Office Etiquette: Case of the Missing Sandwich

Posted by The Editors on September 22, 2011
Office Etiquette: Case of the Missing Sandwich

As I sit at my desk eating my tasty turkey sub, I think there is no better time to bring up a very serious subject: lunch thievery.  Sure, laugh it off now, but just think, you could be the next victim of the infamous sandwich swiper.

During a previous job, where I was introduced to the concept of lunch thievery, the office had spunk. There were more beers in the kitchen than coffee pods. Harmless pranks were played on coworkers: Jell-O molding the boss’s mouse, sticking post-it notes all over cubicles. All well and good in the name of fun.

But a few weeks after I started, I heard an employee complain that his lunch mysteriously went missing. As a budding journalist, I naturally got my Nancy Drew on to solve this confounding mystery. I started asking those hard-hitting journalistic questions: Who would steal another person’s lunch? Did he just forget his lunch in his car? Maybe he didn’t bring in a lunch today after all?

When lunchtime rolled around I snuck a few peaks into the kitchen every time someone went in. Luckily, the intern’s desk was practically placed in the kitchen anyway, so I didn’t look too conspicuous. And under my watchful eye, no complaints of missing lunches were reported that week.

Unfortunately, I never learned the true identity of the office 3A sandwich bandit. However, I did learn a few lessons about office etiquette—specifically involving lunch—as well as an effective technique for preventing thievery (pack lunch in cooler and leave under desk).

Even if your not facing the same problem I did all those years ago, it’s likely that you could encounter a variety of other food-related situations in the workplace. To avoid the glaring and disapproving eyes of your co-workers every time the clock strikes 12 noon, I recommend that you adhere to the following guidelines.

Nothing too crunchy
For obvious reasons, this is only going to annoy the people sitting next to you. Unless you all are sharing that huge bag of potato chips, I suggest refraining, going into the kitchen, or at the very least letting your office mates know that you’re well aware of the volume and plan to finish shortly.

Nothing too smelly
I once worked in an office where me and a few other coworkers worked in a row of computer desks with hardly any space between us. One woman was so sensitive to the aura of another person’s lunch that she actually got sick right at her desk. There are hundreds of lunch options to choose from. For everyone else’s sake, avoid onions, garlic, fish and other odorous foods.

Limit the condiments
One or two are fine but after that, your condiments are taking up valuable fridge space.

Don’t forget napkins
Just in case your balsamic vinaigrette spills, you’re ready to take care of it.

Mind your table manners
Remember all those rules your parents instilled in you from a young age? They still apply decades later.

Clean up
Be respectful of your surroundings. You want people to look at you and see a professional but if your desk is still messy and stained from yesterdays lunch, that’s not going to help your image.

Don’t steal
We’re all hungry during lunchtime. If you particularly like what someone else brought in for themselves, ask for the recipe or where they bought it. You never know, they might even share!

About the Author