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living in the fridge 10: moldy fruit May 15, 2009

Posted by That Guy in Living in the Fridge.
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“Living in the Fridge” is a week-long series covering things you’ll find in your office’s refrigerator. Items 1 through 5 appeared in December 2008.

Photo by Liz Jones

Photo by Liz Jones

Moldy fruit. We’ve all been there; we’ve all made our effort to lose weight by eating healthier — more fruits, more vegetables, more sandwiches, fewer meals out, fewer frozen dinners, fewer donuts. It always starts so well, too; we come to work with a low-salt turkey sandwich, two apples, and a bag of soy crisps.

And we forget. We ignore the apples because “I already had that cookie this morning” or “I had a banana with my breakfast, so I can skip it.” We leave them in the refrigerator.

Forever.

Then, one day about four months later, we get a hankering for a snack of some sort. There’s nothing in the drawers. There’s no time to go out. But… but… oh, yeah, that apple I never ate! It’s totally still in the refrigerator.

Yeah. You’re not going to want to eat that.

The best part about moldy fruit in the work refrigerator is that no one throws it away. They just leave it, hoping that the custodians will toss it, or the owner will remember it, or someone else will take care of it. They forget that they work in an office; no one does favors for anyone, no matter how small — not even anything as simple as tossing some trash into the bin. That fruit’s going to sit there until the end of time, being moved around from shelf to shelf until, finally, it collapses into a sticky puddle.

Then people will just avoid that part of the refrigerator.

Moldy fruit: it’s living in the fridge.

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Living in the Fridge will return at some point in the future, when I think of five more things in everyone’s office refrigerator.

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living in the fridge 9: milk May 14, 2009

Posted by That Guy in Living in the Fridge.
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“Living in the Fridge” is a week-long series covering things you’ll find in your office’s refrigerator. Items 1 through 5 appeared in December 2008.

Milk. There are people who like their coffee black. Then there are people like me — people who like it a little creamier. Companies that provide coffee also likely provide either small tubs of cream or non-dairy powdered creamer, but neither is very good; the tubs don’t cool the coffee, and they have added sugar most of the time, while the powdered stuff… well, we all know what you can do with that.

(Give it about a minute. You’ll figure it out.)

So what do people do? They bring their own milk. I bring my own milk — pints or quarts or even a water bottle filled with it because they only had half-gallons at the store. I figure if you have a small enough container of milk, people won’t feel compelled to steal what you brought.

Not everyone has this figured out, however. And so you end up with two or three half-gallons of milk in the refrigerator, wrapped in a plastic grocery bag or (maybe) labeled with the name of the person to whom it belongs. You tend to know which milk container is yours… but no one else does.

And no one else cares, as long as the expiration date hasn’t been reached. If you’re not careful, and you make it easy, someone like me is going to pour a few ounces of your milk into my coffee mug and enjoy every sip. You’ll have no idea, and you’ll have no recourse; after all, hundreds of people work here. How can you know who stole your milk?

Hey, it wasn’t me! You can’t prove it was me! What, this coffee? That’s non-dairy powdered creamer in there; want to try some? No? Well, all right then.

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living in the fridge 8: insulated lunch bags May 13, 2009

Posted by That Guy in Living in the Fridge.
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“Living in the Fridge” is a week-long series covering things you’ll find in your office’s refrigerator. Items 1 through 5 appeared in December 2008.

Please don't put insulated lunch bags in the refrigerator.

Please don't put insulated lunch bags in the refrigerator.

Insulated Lunch Bags. This one’s just common sense. Why would you put an insulated lunch bag into the refrigerator? What’s the point? You’re just taking up space that people without insulated lunch bags will have to use. Your lunch bag probably isn’t even 100% full!

If you’re going to spend the money on an insulated lunch bag, throw in an ice pack and keep it at your desk. What’s the point of spending $20 on a bag that keeps the heat out if you’re going to try to keep it cold by putting it in the refrigerator?

I’m sorry, but my mind is so completely boggled that I can’t come up with any more coherent thoughts on the subject. Just… if you do this, don’t.

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living in the fridge 7: leftovers May 12, 2009

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“Living in the Fridge” is a week-long series covering things you’ll find in your office’s refrigerator. Items 1 through 5 appeared in December 2008.

CC-licensed photo by Kelly Sue DeConnick

CC-licensed photo by Kelly Sue DeConnick

Leftovers. Ah, leftovers. A glimpse into your co-workers’ home lives. A sample of what they’ve eaten in the past and what they will eat again — because, really, who cooks only one night’s worth of anything?

So they bring it to the office. Little plastic containers populate the refrigerator; only a few at first, but as the morning wears on, they multiply like mushrooms after the rain. And by 2:00, they’re all gone, the empty containers in purses and bags, dropped carelessly on desks, or mistakenly thrown away.

But what was in there? What did you see as your eyes scanned the break room? What odoriferous feasts permeated the cubicle farm? And who the hell cooked fish in the microwave again? (Don’t worry; if you watch the video all the way to the end, the joke makes sense.)

I have a couple of running jokes with my co-workers when it comes to lunch; one of them is that I always make Veronica hungry as I walk past with my reheated food. Some days it’s soup; some days it’s fish (I find that a cream sauce cuts the smell down to pretty much nil); some days it’s whatever chicken dish I made the night before. It all depends. But I’ve brought a lot of leftovers to work in the years I’ve been here, mostly to save money.

For some, though, leftovers are a status symbol — “Look at me! I don’t have to go out to eat! I have a tasty, home-cooked meal (at least, the remnants of one) that I’m going to enjoy in full view of all of you with your sandwiches or your frozen dinners. When you’re jonesing for a snack later, I’ll be at my desk, still sated, occasionally letting out a genteel, well-flavored burp.”

Burp with pride, my fellow leftover-eaters. Burp with pride.

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living in the fridge 6: the forever snack May 11, 2009

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“Living in the Fridge” is a week-long series covering things you’ll find in your office’s refrigerator. This is the second time through; the first time, we examined ice, health drinks, signs, stickers, and plastic grocery bags.

Milk? Check. Juice? Check. Opaque box that's been there for months? That's a big check. (Photo by Andrew Bossi)

Milk? Check. Juice? Check. Opaque box that's been there for months? That's a big check. (Photo by Andrew Bossi)

The Forever Snack. About three months ago*, I noticed that the same single-serving bottle of apple juice was on the door of our refrigerator here at CorporateSpeak. I happened to be thirsty, but I didn’t drink it, because I didn’t know who it belonged to. I went up to the main break room and bought a little bottle of juice.

I watched. I waited. I observed that the juice didn’t move more than a few inches in either direction. After a month, it still hadn’t been drunk. After two, the expiration date was getting closer, but nothing else was changing.

So last week I drank it. And I enjoyed it.

That’s not quite the same as the forever snack, but the principle is sound: it’s a plastic container with food in it. It’s been there forever. You don’t know who it belongs to. It never moves much. People put their lunches on top of it, or slide it to the back of the refrigerator, but it never leaves the refrigerator. Employees come and employees go, but the forever snack persists. Because it’s in a container that looks like someone brought it from home, the custodians don’t remove it; they clean around it.

And in two years, when you’ve moved on but come back to have lunch with your old co-workers, take a moment to check the refrigerator. The forever snack will still be there.

Forever.

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* Yes, I really did write it down so I could tell the story on the site. Yes, I really am that anal sometimes.

living in the fridge 5: ice December 12, 2008

Posted by That Guy in Free Food!, Living in the Fridge.
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“Living in the Fridge” is a week-long series covering things you’ll find in your office’s refrigerator.

CC-licensed photo by Flickr user Dan4th.

CC-licensed photo by Flickr user Dan4th.

Ice. And not the good kind. Not the kind that you can get from the dispenser or the ice cube tray and put in your drink. No, I’m talking about the gigantic mountains of frost that appear around the freezer of poorly-insulated refrigeration units — especially mini-fridges.

It starts out as just a little frost that you run your finger over and think, “oh, this isn’t a big deal, I’ll just leave it for now.” Then it gets worse and worse, until you can’t use the freezer. Until the freezer tray gets stuck altogether. Until the door doesn’t close.

Then comes the time of the defrosting. It takes a whole day. You can’t refrigerate anything. And when it’s done, you have to somehow get the fridge to a sink or bathroom so you can dump all the water out. Because makers of mini-fridges haven’t yet figured out that their products always frost up and it’s always a royal pain to defrost them.

Although, come to think of it, I know someone who has a mini-fridge in his basement, and it hasn’t frozen at all. Maybe the mini-fridges I’ve been exposed to have just been crappy models.

Anyway, this concludes the first Living in the Fridge series. I’ll do another at some point, and if you have suggestions, send them to me. I’ll see what I can find behind the milk.

living in the fridge 4: health drinks December 11, 2008

Posted by That Guy in Free Food!, Living in the Fridge.
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“Living in the Fridge” is a week-long series covering things you’ll find in your office’s refrigerator.

Remixed CC-licensed photo by Flickr user ninjapoodles.

Remixed CC-licensed photo by Flickr user ninjapoodles.

Health Drinks. We all want to lose weight. Even the hot receptionist thinks she (or he) needs to lose five pounds. And what’s the fastest way to pretend like you’re actually serious about it?

That’s right. A health drink.

It’s common these days to find at least one can of Slim-Fast or its less-expensive (or more-expensive) equivalent somewhere in the refrigerator. It’s one thing no one will steal because:

  • Everyone knows the person who owns the drink, and that’s often not a person you want to mess with.
  • It tastes kind of like chocolate and kind of like ass.

If you’re hungry enough, sure, you’ll drink it, but even suspect sandwiches or Chinese food with only a tiny bit of green fuzz on it is more palatable than a health drink. It’s like when you’re a kid and someone gives you brussels sprouts… you just eat right around them.

***

I just noticed that this is post #100. That may or may not be interesting to you.

living in the fridge 3: signs December 10, 2008

Posted by That Guy in Free Food!, Living in the Fridge.
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“Living in the Fridge” is a week-long series covering things you’ll find in your office’s refrigerator.

Signs. There’s nowhere better than a corporate-style office to find signs posted everywhere that someone thought were amusing. I’ve got a whole post about this brewing in my brain. But if you really want to see *cough* creativity in action, find a refrigerator and behold gems like this:

CC-licensed photo by Flickr user avlxyz.

CC-licensed photo by Flickr user avlxyz.

If someone eats food that didn’t belong to them, you may also see something like this:

CC-licensed photo by Flickr user joelogon.

CC-licensed photo by Flickr user joelogon.

Sometimes, though, keeping it in the peer group isn’t enough and you have to go to your boss, who will probably say (privately, while reading your e-mail) “oh, for the love of…!” and then slap one of these on the fridge:

CC-licensed photo by Flickr user quinn.anya.

CC-licensed photo by Flickr user quinn.anya.

Because really, that works wonders. All it does is make employees think the boss has nothing better to do or is an officious time-waster while simultaneously pointing the finger at the person who had food stolen — because we all know who it was, the little tattletale.

There’s one more kind of fridge sign you might find. It’s the nice one:

CC-licensed photo by Flickr user avlxyz.

CC-licensed photo by Flickr user avlxyz.

You never really know what you’re getting, but no one turns down free food. In fact, employees on diets are especially susceptible because if they’re not paying for it, it doesn’t exist. Right? Right? Anyone?

For more refrigerator signs, check out this Flickr photo pool. There’s about five minutes of amusement in it. And feel free to drop your own favorite refrigerator signs in the comments.

living in the fridge 2: it’s mine December 9, 2008

Posted by That Guy in Free Food!, Living in the Fridge.
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“Living in the Fridge” is a week-long series covering things you’ll find in your office’s refrigerator.

CC-licensed photo by Flickr user quinn.anya.

CC-licensed photo by Flickr user quinn.anya.

“It’s Mine” Stickers. Once upon a time, I worked in a 24-hour business that had a lot of problems with food theft. The head of maintenance got around this by printing out sheets of labels. Some said “GO FOR IT” and others said “IT’S MINE” with a line for a name. And for the most part, that worked. But then, that business had more conscientious people in it. Food rarely, if ever, disappeared.

But those stickers? No. No way. Not going to work these days, not with people working unpaid overtime, late into the night, and desperate for something — anything — to give them enough blood sugar to drive home and collapse on the couch with a pint of ice cream or a paper bag from McDonalds. When you’re dizzy enough that it hurts to walk to the break room, it doesn’t matter whose name is on the item. It’s mine now.

Alternative Methods: Don’t use stickers that no one will read; packing tape to seal your food; order a pizza.

living in the fridge 1: plastic grocery bags December 8, 2008

Posted by That Guy in Free Food!, Living in the Fridge.
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“Living in the Fridge” is a week-long series covering things you’ll find in your office’s refrigerator.

It’s amazing the stuff you can find in your office’s refrigerator. Maybe yours is very clean. Maybe it’s filthy. Maybe it’s a combination. Maybe it’s rarely used. Maybe it’s jam-packed. No one knows, but in Living in the Fridge, CorporateSpeak is going to look at the five things you’ll probably find in your office refrigerator.

First, here’s the inspiration:

And now, item 1:

CC-licensed photo by Flickr user "The Marmot"Plastic Grocery Bags. Even in these tough economic times, when companies are trying to get us to buy 99-cent reuseable grocery bags with their logos on, it’s impossible to avoid these plastic bags. They’re just flimsy enough to be useless for anything except garbage and food, and just strong enough to carry a gallon of milk up three flights of stairs before giving way at the very top and coating your stairwell in a waterfall of whiteness.

What a beautiful image. Let’s all take a moment to reflect upon it. You may say “wusaw” if you wish.

Anyway. Yeah. Your co-workers (maybe even you) probably think that just because it’s in a plastic grocery bag, that means no one’s going to touch it.

Yeah. Right.

Anything in the office fridge is fair game for the hungriest among us. Sure, you brought in some tasty leftover stew or half a sandwich from the sub shop or even some Chinese takeout that you’ve been coveting for hours and hours. But you’re not the only one who’s coveting. In fact, it’s highly likely that the moment you told your coworkers what you brought for lunch at least one of them began salivating, waiting for that moment when you leave the food in the fridge and forget it’s there. In fact, it’s probable there’s a plastic bag brigade just waiting to see who leaves what food in the fridge for more than a couple of days.

Alternative Methods: Obtain a mini-fridge at your desk; use a lunchbox or thermal bag; go out to eat; wrap packing tape around your bag; put your name on the bag and hope for the best.