I had an interesting conversation with someone about this topic. Many years ago I found myself in disbelief over the conditions of our office fridge so I stopped putting anything in it. I began bringing my lunch inside of an insulated bag with a cold pack that was stashed away (safely) in my desk and never looked back. Since then, it seems that it has become a “thing” to have an office lunch thief. This is where a person goes into the common fridge and steals someone else’s lunch. Usually the person comes to get it and notices it gone and nobody can figure out what happened. This truly boggles my mind for so many reasons…First off, this is stealing. It takes a certain kind of mind to steal anything! From office supplies to cash, stealing is stealing! It takes a lot of nerve to rifle through lunches until you get to one that looks good to you. But then to go on and eat a meal where you have no idea how it was prepared or if it is clean or even delicious is beyond brazen.
The conversation came about because I heard a guy call in to the radio station to address the topic of “what’s the worst thing you have done at work”. The young man said that he would go in the fridge and peak into everyone’s lunch. If he saw something that looked good or that he had a taste for, he would sneak it out of the kitchen and back to his office. He had never been caught and thought it was very funny. The woman I was speaking to explained to me how one day she had placed her lunch that she couldn’t finish in the fridge after lunch. Even though she knew they had a lunch thief, she thought that her half-eaten salad that had been put away well after lunch would be exempt. After all, the thief usually struck before lunch and usually aimed for full delicious gourmet meals just like the admitted culprit from the radio. So after work when everyone else was gone she did not expect to see anyone in the lunch room. She certainly didn’t expect to see one of her superiors sitting down at a table chowing down on her salad! Without any shame, he had her salad container, salad dressing, napkins and was even using the fork that she’d left in the box!
At this point in the story I am screaming, laughing, and cringing all at once! I had to know how she handled this delicate yet disgusting situation. She very diplomatically told him that he was eating her salad. She said that he looked curiously and then apologized with the excuse that he thought it was his. Even more astonishing was that he then offered it back to her! He laughed nervously and assured her he had just taken a bite. She declined and even told him to enjoy it. She said that this was the end of her putting anything in the company refrigerator. The boss retired shortly after and the lunch theft seemed to come to an abrupt ending…
Since this did not seem to be a case of someone being hungry but not having means to eat, I have yet to understand the thought process behind this new trend. To put your hands into other people’s food and flip it around with your fingers to see what’s in it seems very selfish. Almost as if there is a sense of entitlement to someone else’s property so as to save you from spending your money or time to prepare for your own lunch. Food tampering is cowardly and sneaky. This behavior infringes on our deepest sense of security in the worst ways because while it could just be one occurrence, it makes people wonder if you are capable of crossing that line, what other lines are you willing to cross. Was he really sorry? Or was he sorry he got caught?
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