John Stancavage: Office etiquette extends to leftovers
BY JOHN STANCAVAGE World Business Editor
Sunday, November 13, 2011
11/13/11 at 3:12 AM
A while back I had lunch downtown with a few friends and was left with half of my huge green chile-and-queso burrito.
I brought the leftover back to the office in a styrofoam clamshell box, which itself was in a plastic bag. (Yes, I know that's not too environmentally friendly, but that's not the point of this story.)
I wrote my name on top of the container and put it into the refrigerator in our employee lunch room.
I came back the next day, smiling at the thought of a good, zero-cost meal. But when I opened the box I found only the outline of where the queso had run off and stuck to the styrofoam. In the middle was nothing but a shiny oval where my burrito once had been.
Our lunch room can be accessed by more than 100 people. One of them, apparently, had turned my burrito into their dinner or a late-evening snack.
Considering it was a leftover and looked like it, the thief had to have known this was food someone else had chewed on. Even stranger was that the crazed kleptomaniac placed a can of hot links - available from our vending machines - in my box and put it back into the fridge. Was he or she overcome with guilt and decided to offer miniature hot dogs as an apology?
The incident came to mind last week as I read a new study conducted by Robert Half International. It showed there's no shortage of uncouth behavior in the workplace.
Half, a staffing firm, asked 430 office workers about faux pas they had witnessed. Here's some of the responses:
Judging from that last comment, at least I'm not the only victim out there.
- "A colleague of mine would actually clip his nails at his desk."
- "Employees were walking around the office barefoot."
- "A worker sneezed into the boss's coffee cup."
- "An employee thought he put a customer on hold and then used inappropriate language within earshot."
- "Someone was stealing other people's lunches."
Being eccentric or surly in your personal life is one thing. Doing so - or just being plain weird - in the workplace is another.
Can such behavior wreck your career? Almost 50 percent of the respondents answered, "greatly," while 41 percent said "somewhat," depending on the offsetting strength of the person's skills.
Only 11 percent thought there would be no downside, according to the Robert Half survey.
For those prone to eyebrow-raising moments, the staffing firm offered the following advice:
Put the tweezers away"It's called personal care for a reason," Half experts said.
Keep it PG-rated"Play it safe and watch your words. Salty language, off-color comments and politically incorrect jokes can get you into hot water."
Take a breather"Although co-workers may do things that irritate you, take a minute to collect your thoughts before raising your voice or firing off a rude email," Half executives said.
As I finished reading the Robert Half study, I had to reflect for a moment. Does anyone really need to be instructed not to do these things? Don't we all have some internal voice that tells us this kind of behavior is unacceptable?
Judging from my burrito container, apparently not.
Original Print Headline: Don't steal my lunch at work, please