Thanks to social media, an insidious epidemic has been brought to light, one that has tormented office workers since time immemorial. In the judicial literature it is known as “misdemeanor personal comestible larceny,” but out here on the street we call it lunch theft.
Few things make an office worker’s blood boil more than finding out someone had the gall to sneak into the office kitchen, steal the egg salad sandwich out of their lunch bag, and consume it on premises – right in the next cubicle for all they know.
The truth is we’ve come a long way from the days when such a scoundrel would be tarred and feathered for their behavior. But that doesn’t mean you have to take it sitting down. If you’ve found yourself on the wrong end of this problem a few too many times, here is a list of surefire ways to protect yourself. Whether your style of conflict resolution is confrontation, avoidance, or all-out sadistic revenge, you’ll find something on this list that will satisfy your needs.
Lunch thieves are a shadowy bunch, but fortunately we’ve made out a few of their common traits. Perhaps the most obvious is their abnormal level of self-centeredness. Moral and ethical pleas can’t always be counted on to dissuade them from their criminal impulses. But food poisoning is a different matter altogether.
A lunch thief has but a few precious seconds to survey the contents of the office refrigerator, knowing that getting caught in the act would cost them their reputation if not their job. In their haste, they are certain to pass over an apparently compromised sandwich in favor of something that doesn’t pose an obvious biological threat.
This ruse may not hold up for long against a serial lunch thief, who eventually will catch on that they’ve been duped. But as a protection against sporadic food larceny, it should do the trick.
2. Plastic Bugs
Another solid choice in the visual/visceral category of theft deterrence is the use of realistic plastic insects. Unlike real bugs, these are sanitary, totally dead, and absolutely harmless as long as you don’t consume them. And they carry approximately the same gross-out quotient as mold.
Alternatively, if you’re an insect lover, or if you’ve spent enough time in less developed areas of the world to acclimate to a more primal conception of food, you can opt for real bugs. Most insects, as long as they’re not venomous, are in fact edible, and can add a bit of protein to your meal, as well as a hearty crunch.
Grub worms and crickets are a great choice if you want to go this route. Look in grassy areas, under rocks, and anywhere decaying organic matter accumulates to find these in high concentration.
These vinyl stickers, also called “scare labels,” are a newer solution to the problem, but just as effective as fake mold and plastic insects.
From bacteria culture experiments to meals prepared in the shower to the simple threat of death by ingestion, these vinyl food labels have warnings that should be enough to turn almost anyone off from consuming what’s inside.
However, there are some people in the halls of the corporate world whose hearts contain a darkness we cannot fathom, and whose determination to get what they want is as cold and hard as forged steel. If you find that even plainly labeling your food as toxic, disgusting, or potentially dangerous fails to do the trick, you may be dealing with such a depraved soul. In that case, you’re going to have to take some more drastic steps.
This may be the only option that can truly put a permanent end to the problem. While it’s conceivable that a hyper-motivated lunch thief might sneak into your office to swipe your food, it’s an unlikely scenario simply based on the risk involved and the total lack of plausible excuses if caught. A private office mini fridge is the Cadillac of anti food theft solutions.
If you work in a truly lawless, wild west kind of atmosphere, you can get a mini fridge with a lock on it. If that still doesn’t work, the next step would probably be some kind of electric shock device, but check your corporate policy manual before implementing anything like that.
A private mini fridge is a great way to end lunch theft without an uncomfortable confrontation. And if you’re one who values harmony over retribution, it probably has some appeal.
But if it’s confrontation and retribution you’re after, then read on.
Whether or not you opt for this method will likely depend on a number of variables – your personal ethics, your natural level of empathy, how you feel about the topic of revenge in general, your workplace culture, how much hostility has built up inside you as a result of repeated theft, etc.
Also, it’s important to understand that once you’ve started down this path, there is no going back. You have gone from victim to vigilante. You must be sure that you’re comfortable with this identity.
Wasabi has several advantages over extreme hot sauce (like ghost pepper sauce), primary among them being that although a mouthful of wasabi is intensely painful for several seconds, it’s completely safe. After all, you’re looking to teach someone a valuable life lesson, not earn yourself a lawsuit.
The method is simple: liberally apply wasabi paste to the inside of a normal-looking sandwich, place this one on top of the sandwich you intend to eat, then wait to hear groans, screams, or other abnormal sounds from the office kitchen.
So there you have it: 5 novel and effective ways to protect yourself from office lunch theft. We all tend to think that crimes like these only happen to other people, but the reality is that everyone is fair game.
But you don’t have to be a victim forever. Rest assured that your friends at Thingamagift are hard at work collecting and curating the best new ways to battle such modern menaces.