I was just reading a Tweet a friend of mine sent out this morning about office refrigerators. @Healthy_Heather -- aka Wellness Without Pity -- wrote: "I'm glad to see more homemade lunch in the office fridge, but beware the hidden ew-factor! http://bit.ly/9z5DLO"
Funny she wrote that today -- shortly after I spent a few minutes this morning in the office kitchen dumping out the likes of three fuzzy fruit salads, a bag of overly juicy bean sprouts, and a couple of long-forgotten sandwiches.
I mean, seriously. I bring my lunch to work almost every day. I wouldn't store my lunch next to a litter box, so it freaks me out sometimes to put my fresh eats alongside the accidental science experiments.
During a stint with a former employer, I spent an entire morning at work restoring health to the communal refrigerator. It was beyond disgusting. Once I was done, I e-mailed my co-workers (slightly modified to protect the innocent ... and the guilty!):
Among the perks of working here is the benefit of working with someone whose penchant for cleanliness persistently lies just this side of mental disease. Ah, yes, laugh, and then go look at the kitchen.
Not only are all the eating utensils neatly stored in the drawer now, but I soaked, washed and dried them all over again because as I put them away the first time, I noticed that most of the spoons and forks were covered with a disgusting film of grease, soap and soggy, bloated food chunks. Mmm, tasty treats.
I also wiped down the microwave since whoever scorched their frozen lunch never bothered to clean up the dried-up glob of blackened, cheesy goo they left behind. That was really yummy, too.
And I cleaned out the refrigerator. Yogurt that expired last October. Cream cheese gone bad since January. Hazelnut creamer that chunked up in early March. Green bacon. Fuzzy pineapple chunks. That was truly scrumptious.
But it was potential media attention that made me dump out the fridge's contents -- I was really concerned the Discovery Health Channel would show up next week, ready to film its next segment of "Diagnosis: Unknown."
PLEASE NOTE: There are two containers of -- gee, I hesitate to call it food -- something that resembles rice and another that might once have been soup. At 3 p.m., if they haven't been claimed, they're going into the garbage can, along with the bag of Tex-Mex scraps on the floor next to the garbage can.
Oh, and speaking of the garbage can ... I even washed the slime and spooge off the container's lid.
The freezer's contents are fairly safe for now, but just to be sure, you might want to go ahead and label anything you own in there. One never knows when the "must clean" synapses in my diseased brain might fire again.
Enjoy the kitchen. And now that it's been given the once-over twice, do everyone a favor -- please do your part in keeping it from becoming another haven for mold and and food-borne disease.
At home, I border on obsessive about my refrigerator, freezer and pantry. If you are a food item and you are a couple of days past your expiration date, well then: Food, Meet Garbage.
I'll never get why co-workers think it's OK to leave their food in the office refrigerator until it stinks up the place. Lucky for them, I guess, they've got me.