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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.

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( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 2nd, 2016 03:54 pm (UTC)
Aug. 2nd, 2016 04:08 pm (UTC)
Chris' new work place apparently has fridges all over the place to point of ridiculous. Maybe this is why. What's so hard about eating the food you bring?
Aug. 2nd, 2016 05:48 pm (UTC)
Yeah, seriously.

I think offices should just get rid of these fridges, and tell people to bring a cooler bag with a couple small ice packs, and keep it at their desks, not in common areas. It's not a long-term storage solution, but it will keep the food cold until lunch time. And if they haven't eaten it by the end of the day, it's their problem to deal with.
Aug. 2nd, 2016 10:38 pm (UTC)
And it's so much nicer to toss out something that's been sitting for a day compared to weeks or more! There were days while I was still in college where I'd be there over 12 hours with the spread on my classes (lived almost an hour from school, pointless to drive back and forth between). Ice packs and a well-insulated bag kept me fed most days!
Aug. 3rd, 2016 08:20 am (UTC)
I appreciate very much having an actual fridge because I don't use it for storing my lunch but for occasionally storing groceries. There are times (like today!) when the only time I have to get to the store is over lunch, and I can't let 3kg of leg of lamb sit in my office...
Aug. 3rd, 2016 09:33 pm (UTC)
Yeah, in that case, having a fridge is good. :)
Aug. 2nd, 2016 10:34 pm (UTC)
This sounds amazingly satisfying and I love how you've scheduled it really slowly and given warnings, focusing on the big stuff, etc. Go you!
Aug. 2nd, 2016 10:50 pm (UTC)
Every now and then someone cleans out the small fridge here and we did the "everything will be tossed on X date" Tupperware and everything into the trash. It's just too gross to clean.

But we moved the fridge into my office and now only four of us (responsible people) get to use it. Muhauauaha.

Cleaning it out from all the student crap was pretty gross though.
Aug. 3rd, 2016 01:38 am (UTC)
Love your methodology.

I've never seen an office refrigerator that bad, so bad that there's no room for one more lunch. Ugh. And the smell must be horrid.

Go you. FanSee
Aug. 4th, 2016 09:52 pm (UTC)
one day, the flamethrower.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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