Every once in a while, one of my coworkers will get up fifteen minutes early, stop by our local Temple of Bread, and pick up three dozen bagels and some cream cheese to share with the rest of us. For fifteen or twenty minutes they are our hero, but then, bagels devoured, we slink off back to our desks and the Tedium That Feeds Us™.

At some point around nine o’clock, a colleague of mine and I will circle back to the break area to clean up. (Somebody has to do it, and we both are neat freaks.) The last time we were doing this, she pointed to a completely empty container of cream cheese that someone had left on the counter, a dirty plastic knife still hanging out of one side.

“Why would you just leave that there?” she asked. “Why wouldn’t you just throw that out?”

In my experience, people are always doing that, especially when free food is involved, so I already have a stock list of answers floating around in my mind:

  • “I’m lazy.”
  • “I don’t know where the garbage can is.”
  • “I might want to lick it later.”
  • “I’m confused about my role with the company.”
  • “I was raised to never throw anything away.”
  • “I thought someone might want to lick it later.”
  • “I don’t want to be seen taking the initiative—I don’t want any extra duties.”
  • “There is still a ton of perfectly good cream cheese left in there!”
  • “My wife/mother/aunt/grandmother/sister/maidservant always throws away empty cream cheese containers at home.”
  • “It’s plastic—won’t that just end up in the ocean?”
  • “I’m actually a cat. Meow.”

This doesn’t happen just once in a while—it happens all the time. I just want to go all Bobby Hill on them.

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