Friday, March 17, 2006

Milk Monitoring Agency

Despite maintenance having seen to it that The Naughty Room now basks in a relentless Saharan heat, work is work, and thus tea is still a staple of Naughty Room life. As all tea lovers know, a proper cup of tea requires milk, and as all Marxists know, invariably the result of needing to add milk to make proper tea is theft. Fortunately though, I need not be drawn into the murky world of bovine juice hustling: I have managed to lobby for milk to be added to my project’s budget, so usually have a decent supply on hand.

"Fuck off stealing my milk," my milk reads as I fetch it from the communal kitchen's fridge. An angry line has been drawn round the bottle, but it is already a good 2cm above the level of milk, someone already seemingly having stolen in. The note is neatly sellotaped on; some time has gone into this. This is not my work; someone else has mistakenly laid a claim to my since pilfered milk.

In my ordered workplace - where we all smile wordlessly at one another and hold doors open for each other whilst ensuring we don’t enter into any form of conversation other than an inane “Hello!” – the communal kitchen is the Wild West. Beneath our polite exteriors, there are some clearly troubled souls in our department, and the kitchen is where all the darkness and concealed rage and mischief can be unleashed.

A note has long been pasted to the wall.
“MSc students,” it reads, “please clean the microwave as leaving it dirty poses a health and safety risk”. (Quite what raises PhD students or staff members above suspicion of splattering the interior with now crusty mircowaveable spaghetti bolognaise, I don't know. I suspect it is just some wag's attempt to get the down trodden minority group to do the cleaning for the rest of us). Some pedant has underneath penned that "You Raise Issues, and Pose Questions".

That is the sort of dynamic of our kitchen environment. We leave the kitchen in a sty-like state, and leave high and mighty notes around, with even higher and mightier defacements. Any normal person would surely write "It doesn't pose a health and safety risk you mong, it just fucking mings".

And so, aside from poor hygiene, we are also plagued by thieves amongst our number, most notably of milk.

I’m pretty sure I am the number one suspect of the most targeted milk theft-victims’ office. The sound of me shutting the Naughty Room door and start shuffling to the kitchen seems to more often than not prompt a goon from their office to bluster out, with some reason to also be going to the kitchen, only to fiddle with the kettle in a confused manner when he finds me nowhere near the milk.
“Alright?” I’ll say, with scant regard for our uncommunicative workplace culture.
“Yes, yes,” he’ll vigorously nod before pointlessly opening a bare cupboard or two, anything to get a stay of execution until he can watch me leave the kitchen.
I’d say something more, but the goon has the very thick neck of a goon who spends his evenings lifting very large weights in an attempt to mask his goonishness. I’m not saying he could have me or anything though readers. I would still win.

I look at my two cups of milkless tea, and again at the note, and scratch my head wondering what to do. I soon realise I am being a bit silly worrying about it; this is, after all, my milk, so I shrug and pour a generous serving into each mug.

A slamming door and approaching feet throws me into panic, and I hop from foot to foot as I try and quickly but quietly put the milk – my milk – back in the fridge. It turns out to be a false alarm. Well and truly spooked – but, you know, not scared of the muscle-bound goon or anything – I guiltily scurry back to The Naughty Room.

Regaining my composure, I pen a note, in elaborate script, in which I touch upon such subjects as the perils of milk theft and the need for heightened vigilance in these light-fingered environs and thank them for their protective concern, but am at polite pains to point out it is in fact my milk.

In the 2 minutes it has taken me to make my way to The Naughty Room, construct my rebuttal, and return to the kitchen, someone has nipped in already.
"Mind your language, oaf" the note reads, having been taped onto my bottle over the previous missive. I again find myself wondering what to do. I don't want my note to be outshone by the work of – presumably - the gloating thief. I have no malice towards the thief – milk comes from expenses (and cows too, obviously) so I’m happy to spread the wealth – and I am rather enjoying the psychological havoc they are clearly reeking on my rival office.

I resolve to sneak out and return in 20 minutes so both notes can have a separate impact. In the meantime, I take my milk, and dilute it with water from the tap until the level is now well above the marked line. That’ll mess with the goon’s fat-neck-squatting head.


Dancinfairy said...

Welcome back Huw!

Look, first comment!!! So exciting.

We have the milk row in our office but we get 2 pints of communal milk and then there are up to 15 bottkes with notes or writing on or wrapped in plastic bags so no one else uses them.

So many in fact that the communal milk seems to be used only by me and lasts nicely for most of the week.


Ivy the Goober said...

Water is the nicest thing that might be added to the milk.

Glad you're back!

Jona said...

Eww, that'll mess with your next cup of tea too!

Great to have you back, Huw :o) though honestly, if this is the battle you've been away fighting for two weeks, maybe you should think about buying one of those diddy 6-pack fridges from Woolies and keeping it under your desk, or possibly just a thermos, or even the window ledge...

Tim-tambolini said...

Who knew that milk could pose such a problem in the work place. I don't think Canadians, even though some are avid tea drinkers, have such a feud going on about milk. And, such a feud would be categorized as a waste of time and some else's money.

Now, if it was a can of Pepsi that belonged to ME that someone was theiving, then heads would have to roll. But, alas, I work alone, in my own business, and am the only culprit of Pepsi drinking.

Glad to see your return, Huw.

OldHorsetailSnake said...

Where have you been, Billy Boy, Billy Boy?

(That's only because "Huw-ey Boy" doesn't seem right.)

surly girl said...

oh lord, the communal kitchen. we have a receptionist who does periodic cutlery raids around the office, swooping and screeching at anyone who might have a random fork lying about their desk.

i like to take forks even when i don't need them, and then send them in the internal mail to the marketing department. futile, juvenile, but pleases me no end.

oh christ. this has just reminded me that the mad norwegian despot who controls all our destinies (people who work at my place, not the world at large. i don't think...) is in the office this week and i have a picture of mr burns on my monitor...


surly girl said...

oh, and piss in the milk.

Me Over Here said...

First of all, Mr. Hoss, "Huwie-Boy" is quite acceptable.

People label products in our communal fridge, but I severely doubt that those rules are followed. Sure, on the surface; if someone who has a labeled milk is in the kitchen with someone (say me, for example)who needs milk but doesn't have any labeled of her own, she *I* will wait until Labeled Girl leaves (with a smile from yours truly), then promptly steal the milk. But I was doing something good. The milk would have gone bad in 2 days anyway. She should thank me. I'll just take that nasty note taped to the fridge as "thank you for not letting me waste my milk."

Welcome back, HuwieBear :)

emaleejayne said...

Welcome back!

Chris said...

I cannot stand communal fridges. Ours is guarded and watched over by a clucking gaggle of menopausal Childcare Lecturers who treat me with the kind of assumed guilt and suspiscion usually reserved for Michael Jackson trials. It's okay though, no-one can steal a doughnut as swiftly as me. As a result I have resorted to the minifridge approach and can throughly recommend it.

Afe said...

Just put your milk in a Soy Milk carton and nobody will touch it.

Chris Cope said...

Do you have inter-office e-mails? Any time such things happen at my previous benevolent employer, angry scattershot e-mails were fired at one and all. It made me want to go in and eat all the little frozen entrees of diet food.

Curly said...

Have you tried buying way too much milk and putting meatheads name on it?

See if yours goes missing then.