The Bane of the Office

As always: Ask Blue Midget

Dear Blue Midget,

I drink tea at work, and I like it with cream and sugar. Since the office doesn’t keep good creamer in the kitchen (only powdered creamer which I don’t like) I bring my own and keep it in the office fridge. Even though it’s got my name on it, some jerk keeps stealing it and drinking all of my creamer. What should I do?

Pissed Off,
Tea Drinking Dude

Dear Tea Drinking Dude,

Congratulations on your choice against powdered creamer. That chemical crap is like a hot dog – you just don’t know what’s in it. Personally, I’m convinced that after twenty years of drinking it, people will be growing third arms.

You are not alone in your plight. The Cream Thief (AKA Milk Thief) is the bane of the office. I, too, have been forced to deal with the Creamer Thief, as has my editor, Evil Iggy, who is also a tea drinker although he adds milk and sugar. While he was having issues with his Milk Thief, he asked me about it and we conspired together to see what would absolutely work. I had already learned how to overcome the Creamer Thief, but the great thing about Evil Iggy is that he’s like the Captain Picard of revenge: He goes where no man has gone before. So I’ve had some experience in this area, and I will now pass my wisdom on to you.

As an aside, here is a little theory that I have: The person who has been drinking your creamer is the same fat ass who used to steal other kids’ lunches on elementary school field trips. Find the creamer thief, and you’ll find the kid who used to steal your Hostess Ding Dongs.

Now before I tell you what absolutely has been proven to work against the Creamer Thief, let me give you my take on things. Last week in another article I mentioned that no matter how much you spell it out, people in general never believe that it’s them. Ever. Here’s an example:

My best friend, EB, was hired by a church to be their Administrator. The church had their own coffee shop, because it’s Seattle down in the U-district (University District) and Seattle has eighty coffee shops on every corner. Seriously, if you’ve never been to Seattle, it will really weird you out the first time you see it. There are even drive-thru espresso stands in abandoned parking lots about the size of a phone booth, only big enough for one person to stand in. Cars pull up on either side to get their lattes or mochas or whatever they want. And you’ll see them all over, aside from the millions of Starbucks, Tully’s, SBC’s, etc. It is literally the coffee Mecca of North America.

Anyway, so she’s the administrator at this church where they have their own coffee shop. During Sunday church, the coffee shop area would open to parishioners who wanted to sit and socialize with each other. The shop itself was closed, so no espresso, but the church had courtesy drip coffee and tea. Some parishioners started going back behind the counter to make espresso for themselves. As in, they would wander back into the kitchen past the door that said “Employees Only,” grab milk and chocolate out of the shop’s fridge and make espresso drinks without asking. At first it wasn’t a problem, but the espresso machine started breaking and it was costing a lot of money to have it fixed. It was decided then that if someone wanted an espresso it was okay to have one, but they would need to ask someone who worked in the shop to make it for them. EB sticks a large, obnoxiously bright pink sign on the front of the espresso machine that said, “Please do not use the espresso maker. If you want an espresso, ask someone who works for the coffee shop.” And she also made an announcement to the church saying that the espresso machine had been breaking, so from now on, unless you worked in the shop and knew how to operate the machine, please do not use the espresso maker.

So take a wild guess as to what people were doing. They were going in there, flipping the sign up on top of the machine, and making drinks anyway. To top it off, the machine broke again. See, no one ever thinks that it’s them. They always think it’s someone else. EB was furious. She’s a red-head and very Irish, so you can imagine what a delight she was when she came home that afternoon. But still she had decided to take another nice approach, because she absolutely couldn’t figure out why people were still continuing the use the machine after she made it perfectly clear that they shouldn’t.

Her next plan met with a bit more success. Every Friday night when she went home, she would take the operating handle from the espresso machine off, in which case it does not work without the operating handle – pretty ingenious, if I do say so myself. On Sunday mornings when she’d show up, she’d keep the handle in her back pocket and wait for someone to come up and ask her about it, even though the sign was still on the espresso maker saying “Dumbasses not allowed to use the espresso maker.” Ok the sign didn’t really say that, but if I had written it, that’s what it would have said. Sure enough, a couple of people approached her, asking for the handle so they could make espresso. One person even had the audacity to tell her, “I was going to make some lattes – I don’t work at the coffee shop, but I know how to use an espresso maker so it’s okay.” Morans unite.

Once again I say to you: No one ever believes that it’s them, they always think it’s someone else. And this is the problem of the Creamer Thief. He or she thinks it’s someone else and they are, for some odd reason, exempt.

When I dealt with my Thief, I had half-and-half in the fridge and it had my name on it and everything. Yet someone or some persons kept drinking it. So I’m standing out near the fridge, talking to the CEO and CFO of the company when one of the hot-shot Engineer Execs walks up to the coffee maker, pours himself a cup of coffee and opens the fridge. He sees my half-and-half with my name on it, grabs it, starts pouring – I’m watching this, mind you – and says, “Ah, thanks (Blue Midget). We don’t have the good creamer here at the office.” So the CEO and CFO turn around to look at this guy that my eyes are throwing daggers at, and since I have a big mouth I say without thinking, “Oh sure, Bob. It’s obviously there just for you, even though it’s got my name written on it with the words ‘Please do not use, property of.’”

The CEO and CFO are dying of laughter and Mr. Hotshot Engineering Exec turns bright red, laughs his little embarrassed laugh to play it off, and makes a quick exit down the hall. I mean, for God’s sake, he makes four or five times my salary and he can’t cough up a couple of bucks for creamer? That was the last time he ever took creamer in front of me, although that did not end my Creamer Thief woes.

Now, let’s get to it. There are a few things you can try. Most of these have been tested but only one has been met with 100% success.

  1. Spit in your creamer/milk, swish it around and spread rumors throughout the office about it. This one comes courtesy of Evil Iggy, who actually did this. Funny and gross as it is, it did not meet with much success. My only suggestion about this would be that you should tell everyone about it and not just a few people. Advertise it, put up signs in the bathroom and perhaps mention it at the next monthly meeting. Or take a picture of yourself spitting into the milk carton and email it around. At any rate, when Evil Iggy tried it, it did not meet with much success.
  2. When the milk carton is empty, fill it with something unexpected, like Dr. Pepper or ketchup. For some reason, this one also had a low rate of success.
  3. On the outside of the carton, attach a nasty note addressed to the thief, and be sure that you describe how painful it will be when you finally catch them, tie them to the bumper of your car and drag them through the parking lot. An acceptable variant of this would be to write your note in haiku, showing that you have a nice Hannibal Lecter quality about you. It would look something like this:

    My milk for my tea
    It belongs only to me
    My foot in your ass

    You get the point, but unfortunately this met with 0% success, as the Creamer Thief/Milk Thief is a retard who can’t read. After all, he or she is unable to read your name on the carton in the first place. It’s worth the try though.

I’m afraid that there is only one tried and true way to keep your creamer or milk from being stolen, and it’s not so glamorous:

Put it in an unmarked paper bag.

It works. For some reason adults will not go through paper bags to find some creamer, because it’s disguised as someone’s lunch. Except if they really are the person who used to eat the other kids’ lunches on field trips, you’re in a lot of trouble.


4 responses to “The Bane of the Office”

  1. Evil Iggy Avatar
    Evil Iggy

    Blue Midget is so totally right about the paper bag thing. She suggested that to me, and I tried it, and it totally put an end to my milk thief problems. The haiku is awesome. I also composed a haiku at about the time I was the most pissed at the milk thief, and had recently spit in my milk.

    O office milk thief
    Clever! You cannot be caught!
    How does my spit taste?


  2. hulk Avatar

    Back in college I had someone steal my laundry bag. It wasn’t anything expensive, but it was nifty cause it was rectangular yet made of cloth, it had wires in it that gave it its shape. And it would fold up easily for storage! One day it went missing. Luckily, I was an RA, and it was a totally freshman building. There’s something I know about freshman: for the first few weeks, most of them actually think you have power over them. We used that to our advantage to force them into community service (a practice I never liked, but as RA’s we had to do it and I did enjoy lying to freshman). I printed signs and put them in every lounge on each floor of the building, as well as in stairwells and in the laundry room. I informed them that they stole the RA’s property and if necessary, I would do a room to room search of the building and report them to the Dean. Of course I couldn’t do any of that, but it worked! Two days after putting up my signs, my laundry bag was in the laundry room, RIGHT where I left it, complete with the bottle of TIDE I had left in it. Fake authority is fun!


  3. mostlyharmless Avatar

    Yes, my html skills suck. linky


  4. redshift Avatar

    Holy crap. Now that’s an easy way to ruin someone’s day, and teach them a lesson. I like it.


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