There aren’t a lot of picky eaters in finance. Yes, there are probably some vegetarians/vegans who are more discerning, but I’m sure they make up for it by drinking all day at corporate outings. For the rest of us free food meets three essential characteristics:
- It’s free
- It’s edible (usually)
- It’s potentially in a common area that doesn’t have a sign on the door describing gender
Now you’re saying to yourself, ‘This is all well and good, but what if it’s a trap, or, at the least, a test.’ Of course it’s a test! You’re testing the boundaries of your own stomach by noshing on that empanada or philandering with that deli turkey. You know where that turkey’s been? Of course you don’t. They don’t put a chip in the turkey to track it. That would be a disgrace to a nice animal like a turkey. Let me tell you where it’s been. It had a deli spa treatment. Then it got slathered with mayonnaise and listened to a presentation about why our product is going to revolutionize the marketplace if we can just get the accounting rules changed. Despite the warmth of the laptop sitting next to it for a half an hour, that little turkey sandwich stood tall ready for a big time exec to go dancing. Then a miracle happened that saved this turkey for the greater public – those wise executives could not tell the difference between roast beef and turkey. Meetings all day, every day apparently make you blind and destroy other senses like taste. Anyway, around 1:00 a special delivery to the kitchen has brought us all face to face with free food.
You are older and wiser and probably a touch disgruntled. You say ‘Bah! I already ate lunch and now they bring sandwiches. Nice.’ You are not Steve Stasher. Steve is 25 and every time you see him he’s eating something. You hope it’s food, but you’re not really sure. Steve’s motives are two-fold – he’s trying to save money by utilizing free food and he’s obviously running a homeless shelter in his free time. He marches into the kitchen to throw out his McDonald’s bag and then he is stopped. “Oh dude, sandwiches.”
Steve has a fairly well established procedure down, we’ll call it the 33/66 plan. He eats one sandwich on site to ensure high quality and then he takes two for the road. Strangely enough Steve is very chipper in the mornings, but by 4:00 he looks kind of like Grimace.
While Steve is a nice guy and everybody likes him, there is a more insidious creature among your ranks, isn’t there? Sara Stickyfingers. We don’t know for sure that Sara is the one stealing microwave meals out of the freezer or a sandwich here and there out of the fridge, but the circumstantial evidence starts to mount:
-She doesn’t eat lunch in the kitchen
-She swipes handfuls of candy from desks, but only when the owner is not there
-She drinks her coffee with milk she didn’t buy
-When you try to have a conversation with her it strangely ends with you disclosing what food you have in your desk drawer.
I am not trying to stereotype that this type of colleague is always a woman. There a lot of sketchy guys that you probably work with too, but they are often too busy ogling the busty newbie to have time to plan out a massive food snatching operation.
They say that bonding employees does not prevent theft of cash. Similarly, putting your name on your lunch does not prevent it from being eaten by someone who is not you and not Steve Stasher because God knows, he’s building sandwiches with yesterday’s executive meat. How do we catch these people? First we need to think like them. They like to prey on the people that are most hungry and aren’t carrying a lot of extra cash. Who am I talking about? The people who get to the office earliest. They come in early to avoid the commuting traffic to save the little bit of gas money and leave early to be able to pick their kids up from day care before getting charged late fees. They are organized and planned out with a good substantial lunch. These folks are rabid by 11:15, but they fight through the hunger until 12:00 so they can eat with everyone else. Wouldn’t you know it, they’re thinking about that lunch bag when somebody else is walking off with it. Then our poor colleague struggles for the strength to open the fridge at 12:00 only to realize the bag with their name on it is gone. They have no cash on them so now they have to borrow and go out. Oh, the horror! The irony is that while they’re out feverishly looking for food, Sara Stickyfingers only ate half their lunch because she’s on a diet. And, as a double-whammy the executives have left a tray of salad and pepperoni in the kitchen. You haven’t even gotten past lunch and your day is quickly suffocating.
What is the worst thing you’ve had stolen at work? I actually heard about someone having their breast milk stolen. Sorry folks, Steve cannot replace breast milk (let’s hope), but he will console you with an ‘Oh, nasty.’ and offer up a half a muffin that came from a breakfast meeting this morning.