Tipping in America

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A couple of years ago, here in Salem, I called a local taxi company to go from a friend’s house (where I was temporarily staying) to take a few bags of items to a storage space I was renting. The husband and I had moved out of our old place, and the move-in to the new place was delayed by about a month, due to the bathroom ceiling caving in (which would happen every 2 months of our stay there).

I got a surly, abusive cabbie who looked like the bastard child of a pickled-leather-faced Tommy Chong and that slimy clump of hair that you just can’t get out of the bottom of the shower trap. He took one look at my meager collection of bags and declared in a Homer Simpson bitch-voice, “weeiy’re neuuot a moooving cummpany”, despite the fact that my things both weighed and constituted far less than a typical grocery shopping trip. I told him he didn’t have to help but he did anyway, wrestling things out of my hands and explaining that he’d be here “all day” otherwise and he simply didn’t have all day, because his time was as precious as his pretty face.

The whole journey this berk would just NOT shut the fuck up. He continued to complain about the number of bags I had (about 5 and a small Christmas tree in its box), and how, technically, he could charge 50 cents per bag, even if it were groceries, but he was doing me a favour by not raping my wallet. There wasn’t a second of silence without this miserable cunt complaining; I have truly never heard this much bitching and moaning and whinging in my life. And I write a BLOG that is solely based on all the complaints I have about everything.

After he carefully unloaded my things by flinging them on the floor, I ignored what sounded like a smashing noise in one of the bags and fished out the exact cost of the fare. The driver, clearly feeling cheated, snorted out his best indignated, old-fart snort (most likely coupled with a shart) and said, “Nice tip”.

Even now, years later, I am speechless.

He seriously  thought that after all that, after all the abusive unpleasantness that he put me through, he expected to be rewarded  in the form of a fucking tip?!

I was not rude to him; I held my tongue and kept apologising, though I’ve no idea for what. This arsehole, who probably complains that us “young people” feel that we’re so entitled to everything, is actually worse than the standard service industry mentality of “I’ll do my job to the bare minimum, and expect massive, humungous tips for doing so”. He was rude, unfriendly, manhandled my packages (shut up), did not shut the fuck up, and was thoroughly unpleasant in any way. It left me hoping that the cab would suddenly burst into flames so I wouldn’t have to hear this piece of shit talk anymore. And yet he still expected a tip on top of that.

And therein lies the problem with tipping. It’s now become expected of apparently big rich fat cats like myself (on a temp’s crappy wages) to just fork out AT LEAST a quarter of the total fare/food bill/haircut/bar bill/colonic irrigation to these poor, underprivileged plebians who make more money than I do. Never mind the polarized view that many nobodies like myself are also trying to get by. I have no idea what cab drivers make, whether or not they’re self-employed, what fees/bills they have to take care of to do their job. I don’t give a shit!

I have to pay to get to work (train plus sometimes the subway),  I pay for my work clothes and every other work-related expense with zero reimbursement or expectation for my business partners to cough up some spare change – even if I do a great job on a project that’s seen by tens of thousands of employees. I accept the fact that I’m a poor schlub on very low pay, but I derive some job satisfaction from doing my best work and seeing it pay off. Just not with money.

Everywhere I go, I feel as though I am being ordered to tip; otherwise you are a greedy, selfish bastard. Many times I’ve felt like going to my local to grab a beer, but I don’t want to be made to feel like I’m one of the fucking 1% if I can’t afford the cost of a pint and a half to include the apparently minimum-accepted 25%.

From the server’s side, the argument is that they often make less than $2 per hour and getting tips is their way of compensating for such a meagre wage. So instead of pitting the servers and the customers against each other, why not recognise the quite clear point that it is the employers themselves to whom everyone should direct their ire? Instead of feeling forced to pay up the discrepancy between the actual wage and a fair, decent wage, how about making an organised go at tackling what appears to be fair trade violations in the developed world?

Countries like Japan and most Western countries aren’t accustomed to tipping. You might think they’re cheap bastards, but people in the service industry in these countries, and definitely the UK, make at least minimum wage per hour anyway. Without tips. I’ve read arguments online saying that servers need tip money to feed their families and pay their bills. What I don’t understand is why this burden should lie with the customer, and if the customer can’t meet it, or chooses not to, then the server “remembers” the bad tipper and will probably rub their arse hairs in their food.

I tip mostly out of being polite, because it’s a small city, and everyone knows me, so they can’t really be a jerk to me. But with boorish thugs like the cab driver, I don’t feel obliged to tip – I feel bullied into doing so. I have no issue with tipping, but I can’t understand why people have accepted it to be the norm over here as opposed to a gratuity to be left in cases of exceptional service. Not every single time. If the original concept of tipping were being adhered to, that would indicate a high level of customer satisfaction, because everyone would be really, really happy with their doughnut or their cocktail or their bucket of chicken. But the US isn’t even in the top 20 in the Satisfaction with Life Index (yes, this exists).

I have been in the service industry. Not as a waitress or a bartender, but as a lowly retail worker. I never got a tip; I never even got a bonus. I then worked in a call centre (same deal), then moved onto working in the civil service (tips? hahahahaha) and then finally a temp office job with most likely no future and definitely no bonuses/tips etc. I know what it’s like to be on the other side of a conversation in which it doesn’t matter how wrong or right the customer is, and even if you agree with them and let them get their way, they will forget about it ten minutes later and you will spend the rest of your day resentful and disgruntled.

So to consider the idea of tipping as a social obligation is disappointing, because the only incentive to do your job to the bare minimum standards is to get an “reward” for it on top of a paycheque that is criminally low, but just socially-accepted as a form of punishment for the worker, the consumer, but not the proprietor/owner/politician. Way to go, Capitalism.

 

When did this entitlement-due-to-embarrassingly-low-server-pay become such the norm? When did it become mandatory to tip not for a job well done, but for parts of a job done near-adequately that didn’t result in car crashes or food poisoning? Why isn’t anyone doing anything about the fact that the wage is so low to begin with, instead of just expecting that gap between their pay and minimum wage to be filled by the customers? Why not challenge/examine the very foundations of this massive con (where all are concerned)?

Look at the unions for TFL in the UK – if they can get 43 days’ holiday, triple pay on Bank Holidays and almost £45,000 a year for just sitting and pushing and pulling a lever, why can’t the unions marshal that quintessential American violent anger and put it to good use where the rights of service industry workers are concerned?

As a foreigner from a country where tipping really IS tipping, it remains both baffling and infuriating to me. Luckily, there are some helpful hints in the odd coffeeshop here and there. The first time I found myself in a tipping situation was when I was in a hotel in Hollywood and a nice man brought up some room service. Despite the fact that this was before I met my husband, this isn’t what you think it is.

This was where I was staying at the time. I ordered some food for room service, and decided to pay in cash. Because I’m very, very awkward in situations with people, I thought that the sooner I tipped this strangely quiet man, the quicker he would leave and I could just sit with my food and watch TV in a place where I didn’t quite understand the language. The bill came to $17, and I gave what I thought was a $5, but as I was handing it over I slowly realised that it was a $20. Yes, I had paid $37 for a $17 meal.

The quiet hotel man couldn’t stop his eyes from bulging (seriously, it’s not that kind of story) out of his head and stammered, “do you want me to get you something else? some vodka, maybe?” I’m not sure why he offered me vodka. Had I mentioned it previously in some sort of jokey conversation-starter? Would he bring it from the hotel bar or from some private stash he’d nicked from all the mini-bars? Somehow I found myself saying “no” to an strong drink of unspecified origin with a strange man and retreated to the cold, limp (…..) congealed wheat-nest that was my vegetarian pasta, which probably could have used a pint of vod to give it some taste anyway.

At that point in time I could afford to accidentally tip like an overprivileged moron. But now that I’m out of uni and no longer mooching off a brilliant GBP to USD exchange rate, I now have to get in line with my useless dollar-paycheque and start living life in a sensible, non-student fashion. And part of learning how to spend is basically taking the price of anything – absolutely anything – and tacking on 25% so you don’t feel like a cheap bitch. Much different from the UK, where tipping is actually…tipping.

 

An Open Letter About Manners

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Dear The Same Group of People Who Sit In The Same Four Seats On The Train Every Morning:

I would like it to be known that you do not own the seats you sit in every morning, on the same train, in the same carriage. A helpful hint is that it’s called public transport. I’d hazard a guess that your taxes do indeed help pay towards the cost of the upkeep of the train, along with your train fare, but since you live in the crab-infested sheds of Rockport and work cushy, benefits-padded jobs, you have the air of snivelling, mother-selling tax-dodgers and monthly train pass-reimbursements.

Yet every morning I step onto the train (a crowd-battle in itself, thanks to the one door that opens), and see your smug faces sitting and chatting in those same seats, as if you were in a coffeeshop, or the “cool kids” in school who sit together. Well, I’ve got news for you – you’re not the cool kids – the cool kids sat at the back of the train, not the front. Fools.

You seem to either be completely oblivious of your surroundings, or refuse to acknowledge that other people happen to exist in space and time. For example, the coffee that one of you spilled a couple of days ago. Knowing full well that everyone would be walking into that huge puddle of half of the contents of a large coffee (from the ghastly Dunkin’ Donuts, no less), you made no effort whatsoever to clean it up, and instead chose to sit back and laugh about it. Never mind the blind man who, as a result of his impairment, would not be able to see such a hazard. Being incapable of wiping your own arse, you knew that the maid would arrive momentarily to clean up your mess, and in the meantime, you can have a jolly good laugh about the ghetto North Shore Slip ‘n’ Slide you just created.

Another example was yesterday morning. A frail, elderly woman hobbled onto the train on a rather poorly-made medical crutch. One of you felt it was simply too much of a hassle to remove your briefcase, which clearly required a seat of its own, to make room for this useless freeloading wench to sit down and rest. The jostling and jerking from the train and the prolonged standing would do her recovering joints some good. And what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. Which is probably why the wretched lot of you are all still somehow living.

If you had been in England, those seats that you seem to claim every day would have been clearly marked with enormous window decals suggesting that you kindly get up off your fat arses and let someone in need sit there. People with babies/small children, the elderly, and the disabled. This woman was two out of the three and you dithered and ummed and acted as if you didn’t know how to remove a briefcase from a seat, shimmy your fat arse over or just stand upright for once and honorably hand over your seat. Someone else let her sit down, right across the aisle from you, and this woman gladly accepted. You should all be ashamed of yourselves, you thoroughly disgusting pigs.

I had the displeasure of sitting with the lot of you this morning. But while most commuters understand that standing in front of a row of seats with a spare spot means, “please move up so I can sit down”, I actually had to ask one of you to do so, and was met with a puzzled glare that means, “I’ve never been asked to do this in my life. I wish my mummy were here to help me figure out what to do – also, where’s the maid to clean up my arse?” And then you finally let me sit down. What a complete and utter display.

Now part of the Elite Seat Club, my punishment was to have to listen to one of you drone on and on and on in your revolting, Rachael Ray, cigarette-encrusted voice, and the younger one natter on and on and on in your irritatingly nasal cackle that is truly the bastard child of Sesame Street muppets and every single Hanna-Barbera cartoon.

Worse still, was the subject of your conversation – the young one bemoaning her situation that she is living at home, rent-free, with her parents, who are embarrassed that she is not out on her own, living in her own place. Here’s a little clarification: they’re not embarrassed because you haven’t got on the property ladder – they’re embarrassed because you are mooching off of them while slagging them off (especially your poor mother, who should have used condoms every time), and acting like the princess you’re clearly not.

There is no chicken-or-the-egg postulating here – if I’d had you as a child, I would taken revenge on my own ovaries by teaching you to look the wrong way when you crossed the road. What a horrendous brat you are. I do hope that my passive-aggressive phone conversation to my brother about irresponsible young homeowners might lead you to reconsider the snobby, ill-informed, moronic question of, “what’s the point in throwing away money on rent when I can stay at home and save up to buy a house with my boyfriend?” Or, to put it another way – fuck you while I play a tiny violin for your troubles. Can’t see the tiny violin? Look here – a bit closer – lean in further – oops, just punched you in the face. Now grow up and stop whining, you ungrateful little gob of insolence.

I understand that, while you choose your seats so strategically, you (the nicotine-stenched one) are thus entitled to Rise Up and rightfully claim your place at the front of the queue to disembark the train. Well, you’re wrong. Whenever I can feel like it, I purposefully start to move into that tiny bit of space you think you can use to edge out the competition to get off the train first, and block you from exiting before the 50-odd group of people who were standing up for two-thirds of the journey.

And other people are starting to catch on, too. Many times I’ve seen other commuters watch you try to get up and they slot themselves in there before you get a chance, taking their sweet time exiting the train and leaving lots and lots of room in front of them. Room you can’t get to.  This is what you get for displaying such foul disregard for anyone around you. If someone has been standing up for most of the train journey and they kindly let you disembark the train first, at least make eye contact and say “thank you” or “excuse me”, instead of just shoehorning your unpleasantness in front of us mere peons.

America ceased their Isolationist viewpoints before WWII, so be aware that there are other people on this train. Even Bhutan aren’t isolationist anymore. It’s pretty much just Switzerland. Do you want to be Switzerland? No, no-one wants to be Switzerland. So either let people sit down and clean up your own messes or GTFO and commute in your gas-guzzling, ozone-raping SUVs you keep bragging about.

And don’t think I didn’t see that puzzled side-eye you all gave me when you heard me speak. Just because I bear a faint resemblance to the people who rip you off at the convenience store doesn’t mean I can’t speak posh. You berks. Now fuck off back to Dunkin Donuts.

Train Conduct

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I spend a lot of mornings on trains in Salem. Since one post on this hellish Styx ride isn’t enough, I felt the need for another how-to when it comes to conducting yourself on a train. Also felt the need to seize the opportunity for such a punilicious headline. Before we begin, please note that there are several steps to take to ensure a safe and non-homicide-inducing journey.

Preparation and Supplies – Beware of Luggage Choices

Taking the train in Salem consists of 90% standing around, 10% train-taking. You will require the following:

  • Comfortable shoes to ensure that you can (a) run across the street at the major crosswalk before a car mows you down and b) sprint at top speed towards the “platform” (see below) on rare occasions that the train actually turns up on time
  • A sturdy backpack to hold your belongings or, failing that, a shoulder bag with long enough straps that the bag can be positioned flat against your back, to avoid hitting seated commuters in the face as you walk down the aisles. If you are one of those bastards who insist on luggaging yourself with a bloated reptile carcass hobo shoulder bag, the back pain you will get from unevenly distributing weight on your spine will the karma you sorely deserve.
  • Coffee. Make sure to stop by Dunkin’ Donuts on the way so you have something to spill on your fellow commuter, ensuring you have extra seat-room when he stands up to seek treatment for his scalding burns. If you’re really hardcore, purchase an re-usable hot cup so that everyone thinks you’re important enough to have one. Fill it with vodka (no-one can smell it).
  • Cash. Don’t forget that there are absolutely no cashpoints at the station. If you forget cash, you will have to walk the entire length of the bus stops, up two flights of stairs, across a busy crossroads and past the courthouse before you get to the nearest one. And no, Dunkin’ Donuts does not offer cashback. There are just that many twats who like going in there. Make sure your cash is counted and ready to pull out (shut up) to save time when paying the conductor.
  • Sunglasses. You might think that they are to deflect UV glare because you are boarding the train at a non-platform platform pavement-level, but this is secretly to avoid making eye contact with your fellow commuter plebians. Finish the look with a hideous spray-tan:

Boarding the train, i.e., “Charrrrge!”

As I had previously mentioned, there are only two doors on the train that opens – one  at a slightly higher ramp (which is meant to help disabled people, yet the carriage that stops there has STEPS), and one at pavement-level. This is why you see two distinct crowds of people. Best to choose pavement-level, and it’s your job to try to figure out at exactly which point on that pavement that one train door will open.

Boarding a train is like Salem’s version of football riots. It’s everyone for themselves, and whomever’s more forceful with their train-boarding will get on first. No-one will give a shit if you get edged out of the crowd and are in danger of falling onto the tracks. Move with the crowd, and figure out which side you’re going to get on. If you want to get in the first carriage, stand towards the right; if you want any chance of making it to the other carriages, choose the left lane. Like football hooligans, most of your fellow commuters are fairly thick and will choose the most-trafficked route. Stick with the first carriage – because everyone always assumes it’s full, they ignore it, leaving a third of it empty for the entire journey. Just remember to close around the door like vultures (leave no space) and make everyone who’s getting off the train in Salem feel woefully uncomfortable.

If this is your first time braving the throngs of commuter-related idiocy, here are some tips to relieve claustrophobia and try to disperse the crowd somewhat:

  • Wear strong-smelling perfume (people will keep their distance)
  • Sneeze/cough a lot
  • Rip a huge fart
  • Carry an obnoxious amount of laptop bags/shoulder bags/grocery bags
  • Bring a pram. If you fill it with a fake baby and pretend it’s real, you will also get the courtesy crowd dispersal of crazy

The train will inevitably arrive late. When the conductor gets off the train to announce its arrival, he will almost certainly advise everyone that “there’s another train behind us”, and (like today), completely fucking lie to our faces and say that “all the seats are taken”. Yes, there is a train behind that train. It’s probably in Rockport and won’t begin its route for another 40 minutes, but it IS behind that train. Do not bother engaging the conductor to voice your displeasure; there is always someone louder, ruder, angrier and more obnoxious than you. Remember, this is New England.

Piss people off by asking if you can sit down next to them

Because you are getting on in Salem, everyone who got on at Rockport has filled up most of the train. I take the express from Salem, and even though they know that means that Salem is the last stop before Boston, you really ought to see the incredulous looks of disgust and annoyance on their faces when faced with the idea of having to share the other half of their seat.

Worse still, are the two who take up either ends of a 3-seater. You’ll know how much of a dickhead the one on the end is by what they do when you deign to ask to sit down – they’ll either get up and force you to sit between them and the window-seated passenger, or they’ll shuffle to the middle without a fuss. Don’t feel uncomfortable about asking someone to shift their arse to make room. There’s a reason it’s called public transport.

If you are lucky enough to find a seat, you can sample the sartorial delights that make up for the lack of a food trolley cart, straight train tracks and comfortable seats:

Best.tights.ever. I want to be like her when I grow up.

Pole-hugging room only

It’s fairly certain that you will have to stand. If you do, don’t fucking bother going all the way to the end of the carriage. You can see from the entrance whether or not there’s any seats, so if you have to stand, stand near the front of the carriage. Remember, only one door opens to the outside, and it’s likely that you will have to traverse the entire length of the train to get to it (if you were stupid enough to avoid the first carriage).

Try to grab a spot by the pole, because every other standing aid is a thin strap of leather attached the top of every seat. This is a passenger hair-pulling accident waiting to happen, so to avoid lawsuits (remember, this is Massachusetts – there is a reason every legal drama/sitcom is set in Boston), stick with the pole (shut up). Be aware that there is virtually no room to manoeuvre, especially when taking your cash out to pay the conductor:

Freak out the sleepers

Since you can’t do your entire makeup routine or read a book without falling over, you are going to have to amuse yourself. Look around you – almost everyone who is sitting down is fast asleep, weary from getting out of bed 20 minutes before you did. They deserve their sleep, but it’s fun to see how long you can stare at one of the sleepers until they wake up and think you’ve been trying to steal their soul.

If that isn’t your bag, you will have to find something else to stare at. Good fucking luck, because everyone who is sitting down is staring at you. By standing up, you are on display. Everything you do is on a stage, and instead of checking their Crackberry or playing beginner’s chess on their meePad, they have chosen to direct their sneering gaze at you, exhibiting your lowly station as a standing, feckless loser.

If the turbulence on the train (yes, train) gets too much, it’s best to just go a bit limp and move with the swaying. This goes double for that odd journey that involves the train turning on its side and slanting its entire contents for a good ten minutes of track. Try to sway while holding the pole loosely. Yes, you’ll look like you’re a stripper doing Tai Chi, but at least you won’t fall over. Remember: everyone’s watching you.

Passive-aggressive posing

Keep an ear out for the seated arseholes who bitch and moan when the train stops for a few seconds more than it usually does, or how it was a few minutes late, or anything concerning their horrendous toff-commute in general. Now would be a good time to refocus your playful gaze at the sleepers to a rampaging, murderous glare to those twats who are comfortably sitting and chatting (and likely near the front of the train).  Set your glare to maximum intensity if you hear them complaining about the fact that people are standing.

However, if you wear contact lenses, a severe glaring may not be feasible, or at least will be followed by a frenzied squint in at least one eye. You’d be better off using exaggerated body language to convey how much better they have it by being the Chosen Ones who got a seat. Rub your arm, feign pained grimaces, try to do that crunching thing when rotating your shoulder and continue to shift your bag as if it were the heaviest but most necessary burden. Try to prepare a speech about being one of the “untouchables” if engaged.

Disembarking

Finally, the misery is over, and all you have to do is get off the train so you can never see these bastards again (until tomorrow morning). This is where anthropological treats come in, even more markedly than when you boarded the train.  Before you even get within 10 minutes of North Station (i.e. halfway through the journey), huge spikes will begin to protrude through random seats, forcing some of your fellow commuters to stand up and claim their rightful place in line, even though they are nowhere near the door, and many, many other people will get off the train before they do (the same number of people that would get off if they were sat down).

Don’t let these new standees earn your respect. You were standing first – you earned an earlier place in line. The trick is to source out which people are likely to do this, and inadvertently block them from progressing to that one open door. Remember the crowd-dispersing exercise, and your skills with the pole (shut up) – use these to your advantage. You can even make a little dramatic – throw in some Gandalfing if it makes it fun:

The seat-yielder visual exercise from earlier will also come in handy to identify which twats are most likely to rise up. Whoever you saw getting up and forcing a passenger to sit in the middle is going to be the asshat who thinks that standing up will make the train move faster. Try to work with your fellow standing passengers to block his way, and see the look of indigance on his face turn to outright impatience. Ha! Now you know how it feels!

The worst offender, though, is the loud, obnoxious bint who complains in her horrible Rachael Ray voice the entire journey even though she had been sitting right next to the fucking door. She will gather her things and stand up right in your face to claim her rightful two inches of breathable space that was previously occupied with reasonable standing room between two humans. She doesn’t even need to move – all she has to do is twirl around and she is already in position. These people are pros. Just look at this bitch:

See that tiny brown speckle next to the left-hand side of her belt? That’s where this cow was sitting. Proper commuter etiquette suggests you let anyone sitting down get off the train before you, even if you were standing for the whole journey, but with inconsiderate, selfish twats like this, you may proceed to stand back-to-back and dispense the most obnoxious fart your tired little intestines can muster. Once you get off the train, you can passive-aggressively overtake them when sprinting down the arrivals platform. And then, after that childish victory,  it’s finally over.

And then you get to do it again 8 hours later.

The Smoothie Thief

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Someone at my work is a filthy, thieving bastard.

Look at this beauty. “Mighty Mango”. It even says on the label that it’s good for you. I actually prevented my husband from drinking any of this so I could hoard it for myself. And that could have gone on indefinitely, as the use-by date was sometime in November.

A couple of weeks ago, I brought it into work. It sat patiently in the fridge door, next to countless other delicious-looking pieces of pillageable treats. And yet, Monday morning, I trudge into work, sneezing like a fucking baby panda, very sick and craving some vitamin C, and find that it’s gone.

Who? Really? Why???

I can’t believe that, even in this day and age, we are still doing this ridiculous office cliche. I’m trying to get into the mindset of the fucker who just swanned into the break room (it’s really more of a hallway filled with K-cup boxes), opened the fridge, had a nice look ’round and then just fucking helped himself to my smoothie! I picture him looking a bit like Bill Lumbergh, braces and all, but a bit fatter, older and lankier-haired. He scratches his arse, grabs the bottle, pushes his glasses back up his greasy nose while he squints at the ingredients (all while leaving the fucking fridge open), then finally decides that this delicious mango nectar is good enough to drink for free. And then he just fucking takes it!

And then I bet it’s so good, too good, that he can’t even finish it. Never mind that it’s not even his, and that the actual owner would have drank all of it, and needed it, or that there are starving kids in space, but no, he probably throws this amazing happy tropical serum AWAY. My smoothie. MYY SMOOTHIE!?!!??

I didn’t even know how to bring this up with my manager. So I asked if there was a fridge-emptying schedule other than the one that was posted on the fridge, and she said no. I then pretended to meekly deduce right there and then that someone had nicked it. I made sure to put on my extra sad face (the one that got me a penthouse room “and a cookie” when I had to be transferred from an oversold hotel once). She seemed bemused by the whole thing and jokingly accused her boss (and my boss) of stealing it.

If this was in England, there would have already been a sternly-worded email sent around by a senior manager making this a huge issue. There would have been outrage, and maybe even disciplinary threats.  But I forgot that I now live in the land of the passive-agressive note. I suppose in this country, you defend yourself with guns (since the police are mostly useless), and you defend your food with borderline psychotic Post-its. Unfortunately, the company I work for is fairly conservative.

So how am I supposed to foil this thieving twat? I didn’t think that there was some unwritten rule that stated, “if you keep peering in the fridge and see the same thing for long enough, it’s YOURS”. If I leave a gruesome note saying I sprayed my food with AIDS, they’ll know it was me, because I’m the only one in the office with a zombie eye-popping stress toy and an ever-growing collection of Hallowe’en drinkware.

Maybe I could buy a locked box or just bring in something unappetizing, but I just can’t believe that in an office full of grown adults, there’s somehow a tosser who just thinks he can help himself to whatever he fancies, never mind who the original owner was. Like it’s a fucking free-for-all.

And they call us a “communist country”….!