What is the situation with the refrigerator where you work? Are there rules about how long something can stay in the fridge? Does the food have to be labeled? Or is your break room fridge a stinking mess of old pizza boxes and mystery meat?
Ours is pretty decent. Every few months, someone will post a notice that on Friday, everything will be tossed. It's never an issue for me because I do not Abandon Food. I have never abandoned food in my entire life. Along with "She never let a vacation day go unused," they will probably put, "Never let food go to waste" on my tombstone. Whoever "they" is. I will undoubtedly outlive SH, which will be my only chance to move someplace warm - after he is dead - and we don't have kids, so who will put up my tombstone? I guess I don't care. I will be dead.
So we have a decent fridge at work. If I ever put anything in it, I label it. I write my name on my diet Dr Pepper. One time, a bottle of it disappeared, so the next time, I left a post-it on the bottle that said, "I have ebola." The diet Dr Pepper theft stopped.
The only other item I put in the fridge is coffee. Not the really crummy coffee you get from the break room machine - this is the only place I have ever worked that did not have free coffee and all the years I worked at the free coffee places, I did not drink coffee, so it was all wasted - but the Good Coffee that I buy at the Good Coffee place where coffee is a ritual and the clerks know the names of everyone who shops there and you wait for your Good Coffee surrounded by other people who have taken a quick break from work to buy coffee and you are content in your coffee solidarity because even though you wait for milk to go on sale for two dollars a gallon, you will pay three dollars for coffee and feel like you are special.
Well, maybe not special. Maybe a little dumb. But there is an arbitrage opportunity for milk and there is not for coffee so one does what one must.
I buy the Good Coffee and I get the medium sized cup, which costs $3.50. It has the right coffee-milk ratio - for all three sizes of lattes, they use two shots and I have finally figured out that the large coffee has the wrong proportions. So the best value for the flavor I want is the medium size, of which I drink half and save half for the next day.
I am thrifty that way.
Even though day-old coffee is not as good as fresh coffee.
But if I spent three dollars a day on coffee, that would be $60 a month which is $720 a year and now you are talking serious cash.
So I get coffee maybe once a week - usually with my buds from Brazil and Puerto Rico - and I drink it over two days.
So. Coffee. In fridge. With my name on it.
Day 2 after Good Coffee purchase. I make my weary way to the breakroom, open the fridge, and discover the coffee is gone. Gone, gone, gone.
I close the door and open it again because sometimes, denying reality can change it.
Still no coffee.
I close the fridge again, consider opening it again, realize that won't change anything.
So I stomp back to my office area, seeking someone to share my pain.
"My coffee is gone!" I tell M, the admin. "It was there yesterday!"
She tells me that she has seen Tammy, who works across the hall, throw coffee away before. "I was in the break room. Tammy opened the fridge, looked in, looked at someone's coffee, and said, 'That's been in here a while,' and threw it away."
I gasp. "In front of you?" I ask. "She didn't even try to hide it?"
M shakes her head.
"Cindy said someone threw away her coffee once. She thought someone might have stolen it, which is crazy, but throwing away someone else's coffee is just as crazy."
M says, "I don't know that she threw yours away. I just know I have seen her do it."
How do you confront someone you think might have thrown away your coffee? How do you do that when all you have is one tiny piece of circumstantial evidence - although it might reveal a pattern of behavior? What do you do when this person is a really nice person otherwise?
I took the passive aggressive route, which is my favorite. I wrote a stern note and put it on the fridge. "Please do not discard items that do not belong to you!" it said. "Signed, Someone whose coffee was thrown away even though it was only one day old."
The sign disappeared the next day, but I have not had any more coffee incidents.