Friday, June 27, 2014

Disappearing office cutlery

I've worked in this office, with a lot of the same people, for 13.5 years. During that time, we've had a continuing problem of never having enough cutlery in the kitchen drawer. When my husband moved in and we combined our kitchen utensils, I took my half-plastic set to work since they could be well used there.  Some of that set still sits in the drawer, but some of it is missing.

A few years ago, after moving into this new building, I went to Costco and bought a set of flatware. It was thicker and nice, and there were enough pieces that I figured it would solve the problem.  Currently there is one fork remaining, perhaps one teaspoon, and at least half of the knives. The question is: where is the rest of the cutlery?

I searched around on the internet to see if anyone had any comments on this problem. In addition to a fun scientific experiment, the common answers dealt with theft by children to use in their play (not an issue in this office), office workers who have kept the cutlery at their desks for exclusive use, or the utensils get thrown in the trash when the dishes are cleaned up.

Who throws metal cutlery in the trash?

If you're scraping a dish, how can you not notice the cutlery falling into the trash? Plate loss isn't generally attributed to trash disposal, so why cutlery (just because it's small)?  I have found office cutlery around desks, so some are being hoarded by co-workers. At least it's still in the building.  I just can't fathom how or why so many of these utensils go missing. My best guess is that people are putting work cutlery into their dirty Tupperware containers and taking them home, so the work cutlery gets absorbed into their home inventory.

What I couldn't find in my research was any way to alleviate the problem. Buying plastic cutlery means it can be thrown out, but then it ends up at the landfill. At least only some of the metal cutlery is ending up at the landfill. Buying new cutlery sets just results in the eventual loss of that set.  Bringing in my own cutlery will lead to others ignoring my name on it and using it anyway, and then it will get lost. Since I want to run the items through the dishwasher, I don't want to store cutlery at my desk.  Some who have had lunches stolen from work refrigerators suggest that kid-like bags deter theives, so maybe I should try getting kid cutlery in hopes that no one else wants to be seen using a Dora The Explorer spoon?

I'm not sure what the answer is, but soon I will be forced to start eating yogurt with a knife.