It was an accident, the kind of split-second disaster played out in corporate lunch rooms around noon every day. I reached into the fridge to grab my cubby of leftovers from amongst the other tubs and containers, and out fell somebody else’s.
The yellow Tupperware tumbled off its perch, conked into a shelf and flipped to land on the floor – face down, lid off, pasta strewn. Lunch? Served.
Even if you subscribe to the 5-second rule, it surely does not apply to linguine and seasoned chicken chunks. Mop-sop-scoop? Wait – with hands? Ick. Container? Better. There could be no delusions of pretend-it-never-happened.
Mess disposed, evidenced tidied, floor sanitized, I washed the mystery person’s container, warmed my waiting pasta and beanballs, then returned to my desk to type a note to my coworkers.
Subject line: “Sorry about your lunch.”
“If you had the yellow Tupperware container with a pasta dish inside, I apologize,” I wrote to our staff listserv. “It fell out when I pulled my lunch from the fridge, the lid came off and it splattered on the floor. It’s cleaned up and the container is washed. Happy to buy your lunch, just stop by my desk.”
What followed was swift proof that we’ve suffered quietly through too much break room abuse.
“How often do our lunches or sodas go missing and we never know why?” one colleague wrote to the entire staff. “What a stand-up thing to do.”
“Like button,” came another response.
Still another: “I <3 u."
One person suggested they buy my lunch.
“That feeling you might have had when you realized someone's lunch dumped out on the floor, yeah, that should be gone,” a coworker messaged, “and completely replaced by the fact that you are now the coolest person in this newsroom for your honesty.”
Not so true: It’s not cool at all to splash around in noodle muck or ruin someone’s snack. But it seems there's potential for redemption around our rage-marinated office fridges.
Thing is, nobody ever claimed the spent meal. Whoever you are, pasta-less CNN employee, why don’t you stop by my desk? We should get lunch.
Previously - The politics of the office coffee pot
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