Green Gables*

        When the celebration is for a specific person, we offer them the chance to take the cake. (Retirement, baby shower, wedding shower.) If it was a general gathering with food, leftovers stay at work and are essentially first some, first served, but to be consumed at work.

      2. Charlotte Lucas*

        The lowest-paid member of my office recently retired & took all the leftover donuts that were brought from a very good local donut shop. I think she deserved them.

      3. Rebecca*

        My grandmother was this person. She once started yelling at the catering staff at my cousin’s wedding because they didn’t have take out containers. She ended up stealing all of the cloth napkins to wrap it in and grabbing food off of at least 3 tables and shoving it in a plastic bag.

        I don’t think it was about the actual food. It was like a game to her, and she had to win. She wasn’t doing it to be cheap (she bought 16 year old me a car the same month), she just enjoyed it for the sake of it. She didn’t usually even eat the food. She was a strange bird.

    2. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Big surprise for her that evening when she discovered she’d carried home tupperware containers full of water….

      1. AFac*

        Maybe I’m just unwarrantedly cranky today, but many thanks for the unexpected laugh. I needed it.

        Thermodynamics eventually gets us all, in predictable but inconvenient ways.

        1. Margaret Cavendish*

          “Thermodynamics eventually get us all.”

          Thank you for this sentence, it made my entire day!!

    3. Cyborg Llama Horde*

      Actually, the ice is the part that makes sense to me here — she has a huge quantity of food, some of which presumably should be refrigerated, so she also takes bags of drink ice to keep it cold for the rest of the afternoon.

    1. MissBaudelaire*

      I spent a few minutes wondering to myself 1. how much dried apricots cost, I thought they were fairly cheap in bulk and 2. what the purpose of so many is.

      Maybe prep for a colonoscopy?

    2. Tommy Girl*

      Came to say this – apricot lady is in for a world of hurt if she eats too many of those . . .

  4. theletter*

    Hats off to the pizza spreadsheet guy. Group lunches may seem easy but they are not, and a little data can make everything so much nicer.

  5. kris dreemurr*

    Wait, 6, why did she put it in YOUR purse? Was she trying to implicate you in her crimes? Make you a co-conspirator?

    1. AngryOctopus*

      I would have locked up my purse in my office and made sure to go home with all the butter.

        1. Inkognyto*

          Nononono the proper way is when you get to their desk you just start opening them all saying “So which container do you want all of this in?”

          and don’t stop..

      1. short'n'stout*

        I would have loudly said “excuuuuuuuuse me!” and dumped all of the butter and mayo out of my bag onto the buffet table while firmly holding her gaze.

    2. DramaQ*

      Because her purse was probably already full duh! I do wonder how the conversation afterwards was going to go though. “Umm excuse me but you have my butter and mayo in your purse can I have them back please?”

      I mean I’ve seen old women with giant purses loading up free food but I’ve never seen one take the opportunity to load someone else’s purse up too. That takes balls.

    3. Myrin*

      My first thought was that she had hoarding tendencies and kinda extended those to OP in this case (IDK if that’s a thing that actually happens with hoarding but I somehow assumed that must be the explanation).

      1. Mahonia*

        This def happens with hoarding. My hoarding, free-loading coworker will bring me free food from buffets and give it to me, saying she has little gifts for me or that she’s taking care of me in a motherly way (she’s old enough to be my mom). Like, here, I got you 2 cups of coffee from our client’s staff kitchen, or an old peach from a discount shelf at a grocery store. One time she wrapped up an uncooked breakfast sandwich from a hotel continental breakfast and give it to me in case I needed it later, which I didn’t. I received a small takeout container filled with chocolate syrup which she said would help me sustain my energy through the day. I get annoyed by all her gifts since it makes me look like a food hoarder too and I have to sneakily dump them in the garbage. Her car is filled with ketchup and mustard packets “just in case”.

        1. MissBaudelaire*

          My father believed he should never pay for ketchup. He had a little box in his fridge, the kind that used to hold index cards for recipes, full of ketchups from restaurants.

          I asked him why once. He went on about how he was getting free ketchup.

          Ketchup was a dollar at the time.

          1. Lady Knittington*

            Many years ago, when I was a student, I worked as a cleaner at a large shopping centre, which had a fast food restaurant in the section I cleaned.
            I started by moving all the spare ketchup sachets (cleared from the tables) to one place, in case customers wanted to use them. But of course, they thought this was something done by the restaurant and got cross when the sachets ran out. (The counter where the restaurant gave out the sachets was only a few feet away).
            So, I started keeping all the sachets. Every sealed sachet I cleared from the tables went into my pockets and went home with me. Ended up with a whole new bottle of ketchup as a result. No regrets.

          2. That’s What I Do*

            My former in laws hoarded take out packets as well, specifically bbq sauce. They’d save it all year, then come thanksgiving, the turkey was done cooking by 10 or 11 am, everyone munched on (unrefrigerated) leftovers all day, and around 11 or so at night, they’d pick the bones and empty the years bbq save on the leftover meat.

    4. the cat's ass*

      My kid’s GS troop volunteers as servers (well, actually there are tip jars on every table and the organizers feed the troop AND frequently gift us a sizeable check) for a local benevolent org’s seafood/tri tip feed a couple of times a year, and there’s this one woman who lines her giant old lady handbag with plastic wrap and tips a full pan of crab/Tri tip/pasta/Caesar salad in there when she thinks nobody’s looking. Not food insecure and a real stinker, too. I finally ratted her out and i think she was banned.

  6. Aelfwynn*

    10 — “He started to complain in front of other colleagues about my rudeness and how the sweets were supposed to be for everyone.”

    This would make my head explode omg. How are there people who lack this level of self-awareness???

    1. pally*

      Makes ya wonder.

      I think some folks are addicted to certain foods. As such, they just cannot control themselves when it’s around.

      We had a co-worker who was very insistent that we get a cake to celebrate another co-worker’s birthday (not something we usually do). She went out and bought the biggest totally chocolate layer cake I’ve ever seen.

      We waited until 1 pm to celebrate. Only, when the cake was brought out, a huge slice (like a quarter of the cake) had been removed. Later, the cake purchaser apologized for diving in ahead of the celebration time. She just could not wait until after lunch to have a piece.

      1. Boof*

        I agree there’s an impulse/control issue at play; whether it’s a hoarding impulse (“MUST GET ALL FREE FOOD” [regardless of actual ability to eat all said food] ) or a weird craving, or some attempt at thriftiness [penny wise pound foolish kind]. I will say I think people can control their impulses but first have to realize it’s a problem then work on whatever strategies it takes to manage it

      2. Mister_L*

        Regarding addiction to certain foods, my uncle has that problem with toffifee.
        He’ll eat half a pack, complain that his stomache aches, and then eat the other half.

  7. phira*

    I am 99% sure that #11 isn’t my spouse, but oh my goodness, that sounds like something my spouse would absolutely do.

  8. Starchy*

    I always wonder when I read these stories if people recognize themselves or if people who do this stuff realize just how wrong it is.

    1. Irish Teacher*

      I suspect they think people are being completely ridiculous complaining about it. “Sure, doesn’t everybody do that? Even I’ve done it. Gosh, some people really are the food police or something!”

  9. Tim Stoker*

    The brie is something I would absolutely write into a romcom where someone gently but satisfyingly gets revenge on whoever wronged her.

    1. Trixie Belden was my hero*

      “When Harry Met Sally”
      Meg Ryan scolds Tom Hanks for scooping up all the caviar from the holiday buffet.
      I can’t remember how he responded, something like “so what”

      1. Kermit's Bookkeepers*

        It was “You’ve Got Mail!” They get into an argument about how that caviar is supposed to be a garnish. I think the scene ends with her asking how he sleeps at night, only for Parker Posey (his delightfully clueless girlfriend) to start riffing on her sleeping pill regimen.

        That movie is problematic as hell and I love it.

      2. Trixie Belden was my hero*

        Thank you, I knew it was a Meg Ryan movie and she was uptight and he was a jerk.
        They don’t make GOOD rom coms anymore… sigh…

      3. Always a Corncob*

        The male lead in “When Harry Met Sally” (a truly classic film) is Billy Crystal, not Tom Hanks.

  10. Howareyounotfired*

    I once heard someone say, regarding coworkers and free food, specifically pizza, “There two kinds of office food people. Those who take one slice to start because we may run out. And those who take three slices because we may run out.” Very true! lol

    1. Nina*

      At a previous workplace, the policy when pizza was indicated (which was, up to $20 per person for dinner for each person staying past 8 at night on a day when they don’t have the next day off) was ‘f*ck it, one whole large pizza per person, in fact, ask each person what they want, because we know everyone on the test crew will be here from 7 to midnight for the next 10 days so they may as well get leftover pizza they actually like and chose for lunch’. You wrote your name on your pizza box and stacked it in the fridge for breakfast/lunch the next day.

      1. NotRealAnonForThis*

        Any time the (un)official policy contains the words “…ah f*ck it”, you know its probably a better than average policy!

    2. TrixM*

      Well, this boils down why sustainability is such a difficult objective. Honestly, why isn’t this a massive topic of research in psychology and economics? I’m sure aspects are, but I haven’t seen it expressed so neatly.

      How much of the population is wired towards “grab everything” in an environment of perceived scarcity? I know for sure I’m not one of them. And for those of us who aren’t, what proportion remain self-sacrificingly altruistic, even when it becomes evident resources are running out?

      I’m sure most of us become “grabbers” when things are scarce – what tips us into that behaviour and are there different levels? Do some of us always
      only grab a “fair share” no matter what, or do more people go all the way to “grab everything”? And how do they justify it? Some would grab all because they want to control allocation, whether through “fair shares for all” or profit-making or Machiavellean tendencies. How many of those types in the population? How many of the initial “grab everything” type are just selfish or mentally challenged or entitled or sociopathic?

      This has become a strangely disheartening line of thought, so I better stop..!

      1. Quill*

        Economic policy gets weird about this entire subject, but it’s my hope that food is a more extreme scenario than everything else. Because it is vital for survival, it’s a primary enrichment activity for the human brain, and cultural expectations regarding food consumption and weight have messed all of us up, one way or another.

      2. Some guy in Oz*

        There’s entire cultures where “take everything you can before someone else does” is just the way it is. It’s one of the core principles of capitalism.

        And there’s cultures where you only take what you need, and only if there’s enough that you’re not damaging the supply by taking it. Including extensive legal systems that govern all the fine print. Usually referred to as the superstitions of primitive savages, but legal systems nonetheless.

        I lived in Aotearoa for a long time and those two cultures were both in evidence.

    3. Energiser Bunny*

      Howareyounotfired – I once heard someone say “you know there is too much pizza when people don’t eat the crusts”. On the flipside, people eat the crusts if there is a perception of not enough pizza.

  11. I should really pick a name*

    #10 fascinates me because the offender seemed so firmly convinced that he was in the right.
    I figure most people do that sort of thing because they think no one would stop them, but I’d expect them to be sheepish if caught.

    1. Mister_L*

      There is a quote in Terry Pratchett’s “The truth”. Sorry, it’s long.

      “There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who, when presented with a glass that is exactly half full, say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty.
      The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What’s up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don’t think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass! Who’s been pinching my beer?”

      I guess, the offender in #10 belongs to the third category.

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        If we get enough, we can share. Have you all tried dried Mandarin oranges? They are heavenly as well. (Trader Joe’s is my source)

        1. She of Many Hats*

          Some of the Costcos carries those, too! One jumbo bag gets the family through a camping trip.

      1. MissBaudelaire*

        Maybe you could even try purse mayo on top of the purse apricots or dip purse apricots in purse brie.

      2. Jam on Toast*

        @phony genius I snorted very loudly thanks to you. My colleagues are now looking at me like *I* steal dried apricots!

    1. the cat's ass*

      Rehydrate them in warm brandy, and you’ll think you’ve died and gone to heaven. AND you won’t be constipated, either!

    2. Inkognyto*

      If she shoves dried apricots into a designer bag, what else is shoved into there?

      No thanks, do you carefully clean those handbags? I doubt it.

  12. eye roll*

    I must have missed the original thread, but I feel compelled to share a weird food story.

    I once organized a cupcake bar for a charity fundraiser at work (an assortment of cupcakes, frosting flavors/types, toppings, etc.). Make a donation and build a cupcake.

    Several people made donations just to take a cup of frosting or toppings. Fair. But what I didn’t realize was how… over the top the response to the salted caramel frosting would be. People would try it and come back for a second donation/cupcake that would then be 90% frosting. I saw one person walking down the hallway with a cupcake topped by a massive pyramid of frosting at least 4 or 5 inches tall, partially held on with a fork.

    At the end of the event, I then had to take complaints about how there was not enough frosting… by which they meant just that flavor. And the complaints continued for days. I did not bring back that event just due to avoiding the aggravation of the salted caramel demands.

    1. GasketGirl*

      Oh my gosh, I LOVE the idea of a cupcake bar, although I can definitely see where issues could come into play, but I’m keeping that general idea of it in mind for smaller events.

      1. eye roll*

        Oh, it’s fun for social events. I’ve done it again for that. But apparently, a monitor is needed at work. Or I worked with total sugar fiends. I was used to the extra frosting crowd balancing with people who skipped the frosting to pretend their double-chocolate cupcake was a muffin and okay because no frosting. lol.

        But I’m just not entertaining days of frosting demands at work.

    2. goddessoftransitory*

      Caramel is something people simply lose their minds and propriety over!

      I remember reading on another site about a woman who was so desperate for more caramel at a Starbucks she tried to CLIMB OVER THE COUNTER to grab the pump thing. Keep in mind this is just regular caramel, not made of gold or anything. She could have bought as much as she wanted at the grocery store and filled a wading pool with it for rolling if so inclined–it was just seeing that jug full of the nectar of the gods and she went bezerk.

    3. blue*

      Pls share recipe for salted caramel frosting that drives grown adults mad with cupcake lust!

  13. ForReal*

    How hard is it to buy $20 worth of candy and then expense it at the end of the month? It’s not that difficult to request a budget for something like this.

    1. MassMatt*

      Well, there wasn’t a budget, and the LW clearly was not interested in being the candystriper for this bunch that called her “girl”.

      1. Beany*

        Yeah, I was just thinking of useful non-candy small stuff that there’s literally no budget for at my government lab. If there’s no funding line for it, you have to get creative …

      2. That’s What I Do*

        Absolutely. We’re government, and we don’t even get tissues. I currently have a roll of TP on my desk for that particular need. I’m not even hiding it, it’s just there.

    2. CheesePlease*

      Probably also not easy if the predecessor didn’t do it and management was entitled jerks.

    3. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      Are you suggesting that she leave work to shop for candy or that she shop for candy during her own free time, unpaid?

    4. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      I work for a financial company. That isn’t happening. The woman at the front desk stopped provided candy because she’d been buying the candy. The higher ups missed the candy. They didn’t berate her, but they didn’t think it worthy of adding to the budget.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I was regularly sent by my former boss to buy big ol’ bags of candy for the phone center–I got so I could parse value in pieces per bag on a 2o.oo petty cash dispersal like nobody’s business.

    5. madge*

      Comments like this remind me that there is a beautiful, rich life outside of state employment

    6. Her name was Joanne*

      Not to mention, have you bought candy lately? $20 worth of candy wouldn’t last a week here at my place.

    7. Goldenrod*

      Spoken like someone who has never been forced into being the candy bowl monitor for a bunch of spoiled adults.

      How hard is it for adults to buy their OWN candy, if it’s that damned important to them?

    8. JustKnope*

      We started a candy jar last year on my floor to make being in the office better and we probably go through $20 of candy every three days. It’s not a small expense!

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      That genuinely SHOCKED me. Like, you break locks to escape the crate where you’re being held prisoner or to liberate needed medicine!

    2. desdemona*

      I could have sworn i read this earlier today and there was a guy who broke into a coworkers desk for gum??? but maybe that was in the comments?

  14. singularity*

    During Teacher Appreciation week this year, they catered lunch for us though a nearby restaurant. I work at a large high school, and there are four lunch periods. I had the last one, which happens at 1pm.

    Of course, by the time me and the other teachers who have the last lunch got down there to get our catered lunch, there was nothing left. The staff members who were manning the food helplessly told us that other people kept coming back for more, and they *under ordered* because they didn’t expect such a high turnout.

    I was definitely irritated, and I commend the poor woman who’d organized the whole thing for courageously facing down a mob of angry, hungry teachers who had brought nothing else to eat with them under the assumption that they would be getting lunch catered.

    Later, one of these disgruntled teachers emailed the whole staff passive-aggressively thanking whoever didn’t order enough food and reminded everyone that it was *Teacher* appreciation week and she didn’t think it was appropriate for staff who weren’t *teachers* to get helpings of catered lunch.

    It caused a huge melodrama. They ended up making it up to us the next week by ordering food for just the people who missed out and privately emailing each of us. We were sworn to secrecy so that the vultures wouldn’t come circling!

    1. Turtlewings*

      Hard applause for them actually making it up to specifically the people who were wronged and not letting the vultures get it!

    2. PurpleShark*

      I too work at a High School and I have a good friend at a nearby school (we do the same job at different schools) who has a staff member that shows up with his family of 5 every time food is served!

    3. Daisy-dog*

      I am a little surprised that no one placed a last minute pizza order (or something equally fast) once it was clear that 1/4 of the recipients (or possibly even less if they ran out during the 3rd lunch) wouldn’t be getting food.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Me too! It’s not the same, maybe, but it’s better than leaving dozens of people stranded and hangry for the rest of a workday!

    4. Artemesia*

      the only way it works for multiple lunch times like this is to literally order boxed lunches and make sure they have everyone’s name on them or are managed by someone issuing one each to people who arrive for the meal. And if there is a special need e.g. gluten free or vegetarian or whatever, those cannot be just set out with other lunches because others will scoop them up and there will be none for those in need. (and if ordering pizza always order 3 times as many cheese pizzas as you think you need as those who eat the three meat pizza will insist on ‘trying the cheese this time’. probably in addition to three slices of meat pizza.

      1. Samwise*

        And someone guards the boxed lunches, because at the end of the first lunch period, for sure someone is going back and picking up one or three “unclaimed” boxes.

      2. Spencer Hastings*

        This is another reason that the pizza spreadsheet is a good idea. As someone who’s not a vegetarian, but who doesn’t like most of the meats that are on pizza, I know intellectually that the correct thing for me to do at office pizza parties is to take pepperoni slices and just not eat the pepperoni, in order to leave the meatless pizzas for the real vegetarians…but sometimes when there’s a veggie lover’s pizza there, it is pretty dang hard to resist. T_T (I try to mitigate this by bellying up later rather than sooner, on the theory that others will have gotten what they want by that point.)

    5. Shan*

      Serious rookie move on the part of the organizer – that food needed to be rationed out per lunch period! And with the later batches kept under lock and key, because there is ALWAYS someone who feels entitled to go in and help themselves.

    6. Ama*

      Ugh, this is when I’m reminded that event planning is a *skill*. There were so many ways this could have been avoided – rsvp-ing to get an idea of attendance (and why would they assume people wouldn’t show up for free food?!), handing out meal tickets / checking off names as people got their food, and NOT letting people get seconds until the end of the last lunch period (or splitting the food into 4 portions, 1 for each lunch period, and only allowing seconds up to the proportion of food for that period).

    7. Over Analyst*

      Oof. This is like my worst nightmare. I get hangry and lightheaded pretty easily. I once had to leave work early because I was supposed to go to a work lunch, others couldn’t make it, it got canceled, and I got too sick to continue working. After that I started keeping shelf stable food in my desk, but if I’d been planning on lunch, didn’t get it, and then couldn’t leave the premises to get something else (which I’m assuming you wouldn’t be able to as a teacher), I would not want to be someone who’d have to interact with me the rest of that day. I also could pass out (it’s happened before, but rarely).

  15. The Meat Embezzler*

    I am hereby retiring T. Boone Pickens and will henceforth be going by The Meat Embezzler.

      1. Chilipepper Attitude*

        Honestly stealing that much is awful but people do so much worse and get so much less jail time!

  16. JW*

    It’s blowing my mind that people reach adulthood and behave like this- I want to live in whatever world these people don’t.

    1. Seahorse*

      Sometimes I wish I had that level of blissfully ignorant self confidence though. It’d be worse for the rest of the world, but I’d be happier!

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        It’s the embodiment of “That group email asking folks not to do this obviously didn’t mean me.”

    2. Artemesia*

      I was at a conference of hundreds of people in a profession focused on social justice and good citizenship. The banquet ended with a lovely buffet of small desserts. The planners budgeted 3 per person but didn’t tell anyone. The first 300 people got 7 or 8 desserts each and the last 300 got nothing. Plates were piled high and then there was complaining when the kitchen didn’t provide more. They were shocked SHOCKED when the servers said ‘the group took all the desserts that were ordered.’

    3. Dahlia*

      I went to a party recently that was open to the public, including children, and not a single one of the kids would have dared acted like this. They ate plenty, but we all did because there was tons of food, and there were leftovers! Actual children are better behaved than this.

  17. Fluffy Fish*

    This made me giggle

    “We do a monthly BBQ for all staff – I think you Americans call it grilling”

    Friend we in fact call it a BBQ :)

    1. FG*

      well, no.

      In the South, BBQ is slow-smoked meat – often pork shoulder or beef brisket, but can also be ribs or other cuts, or chicken/turkey/fish.

      If you’re talking hamburgers, hotdogs, etc over an open flame on a grill, to us that is indeed grilling. The event at which you do said grilling is a cook out. The rest of the country may *misuse* the term barbecue when they mean grilling, but if you say BBQ to a Southerner they’re going to picture *barbecue.*

      1. Tara*

        If I’m cooking on a BBQ, and I invite others, I’m hosting a BBQ. If I don’t invite anyone, I’m still having BBQ for supper.

      2. MC*

        Not everyone (in fact, the majority of people) are not Southerners who would immediately associate BBQ with smoked brisket. In most of the US BBQ and grilling are essentially synonymous.

        1. NeedRain47*

          “most of the US” is not “coastal urban people”….
          I’m from the midwest and can vouch that no one in Missouri or Kansas thinks barbecue means grilling, either.

      3. The Person from the Resume*

        Not entirely true, FG. I live in the south and if someone is using their BBQ grill to cook food even hot dogs and hamburgers, they might say they’re BBQing. They may also cook meat on their BBQ grill and add BBQ sauce to it to and definately call it BBQ.

    2. Blue*

      Sorry to be pedantic, but I think I would call what the OP described a cookout. If I show up to a barbecue/bbq and there isn’t brisket, whole smoked chicken, or pulled pork, I will be very disappointed.

    3. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I’m an American, and southern, and I’m always confused about what is BBQ vs grilling vs a cookout because everyone is always arguing about it all the time. I just use any phrase I want to in the non-technical, colloquial sense and hope it doesn’t set anyone off! Lol

      1. Gherkin*

        “I’m always confused about what is BBQ vs grilling vs a cookout”

        BBQ and grilling are both cooking techniques, and they are not the same. Roughly, and of course I’m glossing over details, BBQ involves large hunks of meat cooked low and slow. Grilling is for vegetables and smaller chunks of meat.

        BBQ can also refer to the social event of cooking food outdoors, and usually implies that some of the food will be BBQed.

        A cook out is also a social event where food is cooked outdoors.

      2. Ana Gram*

        Yeah, I’m in Virginia and it’s all the same to me. But! If someone said we were having a BBQ, cookout, whatever at work and I showed up to breakfast food on a griddle, I’d be very surprised. But I don’t know what I’d call it…. I’d probably just say we’re making breakfast at work, stop by if you want some. But I’ll take free food in just about any form :)

    4. Fluffy Fish*


      Oh my word people – yes there are regional and personal differences between grilling, cookout, bbq.

      The point is Americans do use the word BBQ and plenty would either use it to describe exactly that or would understand it if someone used the word to reference the activity.

      Feel free to look up the definition of barbeque in the dictionary.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I lived in Kentucky for two years and if you want to be really pedantic, it’s spelled barbecue. (I was a copy editor at a newspaper there, so it was double the pedantry.)

      2. Jane Gloriana Villanueva*

        I don’t know why I didn’t expect the BBQ comment to lead to this tangent and bazillion subthreads. I’ve also never had an argument about what to call these events or the food on offer. If I had been the submitter, I’d be tempted never to send in again. My goodness.

  18. fiona the baby hippo*

    Its always the most well-paid people who seem to take the most advantage of free food… not food-relate, but I once got to go on a fully paid press trip as a guest of a sponsor to a VERY fancy weekend-long festival…. like the local airport was overrun with private jets free event. $2,000 a ticket expensive. And the sponsor had a “guest house” where ppl could chill and get a free swag bag. They were giving out fancy startup brand lip balm that was under $20 a pop and someone had to be set up full time to tell the private jet owners to only take 1 tube of lip balm.

    1. Galadriel's Garden*

      Honestly, that’s how many get – and stay – rich, by making other people foot their bills…and being completely and utterly shameless about it.

      1. Ally McBeal*

        YUP. I think the rich used to be slightly more subtle about it – or at least it seemed that way before the internet made conspicuous consumption easy – but now we have even more nouveau-riche people than ever before and they’re not ashamed of their “greed is good” ethos (even if they don’t brand/label it that way).

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          The rich abandoning subtlety in this is the whole theme of Leverage: Redemption.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      That’s a fascinating recurring theme here–people who are actually food insecure are bending over backward to not let any hint of that leak out at work, while people earning 7 figures make off with 3 pounds of dried apricots.

        1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

          Warren Buffett:
          “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning”

          1. Random Dice*

            Warren Buffett seems like a decent rich guy.

            Maybe the only decent rich guy.

          2. Me (I think)*

            It’s not hard to win the class war when you can afford to buy all the politicians.

  19. Yes And*

    #3 – Obviously the meat embezzler needed to be fired, but what’s the purpose of waiting until she comes back from leave? Wouldn’t it have been better for both the company and the thief to do it immediately on discovery?

    #8 – Not to defend these jerks’ condescending/sexist attitudes, but is it possible they didn’t know that the prior receptionist was funding the candy out of pocket? Maybe they believed in good faith that this was something the company was sponsoring? Again, no excuse for them being rude about it, especially to the receptionist, but it’s always annoying when a company pulls a perk, however minor, all the more so if they don’t announce it. (At the office I was working at during the Great Recession, as part of cost-cutting measures they just quietly stopped providing tissues. And it was, just… what the heck? Really?)

    1. umami*

      I am constantly surprised at the types of things people assume should be covered by the company. When I approve supply buys from our division budget, there are always items on there that I can’t approve but people think *should* be provided for free. Tissues is one because they are available through our facilities department, so I can’t use our budget to order *better* tissues lol

    2. Lunch Ghost*

      Well, the ones who made the “you’re not filling the candy bowl anymore”/”you’re falling down on the job” comments either realized the office wasn’t paying for it or assumed that the office was still paying for it and OP was refusing to fill the dish. Both of which, to me, are much weirder assumptions to make than “office was paying for it and stopped” or “former receptionist was paying for it”.

      1. Aquamarine*

        Actually, the “you’re not filling the candy bowl anymore” comments is what made me think they didn’t realize the company wasn’t paying for it. They sound like they’re complaining that all she has to do is dump some candy in a bowl, but she won’t do it.

        However, they’re such total jerks about it, they receive no sympathy from me, and I’m not sorry they miss their candy.

    3. EMP*

      #3, I assumed there were legal reasons preventing them from firing her while she was on leave, but that’s just a guess from an American. Or they were kind enough to give her a chance to tell her side before dismissal.

      1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

        I just figured that there was paperwork that would need her signature.

      2. A mathematician*

        If #3 is Australian [or another country with similar laws on leave], it’ll be because they’d have had to pay out the leave anyway, so they may as well fire her when she gets back and they can have a meeting about it – they’re not losing any money by waiting, and it’s presumably easier to do it in person (and gives her the chance to tell her side of the story, just in case there is one).

        1. *kalypso*

          In Australia it would be because terminating someone’s employment without giving them the opportunity to respond to allegations against them gives much stronger grounds for an unfair dismissal complaint, and people are generally not expected to deal with work matters when not at work.

          Immediate dismissal is allowed only where misconduct is strongly evidenced and passes the serious and wilful threshold, results in an irretrievable breakdown of the employment relationship, criminal matters, sexual harassment and/or fraud. Obviously the employer in this instance did not feel that they had the evidence to go this route, or the person relating this does not have all the information about how the investigation and dismissal went down.

    4. Colette*

      It’s hard to fire someone who’s not there, and they may not have had a way to contact her while she’s on leave (or possibly didn’t want to do so).

    5. The meat saga - a brief follow up*

      OP of the meat embezzler story here…You can’t just fire someone here in Australia. You have to have what we call a “show cause” meeting where we invite you to tell us why you should not be canned. You also cannot call someone in from leave to do this. You have to send the show cause letter outlining the allegations & give the employee a 48 hour preparation time between letter receipt & meeting.

      From what I heard, she was given a polite heads up during her last week of leave that she would be receiving a show cause letter on her first day back & a meeting had been scheduled for three days later to allow her the requisite 48 hours prep time for her response. Not sure if she resigned or if they canned her but she did come back as scheduled & did attend the meeting but left immediately after the meeting & we never saw her again.

      Hope that helps :)

  20. WantonSeedStitch*

    When my grandboss first joined our organization, she had NO IDEA about food and meetings. I don’t know how she managed to be in the workforce for so long without realizing that if you don’t at LEAST order coffee for a mandatory, office-wide meeting that starts at 9 and lasts three hours, your employees are going to revolt. Thank goodness she got better after that, though it took a while for her to realize how much food was needed. I suspect she doesn’t eat. At least, not much.

    1. Ssssssssssssssssssssss*

      Eons ago, we had a new person at a high managerial level who was shocked – shocked! I tell you! – that she had to use her own (corporate) credit card and then expense it to order food for something.

      Wasn’t there petty cash for this, she asked? Nope. You were given a corporate credit card, it’s for you to use for things just like this. Sorry. (Oddly, she didn’t stay around long…)

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      Eehhh. I’ve worked plenty of places that only gave you coffee on your first day for orientation or if your meeting had outside people or higher-ups involved.

    3. DataSci*

      My current job doesn’t do food at meetings. Culture isn’t the same everywhere. It’s acceptable to bring your own, but if you want coffee you need to get it from the machine before the meeting.

      1. allathian*

        My employer provides catering, but usually only for events that last at least half a day. For my team this means development days and other offsites.

    4. Pine Tree*

      I’ve worked in government and non-profits for most of my career. One time while I was working for the (US) feds, we were hosting a 3 day meeting of a working group of an international agreement and we were not allowed to order coffee for the meeting. It was embarrassing to host our international colleagues and not even be able to give them coffee. When they hosted the prior meeting we got coffee, morning danishes, hot lunch, afternoon cake/coffee/tea AND they hosted a working group dinner paid for by their government.


      1. Lola*

        My mom worked for the feds and was in charge of a big conference every year that was mandatory for people from across the country. While they initially offered lots of coffee, food, etc., cookies and brownies in the afternooon, etc. with each administration they had to cut it down a bit more. Then when there was that scandal with some federal department’s conference in Las Vegas, it became coffee and water only. The conference attendees were otherwise on the hook for getting their own meals.

    5. Guacamole Nob*

      Where I work, it would never occur to any of us that the company should provide coffee for a 3 hour meeting (although we would expect a 15-20min break somewhere in there to get our own). Even for a full day meeting, it would be unusual to have coffee or lunch provided. But them, I work in the public service, where we are grateful to get hot and cold filtered water…

  21. ENFP in Texas*

    I think the person with the wheel of brie and the person with all the dried apricots need to get together.

    1. Mrs. Pommeroy*

      If only for both their digestive health.
      Maybe they already *are* together, though xD

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Cynthia and Lucretia carefully timed their soiree for a weekend when both offices would be holding Friday potlucks…

        1. TrixM*

          I would read this, but alas, I’d think both leads are insufferable. UNLESS they were both working in insufferable environments, and that was just one of the ways they subverted the office culture.

    2. nnn*

      Yes! They seem to share core values and also have recently come into significant quantities of complementary hors d’oeuvres!

      1. nnn*

        (I meant “complementary” in the sense of “brie and apricots would go well together”. “Complementary” in the sense of “free” both is and is not true.)

      2. Hlao-roo*

        Comment section fanfic: they were outside-of-work friends and got together later that night to enjoy their brie and apricots! Bonding over a good food pairing and a poor sense of how to behave around free food at work!

        1. Jam on Toast*

          Fan Fiction sequel: they have a friend who works somewhere with an open bar!

  22. Cheesesteak in Paradise*


    If I was going to brazenly steal someone’s lunch, I don’t think I’d say an office wide message announcing it was me. Dumb.

    1. Wilbur*

      Should’ve dropped off more than $10. The meal itself could’ve been $10, plus a delivery fee and tip.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I would have demanded they order me another lunch. And dessert for the inconvenience.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        I was wondering what they ordered that could be covered by a ten spot. With tax and delivery fee that would be like–two cans of soda.

    2. higheredadmin*

      We ordered a catered lunch as a team reward when I worked in finance, and we had some staff with specific orders (e.g. vegetarian). I foolishly thought that folks could sort through the orders themselves and make sure vegetarians got vegetarian food etc. Well, lesson learned. I came back from my meeting to a suspiciously quiet open-floor plan office, and was like: how was lunch. Silence, and then someone says: “So and so ate my [insert specific diet] lunch”. I ordered her a new lunch on my own money.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Always serve the special-diet people first. There are dedicated carnivores who refuse to eat vegetarian food, unless it’s in someone else’s specially ordered box lunch.

      2. Artemesia*

        yeah this always happens — the guy who only eats steak suddenly decides ‘oh that vegetarian dish looks good I’ll eat that’ — it always happens if you don’t literally guard and issue the vegetarian lunches to the vegetarians.

        1. Shan*

          Always! The same person who will be griping about their SIL serving them a vegetarian meal and saying things like “how would she like it if she came over my place and I only served meat?!” is also the one who will immediately grab the single roasted red pepper baguette and leave the office vegetarian staring glumly as the platter of roast beef sandwiches.

      3. Zircon*

        I was once organising an event for around 350 people. 25 people asked for gluten free meals. I emailed all of them telling them if they have coeliac they should not eat [major part of the meal] because it could well be contaminated by bread used in one of the dishes. We would have plenty of alternatives for them. Every single one of them emailed back to say they didn’t have coeliac disease but they thought it would be good to try it!!!! Next event I organised I asked for “religious or medical diet requirements”.

  23. kiki*

    “he wrote into a local newspaper column where readers shared tricks and tips on being thrifty”

    I think it’s wild that this person genuinely thinks this is just a life hack most people haven’t thought of. And even if his goal was to be generous and share this “hack,” doesn’t he realize this won’t be sustainable if anyone else in the office also takes his approach?

    1. linger*

      I prefer to believe that a long-suffering coworker wrote in under the perpetrator’s name :-)

    2. Irish Teacher*

      I have the impression a lot of people who do stuff like this think that way, that everybody would do it if they were smart enough but it just hasn’t occurred to most people and that really, those who criticise them for it are just jealous they didn’t think of it first.

  24. nnn*

    Crossover wish fulfillment fanfiction:

    #8 points out to senior management that she doesn’t actually have a budget for the candy and, to the surprise of readers familiar with the genre, actually manages to get a candy budget!

    Then, inspired by #3, she embezzles from the candy budget and is able to level up her quality of life.

  25. Melissa*

    This isn’t about free food, but about how food makes people weird: When my son was little, I went to Chuck-E-Cheese with a friend and her kids. As I’m sure you all know, they have a pizza buffet, but you obviously aren’t going there for the food; it’s a kids’ arcade, and it happens that you can eat lunch while you’re there. The friend I was with got mad because they didn’t have any dessert-pizza. I guess they usually have a special pizza made with graham cracker crust (or something) and marshmallows, etc. She was so irritated that she actually pulled an employee aside to complain that they should notify people if they dont have the dessert pizza, because it’s an expectation! I was mortified.

    1. Lady_Lessa*

      A long time ago, I’ve had dessert pizza and it was a normal pizza crust with fruit as the topping. I think that the fruit was more like that used in cobblers, ie well cooked.

      There are some good sounding recipes out there with different types of crusts and toppings.

      1. Avery*

        My college semi-regularly served a dessert pizza. Chocolate chip pizza. It was really more like a giant chocolate chip cookie shaped like a pizza, though. But it was delicious!

      2. Baby Yoda*

        Oh yes Fruit Pizza is so good, my sister makes it for my birthday. The white sauce is a sweet cream cheese tasting delight. Yum!

      3. Random Dice*

        I’ve always had dessert pizza as a large sugar cookie, once cooled it’s topped with a cream cheese frosting and then sliced fruits.

        Mmmm childhood.

      4. Bern Notice*

        I used to make a banana split brownie pizza – it was a delicious sugar bomb!

    2. The OG Sleepless*

      I wonder if she was thinking of Cici’s? Also kid oriented pizza place, and they usually had dessert pizza.

      1. The Person from the Resume*

        Delicious, delicious dessert pizza. Very much like an apple cobbler filling on a pizza crust with some extra creamy sauce.

    3. Critical Rolls*

      I don’t endorse being rude to staff about it, but if something is a regular menu item and you (or your kid) are looking forward to it, it’s not unreasonable to be annoyed. Just, be an adult about your annoyance.

  26. EMP*

    re: brie…I once got to buy whole wheels of brie for a work party and for some reason buying whole wheels of cheese was an incredibly satisfying experience. I’d never have thought to just take one from the office though!

    1. Nina*

      How big is a wheel of brie where you are? In NZ a ‘wheel of brie’ is less than 200 g and it’s not an unusual thing to have ever purchased (not unusual like drugs or 20 year old scotch would be, but it’s a less-than-once-a-year purchase for most people). My mum usually gets a wheel of brie and one of camembert when her in-laws visit.

      1. Magpie*

        In North America, wheels of brie come in 2 sizes, a small 4-6″ size and a large 8-10″ size. For a party, you’d probably get the bigger one. I think it’s also less common to see the smaller ones in the USA, but I’m Canadian. I’ve just spent a lot of time there, and I don’t see the mini brie very often in the US.

    2. Random Dice*

      I initially was imagining just that round brie that’s the size of a spread hand.

      If we’re actually talking about dinner plate sized (or larger) I’m even more impressed / horrified by the gall.

      1. UKgreen*

        I’m in the UK and at my local cheese shop the French brie is cut from a wheel about the size of a BIG dinner plate – 15 inches across by maybe 2 inches thick (depending on how ripe and squidgy the brie is).

      1. Pointy's in the North Tower*

        Brie en crote with apricot preserves! One of my favorite guilty pleasures.

    3. allathian*

      Wheels of brie are fairly small. For other cheeses, they can be much bigger. A typical gouda wheel weighs 4.5 kilos (10 lbs). Brie is a soft cheese and a big wheel would break easily.

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

        Even a small wheel of brie sounds like a risky thing to put into an unlined satchel. I feel like all these food-snatchers are clearly in jobs where their forethought and sneakiness is being woefully under-utilized.

  27. Ssssssssssssssssssssss*

    To be kind to that receptionist who kept a candy dish at her own expense, she probably did it so that people would stop at her desk and chat with her, as even the smallest of small talk can ease the possible boredom or loneliness.

    Depending on the location and the tasks of the receptionist, it can be sometimes rather isolated.

    That said, she really should not have been paying for it. And her coworkers were complete dunces with no appreciation whatsoever. That poor receptionist.

    1. Sneaky Sweets*

      Reminds me of a coworker who had candy… but he was always a jerk so everyone would just wait for him to leave his desk before going to get any from the bowl so they wouldn’t have to talk to him. Maybe he was trying to get people to chat? But his personality overrode the allure of sweets.

  28. nnn*

    I’m wondering the logistics of putting whole wheels of brie and whole trays of apricots into your purse.

    Do they clean out their purse first? Line it in plastic or something? Or do they tolerate a certain amount of purse debris on their pilfered food and a certain amount of food moisture/grease on their (presumably not machine-washable) purse?

    1. Kermit's Bookkeepers*

      I think some people just make their peace with the fact that their purse will always smell a little cheesy? And/or some people are way more diligent about cleaning purses than I have ever been or will ever be?

    2. Galadriel's Garden*

      Nope, they just have the dedicated “cheese purse” that they bring to functions they know will result in purse cheese!

    3. mlem*

      Plot twist — the brie wasn’t the perpetrator’s purse, perhaps?? “You’ve wronged me yet again, Nerys! Here, let’s just fetch you a bit of brie in your bag …”

    4. madge*

      I imagine people this level of cheap just toss out the smelly Birkin and replace it with a new one (they’re permanent fixtures on the waiting lists).

    5. starsaphire*

      My grandmother (who was a mother of 3 during the Depression, so the pathology behind this behavior should be obvious) always carried plastic bags in her purse. Ziplocs, once those were invented, were her go-to.

      She almost always had a little something in there, even if it was the roll, pat of butter, wedge of lemon, and sprig of parsley that was the garnish on her lunch. But when we went to the buffet restaurants, she’d be carrying out several legs of fried chicken or slices of ham, for sure.

      1. anon please*

        i have an elderly acquaintance who takes a small empty bottle with her to events so that she can decant a complimentary glass of wine to take home to be consumed at a time suitable to her (eg she only drinks in the evening, so will take home the wine if she is at a lunch or afternoon event). she is also known to do this on planes.

        1. Bob-White of the Glen*

          I like this one. I will not drink and drive, so rarely get to enjoy an adult beverage out. occasionally I can an unopened beer to take home. (Never tried for a bottle of wine.)

    6. Another Lawyer*

      I’m the one who shared/witnessed the apricot incident, and this was one of the things we speculated about as well. She definitely didn’t have a ziploc – they went directly into the purse. We wondered – was this spur of the moment, in which case surely there would be purse lint and other debris mingling with the apricots? Or had she premeditated stocking her party pantry at this event and cleaned it out in advance?

      1. Energiser Bunny*

        LOL. I’m guessing there were bigger office politics at play. eg she was frustrated that the event clashed with other commitments and was unable to attend, or had a deadline, so was making point about grabbing and running.

    7. Junior Assistant Peon*

      If you go to the casinos in Atlantic City, it’s common to see old ladies who line their pocketbooks with aluminum foil and fill them up at the buffet.

    8. goddessoftransitory*

      I know some dedicated pilferers have a dedicated purse only for smuggling purposes.

    9. UKgreen*

      As someone who once ruined the very beautiful fabric lining of a leather handbag with an apple I forgot about in there, I’m wary of putting any foodstuff in my bag that isn’t sealed into a tupperware, these days.

      I mean, how ripe was the brie? Was it solid? Or was it……. oozing?

    10. AnonORama*

      My grandmother lined her purse with aluminum foil when she was planning to go to a buffet. Later, there were also little Ziploc bags.

  29. Zap R.*

    Oh god, the candy dish. My coworkers can’t seem to figure out that if everyone in the office grabs massive handfuls of Life Savers every time they pass through the lobby, we’re going to run out of Life Savers very quickly. Office supply delivery day is tomorrow but I spent my own money to fill the bowl today because I couldn’t deal with the whining.

    1. MissBaudelaire*

      “If everyone else would stop being greedy and taking so many, I could keep taking as many as I want!” – your coworkers, probably.

      I never understood the massive handfuls. Take one!

      1. Zap R.*

        People try to excuse it with “They’re for my kids!” I’ve even had someone have the nerve to get upset when we ran out of a particular flavour because their kids would be “disappointed.”

          1. Zweisatz*

            “Your kids don’t work here.”

            Like come on, I’m all for sharing and companies taking care of their people, but this is obviously a luxury designed to grab one or two pieces.

    2. Captain Swan*

      At my last job we had a lovely woman who kept a candy drawer stocked with decent sized/quality candy. The rest of us would likewise bring in a bag of candy on occasion or our leftover Halloween candy or whatnot to help defray the cost. All of this was out of our pockets not from the company mind you. We had a coworker from a different team that would occasionally spend a day or two in our office, he used to come an pick out handfuls of the best candy from the selection, multiple times per day when visiting our ofgice. Eventually, the woman who oversaw the drawer decided it was hershey kisses from then on because she couldn’t keep spending every week. The coworker eventually stopped checking the drawer because he wasn’t interested in hershey kisses.

  30. Cat's Paw for Cats*

    OP#7, I’m confused. Was the food intended for the staff only? Were patrons not allowed to share? Or were these people unhappy because they didn’t get as much as they wished?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Not the OP, but my reading is that the potluck was only for staff and some patrons just could. not. fathom. that food in the staff area of the public library was not there for their (the patrons’) consumption.

    2. TechWorker*

      It sounded to me like it was intended for staff only but was somehow visible from the main library

      1. sb51*

        In multiple small libraries I’ve been in (including one I worked in), the staff room was behind the circ desk but had big windows onto the floor—people not at the circ desk could easily look out to see if they were needed.)

      2. Cat's Paw for Cats*

        That was my take as well and as a retired library director I can say that if this is the case that’s a huge no no. If there’s no staff room, meeting room, or branch manager’s office that can be utilized, then the event should have been held off site. Whatever manager allowed it mess up big time.

  31. Jamboree*

    Oh I’m so sorry I missed this call bc I have a great one. I was a new-ish employee at an esteemed place of higher education, and my colleague, Sansa, was telling me about the upcoming holiday party. “Don’t expect shrimp cocktail though,” she told me, “as someone ate too many of them last year and didn’t leave enough for others so they’re not doing it anymore.” :shrugemoji: . So the night of the party comes and it’s great, fancy out the wazoo and just the kind of place that would serve shrimp cocktail. So I’m making small talk with some random person I didn’t know and the shrimp cocktail hog comes up. The random person I was talking to was the party coordinator, and SANSA (the big boss’ EA) was the shrimp hog!

    1. Yes And*

      If you haven’t watched The Good Place, you should. (I assume you haven’t, because otherwise you would likely have named the shrimp hog Eleanor.)

      1. Critical Rolls*

        Oh, no, she saw the generalized email and sadly shook her head about *someone else* doing such a thing, because she would never.

        1. MissBaudelaire*

          I now really wanna know how much shrimp cocktail you gotta eat to have an email inspired by your selfishness go out

          1. Lizzie*

            At my company, when I first started, we had a holiday party. Same place, same menu, year after year. You could also bring a plus one. each attendee was given 2 drink tickets, and after that, it was cash bar only. And it was only for the first hour or two of the party.

            People would ask those they knew who didn’t drink (you didn’t need tickets for non alcoholic beverages) for theirs, and load up on the free drinks, so you’d see tables with people who had 3-4 drinks in front of them, because they were too cheap to pay for them!
            The food was meh at best. We did have shrimp cocktail, but it was clearly frozen, and not the best quality. Yet that didn’t stop people from loading up a towering plate of it, or two! I guess since it was free people wanted to get as much as they could!

            Thankfully we no longer have parties.

  32. Worldwalker*

    I *like* the guy with the spreadsheet!

    Y’know, there should be an app for that.

  33. CommanderBanana*

    Re: the meat embezzler (meatbezzler?) – HOW MUCH MEAT are you going through per month? Are we talking thousands of dollars worth of filet mignon??

    1. Kermit's Bookkeepers*

      I mean if I figured out an unlimited meat cheat code (unlimited meat code?) I’d be eating a helluva lot more of it than I do now.

    2. Artemesia*

      I buy meat by the case through my food coop and it is really expensive (saves a ton on top quality meat, but meat is expensive even when a bargain). I can imagine someone who routinely was ordering all her meat through this method could in fact run through many thousands of dollars in. 6 years.

    3. The meat saga - a brief follow up*

      OP here…it was what most Aussie butchers call a “Meat Pack” where you get the same things for a set price. They will usually have big posters around the shop with a BBQ meat pack (sausages, minute steaks, rissoles, eggs, bacon) , a Family Meat pack (sausages, beef mince, chicken thighs, lamb chops), a slow cooker meat pack (shanks, drumsticks, thighs, brisket, etc). These will range in price from $50 to $150 ish & you cannot sub anything out, you just have to take what is on the list for that pack. Super handy if you cook similar things every month & have the freezer space for it all.

      She was buying a double sized family meat pack box each month on the company account.

  34. Hlao-roo*

    #4–Good for the Coldstone Creamery vendor for refusing to return to that workplace!

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      Right? I’d refuse to allow that pack of hyenas another crack at my tender hide, for sure.

  35. LifeBeforeCorona*

    #3 When I was working in a kitchen, there was an ongoing investigation into food costs. The kitchen manager was away and the accounting dept couldn’t figure out why the food costs dropped and then went back up. The manager was ordering meats, seafood etc. for their side catering business and hiding the expense in the regular invoices. The staff was aware but were too afraid for their jobs to speak up.

    1. Tommy Girl*

      This is why it’s standard practice to require accounting/finance staff to take a vacation once a year (at least a week). You can often catch things . . .

      1. Boolie*

        I remember the comment thread on this site stemming from the letter that asked if the mandatory vacation was really necessary. Turns out that it’s really effective! So many stories of catching shadiness.

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      Seriously, the audacity to claim a delivery order that isn’t yours is insane on its own, to call out that you’re taking it in a slack channel?? What did they think would happen??

      1. LW5*

        I have to assume that the thief thought that there was somehow a single free meal being offered to just one person in our office, first come first served. I knew the “victim”, and they were pretty furious.

  36. Pete*

    #3 “cooked on a flat plate over a gas flame” that is a griddle not a grill starting to become popular in the US.

    1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

      None of these things is absolute. Go to a diner and watch an old-school “grill cook” at work. They’re probably using that device you call a griddle.

      In my vocab, a griddle is something you use at home, a device in the backyard that cooks with open flames (from wood or charcoal or gas) is a bbq, and that delish long-cooked meat comes from a smoker.

    2. WellRed*

      Thank you. I couldn’t figure out what they were trying to describe. Certainly no grill I’ve seen.

    3. Critical Rolls*

      Yes, BBQ versus grilling is entirely beside the point because what’s described is neither.

  37. Rivakonneva*

    Long before COVID, we’d hold holiday potlucks at work for lunch. There would be a lot of leftovers, because everyone wanted to generously share their favorite food.

    Almost everyone.

    The one person who never brought anything other than a few bottles of soda was always the one who scooped up ALL the leftovers near the end of the day so she didn’t have to cook dinner for a while. Once time we got tired of it and half the staff brought baggies to take stuff home right after the meal was over. When Swiping ‘Sandy’ went to get her food, she went ballistic about how little there was to take home.

    I just sat quietly at my desk giggling under my breath. Then I had leftover fried chicken the next day for lunch. :)

  38. wtaf machine*

    I struggle with these sometimes because I often wonder if the “food thief” is struggling with some kind of finance related food insecurity as opposed to blatant jerk-ishness (which yes some are!) Anyone else?!?

    1. anon*


      People who are genuinely struggling do not generally behave like greedy, entitled, ignorant jerks. The people who do are often highly paid, they’re just a-holes.

      1. laser99*

        Yes. As previously mentioned, I live in a resort area, so I have a great deal of experience with these types. My theory is it stems from boredom.

    2. Jiminy cricket*

      I do a little, too. I know it’s true that it’s often the higher-paid people who are the most jerk-ish around food, but you never know what scars they’re carrying from their past. Maybe it was food insecurity. Maybe it was food restriction or diet culture or parents who were weird or withholding around food. Yes, I know it’s still wrong! But sometimes the source of the wrong is not entitlement, it’s something else.

    3. Kermit's Bookkeepers*

      I appreciated how many comments on the original post were careful to clarify “this was done by an executive” or otherwise tried to elucidate the financial forces at play as far as they knew. Of course we can’t know what’s going on for anyone behind closed doors, and people could be taking advantage of free office food due to financial hardship or mental illness — but I don’t think it necessarily follows that we aren’t allowed to take pleasure in the thought that some of these people are simply rude.

      I don’t think most of us would bat an eye at an intern taking three cookies when only two were allotted, but there’s just such a significant difference between that and a department head taking an entire buffet tray that was meant for the whole office, y’know?

    4. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      You must be new here. The “but what if they’re food insecure” debate crops up on literally every post relating to greedy behavior in the workplace.

      1. CommanderBanana*

        Right? And not to sound heartless, but…I don’t care? I don’t care if it’s from entitlement or food insecurity, you just need to stop doing it.

    5. ThatGirl*

      Not to pick on you but someone suggests this nearly every time food theft comes up, and like … it’s POSSIBLE, just like a binge eating disorder or kleptomania or _____ is possible, but I’m not sure what difference it would make – stealing an entire tray of dried apricots doesn’t point to “I’m saving these for dinner.”

      1. EMP*

        yep, and I think like many issues in the workplace it comes down to motive vs behavior. I’m sure Butter Packet Tupperware Lady had *some* reason that she felt the need to put butter packets into her coworkers purse for later – but the appropriate reaction to whatever it was is probably therapy and not using your coworkers purse to store condiments!!

    6. Chutney Jitney*

      Well no. I don’t assume that a partner in a law firm making 2 million a year is food insecure. No, I don’t assume that entitled jerks who take whole trays of snacks to their office and behave like jerks when confronted are food insecure.

      You are falling into the trap of assuming there must be a “good reason” for this crappy behavior, because *you* would never do this. They are just jerks doing jerky things because they are self-centered.

      1. Kermit’s Bookkeepers*

        Or conversely they may believe they HAVE a good reason, but that does not therefore mean their behavior holds up to objective scrutiny.

        Like, Batman villains frequently have “good reasons” for what they’re doing, but they’re still the bad guys.

        1. Kermit’s Bookkeepers*

          Like that one executive who would steal several pizzas and claim he needed them to feed his family — feeding your family is a good reason to acquire food, but that guy had access to systems that did not include taking food away from his subordinates. He may have honestly believed he lived in a level of poverty that precluded him buying food, but that doesn’t mean that was true or that stealing the food was okay so long as he believed it was.

          1. Me (I think)*

            This comment reminds me of the guy who was complaining a few years ago about how difficult it was to live on half a million a year — it all just vanishes! We’re really poor! After the private school tuition and the $25K vacations and the big house and the new car, we just have nothing left!

        2. A*

          Exactly; no one is the villain in their own story, but that doesn’t mean they’re not the villain!

    7. MagicEyes*

      The person who was emptying my candy dish every time I went to lunch turned out to be the assistant director of the program I worked for. He was rich and didn’t need a job, but I guess he was bored and needed something to do. I had to hide the candy dish when I went to lunch so other people could have some. To give him credit, he did bring in some candy one time. Half of a normal-sized bag of fun-sized candy bars. :-(

  39. MissBaudelaire*

    I worked second shift at ExJob. It was super common for first shift to eat up any goodies brought in, which I kind of expected.

    What I didn’t expect was for one person to eat her fair share AND fill her purse with extras so even if enough was brought in for second shift, we still wouldn’t get it.

    Like, it’s just chocolate chip cookies. You really couldn’t stand to let anyone else have some?

    1. Artemesia*

      Since this is SOP why don’t those providing goodies, provide them separately to second shift?

      1. MissBaudelaire*

        Because that would have required them to think ahead or *shudder* visit us twice, and they couldn’t be bothered to do that.

    2. virago*

      That’s why I appreciated that the coworker who made rum balls for Christmas each year held back half of them for those of us on the second shift. She knew that they’d be hoovered up in a flash by the daytime crew if she set out all of them at once.

      (Rum balls are like chocolate Dunkin Munchkins with a tiny bit of rum. Very tasty!)

  40. azvlr*

    When I was stationed overseas on active duty in the US Navy, I had to fill in for the CO’s secretary because she was out on extended sick leave. The CO was cool, but the XO was a bit of a smarmy jerk. He was a pilot and made sure to let everyone know it.
    He and his buddies would come in and grab handfuls of candy at a time. One day, I found some super sour candy from a local supermarket. Of course it was in our host nation’s language, so it was not immediately evident that it was sour.
    They grabbed handfuls again. I didn’t have to wait long enough to hear surprised cries from his office. To be fair he took it well, and was a lot less greedy (or perhaps more cautious) after that.

  41. Olive*

    When I was pregnant, my food went missing from the refrigerator. I am 95% certain that it was one specific anal-retentive coworker who had gotten the office to approve a system where everyone had to write a date on their food and he would clean things out every Monday. This wasn’t a problem on the surface (although we hadn’t had a problem before), except that he was more overzealous about disposing of things than about carefully checking for a date.

    Anyway, this was the stage of pregnancy where I sat on the breakroom floor and cried for 15 minutes. My boss ended up buying me a lunch, which was very nice of him.

    1. MissBaudelaire*

      He’s lucky it you and not me. I had hyperemesis with my pregnancies, and if I bought something I might be able to eat without spewing it back up immediately and someone threw it out/ate it….


      1. Olive*

        If I had proof that this one person did it, there’d have been chaos.
        But I was still aware enough of how terrible it would be if I made a scene and accused him in front of the whole office and he hadn’t actually been the one to throw it out. (He wouldn’t have stolen it. If I thought someone had stolen it, that would be a whole different scene!)

        1. Critical Rolls*

          I actually think throwing it out is worse. You were deprived of your food, that you paid for/prepared, and it went completely to waste. My response would probably have been imprudently unmoderated.

  42. New Senior Mgr*

    These were so great, many employees behaving badly, but great stories for a Monday! Thanks!

  43. Hey Anonny Nonny*

    This brings up some cringeworthy memories of my first student job when I was 18. The center I worked in had snacks and refreshments for the students, and the department frequently had events so there was always leftovers in the kitchen. For some (???) reason, I thought it was okay to take TONS of food home from work. I think it was probably a mix of experiencing poverty as a child, and the oblivious self centeredness that comes with being a teen.
    It started off with just a cookie or two, but I got bolder as time passed. I’d basically go grocery shopping in the kitchen at the end of the day. Half full liters of pop? Straight in the backpack. Fruit platter? Put my favorites in a ziploc and leave the icky cantaloupe. Throw a handful of front desk candy in there too. I guess my logic was that if there was still food left over then that meant nobody wanted it?
    Somehow I never got called out on it, but I’m sure people noticed. Whenever I think about it now I’m absolutely mortified by my audacity.

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      A well-established adult making 6+ figures taking lots of food before anyone else has had a chance to take it? Eff them and their audacity.

      The 18 year old making next to nothing taking home leftovers at the end of the day once it’s already been picked through? No judgement here.

      1. kiki*

        Yeah, while I’m sure some people noticed, I think most people are pretty forgiving of students. And a lot of student-oriented job plan for this behavior in food budgets (they know students don’t generally have a lot of money).

        I wouldn’t worry about it too much at this point and I’d also bet you weren’t the only person taking quite a bit of food!

      2. MissBaudelaire*

        I agree with this. If there’s no second shift, then I’d rather someone who needs food and is going to enjoy it take it.

    2. Critical Rolls*

      I can’t speak for your coworkers, but personally I’m always happy to see leftovers go to people who need and appreciate them. If it’s a problem for some reason I’ll say something, but I’d rather a student worker go home with it than a dean, or worse, it goes off and gets tossed out.

    3. Nina*

      Most people who are fully-paid graduated workers in industries that hire student workers are going to be okay with the student worker taking the bulk of the leftovers (and the remains of a fruit platter at the end of the day? please. it’s going to be disgusting tomorrow. Save it from the trash).
      One of my favorite professors when I was in grad school did a lot of conference organizing due to her research focus, fancy catered food paid for by the university and all. She would put the leftovers of the fancy catered veggie wraps and sandwiches and sushi and baked goods in the fridge in the one grad room that had a back door through a lab. All the other grad rooms, you had to belong to that room and have a key to access it. My group’s grad room, you could access (somewhat precariously) through the lab, and all the grad students had the code to the lab. A lot of grad students got to eat actual vegetables in conference weeks. All hail Megan.

    4. Juggling Plunger*

      My first ‘real’ job was as an AmeriCorps member (this is sort of stipended volunteer work, pay is pegged at 100% of the poverty line), and the organization I was placed at would periodically have things involving food and would intentionally order too much so that we could take leftovers home (the information about the intentionality was passed down from class to class). I suspect that your department was aware of what you were doing, and if they weren’t actively over ordering that were at minimum totally fine with what you were doing as a poor student.

    5. Random Dice*

      I would have been glad that the hungry kid got food. Especially when it’s fruit that has sat out for awhile, it feels so wasteful but I’m also not going to take that home myself.

      With our blessing, please erase that mortification with the knowledge that most people were happy that you did so.

    6. goddessoftransitory*

      As an aside, can I say how happy I am to meet another cantaloupe hater? I have never, ever liked melons in general and cantaloupe in particular, and it’s always the majority fruit in most fruit salads.

    7. Happy Pineapple*

      As long as other people also got a shot at the food I’m sure no one cared. If it’s the end of the day and things are going to be thrown out you might as well take them! There were times as a student and in my early career where I relied on catered events and free snacks in order to eat, so now that I’m the one ordering the food I never begrudge people lower on the pay scale from taking advantage. It’s the super well paid executives and the people who grab everything before others have eaten that grind my gears.

    1. Tangerina Warbleworth*

      No, but I’ll buy the popcorn for us to eat when it’s featured on “Hoarders”.

      1. laser99*

        If you really want a show enter “Judge Judy Tupperware” on YouTube, you can thank me later:D

    2. Butter Bag Lady*

      I am the OP whose bag was used for the butter. I have been to her house before. It was shockingly tidy. I had expected a hoarder situation, but it was very tidy.

      I have so many stories about that woman. She was an absolute terror on so many levels.

  44. Light Weaver*

    Once again, Alison’s examples show that the most shameless and selfish food thieves are those who could most easily afford to buy their OWN apricots, candy and anything else they wanted. Sigh!

  45. HonorBox*

    I just remembered one of the strange food situations I ran into a number of years ago after reading these situations featuring people who took more than their fair share. It also shined a light on one of my biggest pet peeves… someone oversharing about their diet.

    Years back, I worked in an office that shared a conference room with another business. We’d have some joint meetings and often those were lunch meetings. Sandwiches or pizza brought in. Nothing too out of the ordinary. One gentleman was doing the Atkins diet. Loudly. Explained at every meeting because he made sure he had a salad with just protein. And let me say, I’m not opposed to that. At all. But in every situation, he held court about Atkins and how healthy he was eating and how his overall health was improving. He’d loudly never touch any dessert that came with the meals either.

    We’d box up any leftovers and put them in the fridge in the kitchen. They were open to people from either office to eat as they wanted. I always loved the leftovers because I was new in my career and a couple slices of cold pizza made for a great and free lunch the next day.

    More often than not, we’d come in the next day to find a good chunk of the food missing. One of the people working in the other office deduced through some investigation and hearing some random statements that ol Atkins himself would “work late” and then basically overindulge through most of the leftovers.

    Friends, he never said how much weight he’d lost (not that weight is the only measure of health) or how many inches he’d lost. He’d just opine about his health improvements because you’re not going to lose any of the desired weight on Atkins when you’re regularly pounding brownies, sub sandwiches and pizza.

    1. Junior Dev*

      I had a roommate who was “doing keto” and would binge on whole boxes of cookies every 2-4 days. I think there’s some physiological reason why restricting carbs in particular makes you obsessively crave them, though I don’t know any more than that.

      1. HonorBox*

        I think there’s something to that. I’m diabetic and probably have the biggest sweet tooth of anyone I know. I’m not SUPPOSED to have the sugar, so of course I want it even more. :)

      2. Zweisatz*

        It works with any food component, but especially the ones central to your well-being (fat, carbohydrates, proteins, calories in general) because it helps people stay alive.

        Tough situation when things like diabetis, celiacs or allergies make certain foods prohibitive :/

  46. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

    #3 is exactly why some industries require certain staff members to take vacations every year!

  47. Richard Hershberger*

    #3: There is an entire subgenre of embezzlement schemes that rely on always being there, lest the scheme come to light. I have always wondered about the lack of foresight, as eventually you will be sick, or forgot when scheduling your vacation, or the like.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      There’s a whole section in Freakonomics about this. (Also, their analysis of bank robberies is fascinating!)

    2. Katie N.*

      My ex works in finance and has to take a full week of leave at least once a year as a stopgap for fraud.

    3. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Most of them don’t think that far ahead. A lot of fraud will start with something very small, and the person will say “oh, I can make it up next time”. But when next time comes they can’t, and instead they take more, and end up on this miserable cycle of digging themselves deeper and deeper. It also frequently starts when someone has external pressure (divorce, gambling, other money problems) when people are already just trying to keep their heads above water.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Yeah, quite a few business thefts start out with the notion of “just this one time” in response to specific circumstances, and go from there.

    4. kiki*

      I think the vast majority of embezzlement schemes are less thought-out than one would think. Like, people manage to get away with something like the meat embezzler for YEARS, but if you were to ask them how much time they really invested in architecting or thinking through the grift, they’d probably say a relatively small sum of time. They might end up spending a lot of time trying to cover things up, but the actual planning is generally quite small.

      I forget what exactly I was watching, but an investigator was telling the documentary makers that most crimes really aren’t well thought out. Even wildly “successful” criminals are often just kind of winging it and ultimately banking on nobody paying close attention or caring.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        The Oceans movie with Sandra Bullock showed this very well: Bullock’s character is released from prison, and immediately goes to a big, fancy department store. She scoops up freebies in gift bags from various counters and with various slights of hand ends up at the complaints desk getting a “refund” of several hundred dollars for items she’d grabbed while making sure to act like a “regular” shopper.

    5. Mister_L*

      A couple years ago I read a story about a loans clerk in my country who used fake loans to boost his numbers and paid them off by embezzling from the accounts of eldery.
      He got away with it for years until the bank forced him to use his vacation.

  48. DJ Abbott*

    #2, I would have been so angry with the VPs greed I would have reported him in spite of the low salary. My mother was a ranting, would-be activist, and I learned it from her.

  49. tamarack etc.*

    Here I sit at my desk in our research intitution, eating a free cinnamon swirl that was left over from a meeting this morning (announced by one of the admin staff via email to a list), and marvel at how well behaved we all are at our university around free food …

    1. Uni food service*

      Ours too. Except that one guy who mostly wears free university tshirts and who turns up at every event serving food; even private events. He seems to have a sixth sense about which events have food and when to show up and swoop in before the staff have cleared the food. He mostly eats his full but also piles a plate to take with him.

      It just occurred to me that he might know someone in catering who tips him off.

    2. Beth*

      My current office is wonderfully well-behaved over free food, and I am SO grateful for it.

  50. Simon (he/him)*

    I want to be pizza spreadsheet guy when I grow up! I love Excel & I’ve been known to keep unnecessary spreadsheets to track things like my Stardew Valley game progress but using them for group lunch orders is genius, lol.

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I used to keep a spreadsheet of each what each faculty and staff member ordered from each of the places we typically ordered from. Then if they didn’t reply to the “send me your lunch order” request by the deadline, and I knew they were coming to the meeting, I’d just order them something that they had chosen for a previous meeting. It only backfired once, when I ordered one of the doctoral students a sandwich where the bread was replaced with lettuce, because that was her only previous order. Turns out, she had just been trying that out and had disliked it the first time, so she wasn’t thrilled to see Lettuce Sandwich, Part 2 when I ordered it again.

      1. Simon (he/him)*

        Sounds like it was a good reminder to reply to the “send me your lunch order” request by the deadline :) That’s really smart though, I’m definitely going to start considering whether there’s anything small like that I could be tracking to make my life easier.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          I also like the Stardew Valley use — I track my Sims legacy challenge progress in Excel.

          1. Simon (he/him)*

            Oh man Sims legacy spreadsheets are also a great idea!! I would do that if I could ever get past generation 3 without starting over. It’s really helpful for Stardew since some Community Center items are only available in certain seasons/weather conditions, so having a quick reference guide saves me from keeping 3 million wiki tabs open.

    2. TootSweet*

      We started having a March Madness tourney a couple years ago using one of those arcade basketball games. One of our finance people, whose team has won two years in a row, used Excel as part of his winning strategy. (He’s very good at playing this machine; practices all the time.) There was a spreadsheet keeping track of the bracket and the scores. He hijacked part of it to calculate how many points he needed to blow past his team’s current challenger, and made sure he shot last so that he could rack up more than enough points to win.

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

    I wonder with some of these, like #2, if he and his wife were just really bad cooks and so they really liked catered food so they brought it home? not that its and excuse. If you make more money than others you shouldn’t steal the food but it could be a reason.

  52. Swim parent*

    Not a war, just a very shrewd coach.
    Our daughter was on a high school swim team. There was an end of season award ceremony & potluck banquet. We all brought a lot of food. The swim coach, VERY shrewdly took the mic and proclaimed that parents would line up first, followed by siblings, then the female swimmers and only last the male swimmers. Smart move. High school swimming boys are never full & would have descended on the banquet like locusts.

    1. The Dude Abides*

      I referee amateur rugby, and similar rules apply for most postgame social buffets – for adults, give the players time to load up on beer; for youth, give everyone else a crack before it vanishes.

  53. Brian*

    I’m a teacher. On parent teacher conference nights the PTO provides us with dinner, since we can’t go home. The number of times we’ve had parents walk into the closed teachers’ lounge thinking the food was for them…

  54. Azure Jane Lunatic*

    Due to the number of people who have pulled the “I pay your salary” at my local librarian, they have done some calculations based on the library budget, the percentage of the local taxes that are earmarked for library use, and the taxpaying population.

    They have not yet been pushed to the frustration point of actually handing a patron a nickel as a generously full refund, but I expect to hear about it when they do.

    1. pope suburban*

      I have considered, on more than one occasion, snipping up a penny with some shears so I can give people refunds on my time. You know, since the massive increases in their property values from all our programs weren’t enough.

      1. TrixM*

        I haven’t owned a chequebook in over 20 years. But if I were in a position where I regularly got that routine, I would have seriously consider having cheques pre-filled for the sum of 0.3c – the maximum amount one citizen in the state that employs me could contribute to my salary. That’s ignoring all sources of state income that don’t come from residents’ rates and levies, such as from utilites, fines, commercial enterprises and federal contributions.

        The hit from it costing nearly 10 times the value of the cheque to write it would definitely be worth it to say, “Here’s your refund, bye!”

    2. Chilipepper Attitude*

      I did a lazy version of those calculations when I worked at the public library and it came out to 53 cents a year. I did once say that to a patron. They ignored me.

  55. Tangerina Warbleworth*

    Re: #1:

    “Oh, SURE, HE wrote that book, right. I’M the one who checked all the references; wrote the table of contents, appendix, and endnotes; met with the publishers and ended up rewriting four whole chapters — and not ONE percentage of the royalties? Really, Dr. FancyPants? That’s just what admins do? What I did is worth AT LEAST the cost of that huge wheel of designer brie. In fact, you know what? I’m going to take it. Hell, yeah I’m taking it! That is MY fecking brie, goddammit! Hell with you credit-taking punctuation-lacking mother-fecking CHEESE BREATH!!”

        1. Brrr*

          Oh thank you! Now I am listening to The Food Fighters Band. Never would have known about them if not for you.

    1. Random Dice*

      I thought the cheese wheel stealer was a $2 million a year lawyer head of a department.

  56. MethodologyQueen*

    I thought in #7 that chess bars were a typo – glad to know they are not, and I have a new dessert I need to try.

  57. peanut*

    Oh the food column made me laugh! Earlier this year, big boss emailed me to stop into their office at X time. I made my way to the office at that time just behind a coworker who slipped into the door just ahead of me. Big boss quietly gestured me to wait, so I hung out in the hall outside of the office which happens to be across the hall from a conference room and next to the office administrator’s desk. There was a pizza in the conference room. Office Administrator announced loudly and multiple times I was not to eat the pizza because I had not chipped in for it. I am not here for pizza, told her multiple times I was not there for pizza but still the announcements continued. The reason pizza was ordered, names of those who DID pay for pizza and could have a slice etc. I am thinking, like STFU. I don’t eat meat and cheese gives me migraines so there was zero chance I would take the pizza even if I had so little class I took pizza I didn’t pay for. Clearly I am still bitter.

    1. Lizzie*

      Oh that’s so rude. I could see her NICELY letting you know IF you had made any moves towards it, but just the fact you were waiting for your boss? nope.

      Reminds me of the time I was an admin in a corporate legal dept. the attorneys would go out to lunch fairly regularly. One day, one of them mentioned, offhandedly, “oh we should invite the admins but they have to pay for themselves” Um excuse me? First of all, I have no desire to go to lunch with you, and secondly, I don’t expect you to pay for me!

  58. Truly*

    Once worked in a place where for months food went missing from the communal kitchen and we were at each other’s throats about it. Passive aggressive notes, email threads, bickering in person, you name it. After maybe half a year, it was discovered a homeless person had been secretly living in part of our building that was really only being used for very occasional storage. Imagine our relief when it turned out no one we worked with was a thief or a liar.

    1. Random Dice*

      Oh wow!

      That’s like the man in Japan who had a tiny homeless old woman secretly living in his tiny closet, and he only found out when his food started disappearing and he set up cameras. (A story that is wild, creepy, appalling, and heartbreaking in equal measure.)

  59. Ardis Paramount*

    I’m seriously considering changing my commenting name to “Apricot Tammy.”
    It deserves to be immortalized in song, too.

  60. Kathleen*

    #6 She even took the ice the soda cans had sat in. Why? Even if she had a cooler we know every hand in the office touched that ice and so many don’t wash their hands. Yuck!

  61. The Bimmer Guy*

    “‘You’re falling down on your job, aren’t you, girl?’”

    WHAT?! How could you possibly think it was okay to say this to someone, especially another adult? I—I’m speechless.

    1. Kathleen*

      That’s the same Dude telling every woman he passes to “smile”. Or the jerk who told me I needed to wear lipstick even though I was providing speech therapy to children on the floor for hours a day.

  62. The Dude Abides*

    Over the years I have accrued…a reputation when it comes to food days. I tend to put away some food despite my frame (5’7, 165lb).

    Case in point – last week, my boss ordered 300 wings for the building (about 30-35 people). When I went for my first plate around 230pm (I left around 12 as the wings were arriving), there were maybe 40-50 left; I smashed two dozen having just returned from the gym.

    I’m at the point where I set rules for myself re: food days
    – no rushing to be first to food
    – no overloading the first plate with meats (I don’t touch desserts)
    – no going back for the second plate until giving ample time for everyone to get a crack
    – if food’s about to be moved to the fridge for storage, then I take what I know I can polish off

  63. Doctor Taco Temptress*

    This is free-food adjacent and hilarious. One time I was working for a company and working late, and a taco place with fantastic veggie options shared the same parking lot. The owner’s husband was still in the building preparing the llama analytic macros for Excel and I asked if he wanted anything – he said two chicken tacos, which were a dollar each. As he had no cash on him, I just grabbed the tacos when I got my food and gave them to him, free of charge. It was no big deal – it was two dollars.

    Well, in the morning, the owner/wife was waiting at my desk when I came in and asked if I was trying to sleep with her husband, using profane terms to convey her message. I was stunned. I said no, then she asked why I was giving him free food. I was like “two one dollar chicken tacos? Lady I’m vegan – I don’t want to do anything to your husband after he eats chicken tacos.”

    I ended up literally walking out of that job which was toxic and terrible anyway. The owner overworked and underpaid me and was trying to get me to quit community college as I was getting ready to transfer to a four year institution in order to put in more hours at her small and failing business. It’s the only job I avoided collecting a final check from and I just blocked her and her husband from every means of contacting me. The best part of this story is I did continue in school and I’m about to finish my PhD dissertation this summer.

    1. Critical Rolls*

      If I can steal your man with $2 worth of tacos, that’s a you problem. Also, we’d never pair up because he has truly dreadful taste in women.

  64. Pipkin*

    The coffee maker at my office had broken, and after a week or so they still had not replaced it, so I brought in a Keurig from home and let everyone know they were free to bring in their k-cups and use it. After 2 years, the company still had not replaced the coffee maker and I was leaving for a new job, so I took my Keurig with me when I left. The HR lady pitched a fit about how dare I take my Keurig home. She ended up getting her own one-cup Keurig that she kept at her desk.

    1. laser99*

      This and all the candy dish stories further prove the adage about no good deed going unpunished.

  65. Mister_L*

    The ending of #3 reminds me of a story I read a couple years ago.
    A loans clerk had faked loans to boost his numbers and embezzled money from the accounts of elderly to cover for it. The bank found out, when he was ordered to use his vacation after years of dodging it (I’m not from the US) and the payments became overdue.

  66. Jolie*

    I was a younger-ish lawyer and ended up in a specialized area of practice which let’s just say, didn’t exactly attract the cool kids. I was attending a “social get together” of the state section of this practice area at a brew pub where there were several appetizer platters of food for the group on each table. All of the appetizers were gone from one of the platters and a waiter appeared to clear it out of the way when one of the lawyers stopped him – “wait, we aren’t done with that yet.” The waiter (and I) looked at the tray in total confusion, as all that was on there was the layer of large wilted lettuce leaves that the appetizers had been sitting on. This guy quickly proceeds to roll up and eat all the wilted GARNISHES off the platter like he’s a rabbit. And that actually seemed pretty par for the course for this group.

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

      Omg, this hit too close to home– I love eating garnishes. I figure they legally have to be edible, right??

  67. Bagel Brigade*

    I will continuously bring up the coworker at my last job that would take one of the bagels provided by the boss on Fridays to the kitchen to put it in the toaster. Normal. We all did that. Fine. But.
    She would put butter on the bagel THEN put it in the toaster. And not clean up the melted butter from the bottom of the toaster after. And wouldn’t use the literal toaster oven inches away.

  68. Opie the Dog*

    To be fair, the food waste at most every company event I have been to has been ASTRONOMICAL and disgusting. I think it’s okay to bring Tupperware and take leftovers, as long as you check with the host/host department first.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      And sometimes that happens because of the greedy kind of behavior we’ve seen here, so TPTB order over to make sure everyone has a shot. If people could be rational about food (whether it’s free or not) we could avoid a lot of that waste. Like you, I’m rather shocked and disgusted by it.

  69. Happy Pineapple*

    I once had to pull the exact move as LW10! I sent out a Slack message to my office that there were leftover cupcakes in the kitchen, and a man walked up and took the entire box of 20+ cupcakes to his desk. I chased him and yanked it back with a death glare lol. The actual nerve of some people.

  70. sleepy librarian*

    I’m a librarian and my colleague has a great response for the “I pay your salary” folks: “your taxes pay for schools, do you insist on attending kindergarten?”

  71. Overordering Anonymous*

    At a former workplace, we would have regular “team lunches” that the company would pay for, usually at an Asian restaurant where meals would cost about $10 each, which were tasty, generous serves and good value. There a few guys in my team who would each order 3 meals, eat one at the time, and then get the other two to take-away. This happened every time and everyone just laughed at them / joked about it. Deliberately over ordering and then taking away was not in the spirit of “team lunch” in my opinion.

  72. Energiser Bunny*

    I have worked at a few different places where the receptionist/secretary responsible for ordering food for catered lunches/morning teas etc would order a little bit extra or something special/specific for themselves even though they weren’t involved or participating in the event eg a compulsory technical training session for technical staff during their lunch break (where we had top forgo our lunch break). Blind eyes were always turned by the bosses to “keep them happy”.

  73. Kelly*

    I’ve been the person to manage the meeting catering at many old jobs…oh the memories!

    A tray of leftover chicken breast sandwiches intended for the lower salaried employees to enjoy. Before they could, company CEO waltzed in and took ONLY THE CHICKEN BREAST out of every sandwich and left the bread. She didn’t even throw out the bread to try to hide it…just…left a pile of mayonnaise-d bread for the peasants to enjoy.

    Multiple times caught people opening unwrapped trays of food that were placed in an office beside the board room at 11:45am, clearly stored there until they could be set out for the meetings lunch time. Staff not from the meeting would wonder over, unwrap all the saran, take all the plastic off the containers, and help themselves to an untouched sandwich tray.

    And the legendary Christmas parties at my last job. It was a charity so parties were not luxurious affairs…it was a hot catered lunch in the board room with games. It was a running joke that there would never be enough food no matter how much was ordered, because year after year, despite being told not to, people at the front of the food line would pile their plates with enough food to feed four people. Inevitably if you were near the end of the food line, you’d end up with a few spoonfuls of salad. The cherry on top was always seeing fully untouched chicken breasts and potatoes in the trash can at the end of the party, because people got too full to finish all the food they took. Every dang year.

  74. London, but with drugs*

    I missed my chance to comment on the feeder thread to this, but I wanted to share my experience from the other side (kinda?).

    I used to work at a cake baking factory (this is a true story).

    The factory ran 24/7 and I worked in the office.

    One of the perks was, if they messed up a cake so it couldn’t be sold, the production team would leave it on a table in the break room and anyone could take it.

    One morning I got to work and there was something afoot. HR seemed really angry, everyone was whispering, the owners had their doors closed.

    Turns out, the night shift ruined a whole bunch of cakes, and left them on the break room tables as prescribed.

    Then *that same group of workers*, when they went on their breaks, *pushed every single cake off the tables onto the floor of the break room*.

    Needless to say, free imperfect cakes were no longer a thing.

    It’s also kinda sad because they had just unionized and it turned everyone against the union because – true or not – talk was they did what they did because placing the cakes was their job, but cleaning tables was not.

  75. Bookbug71*

    In response to 7. The library patrons, I experienced a 180 situation.

    I used to work for a large library system at the main branch located in the city. On occasion they would call staff in for a giant company meeting before the doors opened at 9 a.m. This included staff from the outlying branches as well. At these gatherings were coffee and pastried.

    Well there was one meeting when the caterer arrived very late and by the time everything was set up, everyone had to leave. We’re talking people who needed to drive to their location in order for it to open on time and people who worked the floor in the building and couldn’t have food or drink on them. So very little was taken.

    At the downtown branch, most of our customers were homeless or very low-income. So naturally we started handing out the food and coffee so it wouldn’t go to waste. The Higher-ups quickly put a stop to that and took everything up to to board room for an 11 a.m. board meeting, in which guarantee nothing was touched by these elites. After all, who wants cold coffee and a danish at lunchtime?

    The worst part about this was during the staff meeting, we were told how proud they were that the library was serving the poor and disenfranchised!

  76. SB*

    I am disgusted by people who utter the words “my taxes pay your salary”. I always assume they are horrible bullies.

    1. London, but with drugs*

      Hmm. I guess you don’t live in a world where healthcare, social service, law enforcement, or social security workers treat you disrespectfully or unkindly, give sub-standard service, or lie to your face. When you’ve been a taxpayer for decades.

Comments are closed.