work: the fridge

What exactly is it about being left unsupervised with items we don’t own, but that we know we won’t get an any trouble for leaving them in a completely trashed state? The most obvious example of this is the hotel room. Not that we intend to trash a hotel room, I personally just think about all the places I’d like to get busy in it, but then remember how many others have thought–and done–the same thing and my ardor cools. But you think nothing of leaving sheets messy, pillows strewn around the room, towels on the floor because surely it’s someone’s job to clean all that stuff up behind you, right? Of course it is, it’s part of what you’re paying for.

That said, why do people treat an office pantry like they’re the worst college roommate you’ve ever had… ever? Our office pantry–which also houses the copier and serves as impromptu meeting room–is, I’m sure, not much different from most. We have so many coffee makers from various coffee clubs that I’m certain the machines are reproducing robo-a-sexually at night to create more. We have a dishwasher that I’ve seen filled before, but I’ve never seen anyone bring in detergent powder or liquid, so I fear that one day someone will put dish soap in the thing and we’ll have an I Love Lucy episode in the making. We also have microwaves, one supplied by the office which is mostly indecipherable, and the other so used that all the markings have worn off the buttons and someone keeps making notes on it with a Sharpie. And while people have learned not to make fish for lunch, they haven’t quite mastered the ability to make popcorn without burning it–every time.

But the worst area is clearly the refrigerator. During my seriously strict weight loss days, I used to bring food in, but after items were either stolen or thrown out without notice, I gave up. It’s now in my no-go zone: items packed into the shelves and side-compartments with post-its and names scribbled on them, or just tossed in contained in random grocery store bags and the occasional proper lunch tote. Drawers are broken, no one seems to care. People reach into the freezer with their bare hands to fill their cups with ice even though the freezer has an ice/water dispenser. If someone orders in food or brings a cake for an event, the leftovers will find themselves shoved in, lopsided among everything else which is also code for “Don’t touch this food under pain of death, but the moment it starts to go bad I will make no effort to claim it.” The “*sniff* Do you smell that?” moment is really all anyone cares about as it immediately transforms one crusader in the office into a super-diligent fridge monitor. Signs are carefully designed with large fonts, adorned in appropriately shaming clip art and placed around the office in “Everything Must Go!!” style.

It’s enough to make you forget that there are actual grown-ups in this place, except that while my college–and after–roommates did eat my food and occasionally not clean up after themselves, even at our most slovenly we never had an icebox that looked as bad as this. I want to start bringing my own meals in again, but I’ll need to find a tote that keeps my food cool for a few hours without having to resort to the no man’s land of our pantry.

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