August 2nd, 2016

planet

Cleaning out the office fridge

Back in good economic times, my company used to have lots of administrative assistants and the nice ones would clean out refrigerators when things got bad. They didn't love this, it wasn't their job, but the mess bothered them and they didn't feel like it was totally beneath them to do it. Sometimes there were passive-aggressive signs involved about how "your mother doesn't work here, claim your food!" Then there'd be a sign that said, "Everything in this fridge will be thrown out Friday afternoon!" Then the admin would go to work Friday, spending a day throwing out old food, washing out people's tupperware and glassware and setting it on a table to be claimed, scrubbing the shelves down. The fridge would be sparkling.

Well we don't have those people anymore so the fridges filled up with crap and I recently moved to a new building and had no place to put my lunch. It was shoved full like a slidelock puzzle. And to be honest, it smelled so terrible I didn't think I'd want my food in there anyway.

I also didn't have a Friday afternoon to sacrifice and I am even FURTHER from being everyone's mother.

But I could spend five minutes a day improving things. So that's why I've started my gradual fridge cleanout program. Nobody knows it's me. Here's how I do it.

1) Find out when the trash gets taken out. Let's pretend it's Wednesday AM. So you're going to plan your cleanup for a Tuesday afternoon - you want to throw stuff out after lunch, obviously, to avoid accidentally tossing out somebody's lunch.

2) Make a bunch of labels with Monday's date and "this will be thrown out August 11 if it's not claimed". Mailing labels work best for this, not post-its. Tape also works but it's a pain to write on. Give people a nice solid week to claim their stuff. Don't worry, they won't. Don't sticker a million things at once. Go for, like, six big things. Volume is the goal, clear out whatever is taking up the most room.

3) On Tuesday, make your move. Throw the stuff out. While you're in there you'll probably find some other gems - expired yogurt, shriveled old oranges, those will make you feel good to throw away also. Yes, you are probably tossing perfectly good tupperware. Who gives a shit.

Nice lunch bags, I spare. I still sticker them but rather than toss out the whole insulated bag, I just unzip them, empty the contents, and set them on the table next to the fridge.

4) Go wash your hands.

5) Wait a week. Lurk. Repeat the process.

Slowly over time, the fridge will have room in it. Maybe the shelves don't get scrubbed, maybe there's still a scary yogurt from 2014 lurking back in there, but life is about baby steps. There is now a 6x6" square for me to put my lunch now. I feel pretty good about that. And no giant passive-aggressive signs for everyone to ignore and scoff at! Win.