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Co-workers who mess with your food.


On a previous job I kept a jar of peanut butter and crackers in my desk for a quick snack. One day I was out of the office and when I returned the next day "Sarah" pulls me to the side and says, “You won’t believe what happened yesterday. "Bill" got the jar of peanut butter from your desk, stuck his finger in the jar, ate a big glob and said, ‘I just love peanut butter!’”

Disgusted and outraged I threw away the jar. I really wanted to confront "Bill" but "Sarah" was the only witness and asked me not to. Unfortunately the drawer couldn’t be locked so I never again brought peanut butter into the office.

Although I’ve since moved on from this job I’m sure this is a common problem in the workplace. Perhaps we could offer solutions to those plagued by aggravating co-workers who mess with your food.

  1. Oh, my! What a disgusting fellow! Perhap some cayenne judiciously mixed into a 'bait' jar of peanut butter?

    2 Replies
      1. re: njmarshall55

        I actually made those once when I was back in high school as a prank. Brought them to a party and of course my "cheapest friend" ate three of them....boy did he finally pay!

    1. We have a refrigerator on each floor where I work. I used to bring in my own lunch, mostly tuna sandwiches which someone would steal. They never stole any other sandwich I brought, just the tuna. This was going on for over a month. Finally, I made a "special" tuna sandwich with a drop of Ipecac syrup, a slight amount of Ex-Lax & a dash of Tabasco & left it in the fridge. Sure enough, the sandwich disappeared before noon. That was the last time any of my tuna sandwiches disappeared.

      8 Replies
      1. re: Jerzeegirl

        LOL LOL LOL!!! You killed me with that one!

          1. re: Jerzeegirl

            Maybe just me, however the thought of another persons tuna sandwich is really gross. You must make some great tuna salad:)

            1. re: Jerzeegirl

              (I want to get in on this before the Mods lock the thread.)

              I'm with you on doctoring your sandwiches with Syrup of Ipecac and/or Ex-Lax. For those who have a problem with me adulterating my own food, cry me a river. It's MY food. The thief would first have to cop to stealing my lunch, which I just don't see happening. Didn't anybody see "The Help"?

              1. re: ricepad

                Yes. I saw 'The Help'

                It is a movie. I also saw all the "Godfather' movies.
                Does that entitle us to....?

                1. re: latindancer

                  You miss my point, so I'll explain. When Hilly realizes that she's the one who ate the doctored pie, she also realizes that she can't do anything about it without admitting that she ate the doctored pie. Hence, Minny is safe. OR feel free to kill your competitors and siblings who side against your family. Take from it what you will.

                  1. re: ricepad

                    You missed my point....

                    It's a movie.

            2. "perhaps we could offer solutions to those plagues by aggravating co-workers"

              How about just coming out and saying/confronting the culprit and saying something like "I know you got into my food and I'd like for you not to do that again"?
              A co-worker was "plagued" with another drinking her quart of milk she used in her coffee, she confronted the person, and everyone applauded her. Directness is always the best solution, otherwise it turns into a gossipy, passive aggressive mess.

              16 Replies
              1. re: latindancer

                Yeah, as much as I can appreciate being tempted to teach a co worker a "lesson" would you want them to land in the hospital over a sandwich? Nah.

                I'm with lantindancer on this. If you have any hesitation to approach the coworker you KNOW for a fact is doing this, a well written note on their desk should do the trick. Outing someone in a crowd of coworkers can also back fire. Afterall, we're not perfect and we do have to work "there."

                So, try talking to the bugger, leaving a note in the lunchroom or on the frig but don't make a coworker ill.

                1. re: HillJ

                  Had we known who the culprit was,we would have, but since it was apparently company-wide & we have 10 floors at work, it was a bit tough to do. We tried the notes, didn't work. I didn't put too much in cause I didn't want the taste to be so off they'd stop eating. Just enough. What really ticked us all off is it was someone everyone knew & trusted. Turns out the guy was stealing more than food, so he was fired not long after the food stealing incidents.

                  1. re: Jerzeegirl

                    Then justice was served, Jerzeegirl. In the end a bad apple gets their own rewards without having to tip their scale. I've seen this happen at work too. But I would never intentionally doctor food for fear that person wound up in the ER. If you ever run into this again would you approach the person directly?

                    1. re: Jerzeegirl


                      So the guy was stealing everyone's food? Or just your's and the entire office knew about it?

                      1. re: latindancer

                        He was stealing everyone's food. He seemed to like tuna, though. We did report it once we realized that someone was hitting up all the fridges for food, but the company didn't want to do anything about it. If we knew it was him to begin with, we definitely would have spoken to him. If he needed the food that bad, we would have gladly given it to him. It was tough tracking down who it was when you have 10 fridges that food is being stolen from.

                        1. re: Jerzeegirl

                          I'm a bit confused by your answers but without juding you I just want to understand. If you say "if he needed the food that bad, we would have gladly given it to him"...then why did you doctor it in the hopes of stopping the behavior?

                          You could have left a note on the sandwich. Something like, listen, this is my lunch but if you really need it that badly then pls ask me first.

                          1. re: HillJ

                            We left notes on not only my sandwich but others. Didn't work. Guess he was embarrassed, but not embarrassed enough that he stopped doing it. This happened at least 15 years ago & nobody's had a problem since. Also, now people have fridges in their offices, so I put my lunch in there.

                            1. re: Jerzeegirl

                              A few years back I had been bringing in cases of bottled water; leaving them in my office. I didn't mind sharing (at first) but I mostly wanted to be able to offer a water to clients who came to see me, not my co-workers. At one point I was probably going through a case a week. And since I was out on calls and appt and not in the office that much I didn't exactly monitor the bottles.

                              But at some point instead of leaving a case in my office I left a note. "Who's bringing the next case of water to work?!" and you know what we all started to.

                              I know bottles of water are not the same thing as your lunch. But that silly example made me a firm believer in saying what's on your mind-no matter how silly. Unless you really don't care--it's usually the small stuff that bugs us most.

                              1. re: Jerzeegirl

                                This kind of regular theft of certain food has been an issue at my office too. People often deal with it by doctoring the food in a more obvious way, like filling a yogurt container with sand and a note. The point is made without the culprit eating anything doctored and it actually seems to help with the theft (unlike general notes left on the fridge door etc).
                                Another story involved someone whose cancer meds were mixed in with her food. She left a note saying hope you enjoyed my lunch, and my meds.
                                I've found that hiding my food in a plastic bag or a lunchbag seems to discourage would-be thieves. They don't want to root through everyone's lunch or actually open my pink thermal lunchbag, it seems (maybe because I work mostly with men and it's too obvious for them to be seen opening a pink lunch bag?). If you just leave yogurt, salad dressing or a tray of sushi (all items that I have had stolen) out in plain view it's more tempting.

                              2. re: HillJ

                                That never works. The thief had something of a kleptomaniac disorder, which is a behavioral health problem, and he's not going to stop because you ask him to, he'll just do it in different ways to different people.

                                1. re: EWSflash

                                  I couldn't disagree more. But I respect that has not been your belief based on your comment.

                                  When I left the note where the case of water use to be, my fellow coworkers did in fact start buying their own water.

                                  The OP began with a jar of peanut butter example asking for solutions. The only solutions offered here that didn't require doctoring your own food so the culprit would stop touching it were notes and reporting it. That was met with disbelief that it would work.

                                  Well, I offer no other solutions other than to be direct. But I can assure you that I would never doctor food to make my point. Ever.

                              3. re: Jerzeegirl

                                I love stories that keep getting better and better.

                            2. re: Jerzeegirl

                              If the person was stealing more than co workers food and was eventually fired then it was a company issue and for the company to deal with. Reporting theft is your right as an employee but you also took the matter into your own hands by doctoring food. You could have lost your job if the that person had wound up in the hospital and your behavior was discovered and reported.

                              I understand being frustrated but again I just can't see taking what I consider a risky move to deal with it.

                            3. re: HillJ

                              You're right...

                              To humiliate the 'thief' isn't cool, at all. As you say 'outing someone in a crowd of coworkers can also backfire'. The scenario I was talking about in my post is a bunch of coworkers, who happen to be pretty close outside the work environment, and I think the person helping themselves to another's milk thought it would be no big deal to borrow a little. Therefore, confronting is easier.
                              Contaminating the food, with the intention of getting the person to stop by making them a little ill, is pretty risky imo.

                              1. re: latindancer

                                Consider it tough love, then. It's ridiculous to think that a person could lose their job by doctoring food at a company that size that refused to do anything about a reported theft problem. You can be sure that if the thief was stealing computers or furniture, they would have done something about it. Tough love, karma, and just desserts. I have NO sympathy for people who would steal from their coworkers, period. A handful of almonds out of a big bag left on top of a desk, no problem. Fingers in the peanut butter or stealing their lunch? You're acting like a pig and you deserve anything you get. Especially if the lunch you stole had somebody's medication in it.

                                1. re: EWSflash

                                  Did I say I had 'sympathy for people who would steal from their coworkers?

                                  I never said it and I don't.
                                  Given that....anyone who doctors, in retaliation, their own food with the intent of potentially harming another human being?
                                  It's juvenile, mean and cowardly and I don't jump on those bandwagons....ever.

                          2. If you steal food, and yes, it is considered stealing, you know you didn't bring it... Then karma, or a doctored tuna sandwich will get you.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: sunangelmb

                              Scenarios such as that sunagelmb can backfire and works both ways. Karma? Hardly.

                              1. re: sunangelmb

                                Well, that's another way of looking at it....

                                Kharma goes both ways, doesn't it? I wouldn't want to risk it 'doctoring' something someone's ingesting.

                                1. re: latindancer

                                  I never said that would be my plan of action, to doctors ones food, just what goes around comes around ...

                              2. I've had several approaches work for this - I've done a lot of communal living as I've worked at summer camps and similar programs, and this can be a problem.

                                The most overall successful and easily repeatable was that I pretty much just guilt tripped people. Someone on staff had eaten my lunch - and I have a ton of food allergies, so eating the camp food was not really an option for me. At our next staff meeting, I made an announcement about how if they didn't like what the kitchen mamas made for a meal, come find me, and I would help them to come up with an alternative, because I don't want any of my staff out and running around with kids without eating. However, eating my food isn't acceptable, since it's often the only thing that I can have in the kitchen, and I didn't appreciate having to piece together two meals of cottage cheese, croutons, and cinnamon toast crunch. Didn't happen again.

                                The other two most successful ones were health related too - I got mono, and said hey - if you want to eat my food, you can, but know that sometimes I'm lazy and eat/drink out of the jar, and mono has an incubation period of several weeks, so that should give you something to think about for a while.

                                Similarly I take a prescription enzyme that I sometimes mix into my food before eating, or when I prep it, if my stomach is particularly unhappy. I feel fairly certain that if someone was to eat that and didn't need it, they would be pretty uncomfortable.

                                1. Concerning the peanut butter - I think that is about as bad as it gets. I have witness some really bad co-worker food-related behavior but this definately tops it.

                                  1. I have problems with coworkers pinching my Sargento cheese sticks from the communal fridge.

                                    1. DH is an RN in a large hosptial. He works nights, when none of the hospital cafes are open, and access to take out is limited. There is a fridge in the breakroom, accessible only to employees. His (and others) food kept disappearing, leaving him with nothing, and no way to get anything..grr...so he bought a cooler that also has an area where he can put his other 'stuff' (stethoscope, etc) and keeps it in his work area. Not the best solution but at least it works!

                                      1. I've been victim of over-zealous office fridge cleanouts. Every once in a while these two particular ladies would throw out anything that had been in the fridge longer than 24 hours. I would often bring in the large containers of greek yoghurt, and eat about a half a cup a day, so the container would last about 8 work days, if they didn't wander through and toss it. I'd also bring in 2-3 days worth of salad makings at a time and they'd toss all that stuff too. When confronted they'd always claim to have thought whatever I'd lost had been in there for a very long time. I don't do that. I'm on top of my fridge at home, and I was even more diligent at work. Very irritating, especially when they tossed my containers too.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: electricfish

                                          LOL that would be funny if no annoying....at my old job it became my "job" to clean out the fridge. So I sent a office-wide (office of about 25) email that this was being done Friday at 4pm. If you want to keep it, put a sticky on it with your name & I won't toss it. I also noted I would not open containers - the whole thing would be tossed. Well one coworker didn't follow any of this and pitched a fit I tossed all her containers!! Since I could see thru the lid & they were moldy (most of them) I wasn't cleaning them. I mentioned the email, she had no rebuttal. Oh well!

                                        2. Check these out! http://www.thinkofthe.com/product.php...

                                          They're hilarious but I think anything in one of those bags would get tossed by a well meaning coworker.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: UTgal

                                            Those are brilliant, but I think you're right. It's too bad the zealous fridge cleaners never seem to turn their attention to the disgusting office microwave instead!

                                            1. re: Isolda

                                              Sometimes they're zealous for a reason. One place where I worked had a strict fridge cleaning policy and wanted *everything* cleaned out of the fridges each week at a certain day/time and it was terrible because the person doing that was supposed to throw away EVERYTHING including unopened containers of milk/half&half/yogurt/etc. People got mad at her but the problem was that she got in big trouble with her supervisor if she didn't throw away everything. The supervisor would check the fridges to make sure she cleaned everything out.

                                          2. I have never understood why people think stealing food isn't really stealing. I guess some people must be compulsive eaters and this is just a symptom. Otherwise, I don't get it.

                                            Years ago, a colleague of mine had her expressed breast milk stolen from the office fridge, so she put up a sign on the door asking the perpetrator how he/she liked her bodily secretions in their coffee. That was pretty effective, because no one touched her little plastic bottles after that.

                                            I think simply labeling the food as something else might help in some cases. My mom worked in a lab and would slap biohazard stickers on paper bags containing tins of homemade cookies she didn't want my dad to eat. Maybe if you just put your lunch in a brown paper bag and labeled it "stool sample--due at 5:50 p.m. today," no one would go near it.

                                            1. I have mixed feelings about break room fridges.
                                              I generally don't use the break room fridge. I rather keep my lunch at my desk in a cooler. A few hours without refrigeration isn't a problem.

                                              What bugs me about these communal fridges is that it's always a mess and barely any room. There's a fridge clean crew that goes the the fridge about once a month, but what bugs me the most is that a few people will stuff the fridge with days worth of their food. Each of these fridge hogs take enough room for 2 or 3 people each for the day.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: dave_c

                                                The refrigerators that everyone is talking about, imo, are generally disgusting unless someone is appointed to keep them clean. Then people apparently start bitching because the person appointed subjectively throws out food that's been sitting too long.
                                                For the life of me I don't understand why more people aren't storing their food in their OWN coolers. it seems to me it would solve all these problems

                                              2. Maybe this is why so many people eat at their desk from wrapper food or go out for lunch. The examples here really aren't what I have ever encountered, thank goodness. I feel for you that have to contend with the less than honest and the disgusting habits of childish adults. What a drag!

                                                1. Retired now, but there was for a while a boss in my workplace who couldn't leave candy or gum in your drawer and jars of Nutella alone. It took us a while to figure out who took it.

                                                  1. Oh for Heavens sake--attach jingle bells to your food and be done with it!!!!!

                                                    1. we had an unusually brassy food thief...

                                                      Stuff kept disappearing, so everyone started labeling their lunches. No change - stuff kept disappearing at the same rate.

                                                      Next come the name tags with the snarky notes -- "it's mine", "don't eat it", "I've been sick", etc. No change.

                                                      Comes the memo from H/R and posters all over the kitchen -- if it's not yours, don't eat it, etc., etc., etc. -- No change.

                                                      We began to suspect who it was...and sure enough, a few of us caught her red-handed a few days later -- digging into someone's lunch right out of the hot-pink lunch bag, right in front of the owner. "Hey, this stuff is pretty good! Make some more tonight so I can have it tomorrow!" Like I said -- bold as brass.

                                                      H/R wrote her up for something like failure to get along with coworkers or something...no change.

                                                      Finally, someone made a batch of chocolate pudding, and chopped up ONE Ex-lax square as a shaved-chocolate garnish. Gone in 60 seconds. (One square is half the adult dose, by the way)

                                                      About an hour after lunch, she went thundering down the hallway and burst into the women's room (as the snickers followed her down the hallway, because everyone was waiting for it to happen)...

                                                      That was the end of it.

                                                      She quit about 10 days later after making some massive errors that cost the company an enormous amount of money -- she was upset that she'd been disciplined for having screwed up royally - so she took the cover off of her pc and took a screwdriver to the contents before she huffed out the door.

                                                      That one was good riddance to good rubbish (at 24 had 3 children by 3 different men and was *proud* of this achievement) -- one can only hope that kharma has hounded her every step.

                                                      1. My biggest complaint is not when people use my stuff, it's when they use the last of it, don't say anything, and don't replace it. When I go to use my fresh Amish market half-and-half, and it's empty and I have to use nasty 1 percent milk- that no one touches, I'm peeved.

                                                        1. Ahhhh, geesh. You know, I've had two $150 stethoscopes disappear at work over the years; one was hanging in the supervisor's office when I called him about it on a Wed., then was gone forever by Saturday (he wasn't the thief, BTW; others had off-hours access). I've had fruit taken out of lunchbags, and crackers/chips too. It's not like I've never run across a workplace thief, is my point.

                                                          But there is NEVER an appropriate reason to secretly adulterate food. EVER. I understand some folks won't respond to even assertive, escalating, chain-of-command actions (as described by some below), but harming other folks deliberately is so very many dark shades of ugly.

                                                          18 Replies
                                                          1. re: DuchessNukem

                                                            I disagree.
                                                            Seems a few people are unhappy with Jerzeegirl's escapades. I take my hat off to her - I wish I thought of ipecac, but no, I used lame habaneros under the cheese of my pizza slices in the fridge...
                                                            "harm" is all relative; stealing my food is a deep primal form of harm, no?
                                                            You steal from the wrong folks, shitting yourself or vomiting would be the least of your problems...

                                                            Fun thread!

                                                            1. re: porker

                                                              you would actually harm someone over a sandwich? Intentionally harming a co worker can get you fired. What if they landed in the hospital or worse? Then what?

                                                              To those comfortable with taking the position that if you take my food you deserve what you get I wonder how you would feel if that idea was aimed at your child or relative. How can you be so harmful in response.

                                                              I find it incredibly unsettling that chowhounds would use food to do harm.

                                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                                I think our definitions of "harm" are a bit different. I work in an office half the time, the other half is on a jobsite. I lost count how many times I see guys take 1/2 hour off the clock, walk off the jobsite, and "harm" each other over a small dispute.
                                                                Some people will not learn a lesson *without* a little harm thrown in.....
                                                                "Intentionally harming a co worker can get you fired" depends on circumstances.

                                                                1. re: porker

                                                                  The only definition that matters is what our employers consider harm. Taken to the extreme by coworkers isn't typical thank goodness but in my younger days, still answering to a good many higher up the food chain, there is no way that I would have doctored food to prevent a coworker from touching my sandwich. Nor would I even have wasted any time doing the job of hiring personnel who are ultimately responsible for who they hire/fire/tolerate.

                                                                  I'm just surprised by how many CH's weighing in think it's okay to doctor food in the hopes that an upset stomach might deter an asshole from being an asshole.

                                                                  Assholes never learn so why bother putting your neck on the line.

                                                                  1. re: porker

                                                                    I highly doubt you're teaching them a lesson...

                                                                    Assuming we're talking about adults you're willing to 'teach a lesson to by doctoring their food' I would imagine they eventually stop because they're concerned they may be given something not as benign as Ex Lax next time. Thiefs aren't necessarily stupid.

                                                              2. re: DuchessNukem

                                                                'but harming other folks deliberately is so very many dark shades of ugly"

                                                                What a great description and so very, very appropriate.
                                                                I've also had things taken and it would have never, ever crossed my mind to purposely hurt someone for doing it. It's food for crying out loud....people need to keep some perspective.

                                                                1. re: DuchessNukem

                                                                  in our case, we tried absolutely everything -- direct intervention, official memos, nasty notes -- the whole route.

                                                                  A half-dose of Ex-lax might not have been comfortable, but it certainly didn't harm her...and it was the only thing that she "heard".

                                                                  1. re: DuchessNukem

                                                                    Just an FYI to people who might be tempted to put ex-lax in food to punish thieving co-workers...adulterating food is a felony in most states. I'm not sure of all the legal details, but realize you might get in serious legal trouble.

                                                                    1. re: tazia

                                                                      adulterating food is a felony in most states


                                                                      That's right. It's a Class C felony. ... you could be facing jail time greater than a year and fines of $1000 or more.

                                                                      So not worth the tuna sandwich you brought in for lunch.

                                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                                        Can't we just call the cops On these peoPle who steal? Stealingnis stealing!

                                                                      2. re: tazia

                                                                        Ok, but is it a felony to "adulterate" *your own* food? Not saying anything about whether or not it's the right thing to do, but if I put ex-lax in my own chocolate pudding I'm simply putting ex-lax in the choco pudding. Maybe I'm irregular.

                                                                        Someone earlier mentioned mixing enzymes into the food or someone else had cancer meds in the food. Is that adulterating the food? If someone steals it and is negatively harmed, what happens then? Where do we draw the line?

                                                                        1. re: Fromageball


                                                                          I would think it could be easily identified.

                                                                          1. re: Fromageball

                                                                            Attractive nuisance: why are people held accountable for trespassers enjoying a pool?

                                                                          2. re: tazia

                                                                            and at what point (and for what reason) is one person allowed to hold the other 50 people in the building hostage, allowed to continue with whatever personal issues they have?

                                                                            and at what point does the company become liable because someone fell ill because they couldn't put their lunch in the two big refrigerators provided for employee use, because one person would take anything that was put in there?

                                                                            ...and who's going to a) decide who it was who altered the food and b) decide that it was intended for anyone else to eat?

                                                                            I suppose it would have been better if they'd dragged her out behind the warehouse and beat the snot out of her...

                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                              Sounds to me, if the problem is as big as this thread is reflecting, companies should just forget about providing a luxury like a refrigerator, and have each person figure out how to take care of their own food.
                                                                              Maybe a lock and key on their own cooler with the cooler cemented to the floor.

                                                                              1. re: latindancer

                                                                                after this little creep left, there was not another problem in any of the 8 years I worked for that company.

                                                                                1. re: latindancer

                                                                                  Funny you should mention locks... My research group (5 full time, 4 part time) shares a floor with two very large groups (50+ employees each). Each group has their own fridge and microwave in the shared kitchen, and each group is responsible for keeping their appliances clean (the large groups have full size fridges, ours is a mini fridge under the counter). One of the larger groups keeps a very messy fridge and microwave, and some of them have started using ours, presumably because theirs is so gross. I do have a key for our fridge, and might start using it. If only we could lock the microwave too...

                                                                                  1. re: mpjmph


                                                                                    I wouldn't want to expose my food to any of the gross microwaves offered at the place I work. Heating up my food in that microwave with the crap that grows in it makes me sick thinking about it.
                                                                                    A communal refrigerator? Never. From my experience, unless there's a full time monitor taking care of these appliances, I'd never have to worry about anyone stealing my food....they'd never have the opportunity.

                                                                          3. Mostly harmless (unless you have a serious saliva-transmittable disease) but definitely gross: posting a sticky note on your bag that you spit in your food. No one would go to the ER but few will want to nibble on your sandwich.

                                                                            I have never been pushed to this degree but have worked in places where food was stolen... including a mom's groceries for her kids' games after work.

                                                                            Personally, I either go out for lunch (rarely) or just don't eat it. I only get 30 minutes, and going out, even if I call in a sandwich to pick up, doesn't leave me enough time to eat it anywhere but back at work, which is usually at my desk while typing.

                                                                            Instead I eat a large breakfast and talk to my sister on my cell phone on my lunch break ;-) It's more stress relief than eating my bag lunch or frozen nuked block in the company cafeteria.

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: IndigoSwash

                                                                              Someone at work once put a note that said "I spit in this" on her milk jug. She came back later and someone added, "I did too."

                                                                              1. re: dmjordan

                                                                                Hahaha! Raising the spit ante. I hadn't anticipated that move...

                                                                            2. My first job where I got a regular paycheck was when I was 16 and worked overnights as a radio announcer. I was recording weather and news and babysitting an automation system. Somehow it was decided that I should be responsible for cleaning up the kitchen. There were signs all over saying "Your mother does not work here, please clean up after yourself" but it was still a mess. I've posted this story one other time somewhere, but here goes anyway. The biggest part of the messy kitchen sink were dirty coffee mugs. How hard is it to wash your own coffee mug? I resented having to wash and dry those coffee mugs (I didn't drink coffee) and I knew who's mug was who's. By the way, none of the mugs were my bosses, this is going to sound sexist, but they all belonged to the women in the office. One night I washed and dried the coffee mugs and then put a thin film of dish soap inside them and let it dry. I only had to do this a few more times before I was told that everyone would be responsible for cleaning up after themselves.

                                                                              22 Replies
                                                                              1. re: John E.

                                                                                Clearly they took advantage of the 16 year old!

                                                                                A few more times before..,.? Good grief. It didn't occur to you to just stop washing dishes? It's up to your coworkers if they want a clean coffee mug, yes? If a sink remains full of dishes and you can't use your coffee cup the next day because it's still sitting there dirty...well how disfunctional do you need to be? Placing a thin film of dish soap inside the mug and leaving it to dry...wow...that's just sad....that it came to that move for people to be ah wait for it...responsible.

                                                                                Yeah, we can call people on their behavior but we can also be enablers for far longer than a sink full of dirty coffee mugs would speak.

                                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                                  Of course it occurred to me to not wash the coffee mugs however I had been told to wash them. I just did not 'rinse' them all that well. By the way, although I was a teenager, I thought it was a good way to handle it then and I believe it to this day. While I could not really refuse to wash the coffee mugs I could do a crappy job of it since my primary duties were not those of a dishwasher.

                                                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                                                    You'd been told to wash the coffee mugs? Then it was part of your job to do them properly.
                                                                                    I babysat when I was 10 yrs. old. My job was to babysit the children. However, I also cleaned the house, washed the dishes and, basically, did what a stay-at-home mother would have done.
                                                                                    All this for 50 cents an hour. Was it in my job description to do this? Was I asked to do it? Absolutely not. However, I always was/still am a very hard working, efficient and productive person....to me, washing those coffee mugs made it look as if you were appreciative of the job you had, wanted to make a good impression and working hard to make the money you did.

                                                                                    1. re: latindancer

                                                                                      I worked at a place that got so fed up with the dirty mugs that it decided to provide each person with a mug with their name on it; it was the only one they could use at work. Made it easy to figure out who didn't wash their mug.

                                                                                      1. re: escondido123

                                                                                        I like the idea and I've been in places where someone's coffee mug was identifiable but the question remains...

                                                                                        What happens, even with that identification, to the person(s) who doesn't take the responsibility of washing their own mug?

                                                                                      2. re: latindancer

                                                                                        Uh, there were about a dozen signs saying everyone is supposed to clean up after themselves. I did not have a formal job description. The boss made an offhanded comment about how I should wash the mugs. I did that. Then I was told that I didn't have to and that everyone was going to wash their OWN mugs, which was what was supposed to happen anyway.

                                                                                        How is it you are attempting to compare the duties of a radio announcer to that of a baby sitter?

                                                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                                                          At 16, one is at the bottom of the ladder in any place of employment. When I worked in an office at that age, even though my major duties were typing, I also made the coffee and washed the mugs. Didn't like to do it, but then I also didn't like to file--wouldn't misfile because of that.

                                                                                          1. re: John E.


                                                                                            You were a 16 year old 'radio announcer'... A child 'radio announcer'. I was a 10 year old babysitter...also a child. . You were told to do a job. As a 16 year old and as a 10 year old we were lucky to have jobs. We were children....learning responsibility. Complete legitimate comparisons, although even as a 10 year old I would have never gone against what my employer asked me to do.
                                                                                            You were told to do a job, you didn't like the job you were handed and showed a bit of adolescent rebellion....
                                                                                            That's all.

                                                                                            1. re: latindancer

                                                                                              You apparently missed the part about how everyone was supposed to clean up after themselves. The signs did not come down when I was asked to wash the coffee mugs. I did not do my little 'trick' on the first night.

                                                                                              By the way, I was not a 'radio announcer'. I was a radio announcer. We had a guy on staff that gave Tom Brokaw his first radio job while he was an 18 year old college freshman. The only difference between my radio announcing and Tom Brokaw's is that I did not stay with it because I found it boring. That and I did not have a lisp. My former co-worker sent Tom Brokaw to a speech pathologist to help him get rid of his lisp but it never completely went away. Remember the Achille Lauro cruise ship hijacking? That was quite a mouthful for Tom.

                                                                                              1. re: John E.


                                                                                                Your were a 'radio announcer'...like it or not.

                                                                                        2. re: John E.

                                                                                          So while it was not your primary duty to be a dishwasher, you were told to wash them. And to leave a small film of dish soap in each mug was your way of dealing with a task you didn't really want to do. Ingesting soap can make you ill. Did you want to make people ill?

                                                                                          I am dumbfounded by what I'm reading. Co workers who mess with our food has turned into examples and justifications for how to get back at people who touch our food. I can't see the justification for intentionally making a decision that can do harm. I am just appreciative that I have never had to work with people who caused these issues or dealt with these issues.

                                                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                                                            What I did was to wash the mugs and then I did not rinse them as well as I could have. That's exactly what the result was. Coffee is poured into the mug and it tastes a little soapy. The coffee is then poured out. How much soap do believe could have been ingested? I dare you to try it at home and see if it makes you ill.

                                                                                            1. re: John E.

                                                                                              "What i did was to wash the mugs and then i did not rinse them as well as I ould have".

                                                                                              Um....in your original post you stated:

                                                                                              "I washed and dried the coffee mugs and then put a thin film of dish soap inside them and let them dry"

                                                                                              Story's changed quite a bit.

                                                                                              1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                "That's exactly what the result was."

                                                                                                You missed the above line. It was women's work anyway ; )

                                                                                                (The two mugs that were not rinsed out as well as they could have belonged to two of the women in the office).

                                                                                                1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                  When I was much younger I was an art counselor during the summer. We had bug juice every afternoon with snack. Two children (14 years of age) decided that putting soap in the juice would be a fun prank. Several children got sick. The two culprits were expelled from camp.

                                                                                                  You can explain what you did, why you did it and so forth but frankly it's not going to change my mind about this topic. I find the idea of harming another person through food as a means to "get back at them" awful.

                                                                                                  I can't imagine any scenario where this is a good idea.

                                                                                                  1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                    I assume you meant this reply for me. I did not put enough soap into the coffee mugs to make anyone sick. It sounds like the little bastards for which you were responsible (what happened there?) put a tablespoon or maybe a teaspoon into a cup of juice and stirred it in. I used less than a drop and wiped it on part of the interior of a coffee mug, big difference. I have not been attempting to change your mind about anything (nobody ekse either for that matter).

                                                                                                    1. re: John E.

                                                                                                      Oh John E. I've wasted my time with you. For that I am sorry.
                                                                                                      Those little brats as you called them were not my campers but the incident went camp wide I can assure you. Example was made of them big time.
                                                                                                      So while you must continue to justify what you did at 16 years of age, ages ago...well, you've lost your steam on me. I think it stinks.

                                                                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                        I'm not justifying anything. Did I not make it clear in the post to which you replied? You and some others seem to be making a bigger deal out of some of these posts than is really warranted. If these threads quit being fun for you then why are you here? (By the way, when I told the office gal years ago of my little trickery she laughed at the memories of our workplace, including the coffee mug situation. She doesn't take life as serious as do others. By the way, I ended up the sales manager less than ten years later).

                                                                                                    2. re: HillJ

                                                                                                      I can't either.

                                                                                                      The whole concept is disturbing. I feel pretty fortunate that i've worked with people with some pretty great integrity.

                                                                                          2. re: John E.

                                                                                            You were 16. I'm fairly certain the CH posters here are beyond the age where adolescent pranks are long gone....a thing of the past.

                                                                                          3. Man, even tho' I just saw the beloved Dalia Lama on Thursday, I would temporarily throw forgiveness out the window for a brief moment and teach ol' Billy Boy a lesson from the Master Weasel..
                                                                                            ; )

                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: Beach Chick


                                                                                              Tolerance is a tough thing to teach....even for the Dalai Lama. I imagine him shaking his head and smiling at your response to people who are unwilling to be taught.
                                                                                              Self centered assholes who stick their finger in the peanut butter of someone else are just that....self centered and could care less how other people feel about what they're doing. The world is full of them and why bring yourself down to their below-mediocre level? To make yourself feel better? They're not listening, that's for sure.

                                                                                              1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                "To make yourself feel better?"
                                                                                                I could understand that perhaps one doesn't think that way/ looking for revenge, but simply wanting the thief to leave your stuff alone.

                                                                                                Thieves are a sorry excuse for human beings, I just wish they would mind their own business!

                                                                                                1. re: RUK

                                                                                                  Put your stuff/food somewhere so nobody can get at it.

                                                                                                  It's like putting a security system in your home to protect it. People are out there who have absolutely no regard for someone else's property.
                                                                                                  It is what it is.

                                                                                                  1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                    In our office we buy each(about 30 persons) employee lunch on alternating Fridays. We also use about 5 minutes to give each an opportunity respond to memos sent by us concerning the company. This really is appreciated by all of our office people, and lunch varies from pizza, to chinese food, rice and chicken, etc. ;the problem that we have is there is always food leftover. One of the gals in the accounting department says, "I am not cooking tonight and I have to feed Joe". She wraps it up and takes all of it home.

                                                                                                    Eventually she was told that Joe should perhaps go on a diet on Fridays, or learn how to cook for himself....

                                                                                                    PS....she was then assigned to cleanout the fridge in the lunchroom once a week...I guess Joe gets to eat a lot of half eaten bagels with creamcheese....

                                                                                                    So perhaps being upfront, sometimes works!

                                                                                                    1. re: PHREDDY

                                                                                                      I am of the belief that being upfront always works....especially in a work environment. There are too many reasons for people to gossip and start, what should have been a very benign problem, and turn it into a huge dilemma.
                                                                                                      I love your idea of lunch on the alternating Fridays. I also love the idea that someone told her that what she was doing wasn't the right thing to do.

                                                                                            2. That's what locks on desks are for and there's no reason you could find a container for the frig with its own little lock. Saw some for about $10

                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: escondido123

                                                                                                Yup - agree.

                                                                                                Instead of intentionally poisoning someone at the office, just buy yourself a locking lunch box. They come in all sizes, most of which are small enough to fit in an office fridge. Just take a deep breath & do a search for "locking lunch boxes". I'd feel much better about myself having one of these than launching a poison brigade on someone who may not have all his mental ducks in a row.

                                                                                                1. re: escondido123

                                                                                                  If people were serious about protecting their own food, they'd purchase one of them.

                                                                                                  It appears there's more to the story.

                                                                                                  1. Anyone who steals or messes with someone's food deserves what they get. If they get sick, well, then they asked for it, and will have to explain that they were doing something that they shouldn't have which is how they ended up in whatever distress they were in. The owner of the food is allowed to add any ingredients they desire. Period! It's not as though they were poisoning an animal that wouldn't know it was wrong to eat anything that it happens to find. These are intentional acts.

                                                                                                    1. Folks, we don't think a thread coming up with ever more creative ways to sabotage food is really a good fit for Chowhound, so we're going to lock this now.