I’ve been working in an office since April.
Shortly after I started, I was commenting to somebody about how I didn’t think much to the Fairtrade teabags that our office buys.
What an evil and ungrateful bastard I must sound.
They’re just a bit bland. I’m not anti-Fairtrade obviously, but Sainsbury’s English Breakfast Fairtrade teabags are so much nicer in my opinion.
Aforementioned person told me that they don’t like the Fairtrade teabags either.
“So that’s why I drink these ones”, and with that, he opened a cupboard, reached in, and pulled out a PG Tips Pyramid bag.
I assumed from that point on, that the teabags in that cupboard were for the use of anybody. Right up until the point when this happened:
It turns out I’ve been drinking someone else’s tea. Worse, the message was signed off by my boss. Oops.
In my defence, I had noticed we were running low, and so hadn’t used the last 2-3 teabags, assuming somebody had forgotten to replenish them.
I tweeted the above picture and admitted it was me.
Then my friend @coffeebucks suggested that as my boss had used a closed question, I might like to just add “yes” to the end. This seemed like an excellent idea at the time.
As the day went on, I started to feel marginally guilty.
At least one person thought I was responsible. This was most likely caused by the fact that I had been quite obviously taking teabags from the cupboard. In front of them. For months.
I overheard conversations in our open-plan office along the lines of:
Colleague 1: “I can’t believe some robbing bastard has been taking his teabags.”
Colleague 2: “They’re even put away in the cupboard. Everybody knows that stuff in the cupboard are people’s own things.”
Colleague 1: “Well if I catch anyone nicking my teabags…. <list of violent acts>”
I thought it would be funny to interrupt this conversation, and ask colleague 1 which teabags are his. Partly for fun, and partly so I don’t end up using anything else that belongs to somebody. He described the clearly communal ones as his, and several people laughed.
Throughout the day, I came up with an idea that was quite brilliant. On reflection, it’s not nearly as funny as I thought it was at the time. It’s pretty stupid really.
I left work at the end of the day, and rather than go home, I went to the supermarket round the corner. I bought a replacement box of teabags of the same brand, and exactly the same shape and size as the box that was now empty. How nice of me?
For my own amusement, I then emptied all but about five of the teabags from the box, into a carrier bag, and returned to the office via a backstreet method, parking in another company’s car park. Colleague 1 and colleague 2 were leaving at that point, and they took ages doing so.
Like a bad actor playing the part of a cop in a bad TV movie, I sat in my car on my mock stakeout, and chose my moment until they were both out of sight of me and our office, then snuck back into the office, into the kitchen, and put the nearly-empty new box back in the cupboard.
My hope was that in the morning, my boss (who had left already before I did) would arrive in the office, open the cupboard and be delighted that someone had replaced his teabags. Then, imagine his disappointment as he opened the box and discovered this:
What a bastard I am.
But it doesn’t stop there. The following day, I would take in two sets of additional teabags, one of which would be hidden about my person.
Every time I go to make a cup of tea, instead of taking any out, I put 4-5 back in. He’ll know someone is doing it, but won’t know who. Which might be fun?
The flaw in this plan is that IF he knows there are no teabags then WHY would he open the cupboard, see the box, open it, and discover it nearly empty? I would just have to take a punt that for some reason, he would.
The next morning, I went in to continue this plan, to find he had replaced the box of teabags himself. However, he hadn’t opened them, having seen that some kind soul had replaced the box they used, with a nearly empty box.
Over the course of the next few days, I kept this up. Adding teabags instead of taking any away.
By Friday, I was a bit bored of this game. I had no idea whether he had even registered how many teabags were in there, or was amused, bemused, angry or what. So I returned all the teabags to the box from whence they came.
This was a bit of a problem, because although 160 teabags came out of the box, 160 would not go back in (even allowing for the ones he had drank during the week). See:
First day the following week, I happened to go into the kitchen to make a cup of tea (from my own stash of teabags), at the same time my boss was in there, just about to make himself one.
He opens the cupboard, looks, laughs.