The Talk Blog

What's your Beef-a-Roni? – battling over office kitchen etiquette

- Last modified: October 23, 2013 at 9:02 AM

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While the bathroom is generally considered to be the most dangerous room in the home, there's little doubt that the most dangerous room in the workplace is the kitchen.

Source: passiveagressivenotes.com
Source: passiveagressivenotes.com

There are no sharp pointy objects for you to worry about – well, there might be – but you're a grown-up, so leave those be.

The real landmine you have to worry about is proper office kitchen etiquette.

Anyone who has ever come across a hastily handwritten "Your mother doesn't work here, please wash your own dishes" sign knows what I mean – Especially if "your" was spelled "you're" and someone crossed it out and spelled it properly.

Whether large or small, the office kitchen is a hotbed of coworker confrontations and reheating ruckuses.

For example, most offices have an unwritten rule about heating up last night's fish dinner in the microwave oven.

No matter how good it tasted last night, day-old fish will leave the office smelling like –well, day-old fish.

Ain't nobody got time for that.

The basic rule of thumb is leave stinky food at home.

Innocent infractions are usually forgiven, especially if the noncompliant co-worker owns up to the stink and apologizes that he or she had not realized it would smell so badly.

But I've also seen coworkers take YEARS to live down a particularly smelly dish that left office mates running to open windows to get away from the smell of slightly turned tuna or overly exotic spices.

And if you burn popcorn, be prepared to be scorned for the rest of your career in that office.

While it doesn't bother me personally, some people find the smell of burnt popcorn to be more offensive than that of a basket of dirty gym socks, and they will spend the rest of the day glaring at you and asking why "you just couldn't keep an eye on your darn popcorn!?"

Messes usually are a touchy subject.

We've all probably left a spill at some point or another. You were just about to wipe up that coffee stain when you hear your phone ring or the boss calls you over. You're distracted, you forget about it and it stays until the next unsuspecting person stumbles upon what was clearly the work of a person who "has no consideration for others!"

And you know you've seen a mess and wondered what jerk left it behind and "who the heck did they think was going to clean this up?"

Passive-aggressive notes? Yeah, I've written a few. But, if you had your lunch stolen as many times as I had in some of my previous jobs, you'd be driven to become a mad sharpie and post-it note-wielding Don Quixote, too.

Correcting a misspelling? I usually leave that to other people. Nobody likes the grammar police. I do giggle and judge, though, so I'm hardly innocent.

If you think about it, you've probably been guilty of one kitchen crime or another over the course of your career.

Maybe you're the one who left that ham sandwich in the back of the mini-fridge for six months, or maybe you're the one who took the last cup of coffee and didn't make a new pot. Hey, you were busy. I understand.

But the next time you find yourself ready for a kitchen confrontation, try to remember that no one is perfect.

At home in your kitchen you get everything your way – unless you have kids.

At work, you’ve got to share a small, important space with a lot of hungry people. Give a slob a break and forgive a small slight. And if you’re the dirty diner, try to remember others need to use that microwave too … wipe your Beef-a-Roni off the walls when you’re done.


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