I work in a small office where most of us bring in our lunches and prepare them in the kitchen. The sandwich press gets a major workout, but a few people (notably my boss) think nothing of leaving it full of crumbs or melted cheese. Do I speak up and sound petty, or shut up and go all zen?
We received a question about colleagues leaving the office kitchen in a foul state about a year and a half ago and I was quite scathing in my response. I described “these people” as “adults in age only” who almost certainly “don’t put dishes away at home” and so would live not in traditional residences but within “forests of ceiling-high crockery stacks slathered with filth in various states of decay”. After eighteen months of hindsight and a better understanding of human nature, I think I was probably too soft.
I say that for a couple of reasons. The main one is that a few weeks after publishing that column, someone wrote to me and said they’d printed out the article and stuck it in their communal kitchen. A co-worker tore it down and then sent an email to the entire department; it conveyed a message to the effect “Why hide behind someone else’s words? Give your criticism in person or don’t complain.”
Now, I don’t want to make sweeping generalisations, but if we were to draw a Venn diagram of people who leave crust-puddles on the shared sandwich press and people who believe they are without exception the victims when someone questions their poor behaviour, it would be very close to a circle.
A while back, we received a question about a boss who abjectly failed to lead by example, as well. The manager in that instance sounded like a real piece of work and, relatively speaking, leaving a jaffle iron unclean is a minor crime. But the fact remains that people in positions of higher responsibility should do better – a hierarchy loses all legitimacy if the people at the top are juvenile slobs.
In short, I worry you’re dealing with a fairly low level of maturity here.
You could respond in kind, melting an entire 500-gram block of Bega’s finest onto the press plate, sprinkling it with a full loaf’s worth of crumbs, walking away and seeing if the perpetrators get the hint, or you could take the higher ground.
It’s not petty to expect people aged between 20 and 70 to spend 35 seconds wiping a paper towel across an appliance they’ve just begrimed. I’d call it thoroughly reasonable, actually.
People occupying my hypothetical Venn circle would call it intolerant and brutish, however, and if you decide not to hold your tongue, you need to be ready for a storm of huffiness. At best. More likely, prepare for the howling claims of persecution that you’d usually only expect from an Instagram influencer after posting a semi-nude selfie paying “tribute” to a now-dead public figure and being told their decision was tasteless.
It won’t be easy, but you’ll be doing the right thing by everyone else in your office.
And if all else fails, you can always print out this column, stick it above the toasting machine and await a touchy all-office email.
Source: Thanks smh.com