the thieving CEO, the broken lock, and other 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 — and you certainly delivered. There were so many hilarious stories left on that post that I couldn’t fit them all my favorites into one column. Part 1 was here, and here’s part 2.

1. The CEO

At my old job, the CEO/owner was a very out-of-touch older man who was incredibly wealthy but was also a massive tightwad. At least twice a week, he’d come to the cafeteria during lunchtime, wander among the tables, and take food from his employees. And not just a couple of chips off of someone’s plate – I witnessed him taking two full slices of pizza from a pie that 3 people were sharing. I saw him take half of someone’s sandwich. I saw him take some pasta out of someone’s takeout container.

With the power dynamic, nobody felt comfortable telling him to stop. Meanwhile, we were all horribly underpaid and resentful that this millionaire was literally taking food from our mouths.

Finally, the colleagues I ate with and I decided to speak out and stop letting him take our food. A few days later, we’d all ordered Chinese and he came by our table with a fork and an empty plate, and tried to take the last dumpling from my plate. I said, “Actually, I was about to eat that” and he looked SHOCKED. He then tried to take some leftovers from my friend, who said, “Sorry, I’m bringing the rest of this home to eat for dinner.” He didn’t even say anything, just walked away silently and went to another table. He tried a few more times with us but we kept telling him that the food was spoken for and he finally left us alone, but still terrorized the rest of the cafeteria.

Eventually, his daughter (who was a VP at the company) found out what he was doing and apparently ripped him a new one, and he stopped. Then she bought lunch for the entire company.

2. The goats

I work for a large manufacturing company in the Great Plains. We have about a thousand engineers that work here in large cubicle farms, and a significant portion of them live out in the surrounding area on acreages. Several years ago, we had an engineering coworker who would take entire buffet trays of leftover conference room food to his vehicle, before anyone else was able to serve themselves. We assumed they were getting the trays of food for their large family, but we found out later that this engineer was taking the trays of food back to his hobby farm, to feed his goats.

Ever since that this engineer retired, we all finally get a chance at conference room leftovers.

3. The band of bandits

My department had a long tradition of over-the-top department potlucks, with a strict rule that if you wanted to eat, you had to bring something. We had a lot of good cooks and we were all really into our pot lucks.

We would leave crock pots heating in our department breakroom in the morning. We found that a group of four men from another department would always sneak into our breakroom and help themselves to food before our lunchtime rolled around. We tried to solve it with a sign that said, “CONTAINS RAW CHICKEN! DO NOT EAT UNTIL 12:30!” We also hid all the utensils and plates and things until lunch time in an effort to thwart them. They ignored the sign and walked to another break room and got their own utensils and returned to steal food.

They thought it was a hilarious battle of wills and we were enraged that they were stealing our lovingly prepared food (especially because we had always invited the rest of the departments to partake of leftovers after our lunch). We finally ended up with all the crockpots on a rolling cart, plugged in to heat up in a closet behind my desk (I’m sure the fire marshal would not have approved). The four “eaters,” as we called them, would walk around sniffing the air trying to locate the source of the delicious smells.

4. The candy dish

The current (and ongoing) free food fracas at my workplace involves candy. Like, fun size candy bars that you’d get/give at Halloween. This past Halloween, our office manager put out a cute Halloween display with a bowl of candy. This then morphed into a holiday display in November/December. Then, because people kept requesting it, candy stuck around into the new year.

All of that sounds fine, right? A nice little treat for everyone, y’know?

Except people have seemingly lost any sense of decorum over this because, of course, some varieties of candy are more preferred than others. Which has led to people hoarding candy in their desks, taking said hoarded candy from people’s desks, breaking into locked drawers and filing cabinets to steal candy, etc. One of the partners even directed an intern to monitor the candy bowl and call him when it was refilled with the type of candy he likes!

I’ve told our office manager to just stop buying more candy, but thus far the candy bowl keeps getting refilled and grown adults continue to act like fools.

5. The new hire

I worked in an office who bought lunch for us on a regular basis. We’d eat leftovers throughout the week for more free lunches. If there were still leftovers on Friday, anyone who wanted could take them home (this usually meant person A took a tray of something, person B took a bag of chips, etc.).

We had a new hire, and in his first week he snuck into the kitchen on a Thursday afternoon and took ALL of the leftovers – we’re talking at least four catering pans of food. It took us until the following week to figure out where they’d all gone. When confronted, he just said, “I’ve got family in town.” I don’t think he lasted a month at our company.

6. The camera feed

There would be a management-only catered lunch once a month – there was a kitchen off the big conference room. Aside from this kitchen having to be locked at all times because of china, flatware and coffee cups going missing (the owner insisted that all the food be removed from the catering trays and put onto the fancy platters and such), the management staff didn’t behave any better than anyone else – the amount of food on the counters and all over the conference table where they ate was unbelievable. They would go into the garbage and find the catering trays so they could try to hide food for themselves for later, and of course the very second the meeting started the rest of the staff would try to sneak in and steal food. The owner would keep the camera feed from the kitchen on the giant screen in the conference room to catch people so he could scream at them, yet no one ever learned. (Emphasis is Alison’s. What?!)

7. The angry donut

I used to work at a nonprofit that worked with a lot of community partners that would frequently use our space and leave leftovers after meetings. The executive director had a huge anger problem (like frequent, full-volume yelling). One day she walked past my desk in an unusually good mood and mentioned that there were donuts in the kitchen and she would bring one back for me. She was gone for a long time, and then finally returned and deposited a handful of crumbs in a wadded up napkin on my desk and said, “Sorry it’s a little crumbled. I got in a disagreement with someone on my way back here.”

Which 100% meant she had full-on screamed at someone in the back office and accidentally crushed the donut in her balled fist. I still ate it. It was delicious.

8. The potluck

My office used to hold annual potluck lunches during the holiday season. Everyone signed up to either make a dish or donate money towards buying a tray of catered food (like one of those 6-foot subs, trays of chicken wings, etc.). But we had a guy who was a free food vulture and massive cheapskate despite not having any spouse or kids and having quite the hefty retirement fund. Back when we used to have parties celebrating a marriage or a new baby, my coworkers and I would take wagers on how many slices of cake this guy would eat.

Anyway, he retired but *just happened* to show up to visit on the day of the annual luncheon. As everyone who had cooked/paid lined up to grab food, this dude LOUDLY exclaims how he didn’t bring any food or pay any money, but jumps in line with everyone else and helps himself to multiple overflowing plates of food. And then the next day, when the leftovers were put out, this jerk (reminder, he’s retired and doesn’t work here anymore!) comes back with bags. He packed up 3-4 grocery paper bags full of even more food! I made sure I was within earshot and loudly exclaimed to my coworkers just how obnoxious this move was by someone who contributed nothing. I never saw him again on potluck day after that year (I always made something for that event so I attended every year) or he got really good at avoiding me … pretty sure it was the former, not the latter lol.

9. The lock

Old Office would order huge lunches with the intent that the leftovers could come out the next day for a second lunch. It was usually Mexican food, salads, sandwiches, or pasta: all items that were equally good the next day.

But then people began going into the fridge and taking all the leftovers. I’m talking trays of food disappearing. Notices went out to stop taking trays of food out of the fridge.

Then trays of food for future meetings were being stolen. Cakes, fruit trays, desert platters that were intended for meetings the next day were vanishing.

They put a lock on the fridge. Lock was shattered the first night it was on the fridge.

The office had cameras that looked into the area with the catering fridge, but HR didn’t want the awkwardness of confronting food thieves. So they accepted that food goblins would take anything left overnight.

10. The folder

I used to work in an office where most of the staff were in one room and the senior staff were down the hall in individual offices. When people brought in snacks or baked goods they were often left on a free desk and people were free to take what they liked. One of the senior guys would always show up shortly after the goods were put out. He’d come in with a document in his hand looking for a member of the team to discuss it with, he was always looking for the person who wasn’t in that day. He would then notice the items and take something. One time he left the document behind and we realized it was a folder just full of blank pieces of paper. No idea why he created this little charade, there was no problem with him taking something and many other staff did just drop by take something and leave. Always found it slightly funny.

11. The Wanted poster

I saw a team of engineers create a Wanted poster with the picture of an engineer from another department to ban him from their Friday donut potluck due to excessive pilfering of their hoard.

{ 311 comments… read them below }

  1. MicroManagered*

    And not just a couple of chips off of someone’s plate

    I love that OP1 said it this way, like taking a couple chips off a coworker’s plate would be ok LOL

    It’s like, how I know this actually happened.

    1. KatEnigma*

      Like it’s a middle school cafeteria where you know someone is going to steal a couple fries and it’s just accepted…. Or the recent McDonald’s commercial (college?) where McDonald’s wants you to spend more money with the for backup nuggets…

      1. MicroManagered*

        Yes and the fact that OP1 put it in those terms… you can tell conversations were had with coworkers where people said these words LOL

      2. nobadcats*

        One of my friends in high school used to whip out her retainer and toss it on top of her fries. This stopped the casual grazer in their tracks.

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

          Absolute queen energy, I hope she’s thriving wherever she is!

        2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Family story, but first, longish BG: my mom was 4 years old when her hometown was attacked during WWII. It was the first day Home Country was attacked and no one was ready. Mom and her 6yo sister were in all-week daycare somewhere at a summer location out of town, there was no way to find everyone’s parents quickly enough, so the daycare staff loaded all kids into pickup trucks and drove them out east asap. No email no cell phones, no landline, so at the end it took my grandma a full year to find them. During that year, they lived in an orphanage in the Eastern town they’d been evacuated to.

          Now to the story. Mom used to tell us how, at meal times, they’d seat all the kids at communal tables and put a plate of food in front of each, and as soon as the plate would touch the table, every kid would stick their finger up their nose and then into their food – to ensure that none of the other kids would try to eat off their plate.

          1. Random Dice*

            Oh no. A full YEAR not knowing where your 4 and 6 year olds were. That makes my heart hurt just hearing about.

            1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

              It was a crazy time. We’re all traumatised by covid but back then everyone was traumatised by full-on world war with no place to escape. Not a single person on the planet was unaffected by that.

          2. H3llifIknow*

            Several of us were at a bar with our various drinks. One guy had ordered a small pitcher of beer for himself. One of the first things he did was to take a mouthful swish it and spit it back in the pitcher so nobody else could/would ask for any. He just shrugged like “hey it’s my own mouth, what do I care?”

    2. RVA Cat*

      OP1 was far more mature about standing up to him directly, instead of say trying to ambush him with something super spicy like the lunch thief fiasco.

      1. Katydid*

        Yes. If this had happened in my sibling’s workplace, they would have had a delicious-looking booby-trapped treat waiting for the boss every day. (How do I know? Because they did this to a food-moocher in high school, with results my sibling enjoyed very much.)

        Me, I’d have found somewhere else to eat, if at all possible. Cafeterias are usually too noisy for me, anyway!

  2. The Meat Embezzler*

    Oh wow, #11 is so good. I can only imagine the level of disgust before the wanted poster was made!

    1. KatEnigma*

      HR was the one stealing the food. Or someone sleeping with an HR high up. Guaranteed.

      1. cabbagepants*

        yeah this totally means it was either HR themselves or someone HR wanted to protect/enable for some reason.

      2. Lenora Rose*

        If it weren’t for the stolen spicy food tale where this was ACTUALLY the case, I’d say “someone sleeping with HR” was far fetched at best…

        But unless your HR is a department of one or an orgy, this is just indefensible. Actually illegal activity is being deemed “not worth firing over”.

    2. 2 Cents*

      Or it was the Untouchable VP of Something that they couldn’t confront. Just ridiculous.

    3. OP#9*

      We know it was someone on the overnight shift, regular staff, not management or anything. HR really just didn’t want to handle it.
      An expensive piece of equipment was stolen years prior and the culprit was seen on camera going into the room with tools to remove the equipment in the middle of the night. The culprit’s security was used to enter the building and no other personnel were in the building. But because HR didn’t see the thief exit the building with the equipment (no cameras at one door), they decided they couldn’t prove anything. The thief was never even confronted.
      It was a bizarre HR dept.

      1. Daisy-dog*

        They must have been sued somewhere else or have an unnatural fear of being sued.

      2. Coder von Frankenstein*

        Wow. That’s… I can’t even. Just wow.

        I don’t understand how the higher-ups would let that slide, regardless of what HR said. That’s not “HR calls you in to explain yourself” territory, that’s “cops and courtrooms” territory.

  3. sushiroll*

    OK these are all baffling but #9… someone BROKE A LOCK to STEAL? After they were told please stop stealing? And they were just like oh well? Insanity.

    1. NameRequired*

      “They put a lock on the fridge. Lock was shattered the first night it was on the fridge.”


    2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      Yea, your choices there are either terminate the “goblins” or just stop catering. Shattered a lock? *facepalm*

      1. Worldwalker*

        That should be an instant firing offense. Do not pass go, do not collect severance.

        There might be some level of plausible deniability for stealing food from the fridge, however farfetched, but breaking a lock to get in is another matter entirely. That’s knowingly stealing from the company and/or co-workers, and destroying company property to do it. You do not want someone with that level of ethics working for your company; they’re a disaster (or a front-page news story) waiting to happen.

        1. RoseGarden*

          That’s what I was thinking. What’s to say they would not go smashing locks to find information they are not supposed to have.

          1. Observer*

            Well, one would HOPE that they smash locks in that case. At least then you have a clue that you’re info security has been breached. Otherwise? Shudder!

        2. ferrina*

          Right?! Willful destruction of company property – whoever shattered that lock should definitely be fired! That’s madness, and not the good kind!

    3. All Het Up About It*

      I was looking for this story since it was teased on part 1, but wasn’t included there….

      It delivered above and beyond! Like – you have cameras, but are not going to use them to approach the people who are STEALING (if the leftovers are a gray area, the event foods 100% are not) and DESTROYING PROPERTY.

      Was it real gremlins and people were like, I don’t get paid enough to deal with magical creatures? Or was it the CEO who’s daughter made him stop stealing food in the cafeteria, so he resorted to stealing it from a fridge?

      Like what is even going ON?!?!

    4. mlem*

      My only thought — and it’s out there — is that the HR staff felt physically unsafe confronting the lock smasher.

    5. Phony Genius*

      I can kinda-sorta get how HR would feel it’s awkward or petty to confront someone stealing communal food. But it should not be awkward to confront someone for breaking a lock inside the workplace.

    6. Observer*


      I just can’t wrap my had around that one. And while the speculation whether there are some relationships going on makes sense, it STILL is just . . . what?!?!?

  4. Kermit's Bookkeepers*

    This is how I know I’d be a terrible HR employee. If there were a food-theft situation, and we had a camera pointing at the kitchen entrance, I would not only make it my personal mission to have that person disciplined but would be sorely tempted to secretly “leak” the video to the rest of the company. There are few hills upon which I will not die.

    1. Interesting…*

      I’d feel it was necessary to have an all-company meeting one morning after a theft to air the video footage.
      I’d probably even break out the popcorn machine.

      1. Jam on Toast*

        Given how many ‘accidentally screened an inappropriate video’ letters get posted to the site, I’d aim for plausible deniability. Is HR hosting an all hands meeting? Well, gosh, it’s just so easy to switch to the wrong window when switching between presenteres. And if you just happened to be reviewing the video that showed the fridge thief mid-smash before the meeting started, who could blame you if you accidentally broadcast the video to the entire meeting. Oh my, I apologize…let me just…fumble…fumble…while the whole company gets a nice, long HD look :)

  5. CatCat*

    Eventually, his daughter (who was a VP at the company) found out what he was doing and apparently ripped him a new one, and he stopped. Then she bought lunch for the entire company.

    That was very satisfying.

    1. Corporate Lawyer*

      I stood up and cheered for the daughter. (In my head, that is. Not literally.)

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      It was, but it in no way makes up for the amount of food he managed to steal over time.

    3. Dust Bunny*


      You know this woman has had a lifetime of him doing mortifying, cheap stuff.

      1. ferrina*

        Oh, I cringed so hard for this woman. Glad she taught him the error of his ways.

      2. Random Dice*

        I don’t think it’s about him being cheap, I think it’s about him loving to be able to wield power over lesser people.

        Nobody is that cheap. It’s so blatantly an ugly power move.

        1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

          People are that cheap. Last century, our landlady crossed the city to show us a photocopy of an article explaining that if we wanted a receipt to show we’d paid our rent we had to provide her with a stamped addressed envelope. She wasn’t going to mail us a photocopy of the photocopy, that would have cost a franc or two.

    4. TheGreatPunkin*

      I wonder if she found out because he ranted to her “how dare these employees stop letting me take their food” and she was like “umm you’re doing what now?”

    5. sharrpie*

      Right? I can somewhat understand if he was taking food directly from the containers, but to take stuff off of people’s plates????? That’s a whole other level of ballsy and rude.


    6. goddessoftransitory*

      Good for her! I am so glad she put a stop to that ongoing theft (because that was what it was, b a man who knew good and well his power over the employees meant they couldn’t say anything as he TOOK THEIR FOOD. And ATE IT IN FRONT OF THEM.

      The man was a human seagull.

      1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        My boss at my first full-time job would steal apples from my drawer. His excuse was that he needed sugar because of his diabetes. I told him to buy his own.
        This is also the guy I slapped in the face when he started pawing me once late at night. My little me too moment, which I had completely forgotten about. I’m pleased I was willing to stand up for myself and never mind the consequences.

    7. Energiser Bunny*

      I find it difficult to believe that the daughter did not know about this behaviour. Was there no-one in the company that wasn’t brave or ethical enough to bring it up (I’m talking about all levels of management here and HR)?

      1. Phryne*

        I can easily imagine a situation where everyone assumes she knows. And if she knows and does not address it, apparently it is fine with her so no use in bringing it up. But of course he never does it in front of her, so she does not know…

    8. H3llifIknow*

      Yes! I just hope she did it a few times since it sounds like this had been going on for a while. Also, though, I’m wondering if dear ol’ Dad has some cognitive disorder, etc… because I remember when my Aunt started going downhill, she could NOT control her food urges. My Uncle literally had to lock the fridge and cabinets… she’d just keep eating anything that she saw.

  6. SereneScientist*

    Man, I know these stories are primarily intended to be entertaining but I find the behavior in #1 especially fascinating. There seems to be a particular kind of avarice among the wealthy of never being satisfied and always need to accumulate more and more–but literally taking food from your employees? Really makes you wonder what’s going on inside his head in those moments.

    1. Twenty Points for the Copier*

      I assume people like this think they are rich and got where they did BECAUSE of their cheapskate ways and not the other way around (that nobody can stop them from being obnoxious due to their prestige). Thus, not only can anyone be rich if they do the same thing but if they let down their guard and spend money they could lose what they have accumulated.

      1. New Jack Karyn*

        I love that his own daughter did not buy into this. ” . . . he’s doing WHAT now?!”

        1. pope suburban*

          I mean, you never *hope* for someone to be experiencing some kind of factual cognitive decline, but this situation…that’s about the least evil option, though of course I’d feel bad for the man and his family should it have been the case.

          But probably not, though, people who are terrible don’t really require some kind of medical problem and anyway, those so afflicted are a minority by the numbers, if the number of people being terrible I see is any indicator. Some people are just gonna be jerks because they’re jerks.

          1. New Jack Karyn*

            I think no (not cognitive decline), because he stopped after being read out for it by his daughter. Otherwise, his impulse control would still be lacking in this area and he’d start doing it again very quickly.

      2. marvin*

        I think it’s kind of a feedback loop. The kind of people who are most likely to accumulate a lot of wealth for themselves probably do overlap with the kind of people who enjoy taking things from others in a petty way. And then the more wealth and power you get, the more opportunities to get away with this kind of thing. It really gets to the core of how these hierarchies operate.

      3. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        yes it’s the “take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves” mindset.

    2. All Het Up About It*

      This story coming after the Household manager interview was really fitting in my opinion.

    3. what the nope*

      Avarice, but also the feeling of ownership of all these humans. They (and their lunches) belong to him.

    4. hbc*

      In his mind, the food is bought with the money he gives them, so it’s his food too. There may be additional mental justification that they steal some of their salary by leaving at 4:55 sometimes or checking Instagram or leaning when they could be cleaning, so he’s just making things even.

      1. There You Are*

        I worked for a software company once where the president of the company demanded that all the sales people and engineers (who traveled to customer sites) turn over their flight mileage points to him because, “If it weren’t for me and this company, you wouldn’t be taking those flights and earning those points.” And then he’d use the points to take his kids or his mistress on cruises.

        Super duper peach of a human being.

    5. Michelle Smith*

      I was scrolling looking for this observation. There is a huge pattern in these stories of bosses and wealthy executives taking advantage of the free food in such an over the top way. It’s really disturbing, because it betrays an entitlement mindset that you really don’t want the people in leadership to have.

      1. SereneScientist*

        It’s true! And #1 reminded me of an op-doc that NYT did on a top (at the time) real estate speculator and “guru” in China through the lens of a young magazine report writing a profile on him. About 2/3 of the way through the doc, he takes the young writer to the housing tenement where he and his family lived–they crowded into a 4 room apt that they shared with two other families. He seemed almost wistful looking at the place, but it gave some interesting context to his earlier comments about feeling like he was not rich enough–it seemed to be a void that could never be filled after a childhood of poverty like that. It’s not an excuse nor a reason to be greedy, but it is interesting insight and context.

    6. Jaybeetee*

      There is an adage about how “rich people don’t get rich by giving their money away”, which seems intended to explain (but perhaps not excuse) a certain stinginess found in certain wealthy people.

      That said, literally taking people’s food off their plates is a whole other level. It would actually make more sense to me if he was catastrophically out of touch with his employees’ financial realities and not necessarily realizing that this wasn’t like swiping some of your friend’s fries at a fast food place or whatever.

      Or, you know. Maybe he was just an ahole.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Or, more simply, as I told a friend when locking the car door in a vacation spot frequented by the wealthy, “You can’t trust rich people.”

    7. Csethiro Ceredin*

      I thought of Mr. Burns taking candy from a baby (which didn’t go well for him, ultimately).

  7. Persephone Mongoose is back*

    For my last few years there, my boss had a candy bowl on her desk. Three of us (her, myself, and one other coworker) bought candy for it when it went on sale after each holiday. We had a drawer in her 42″ lateral file cabinet that was full of bags of candy. Everyone respected it. They took a bit. Nobody hoarded. Nobody stole. Current job is same. When there are leftovers from corp catering, they get put in the kitchen on that floor for all to take. People take a bit. No hoarding. No taking the entire tray of sandwiches. Nothing. Now I feel I’ve been cheated of oodles of drama and I demand that my coworkers start behaving badly about free food in the office!!!

    1. workswitholdstuff*

      Quite. Drama over other things, but thankfully not food.

      (case in point – I’ve just come from an event at a site where there’d been an earlier catered event for volunteers. oodles of leftovers, so staff all invited to partake, and leftovers then offered to bulk out the catering offering for the event I was supporting (I am full of cake now…) and we’ve even ferried food to other sites if there’s masses left over and an event the next day – and we *always* make sure our Front of House team get a chance to help themselves…

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I’m baking Husband’s birthday confection as we speak and am very much looking forward to being full of cake!

    2. Dust Bunny*

      Same at my job. It’s just . . . not a thing.

      Most of our events are short, low-key, and during lunch time, and the leftovers get put in the fridge for the evening maintenance crew (who aren’t even technically employed by my organization, but by the bigger organization that owns our building). And day people deliberately leave food for them.

    3. PeterM*

      Years and years ago my wife’s boss had a candy bowl on her desk that was mostly meant for her own people but was free to all. Boss had a small private office and during a closed door meeting with a couple of employees a woman who worked in a different department opened the door, pushed through the occupied chairs that impeded the path to the desk, took a piece of candy, then left. In her defense, I believe she closed the door behind herself.

    4. Richard Hershberger*

      Candy hording and the like is not the norm. That’s why this stuff becomes stories to be passed around, and not simply background noise. The interesting question is what was the path of dysfunction that led to candy hording? My guess is it starts with one person and spreads, as others see (a) that otherwise that one guy will get everything; and (b) that there is no consequence for this behavior. Breaking the lock on the refrigerator is the logical extension.

      1. marvin*

        This kind of phenomenon is so interesting to me because it’s about something clearly frivolous and non-essential (candy) but it seems to activate all kinds of weird scarcity and competition responses in people.

        1. Quill*

          High sugar and high fat foods were evolutionarily important, not in keeping us fed but in being a resource goldmine, and candy (and cookies, cake, doughnuts…) represents such a high sugar content that I think our monkey brains short out.

          1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

            For gatherers, the only source of sugar was in fruit, which is a good source of vitamins. So craving fruit leads to a pretty good diet. Trouble is we separated the sugar and the vitamins. Sweets still are mostly in fruity colours.

      2. ferrina*

        Food is definitely an example of how one weird workplace can warp norms. Plenty of workplaces are totally fine and normal. But then one person comes in with bad behavior, and sometimes it stays isolated, but sometimes it spreads into counter behavior, or bad actors egging each other on (i.e. #3)

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        Pretty much the literal definition of “monkey see, monkey do,” for sure.

    5. Observer*

      Now I feel I’ve been cheated of oodles of drama and I demand that my coworkers start behaving badly about free food in the office!!!

      Be careful what you wish for! :)

      There is a reason I wish people that certain activities are “boring”. Because you do NOT want *live* through these highly entertaining stories….

      I am SOOO grateful that the most exciting thing about food events at my employer is that I don ‘t know in advance who is catering the lunch.

    6. Zombeyonce*

      I had a candy bowl at a job for several years and the most dramatic thing that ever happened with it was when someone would notice it was empty and apologetically ask me if it was going to be refilled anytime soon.

    7. Flowers*

      Our admin stocks the drawers with candy and gum. Never heard of any one complaining.
      We frequently have catered lunches, and leftovers have never been stolen.

      People also bring their own treats in, like leftover birthday cake or something and clients send us stuff too on occasion. In both cases, everything is left on the table in the kitchen which is in full view of everyone. No stampedes, no drama, just some harmless conversation.

      Personally, I’ve brought in candy many times just because I’ll see a new or unique flavor at the store, want to try it but not eat the full bag, and leave it out there on the table. N o complaints or drama either.

    8. Cyborg Llama Horde*

      Yeah, my last job had a candy bowl at reception for years (with legit good chocolate, too), and leftover food was frequently left in the kitchens, and I was never aware of any bad behavior around candy or leftovers. I won’t say that stealing peoples’ individual food from the fridges was never a problem, but it certainly wasn’t a pervasive one. And we were a COWORKING SPACE with dozens or hundreds of companies sharing those kitchens.

      1. SF2K01*

        I ran the candy stash at my office, but it was a can of bean boozled every flavor jelly beans. No matter what they took (or if they were too scared to take), it was exceedingly entertaining to watch.

  8. Qwerty*

    My worst one was a boss who passive aggressively tried to kill me with shellfish.

    I have a shellfish allergy– relatively mild, I don’t carry an epi pen or anything, but annoying none the less. My toxic boss would cycle through employees to be ‘the Problem’. Whoever was The Problem would be shunned, blamed, shamed, the works. This is a boss who once gave me a sign for my desk that said “what’s the point” to remind me not to be pointless, so yeah, not a great place.

    However, boss also liked to keep up the appearance that she was a great boss. To do that, she’d randomly order lunch for the office, host happy hours at the end of the day, etc. Each time she was planning one of these, she’d send an email invitation around to all 10 of us who worked there. The first few times I replied back that I had an allergy to shellfish. And yet, each time– there was shellfish, involved, cross contaminating. I’m not talking one shrimp dish separate from the rest: it was a component of the main event. She always ‘forgot’ but as this kept happening, the shellfish got less and less obvious– and harder to avoid. The last straw was a pizza lunch she ordered where she’d added tiny baby shrimp to the pizza– they looked like little pieces of sausage, and it wasn’t marked in anyway. Nor did I assume it was shrimp because who puts shrimp on a pizza? I got two bites in before my throat started to close.

        1. pope suburban*

          I agree, this is serious. Like, I’m pondering the wisdom of involving some kind of law enforcement kind of serious. Especially because as I understand, allergies can get worse over time, and more or less out of nowhere. Just because someone has not yet needed an Epi Pen doesn’t mean they they never will. Holy cats, this one is unsettling.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            They absolutely can, and repeated exposures (not the monitored kind with peanut allergy dial-downs, but random stuff like this) are a big factor in that!

        2. Silver Robin*

          +1 the fact that she *hid* it feels like some kind of assault at least. If literally nothing else, this should be something to take up with HR.

          1. Qwerty*

            Yeah, you know all those times Alison has talked about how awful workplaces skew your view of what is normal? THANKS GUYS. I left soon after that incident, and have not looked back! Since leaving, I’ve spoken a lot more with other former employees and figured out her pattern: she would get it in her head that someone was The Problem enough she needed cause to fire them, or better yet, make them quit. She also likes to keep people so off kilter you start to believe that you aren’t that good at your job so you don’t expect raises etc. It was like getting pecked to death by ducks.

            I don’t actually think she’d thought the health consequences all the way through, it was just a weak point of mine she could push. Her goal was to have me sit uncomfortably not eating through lunch with everyone else– or have to be unreliable and take the afternoon off in a benadryl haze. She pulled similar shit with vegan employees too. ALSO: we did not have HR. Very small company, we had an accountant who handled the books, that was that.

            1. FrivYeti*


              Until you said that, I assumed that she was one of those awful people who think that allergies aren’t “real”, and if you can trick someone into eating the food they’re allergic to and they don’t immediately react you get to prove to them that they’re doing it for attention or something. You get a *lot* of those cropping up in various AITA posts with awful, overbearing family members.

              But somehow, your clarifications made it that much worse!

            2. Silver Robin*

              Very glad you are out!!! Sucks that there was no good recourse. Those kinds of people are just awful.

            3. ferrina*

              Unfortunately I’ve met people like this. Literally nothing you can do to stop them. So, so glad you are out!! This is absolutely bonkers!

            4. goddessoftransitory*

              So, what was she planning on telling the cops if you keeled over? “Whoops, I just didn’t think it all the way through–she was just on this month’s shit list and I was trying to get her to quit?”

            5. Romeo loves Sadie*

              Did we work together 5 years ago? This sounds so much like my old boss. Glad we both got out!

              1. Onestarawake*

                I was just about to say the same thing! If it wasn’t for the fact that my ex-job didn’t have an accountant on staff, I’d think we were all coworkers, but now my mind is boggling because there’s apparently *three* of these pieces of work out there…

                1. Denver Gutierrez*

                  Make that four. Years ago, I worked with a guy who was like that. He would never go as far as feeding someone something they were allergic to, but he was very much a bully who would choose one person to be the scapegoat. One minute you could be the workplace darling, the next you could do no right. His wife worked there parttime and she was not much better. Most toxic place I ever worked and the only one I ever quit without doing the 2 week notice. It was *that* bad.

        3. Dust Bunny*

          Uh, she *hid* it?

          She only got away with this because you’re not as desperately allergic as you could have been.

        4. goddessoftransitory*

          Or at least reckless endangerment! But frankly leaning towards murder!

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      Nor did I assume it was shrimp because who puts shrimp on a pizza?

      We used to have a restaurant nearby that served a pizza alba to die for, which had a white sauce, broccoli, and popcorn/salad sized shrimp on it, baked on a wood fired grill. So it’s not quite completely unheard of.

      The rest of the story is guano crazy and bad. My family treated my mushroom allergy the same way for years, and I agree with Mandie; if not attempted murder, at least a defacto assault.

      1. LunaLena*

        Yeah, there’s a pizza chain in California called Round Table Pizza that used to do a pizza with baby shrimp on it (apparently they don’t do that one any more, I checked). I had it a few times 20+ years ago when I lived there and it was actually quite tasty.

        There seems to be a whole subset of humans who think that they were put on this planet to test other people’s food allergies and aversions, with the sole purpose of proving that it’s made up and/or not so bad. I really don’t understand it either.

      2. hbc*

        Yeah, shrimp scampi pizza might be my last meal on death row, and I order it whenever I can find it. But as a surprise tucked into a bunch of chain pizzeria cheeses, pepperonis, and meat lovers? Not expected and not good, before you get into the whole “someone’s body treats this as poison” thing.

      3. yala*

        I live in Louisiana and there’s a local restaurant that does a crab meat pizza. I think they probably have a shrimp one as well, but the crab pizza is the only one I consistently like.

      4. St. Mary’s Institute of Historical Research*

        I’m from New England and seafood pizza is a fairly common thing up here. Shrimp and clams on a white pizza, mostly. Sometimes with bacon.

    2. Dover*

      What pizza place even has that as an option? I Something Searched it and apparently it’s a thing (because of course it is), but definitely not something I’d ever heard of. Also, it seems to be regular-sized shrimp; who would want a krill pizza?

      1. Nina*

        I’m in New Zealand, so we’re weird, but it’s quite common here. Usually in combination with spinach or chili. I just checked the menu for my local place and it has seven options involving shrimp/prawns.

    3. ScruffyInternHerder*

      Hi. This is all said with great care for you, Qwerty…and I am absolutely horrified that your boss basically was committing a poisoning offense against you, at best.

      On the topic of “mild”…there’s no such thing as a mild food allergy, as evidenced by your statement of “my throat started to close”. That’s a point blank symptom of anaphylaxis, for which the treatment is epinephrine.

      Please be continue to be cautious, and please consider talking to your doctor about getting an epi pen or similar, because it is truly better to have one and never need one.

      1. Observer*

        Not necessarily. Sure it happens with anaphylaxis, but also with other reactions

        Benadryl or other OTC meds can be effective enough, depending on the person. Obviously some people need to have the epi pen, and I am absolutely NOT suggesting that the OP not get one. I’m just saying that I believe that they probably know what their options are and what’s likely to work best for them.

    4. Kermit's Bookkeepers*

      Do you think she might have been one of those people who don’t believe allergies are real? I’m reminded of a Dear Prudence letter where the letter writer’s mother-in-law kept trying to secretly feed her mushrooms (to which LW was deathly allergic) to try to, like, catch her being wrong about having an allergy.

            1. Random Dice*

              They secretly added mushroom powder to the mashed potatoes so she’d die. Those are deeply evil psychopaths. I’m so glad her husband chose her over those murderers.

        1. yala*

          Holy CRAP that is messed up. I mean, it was bad before, but her husband’s reaction to finding out the truth (or being confronted with her knowing the truth) is horrible. Glad she got out.

        2. La Triviata*

          My mind went to the poisoning mother in law. My mother was horribly allergic to shrimp and I remember once, when I was young, we went to visit an aunt and uncle. My aunt, who’d never liked my mother, served shrimp as the main dish one evening. I could eat it – and remember it as tasty – but my mother couldn’t.

          And, as to shrimp on pizza, my freshman year at college, one of the girls in my dorm had a boyfriend back home (most of the way across the country) who sent her a shrimp pizza. It was inedible by the time it arrived, but she appreciated the thought.

        3. Kermit's Bookkeepers*

          I think it was this “Ask Polly” that I was thinking of:

          This story doesn’t contain the element that the inlaws admitted to trying to test the allergy, and I may be remembering that from this similar Carolyn Hax letter:

          Tl;dr — inlaws poisoning people is apparently a common theme.

      1. MelMc*

        I had one of those at work. I have asthma and lilac is a particularly strong trigger. I was on a committee planning a formal event at work and, it being lilac season, I requested to not use lilacs even though they were the least expensive option. The allergy-tester FILLED the room with lilacs. They got to have their event to the smell of lilacs and vomit because my asthma attack was bad enough to cause vomiting. But that was just a coincidence, not proof of scent-triggered asthma.

      2. Uranus Wars*

        My mom was like this with my ex. She would tell us there was no milk in something and then he’d start coughing and clearing his through and she’d be all like “well my friends daughter can eat it cooked/baked into things”…well, he can’t, MOM. He finally stopped eating anything that even remotely could have dairy in it after the 3rd or 4th time.

        1. ferrina*

          The active lying gets me. “Well, I knew you wouldn’t eat it if I told you the truth, so I lied so you would eat something that you’ve informed me will make you sick.”
          It’s like…..the food assault was bad enough, but you had to put some manipulation sauce on it?

    5. Marlon Oil*

      This is textbook attempted murder and while I totally understand why someone would be too afraid to report it, she should be in prison.

    6. death by shrimp*

      such a common behaviour for people in certain diagnoses to disbelieve allergies as something people would do for attention.. because it’s what THEY would do to get attention. I disclosed a food allergy (also shrimp) to my in-laws only to find that every meal henceforth would contain that fairly random ingredient in every dish (down to the sauces). This escalated to going out for chinese (family style) and MIL ordered only items that have that item even if alternatives were available . For example there was chicken, beef and tofu chow mein, lets sub that out for shrimp, which isn’t even an option etc.

      I got irritated and ordered a chicken dish on the side explicitly stating my shrimp allergy to the waiter to avoid cross contamination. The chicken dish arrived and my MIL grabbed it immediately practically out of my hands (reaching over 3 people to do so) and passed it down the family away from me, even though I and my husband protested. Then SIL dumped the remainder of the dish onto her plate and went “whoops, none left, ha ha” .

      We got up and left and thus kicked off the great no-contact with the in-laws drama which has held for 10+ years (there were other mitigating factors as well but that was the last straw). Since then I’ve learned that behaviour is extremely common with certain abusive personalities.

      1. Cheshire Cat*

        whoa, your in-laws included 2 evil people? I’m glad your husband stood up for you, and that you stayed safe!

  9. OrigCassandra*

    My shop actually has trouble getting through leftovers from some events (typically student orientations) in a suitable amount of time.

    I have to think we’re blessed, in a weird way!

    1. EPLawayer*

      wait you have leftovers from STUDENT events??? In what mystical alternative universe do you reside?

      1. Silver Robin*

        Ones where the students are ushered out to the next event reasonably quickly and the students might not realize just how much food they are socially allowed to take, like at orientations. Once they get the hang of it, they know better than to leave anything! XD

        1. OrigCassandra*

          Yeah, I definitely think that’s part of it — at orientations, they’re being On Their Best Behavior. Plus, orientations happen before the academic term starts, so continuing students mostly haven’t arrived yet; it’s definitely a different story other times of year.

        2. Mallory Janis Ian*

          New student orientations are great for this! Many of them are there with their parents, and they are on a schedule where they’re ushered to the next event immediately after lunch, and then the student advising staff announces that the buffet is open for leftovers — every day for several weeks in the summer! The meals are catered by the campus cafeteria, and there is a daily theme (“Italian” with lasagna, tortellini, salad, etc. and “Picnic” with hamburgers, hotdogs, potato salad, etc. are the favorites).

      2. Kevin Sours*

        Locusts look at students and say “whoa dude, don’t you think that’s a little much?”

        1. Julia*

          Seriously! Especially grad students. I’m very sympathetic to broke students wanting free food, but having to stand at the back to monitor them was exhausting.

          1. Quill*

            When I worked at a university, the janitors used to seek out grad students to accompany them on their event leftover raids. There was some requirement that once they started cleaning up it had to be trashed, but if the grad students descended…

  10. h*

    I’m reminded of the Conan remote where they find out that there’s a secret “foodie” e-mail list with an exclusive group who are notified of free food before the rest of the staff and Conan sets up a sting operation to catch them.

    1. JBean*

      Haven’t seen that, but would love to! I used to work in office services for a large company setting up catering, and the people who were nicest for us/went out of their way to appreciate us got a Teams message about any food leftover before the announcement went out to everyone.

  11. ButWhythen*

    I absolutely love this series, but I gotta say it blows my mind how few people speak up or get any consequences for what is objectively offensive and absolutely bonkers behavior by allegedly professional adults. Interns or jr staff would be one thing, but these stories are almost always senior staff. How are they not embarrassed? I can’t believe how common this apparently is. I’ve never experienced the food hoarding or stealing at any workplace, more the opposite, when too much food has been ordered and they are begging staff to take it home.

    1. pope suburban*

      They’re used to being able to do what they please, I think, and the kind of person who will act out in that way is probably not someone with the integrity not to harm the career of an employee who speaks up. I get it, I’ve been on the short end of that stick my entire working life. You know it’s wrong, but is it *so* wrong that you want to risk losing your job over it? The power imbalance in our working culture is terrible and I do hope that everyone’s sustained efforts can change it for the better.

    2. Alan*

      Not sure if this helps, but there was just a guy where I work who stole food from the cafeteria. Just grabbed food, walked out and started eating. When confronted by the cafeteria workers he got huffy and said that he would pay for it after he finished eating, then he bolted. This very well-paid engineer lost his job over this. They made him pay for the food then terminated him. Not sure what was going through his mind. A ton of people saw him do it. He wasn’t going to get away with it. Temporary insanity I guess.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        That is one of the most poorly thought- out dine & dashes ever. My understanding (I pay for my meals) is a key element is that nobody should be able to identify you.

    3. ferrina*

      Sometimes the person doing the action is already wearing some bananapants and matching bananahat, so when they do something that has minimal consequences, you wonder if it’s worth it to confront them on be on the receiving end of their bananawrath. Unreasonable people often rely on reasonable people to not break social niceties or “be rude” (because pointing out what they just did is clearly the height of rudeness /s).

      Alan’s story does help restore my faith!

    4. NotAnotherManager!*

      Yeah, the retiree coming back two days in a row with grocery bags would have been a hard stop for me. I would not have been able to stop myself from telling him that the potluck was for current employees and he needed to leave. The grocery bag thing, just no. I don’t care if you’re a current or former employee, unless you’re packing up your own casserole dish, that’s not okay.

  12. Spectre*

    #6 – I imagine some evil Bond-style villain gathering where their “meeting” is really to watch the employees trying to sneak in and then pushing buttons to drop them into a hidden pool or something.

  13. Spicy Tuna*

    #1 reminded me of a job a had while I was in college in the office of a family run tool factory. I was dealing with a medical condition and had to eat small things every few hours. I would bring little snacks, like cut up fruit, or baggies of pretzels. One of the owners would help himself to my food constantly. He once took an apple slice out of my hand when it was en route to my mouth! He was big bully and the other adult kids and his dad were intimidated by him (his mother was not, however). His sister helpfully suggested I just bring in the whole apple and not cut it up so he couldn’t “share” it with me, but it was easier to eat the slices than crunch into an apple, especially as the office had no cubes so I was right on top of my coworkers.

    Conversely, I had a job where the manager of our group was always on a diet and would only drink black coffee all day (and was always in a horrible mood). He would routinely schedule meetings during lunch to avoid the temptation of eating (we were not allowed to bring our lunches to these meetings). We complained and his boss made him order food if he was going to schedule meetings during lunch. So the next time we had a lunch meeting, he ordered ONE pizza for 10 people!! We each got half a slice!

    1. goddessoftransitory*


      I wouldn’t do that to my actual husband or sister, or only if I knew it had been laced with cyanide and I was saving their life. Taking SOMEONE’S FOOD FROM THEIR HAND???

  14. Yvette*

    Do you think he grew up dirt poor and food insecure and it made him that way or was it just a power trip? I think power trip.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Power trip.

      Also, even if he did grow up food insecure he isn’t now and it’s not fair for him to take out his emotional baggage on his employees.

    2. Unkempt Flatware*

      Power Trip! Poor people who grew up food insecure don’t brazenly take food off others’ plates.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        Oh lord, this. If anything, you eat a little less so you can make sure everybody has something to eat, even if it means nobody really gets enough.

    3. OP#1*

      I’m OP#1 and can confirm he didn’t grow up food insecure. He inherited our company from his wealthy father.

      1. Kermit's Bookkeepers*

        I have a headcanon that he’s been stealing food from people’s plates since he was young enough for it to be adorable, and no one ever told him when he was supposed to grow out of it.

      2. Tangerina Warbleworth*

        ….. which says to me that he learned it from seeing his own father do it.

    4. I should really pick a name*

      I’ve never actually heard of food insecure people acting this way, so I’m not sure why this is suggested so commonly. This behaviour seems way more common among senior, more highly paid employees.

      1. Kara*

        I think it’s because people would often prefer to assume the best of someone, and food insecurity at least gives a sympathetic reason why someone might participate in a jerk behavior. It’s still not great, but at least you could see why someone might do it. (Also, dogs and cats from food insecure situations -do- generally go nuts for food even if they’ve been in a secure situation for literal years. It’s logical to extrapolate that humans might do the same; if you haven’t knowingly run into someone in that situation and had a chance to see how they behaved.)

        1. I should really pick a name*

          I realize it’s not the intention, but it always feels a bit like “blame the poor people”

        2. Dust Bunny*

          Eh, my cats are very food-secure and the older one in particular will raid the garbage like every raccoon in history if there are choice scraps. Some individuals are just like that.

    5. Ellis Bell*

      I’ve always assumed that this stuff is pulled by super rich kids who grew up with a servant and platter always nearby.

    6. Pogo*

      This is kind of insulting to those who grew up food insecure. We know not to steal food thanks,

    7. NotAnotherManager!*

      That sort of person simply does not think the rules apply to them and likely has not hear the word “no” in quite some time. Likely he simply doesn’t see the employees as actual people, just placeholders there to serve his needs.

  15. Let's not name names*

    I once worked in a gallery whose owner seemed to take The Devil Wears Prada as management training. His favorite game was a kitchen cat and mouse he’d inflict on most new hires. There you’d be, sitting in the kitchen, scarfing down whatever cheap lunch option your paltry gallery assistant salary would afford you, and could be procured in close proximity to what was, prior to the presence of galleries, a straight up industrial zone. Mostly it was burritos. In would come Toxic Boss, his eyes light up at the sight of you squirming to eat your burrito in the neatest way possible in his presence. “Oh my god, yummy, a burrito…Can I have a bite?” Confused, you’d oblige, “sure, it’s really good…” holding out your offering, hoping this might be the in you’d been looking for but also weirded out and confused. A grinchy grin spreading on his face, you’d realize the trap you’d fallen into even before he proclaimed, “Ewww, disgusting, what’s wrong with you!” turn and leave you, burrito handed and hollowed out in the soul. 

  16. New Jack Karyn*

    #7 was my actual favorite. Something about how it was written just tickles me–perfect comic timing from the writer!

    1. Rook Thomas*

      Agreed – glad I am WFH today because I was snort-laughing! I can see making it a “Sorry, I had an Angry Donut Moment …” in a work situation.

  17. Switzerland*

    When I was new at an old job, I was in a very tiny department (three people, including my manager). Another large department that was apparently known for not including others decided to have a big potluck lunch one day in our communal kitchen. It was well known that this was going to happen, and just as well known that only this department was invited even though it was in a kitchen/break room that we all used.

    So the day of, the MANAGER of another department brought breakfast in for everybody and walked around giving people a bagel, a donut, etc… except that department. Lol. It became this huge thing of whose “side” you were on! (I did take him up on the free breakfast, because why not!)

    My other coworker on my team and I discussed possibly printing out a Swiss flag and putting it on our cubicles so everyone would know were weren’t on a side lol.

    I was at that job for 5 years, and that department slowly did get better at being part of our larger group and not separating themselves! We enjoyed many big potlucks with all of us together in harmony :)

  18. KatEnigma*

    I never understand scenarios like #9. Okay, while he works there, you don’t make a fuss because Office Politics and the chance of getting the beloved Potluck shut down.

    And maybe day of Holiday Party… but to me, that was the proper time for the loud passive aggressive comments.

    But the day after? Why didn’t anyone call security to have him trespassed from the property? He didn’t work there and was stealing!!?!

  19. Unkempt Flatware*

    Does anyone remember that episode of 7th Heaven where the middle daughter’s high school teacher ate her lunch that she accidently left behind and kept doing it until daughter learned more about geometry?

    I guess it wasn’t written way outside of reality as these people clearly exist.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      The place where a college friend of mine works recently “fired” a paid intern for eating people’s lunches. Her reasoning was that her previous internship had provided lunch so she thought they all should. Except Previous Internship was a law office in a posh part of town and Current Internship was a nonprofit, and definitely did not provide lunches. Yes, she was told point-blank that there was no lunch provided and that she was in fact eating lunches brought by employees for themselves. And yet she persisted. And is now out of an internship. I hear she literally asked what she was supposed to eat if they didn’t give her food (bring your own like everyone else is doing?).

      I honestly have no idea how someone justifies that kind of thinking.

      1. datamuse*

        There’s an amazing thread over on Twitter this week about weaponized incompetence. I’ve been lucky enough to rarely run afoul of it but some of the stories are infuriating.

        One wonders if this intern has *ever* been responsible for her own lunch.

          1. datamuse*

            Links go to moderation but if you look for the username Cooperstreaming you should find it.

      2. JustaTech*

        I’ve seen interns at Big Tech ask what they were supposed to eat if the campus cafes aren’t open over the weekend, to which the full time employees are varying levels of kind/patient and explain that the interns are being paid (well!) and if they don’t know how to cook, there’s DoorDash or they could watch some cooking videos.
        I’ve also seen the snack kitchen during the first week of summer intern season and to say it looked like a plague of locusts had been through is a disservice to locusts. (Though at least half of that is just the novelty, by the end of the summer they’re much less excited by Sour Patch Kids or whatever.)

    2. Jennifer Strange*

      I rarely watched 7th Heaven, but I remember seeing that episode and thinking that my mother would throw a fit if a teacher did that to me, yet the show framed it like the teacher was doing something good.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Nothing makes me absorb complicated mathematics like being deliberately starved by a teacher on a power trip.

      2. Pogo*

        I’ve recently been watching some of this show and the unhingedness of it is AMAZING!!

      3. The Rise and Fall of Sanctuary Moon*

        I mean, add that to the loooong list of bad ideas framed as good ideas on 7th Heaven.

        1. Mister_L*

          Never intentionally watched 7th Heaven, but in an episode of The Pretender the main character helped a bullied school boy to bake a cookie for the lunch robber that countained A LOT of prunes. You can guess the rest.

  20. OtterB*

    Reading about the potlucks makes me think, I am nearing retirement and all my life for work or social group potlucks I adhered rigidly to the idea that I HAD to bring something if I was going to eat. And then, some time in the past couple of years, I had a minor home emergency take up the time I had planned to fix something to bring and I didn’t have time to stop by the store and pick up something on the way. Feeling deeply transgressive, I decided that I had never been to a potluck with that particular group that didn’t have way too much food anyway, and I was going empty-handed without groveling. And the world didn’t come to an end.

    I do still try to bring something. But sometimes it doesn’t happen.

    1. Lily Rowan*

      Work potlucks always have a ton of food, because each person brings a whole dish! Or, at least most people do, unlike community family-based potlucks where each unit brings a dish.

      ….I have spent too much time thinking about this.

      1. Burpees are evil*

        Yes, as a single person I get fed up of community potlucks where large families contribute the same amount as I do! I remember one that I attended where there was a group of about 12 people, and between us there was bread, 2 salads and 2 desserts (no children but couples, and a couple of people didn’t bring anything).

        1. Polaris*

          Kind of lucky over here that for family meal nights in our friend/family group, where everyone contributes “something”, its a generally accepted rule that the bigger your party, the bigger your contribution. The smaller your party, the smaller. The families of four typically cover the mains; the couples a smaller side; the singles typically rolls/pop/cookies.

          The cousin who brought a quarter bag of frozen vegetables one year as their family (of five) contribution was addressed by their siblings as to the “that wouldn’t have really flown when you were single, you were raised better, do better”. Said cousin had figured that they could claim ignorance and everyone would be okay with it. No other reason. This wasn’t big fancy stuff, this was summer cookout type things!

  21. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

    I’m speechless. I feel like I’m from another planet with very different cultural norms. What drives these people? Causing actual property damage for leftovers?

  22. CM*

    I would totally do #10. And totally unrelated, I was frequently food-shamed as a child. Now, even though I KNOW it’s so silly, once in a while I’ll still do the, “oh, is this food here? I didn’t notice it and just happened to be here, well, may as well take one.” (Mentally. I don’t actually say this to anyone.)

    1. Observer*

      Yeah, I wouldn’t be tempted to do that, but I truly understand why this guy was doing this.

      I wonder if he ever worked with some of the other top contenders on these posts, and this is kind of his reaction. Like he *desperately* does not want to be seen as being like THOSE guys!

  23. plumerai*


    It reminds me of when I worked at a women’s magazine and was also in pastry school on weekends. I would bring in trays of whatever I’d made that weekend (wobbly croissants, off-kilter cakes, but all tasty) and people would walk by and would feel like they had to comment if they took something. Not like, “This is so good!” (though that too, they weren’t jerks). But more like, “Oh, I shouldn’t,” or “Oh, just half.”

    Every time, without fail, you’d see the last few items dwindle. Someone would take 1/3 of a croissant. Then 1/2 of the remaining 2/3. Then 1/2 of the remaining 1/2 of the remaining 2/3. By the end it would be shards, but people would still be there all, “Oh, I shouldn’t!”

    It was actually a little heartbreaking, particularly given that this was a women’s magazine and there were all kinds of eating disorders floating around. (This was the ’90s, back when magazines existed and before “women’s media” knew to disguise weight-loss content in empowering language. Ugh.)

    1. Elitist Semicolon*

      One of my former colleagues tried to engage in Food Morality with me when I brought in a cake. “Ooh, I’m being sooo bad,” she simpered, hovering behind me in my doorway with, like, a 1×1″ square of cake on a napkin. “This is the second piece I’ve had!” I turned around and said, blandly, “you don’t have to have any if you don’t want it” and her expression hardened and she stomped off in a huff. Sorry-not-sorry for refusing to play this crappy game of Eating Cake Makes Me A Bad Person.

      In my experience, the people who play Zeno’s Paradox + Food Morality are also the folks who would be better off taking a “normal”-sized piece and admitting, “yep, I’m having cake,” because they end up eating enough small pieces to make up a larger one anyway.

      1. Skittles*

        I like to reply to those statements with “Food has no inherent moral value! If you want to eat it you should!”

    2. Lizzo*

      There was an extensive comment thread on Part 1 about how this seems to be a distinctly Midwestern trait…nobody wants to take the last of something!

  24. Parcae*

    If only the rich exec in #1 had remembered about the yogurt his household manager had brought him, all this could have been avoided.

  25. Michelle*

    #3 could have been a total horror show. it sounds like the thieves were opening up the crock-pots before their full time was up, and you should never do that with a crock-pot, not to stir or not for anything, because the low slow cooking temp means that it takes a long while for the heat lost in removing the lid to come back up to the expected level—so you’ve essentially lost some cooking time but the timer on the crock-pot doesn’t know that and will flip over from cook to warm after the 4 or 8 hours or whatever. Those jerks making a game of stealing food they knew wasn’t for them were risking making every person who ate any very sick!

        1. WellRed*

          My jambalaya has never made anyone ill but I’d hate to serve it with clumpy unseasoned rice ; ).

        2. This_is_Todays_Name*

          I do it all the time when I’m making a stew or soup or anything where I periodically want to move the ingredients around. It’s not open for like 10 minutes. Simmer down.

  26. Mephyle*

    #7, the angry donut crumbs – Has anyone else here read the Slow Horses series (the books, not the show) and immediately thought of Shirley?

  27. Cheesecake*

    There’s rarely free food at my office, but sometimes free swag. Two years ago, we held a giant holiday party and someone on my team managed to secure a couple hundred toy versions of the real thing my company produces. This was an event where employees could bring their kids, so we advertised the toys as a treat for children in attendance.

    OMG you would not believe the absolute hysteria that took place when *adults* saw us taking the toys out of their shipping boxes and starting to set them up on a table for distribution. We weren’t even ready to start handing them out before a mass wave of frantic GROWN UPS practically ran my team and I over in their mad dash to get as many of the toys as the could. People took two, three, sometimes four of these toys, and because we were so outnumbered, we couldn’t stop each person. It was by far the most insane thing I’ve ever witnessed. Some employees got mad at us that we wouldn’t let them try and take a whole shipping box – and others got mad at us that we didn’t have thousands of toys to give away! Also, about 5 people out of the probably 500 in attendance said thank you, or even acknowledged my coworkers and I at all.

    1. Jaybeetee*

      See, this sort of thing is where my brain runs out of explanations. I can understand one workplace weirdo/jerk who thinks taking trays of office catering home is some awesome money-saving hack – they’re probably the ones driving to the end of the merge lane to cut in line when traffic is heavy.

      I can understand a catastrophically out of touch manager or CEO who hasn’t heard “no” since the Reagan era. I can understand an intern or newby with zero sense of professional norms (see: the above comment about the intern eating people’s lunches because “the last place provided lunch.”). I can even understand three or four jerk colleagues getting into cahoots with each other and reinforcing each other’s BS. I don’t *condone* any of those, but I can come up with a semi-plausible idea of their mindsets.

      But the “mass hysteria” stories baffle me. I’ve worked in good places and awful places and toxic places, for terrible pay and less-terrible pay. What has to happen at a workplace to get a large group of people behaving this way?

  28. Please remove your monkeys from my circus*

    #1 gave me flashbacks to when I was working at a nonprofit years ago. One morning, 1/3 of the staff was laid off with no warning, and the rest of us were told that more layoffs were coming if significant funding didn’t come through. How did the Executive Director—the person ultimately responsible for fundraising and therefore saving all of our jobs—spend the rest of the morning? Wandering around the office, asking shellshocked employees where he should go for lunch that day.

    1. JustaTech*

      When I had just started at my company we had a pretty massive round of layoffs (the first of many, but that’s another story) and people were shocked and very unhappy. So a lot of teams went out for lunch (mostly so they didn’t have to watch the line of colleagues standing at the HR door waiting to sign their “you’re laid off” paperwork).

      So what does our brand new, very wealthy VP decide to do? He crashes one group’s lunch and then spends the whole time talking about how much money he has. (He did at least pay for himself and maybe for everyone, but talk about not being able to read the room!)

  29. Lorac*

    Wow #2, I heard the same happened at Apple. Unlike other tech companies, Apple doesn’t give free food. The only thing they had free was apples, like fruit bowls of apples.

    And they stopped that after they found out one employee was taking them home to feed their horses.

    1. Rachel*

      This is horrible but I’m a pot luck Grinch at work.

      When I’m at work, I don’t like a big meal for lunch. I also don’t really trust other peoples kitchen and hygiene practices, not to mention keeping everything at a proper temperature in a break room at work.

      I worked one place with a pot luck annually and I just sucked it up and participated, but I am grateful things like a chili cook off have never been a part of my workplace culture.

  30. Elspeth*

    I both love and am driven nuts by the fact that the meat embezzler was in post #1 and the broken lock is in post #2. Title madness!

  31. Rachel*

    3 : this one is particularly interesting to me.

    I realize this makes me sound like an insufferable food snob, but I like a crock pot meal as much as the next person, I make one for my family at least once a week. Often use a crock pot to keep food warm when entertaining.

    But there is rarely, if anything, served in a crock pot that is so good it’s worth guarding from 4 people who want to try some. I just can’t imagine going to these lengths (note the joke about the fire Marshall) to get people not to take my Crock Pot lunch.

    1. Rainbow Bridge Troll*

      It’s less about how good the crock-pot meals are, more about someone spent their own money and time planning to feed X number of people, and here come FOUR MEN eating it up without asking or contributing. Hell yes, I’d be guarding my damn crock-pot from Vittle Vikings! So rude!

        1. Rainbow Bridge Troll*

          If you like that, another commenter reminded me that there’s an old historical term for people who go around sniffing for meals to purloin: “smellfeast”!

          As in, “Hide the crockpots–here come those old smellfeasts from the Finance department!” Isn’t that so beautifully descriptive? :-D

      1. Michelle Smith*

        Not to mention the fact that if the items are still cooking, lifting the lid changes the required cook time dramatically, making this a food safety issue.

      2. Critical Rolls*

        Yeah, if the food is for one department, and the staff are even buying it out of their own pockets, it’s basically stealing lunch. The quality of the food is not the issue, the theft is.

    2. Dave*

      All these food/free item letters really hammer home the actual desirability of the object in real-world terms in kind of besides the point. Something being “free” suddenly creates these very warped expectations in some people. The idea you’d hack apart a lock to steal food any gainfully-employed adult could easily buy for themselves (and not just leftovers, but fresh!) simply makes no sense. They’ve just lost their minds.

      1. Scarred*

        That is my mother 100%

        Nothing is mor important to get your share of than free stuff.

        And don’t get me started on the honor system and her rationalizing “haggling” with an inanimate change box… Nope, that is just stealing…

  32. Choggy*

    I find so many of these hard to believe! I worked at a law firm and one of the highest paid attorneys always showed up to our “Lunch and Learn” sessions only to take the lunch and leave the learning.

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      100% – see also, people most likely to be hanging around outside a luncheon like vultures to get any leftover food AND most likely to complain their free meal was “only sandwiches!”

      The general policy was that the mail/courier team got first crack at leftovers because, despite getting lunch breaks, many of them were running throughout the day and dealing with attorney-made fires that delayed their lunch or they worked a shifted schedule that did not align with DC lunch hours (a lot of places close between 2-4 PM because they cater to commuters). These millionaires would push in front of them to get first dibs on leftovers.

  33. SMH*

    #3 I would have added a diuretics to the food one day or at least a bunch of salt or pepper or cayenne and let the thieves have add it and then gone to lunch as a group. I know tampering with food is horrible but other than placing a zapper on the crock pots so they get a nice shock I’m not sure what else would have stopped them.

    1. Lily Rowan*

      In the previous post on this topic, whose headline include the story of the broken lock found here.

  34. DivergentStitches*

    I have never understood why people don’t just speak up when someone’s acting like a shitheel.

    1. Alisaurus*

      Definitely a power dynamic in some situations, but I assume when it’s a coworker there’s either the sheer speechlessness of “Jane did what? In front of me??” and/or fear of conflict.

      I say this as someone who has quietly mentioned behaviors to my boss when it’s something that I didn’t feel I could address in the moment (wasn’t something overly appalling but just kind of inconveniencing others and definitely not acceptable office behavior) – but also as someone who also has no problem raising my voice to call out anyone, regardless of seniority, if it was truly appalling. Such as yelling at someone to “DON’T TOUCH THE PIZZA!” with unwashed hands I’d personally witnessed or to take the piece of food they’d already put their hands on and not put it back.

    2. JustaTech*

      Years ago there was an ad for A1 steak sauce that was a woman and a man sitting at a nice restaurant and the woman keeps saying to the man things like “I don’t even know you” and “what do you think you’re doing” but in hushed tones like if you’re having an argument with your spouse in public – all the while the guy is just shoveling the steak in his face.
      Then then dude jumps up and leaves just as the woman’s husband comes back from the bathroom and asks “where’s my steak”.
      The idea/joke being that you can often get away with outrageous behavior in a place where the other person doesn’t want to cause a scene (or is just so shocked that someone would take food off someone else’s plate that they can’t formulate a response).

    3. H3llifIknow*

      I have been thinking the same thing as I read many of these letters. Entire trays of food? A couple hundred dried apricots? Etc… My family often jokes that the epitaph on my tombstone will read, “What the hell?” because I say it so often when people are doing weird things. I’d definitely have to “WHAT THE HELL?” some of these people if I saw it.

  35. No Tribble At All*

    If someone is taking my potential food home to feed his goats, it’s only fair that later one of his goats feeds me.

      1. Zoe Karvounopsina*

        My cousin was lactose intolerant as an infant, and her mother got a goat, which apparently led to…shenanigans. Which presumably would have been even more shenanigan-y if they had been stealing food to feed the goat.

    1. JustaTech*

      Years ago I had a coworker who raised sheep (and sheep herding dogs).
      We also had a prototype instrument that was, frankly, a little possessed. The thing was a nightmare to work with. So the team suggested, mostly jokingly, that we sacrifice a sheep to the instrument and then have a BBQ.
      Coworker says “OK, I sell whole lambs for roasting at $PRICE”.
      Turns out whole lambs are *very* expensive, so we just went back to swearing at the instrument.

  36. InsufficentlySubordinate*

    I knew someone who was food insecure and they took stuff like the rest of the crackers/rolls out of the basket at a restaurant meal I paid for and the butter/jam packets. They didn’t take food off my plate. I didn’t have a good way to provide anything except an occasional inexpensive meal for them at the time.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      Since in many places, some (or all) of that stuff can’t be served to another table, I feel this is fair & keeping down food waste. I’ve known people who worked as servers who encouraged fellow diners to take what can’t be served again. (Sometimes the servers at the restaurant take it, but there are only so many saltines they need!)

  37. Ann Onymous*

    #1 would really be an issue for me. I have type 1 diabetes, so chances are if I’m in the middle of a meal, I’ve already taken insulin for the food on my plate and I’m going to have a medical emergency if I don’t eat that food (or something else with the same amount of carbs).

  38. Too Many Birds*

    I work in a small feminist nonprofit that shares a building with a several other organizations. We always have a few Trader Joe’s snacks and chocolates in our office for our staff, and occasionally people bring in things they’ve baked. Our ED is married to a man who works in one of the other, larger orgs. He will just waltz into our offices and help himself to our snacks, whether store-bought with our org’s $$ or homemade. No asking, no thank yous. It drives me CRAZY. It’s just such an object lesson in entitlement.

    (To be clear, we have our own offices; the snacks aren’t in a common space. Literally no one else in the entire building does this.)

    1. Ellis Bell*

      I love that this is a feminist non profit, but the EDs husband thinks it’s his kitchen.

  39. Inkognyto*


    for crimes against funding delicious baked Donut designs

    If seen please use the overhead paging system: call in code Donut!
    please do not fax! It will take ages, because we’ve been out of ink since 2004.

  40. JustD*

    I missed the call for stories, so here’s my late entry:

    I used to work in a small business with half a dozen office staff and some truck drivers that came in and out all day and night. The office staff often left our (name-labeled) food in the communal fridge and kitchen overnight to be eaten later in the week. When our food started disappearing, we eventually figured out that one of the truck drivers was eating it at night after we all went home. We put a stop to that. Then came the day when I brought in a cake I had prepared to be dropped off at a funeral lunch later that day – with a large note on it telling my co-workers NOT TO EAT IT because it was going to a grieving family. When I went to retrieve it to drop it off, it had a huge slice missing. It wasn’t hard to guess who had done it.

    1. Hatchet*

      In my opinion this is one of the most banana pants stories in this whole collection of food tales! Cutting out of a cake ment for a funeral?!?!?! How horrible!

      Were there ever any consequences for this food thief? And did you end up taking this cake to the funeral? Or did you get a mew one?

  41. raincoaster*

    My father’s Legion branch (like a pub for veterans) had a meat draw every Friday and eventually it came out that the woman getting the donated meat from local supermarkets was keeping half for herself. The manager said, “I don’t blame her. It’s not as if we’re going to pay her more if she’s honest.” As far as I know she’s still at it. It coats the Legion nothing and the store gets warm fuzzies and a tax receipt for the full amount.

    1. Observer*

      The manager at the Legion said that?

      I hope someone is monitoring their books VEEEERY carefully!

    2. Anon for this*

      At a previous employer, we ended up having to fire the manager of the employee cafeteria because she was stealing food that was meant for the employees. Not just a little bit, but entire bags of frozen meatballs, huge bags of sandwich rolls, frozen hamburger patties, you name it. She was so brazen about it that she even got some of the guys from the mailroom to help her carry everything to her car.

  42. TurnedMeIntoANewt*

    I am about to start an office job for the first time after 6 years of being a stay at home mom and a grad student, so I wondered if I was going to have trouble readjusting to office norms. After reading this, I’m not worried about it.

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

      I love that this could mean either you have basic human decency and know not to literally take food out of someone’s hand on the way to their mouth, OR it could mean you were raised by wolves, have an extensive tupperware collection, and are ready to wade into the fray.

      Also, kudos for the absolutely iconic username!

  43. Professional Straphanger*

    At a previous job I had a candy bowl for a while. Most people were pretty cool and would drop by for a piece of candy, but the people who hit the candy bowl the hardest were also the biggest complainers: I don’t like these candies! You need to buy X candy, not this gross stuff! (It wasn’t gross, it was fun size candy bars and Japanese KitKats.)

    I told them a) I wasn’t forcing them to eat the candy, and b) I took donations if they wanted something special. One person yelled at me, told me I was horrible, and that was the end of the candy bowl.

    1. IDIC believer*

      Early in my work career, I had a candy dish (that broke me stupidly kept filled). Anyway, I got tired of the complaints, so I instituted a policy of the disappearing dish. Any complaint caused the dish to disappear for 1 week. And when asked, I gleefully threw the offender under the bus: “Prof. Adams complained there were no peppermints, so dish is gone for a week”. It’s amazing how easily most people can be trained to not complain, with only 2-3 disappearances.

  44. zaracat*

    The (medieval origin) term “smellfeast” is apt for many of these people, but especially #3

    1. Rainbow Bridge Troll*

      YES! That’s one of my favorite historical terms. How beautifully descriptive! “Hide the crockpots, here comes that ol’ smellfeast from the Finance department!” Ha haaaa!

  45. Never The Twain*

    Not particularly bad behaviour, just a bit ew.
    A company I worked at (UK) was like a throwback; maybe 75 employees on site, all white, all (except 3) British, all (except 2 secretarial/admin) male, and all aged 35-55.
    Lunchtime meetings involved pizza (side salads wouldn’t have caused a riot, but would have been quietly ignored), and leftovers were taken to the kitchen for general consumption. As a newbie at my first meeting, I questioned this, naively asking who would want to eat cold pizza. A colleague said “Watch this”, and got a cookie-cutter from the kitchen. He cut a bite-shaped piece off one of the slices, put the cut-off bit on one plate of leftovers and the rest of the slice on another, and told me that all the leftovers other than the apparently half-eaten bits would be gone in 10 minutes, and even they would have disappeared after 15. I couldn’t believe this, but another colleague who had a view of the kitchen offered to monitor the situation.
    Shortly afterwards, an IM came round the attendees. It just said: “4:11 and 4:36”.

  46. New Senior Mgr*

    Unless explicitly told otherwise, what goes through one’s mind before pilfering an entire tray of food?

  47. WheresMyPen*

    Next time someone asks me what my pet peeve is I’m gonna say food theft. Every one of these makes me so angry! Especially the CEO one. I feel like I’d have had to exclaim ‘Why do you think it’s ok to steal my food?’ or ‘Are you going to reimburse me for that?’

  48. Anon for this*

    I used to work for a well-known convenience store chain at their corporate office. They had coolers filled with the company’s branded drinks (juice, tea, water) that it was understood you could consume during the workday, as much as you wanted, but only during the workday. We caught an employee on camera filling up duffle bags full of drinks every day before he left, and sometimes he’d even take cases of bottled water if they happened to be sitting out. He ended up getting fired.

  49. They're Knitting Again*

    I missed the original ask for submissions, but reading all these great stories reminded me of people losing their minds, but in a good way? My first year out of grad school I worked at an elementary school where apparently bringing food in for the faculty lounge had gotten so out of control that the faculty had agreed on rules. This was about fifteen years ago, so I’m a little fuzzy on details but what I remember of this completely voluntary process was:
    -enough people volunteered that 2 people were in charge of a week, every week of the school year (approx 40 weeks)
    -there were specific prohibitions against bringing in food if it wasn’t your week (apparently the problem before my time was people trying to one up each other/bring in too much?)
    -my assigned partner, who’d been at the school for a while, took it extremely seriously, came to me to discuss themes weeks ahead of time. I think two of ours were “chips and (root)beer” and “brunch.” I remember buying fancy potato chips and making dozens of mini-quiches
    -yes, every day (of my week) had a theme. Daily themes weren’t required but there was a huge social expectation for creativity, effort, and quality
    -this was Seattle, so probably vegan/vegetarian options but I don’t remember much awareness of labelling for food restrictions or allergens
    -I was super broke at the time but with planning, my week of extra expenses didn’t feel too bad (I chose mini quiches because they’re fairly cheap if you consider the labor free) when balanced by having great snacks in the lounge every single day
    -It managed to stay fun somehow? I have (undiagnosed at the time) social anxiety and disordered eating issues, so there was huge potential that I could be massively stressed out by this, but I remember it fondly.

    I do think this could only happen organically, the amount of work and effort both in organizing it and each team implementing it were way above and beyond what could ever be reasonably expected for a job!

  50. JustAnotherKate*

    I’m sure I’ve told this story here before, but the weirdest food-related thing that ever happened to me was when my abusive boss made up a wild lie to get people NOT to eat my food. I had baked some raspberry streusel bars for a dessert potluck, but every time I walked by, everything was being eaten except these. Like, not one had been taken. I was confused until a woman from another department came up to me and screamed, “Did you think that was FUNNY? You could’ve put someone in the HOSPITAL!”

    I had no clue what she was talking about, but finally got her to explain that Abusive Boss had told everyone that I used salt instead of sugar in the bars as a “prank.” Honestly, who even thinks of that?! (I ate one in front of a bunch of folks, and a few people halfheartedly took one and took a bite, but Abusive Boss won in the end. I wound up throwing almost all of it away, and people mistrusted me — about everything, not just about food — until I left.)

  51. SometimesALurker*

    I’m surprised that there aren’t more comments about #6, but on the other hand, what is there to SAY about that one, other than what Alison already said!
    …okay, I have some things to say. Mostly that everything in the bolded sentence is full of bees, and it kinda sounds like the OP for that one has acclimated and doesn’t notice? And that that boss definitely is not saving their bee-ful behavior solely for the food thieves.

  52. Dedicated1776*

    I don’t understand how managers let this go on. (Although judging by the stories I guess managers/higher ups are often the problem!)

  53. whatapittie*

    Re: #1 reminds me of the time I was hurriedly eating dinner at a fast food place between theater shows near Broadway and a man walked up and asked if I had any food I could spare so I gave him the packet of chips I had, he says thanks and wanders off, a couple minutes later walks back over silently picks my sandwich and proceeds eat the entire thing while making direct eye contact. I think the most I managed in response was a slack jawed stare. A solid reminder of why I generally avoided time square like the plague, and still only barely in the top 10 most WTF experiences of my time living in New York.

  54. JustMe*

    Can’t remember why I didn’t think of this until now, but I work at a university, so free food is used often to get students to do things. My office works with the counseling center to have a support group for international students as experience all the same issues as normal college students while also being completely alone in a foreign country. Lunch is always provided by my office. If no one says that they have a food preference, our administrative assistant just orders pizza.

    Over the past year, there has been an ongoing war with the psychologist who administers the group over food. In spite of us telling her countless times that if she wants something other than pizza she needs to tell us more than 24 hours in advance, she constantly complains about the free pizza being offered for lunch. My boss suggested that she use our card to order lunch for the group herself–this turned out to be too much, and she asked if we could just order everyone pizza. On another occasion, my boss said she was fed up with the psychologist and suggested she bring her own food. The psychologist brought hard boiled eggs, assorted berries, and raw vegetables, which she said the students “appreciated as a healthy alternative to the usual pizza.” I’ve only interacted with this woman once, and when I did, I happened to be standing between her and our breakroom. She was literally in the middle of her sentence when she looked over my shoulder and said, “Oh my…is that coffee?” and then ran into the breakroom and helped herself to the coffee pot. I honestly shudder to think what psychological advice she is giving our students if this is how she reacts to free food.

  55. D B B*

    We had an IT guy that routinely helped himself to the entire contents of the Marketing team’s candy bowl. One day they filled it with those nasty Harry Potter Jelly Belly’s. In true fashion, he shoveled a giant handful into his mouth. He ended up vomiting about 15 seconds later. We still laugh at him to this day.

  56. Denver Gutierrez*

    I used to work with a woman who was always trying to get people to buy her food. Once someone was kind enough to treat everyone to lunch. We were all choosing what we wanted off the menu and she was taking forever. Someone asked what she was doing because she had already written hers down, and she said she was choosing something for dinner. Trying to take advantage of this kindness to get *two* free meals. Luckily a manager was right there and shut that down. This coworker would also steal food from the break room fridge.

    But the straw that broke the camel’s back was when a colleague brought in homemade brownies for another coworker’s birthday. She put the tray in an unused office until the birthday person got there. When she went to get it, a whole row and a half of brownies were gone! The food mooch coworker had somehow found out they were there and had helped herself before even the birthday employee could have one. Mooch tried to laugh it off but we all were furious and she got reamed out good. The audacity! No one shed a tear when this person was eventually fired (for performance reasons, not food theft).

  57. rebelwithmouseyhair*

    At the agency, I translated documents for a well-known sweet manufacturer. One day, a parcel arrived from them. It wasn’t addressed to anyone at the office, so I opened it to see what it was. Loads of small packets of sweets! I immediately started distributing them, only to get a call from head office saying to put them all back, they had been sent as payment for my translation and were to be gifted to other clients.
    I’d say that was pretty cheap, but given how those sweets brightened our Monday morning, perhaps clients would be similarly delighted to be given them.

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