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The One Time Someone Bothers To Read A Sign…

, , , , , , | Working | January 12, 2023

My office has a “donation” table in the break room where people can put any food they want to give away to the office. It has a sign that reads, “Donation Table: Any food left here is up for grabs.”

One day, I was in the break room, preparing my lunch. A fairly new hire walked in and pulled one of the lunch boxes out of the fridge before going over and putting it on the donation table. She then stood there, staring at it for a few seconds, before picking it up again. It was only when she picked it up that I recognized the distinctive bag of one of the guys that sits in my cubicle pod, with a cartoon character sewn into the side of it.

Me: “Hey, I think that’s [Coworker]’s. You’ve gotten it mixed up.”

New Hire: *Looking baffled* “But it was on the table.”

Me: *Now also somewhat baffled* “What? I… No, look at the side. That’s [Coworker]’s bag.”

New Hire: “But it was on the table.”

She then points at the sign, and it starts to dawn on me what she is implying.

Me: “You put it on the table. You don’t get to take other people’s food just because you put it on the donation table.”

New Hire: “But the table’s for donations. It was on the table.”

At that point, I’d circled around over to her, and I realized this was going nowhere. I reached out and pulled the lunch box out of her hands. She didn’t resist, just standing there, looking baffled, and I walked over and stuck the bag back in the fridge. When I turned back around, she was walking out.

I retrieved my meal from the microwave, and then I walked around the corner to Human Resources to let them know what had happened. They were as baffled at [New Hire]’s “logic” as I was, and apparently, there had been a couple of lunch thefts reported in the past couple of days. When I followed up with our HR representative a couple of days later, she let me know that they’d asked the new hire about it, and she’d actually confirmed that she had taken the lunches because “they were on the table”.

Somehow, she kept her job for another month, but then she ended up being let go. I’m not sure if it was for things like this or if this sort of muddled behavior was just indicative of her work elsewhere.

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