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fridge sign week October 19, 2009

Posted by That Guy in Free Food!.
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This week, I am honoring — and writing about — the myriad of amusing signs people post in breakrooms to keep people from eating their food, drinking their drinks, or acting stupid about food in general. Posts will arrive around lunchtime each day.

CC-licensed photo by Flickr user quinn.anya.

CC-licensed photo by Flickr user quinn.anya.

But first… I’ve found there’s a relatively large problem with posting admonitory signs in an office environment — and especially in the breakroom — and that is: people don’t pay attention, except to deride the sign-maker. And they all know who it is.

It’s not just the breakroom (or kitchen) either; it’s all over the office. Just try to say something that helps everyone like “please don’t leave food here” or “use this mat for your wet umbrellas” or “we have a smoking area; please be respectful of employees with asthma”.

It becomes a constant battle of one-upsmanship after that. The signs are disregarded or torn down, so they’re replaced with even-more-strongly-worded signs… which are disregarded, degraded, or torn down, so they’re replaced with something in large print that includes a threat to go to HR.

Are you really going to go to HR because someone drank the soda you left in the refrigerator? Sure, it’s a pretty dick thing to do, but is it worth opening up that can of worms and being the guy who got Sam fired because he took your sugar-water?

It all starts at the top, with a good corporate environment. I’ve worked in offices where people leave stickers with their names on their stuff and said stickers are usually respected; I’ve worked in offices where people partook (parktaked?) freely of sauces and dressings but left drinks and food alone; I’ve worked in offices where people were afraid to even get near the refrigerator and left their food in their lockers, sealed in insulated bags. The better the corporate environment, the fewer signs you will have to deride.

Or post, if you’re that guy.

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