A little background: At my company, we’ve had problems in the past with truly disgusting refrigerators. People would leave old, rotting food in there for months, and usually whoever got tired of the smell first would be the one to clean it. We recently moved to a brand new building, where we occupy two floors and have a fridge on each floor. Our office manager “Paula” instituted a new policy to help with the fridge cleaning: employee’s personal food would only be allowed on one floor, and the company-supplied coffee, creamers and snacks would be on the other floor. In addition, every Friday one team is assigned to throw away everything in the employee fridge, including condiments. If you want your stuff, you have to remove it and take it home over the weekend. A little harsh, but better than a fridge full of rotten food.
This policy worked fine for me until a recent injury. I was on crutches and couldn’t easily access the employee fridge, so I got permission to store my lunches in the Company Fridge, which is much closer to my desk. I’m now walking again, but I can’t go far without pain and limping, so I’m still keeping my lunch nearer to my desk.
Now to the incident in question: Every Friday, my team has a “Creative Workshop” meeting during our lunch hour where we review our work and bring brown-bag lunches. We’ve give up our lunch hour for this meeting for the past year, so the Creative Director decided to reward us with a catered lunch from a local BBQ joint. He brought in ribs, pulled pork, corn bread, baked beans, etc. and had our office manager “Paula” use her company expense account to pay for it. It was a very nice “thank-you” for all our hard work, and since we had leftovers, the Creative Director said we could take them home to share with our families. I packed up a to-go box, wrote my name on it and stowed it in the Company Fridge until quitting time.
When I went to retrieve it at the end of the day, it was gone. I asked Paula about it, and she said, “Why was it up here in the Company Fridge?” I told her, “I have permission to keep my food up here because of my injury.” She knew that already – several times during my injury she checked with me to be sure that the food in there belonged to me, not some other employee. Then she said, “I gave it away to another employee.”
I was shocked, and I just stared at her for a minute. “Why would you do that?” I asked.
She gave me an annoyed look and replied, “Why do you care, you didn’t pay for it!” in a nasty tone of voice.
I really didn’t know what to say to her, so I simply left. I’m truly angry about this, not just because I lost some delicious leftovers, but because she didn’t feel that A. I deserved to take them home and B. that I should be allowed to keep my food nearer to my desk after an injury. I’m hoping you and your readers can help me decide if my anger is justified. Did I really have a claim on the BBQ, or since it was purchased by the company, was Paula justified in giving it to someone else? Should I start keeping my lunch in the Employee Fridge now that I can walk? 0810-12