following essay was produced as part of my 2013 effort for the
November National Novel Writing Month effort. As such, please
understand that while I did give it a quick review, it has not
gone through the same proofreading and editing I normally try
to give all of the material posted on this site.
always make some mistakes. There are errors to be found throughout
this web site, and many exist despite dozens of attempts to correct
problems. That said, ask that you approach this material in the
spirit intended – a basic thought, slightly worked out and very
informally researched, delivered in the hopes of writing more
than 50,000 words by the end of November.
~ ~ ~
want to take a few seconds as we start this effort to direct your
attention to a story. In it, you’ll read about the man that called
the police… because someone had stolen his Jell-o
from the office fridge.
a funny thing, the common areas of a workplace. Coffee pots… water
coolers… copier rooms… and, of course, the refrigerator.
is an unwritten code of respect that goes along with any and all
of them… one that comes crashing down because, as we all know,
common sense isn’t that common. But of all of the items involved
in stepping over the line and showing a lack of consideration
for your co-workers, the theft of food seems to be where I begin
to lose all ability to offer defenses for the violators of conduct.
we’ve all seen the letter -- “Your mother does not work here.
Please clean up after yourself.” Someone gets fed up, fires off
the head’s up from a printer, posts it, and everyone gets a laugh
out of it.
laugh? Sure… because the people posting it are more or less just
as ignorant as the blockheads that put an empty pot back on a
they actually think a person leaving stirrers and empty sugar
packets in a puddle of coffee drippings on the counter will pay
attention to a letter.
don’t want to wander too far down the path of unwritten codes,
since they are just that… unwritten. Several of them may present
no issue at all with you. Many border, or even venture into the
territory, of pet peeves. And yet…
like to think we can all agree that there are most definitely
of my pet peeves? Smelly foods.
don’t care if you want to eat at your desk or in our shared office
environment. But when you head to the microwave or toaster oven
to reheat last night’s leftovers and fill the air with a thick
haze of whatever it is… yeah, that drives me nuts.
problem is, in many instances we are not going to come to an agreement
remember one time I was dropping something off in another department.
I stopped to talk to a friend of mine for a minute or so, when
I heard a shout come from the kitchen area. Seems that someone
could not believe -- and I should probably stress that -- could…
not… BELIEVE… that a co-worker had the audacity
to brew a pot of flavored coffee and then leave it there with
no label or warning that it was a pot of flavored coffee.
I decided not to push this one. After all, this person probably
believes that everyone knows the difference in colors used on
different pots to designate regular coffee inside as opposed to
decaffeinated… and therefor they could never have poured a cup
out of the contents within a decaf pot and wound up with regular.
better still, they are certain that while sitting in a restaurant,
right around closing time, that the decaf they ordered actually
was decaf served. Yeah. That’s it. Because no restaurant employee
would ever decide it was too much trouble to brew a fresh pot
because of the one customer that wants decaf at closing time when
the decaf pots were already cleaned and stored for closing.
the point is… there are certain levels of problems as opposed
to inconveniences… and inside those levels we have differences
of opinions and personal habits and all sorts of other troubles.
stealing someone’s lunch? Yeah… that takes a special type of inconsiderate.
said, I do subscribe to the belief that those that don’t get it,
don’t get that they don’t get it.
midnight. The dogs have been rustling about, and the decision
is made to get up, head to the back door, and let them out for
a few minutes. And while they take care of their business, you
decide that late night snack might just be in order. So you open
the cupboard… and the fridge… and check the counters. You might
wind up with a graham cracker or a couple of tortilla chips, but
that doesn’t stop you… still a bit in the fog of sleep… from hoping
that perhaps some ice cream, pie or cookies eluded your attention
earlier in the evening, suddenly to be found in these quiet moments.
wonder about that because… let’s face it… beyond coffee, sugar,
and some creamers, there often isn’t a steady supply of goodies
that are company issued into the inventory of the break room.
yet, somehow, there are people that open the freezer, see a frozen
Smart Ones or two, and think that they just magically appeared
for their consumption.
of course, the business buys coffee and tea. Therefore, that single
can of soda or lonely bottle of lemonade must be up for grabs…
finders keepers style.
can you reason with people connecting those dots? (Because the
reality is, they are looking at a very different picture than
the rest of us once the connecting is done.)
ago, I worked in a place where one of my jobs was to take a cart
from my department, head down to the cafeteria, and obtain some
items to restock our kitchen. Nothing too fancy… but honestly,
not too shabby either. Coffee, sugar and cream… absolutely. But
also three or four different kinds of juices, some bread, butter
and jelly, and then a few saltines and other crackers.
was the exception though… and I knew it then, and know it now.
It never left me with the delusions that a Jell-o container was
mine for the taking. I never began to look through lunch bag after
lunch bag until I found a sandwich I might like.
it’s just some adult extension of the mine-mine-mine stages of
childhood. Not certain.
I can tell you is that anyone that steals your Jell-o is, quite
specifically and truthfully, not just misguided. They don’t see
things the way most people do.
unfortunate thing is that the majority of us need to understand
that before we bring our lunch to the group refrigerator… or,
make a pot of flavored coffee.