Monday, June 04, 2007

2 minutes on high

Here an issue one for those new-fangled etiquette guides (you know, the ones that exist to tell your parents that leaving caps lock on in an email = shouting).

What is the etiquette surrounding the office kitchen’s microwave?

More specifically, if I am waiting to use it, and the timer has long since sounded on the unattended lunch currently inhabiting the microwave, how long do I have to wait before I can pull it out and use the microwave myself?

I’ve waited quite some time in the past, paranoid that touching someone else’s lunch is invasion of personal space by proxy.

This is clearly too long to wait, and whilst it keeps me away from my phone and email for a blissful extra 5 minutes, I can only read the 4-year old notices on the notice board so many times.

By contrast, on another occasion, I’ve walked back in to the kitchen just as the timer was sounding on my lunch, only to find someone else pulling it out so they could get their left over tuna mornay in as quickly as possible.

To me, this is too hasty – what if I needed to stir my lunch and heat it for a further 2 minutes?

Modern living is so perplexing.

EDIT: I just wanted to note that I, like a couple of commenters, am of the view one should stick around and wait with one's meal.

However, I have perfected the timing of my reheating such that I can make a quick 'comfort stop' in the time it takes to reheat my lunch. So I feel ok in leaving it to cook unattended. I am a responsible microwave user.

Furthermore, more often than not, waiting with my food while it heats up will involve banal small talk with whoever else is waiting to use the microwave and I have a very limited tolerance for meaningless niceties or talk about the weather. Setting my lunch to heat and walking off to do something else is often more of a survival mechanism than anything else.

But what I am definitely not a fan of is the 'queuing by proxy' some people undertake by leaving their tupperware in a little queue next to the microwave and then lobbing off back to their desk.

Tell you what, if the microwave becomes free and no one is around to 'claim' their place in the queue, I'm not hanging around waiting for you to return.


Mick said...

I have microwaved something before and then gottewn distracted by an email or phone call and forgotten about it, only to find it cooling on the counter. I have no problem with this. I have no problem with someone grabbing it out of the micro.

I would do the same, but I would wait at least 30 seconds or so after the buzzer so that someone who may be in ear-shot of it knows their lunchy munchies are ready.

Problem solved at my new place of work however.


Double the beepage :)

Enny said...

If they're not in there with it, take it out - but I'm with mick in recommending a 30 second window.

If you need to do the heat'n'stir'n'heat, don't leave it unattended.

Though I'm a public servant so I'd proddly make a sign warning people in an angry tone with caps and exclamation points not to leave food unattended or it would be left on the side of the sink.

shula said...

This one has just turned my mind into reheated tuna mornay, with it's various levels of complexity, so I'm afraid I'm of no use to you.

Mikhela said...

I am the remove it as soon as it beeps culprit. Take responsibility for your meal, I say. Don't pretend to be important by scurrying off and making two phone calls in the two minutes it takes to reheat last night's pasta. Really, the World Can Wait.

TLA said...

I say keep your frickin' stinky fishy mess of a lunch at home, people who like stinky fishy messy lunches.

Nothing I hate more than coming into the kitchen to find that someone has just been running the hot tap and then opened and drained a tin of stinky stinky tuna into the sink so that the warm air in the sink makes the stinkiness permeate the whole kitchen. Vom. It.

But apart from that, I say the 30-second window is appropriate. And if you're taking ages to heat your lunch up and someone else is waiting, offer to go and tell them when yours is finished so they don't have to loiter around in the kitchen making awkward smalltalk. Unless you're actually friends with them, of course, in which case you can spend the time discussing how fvcked the gubbamint is.

TimT said...

I make a sandwich or go down the street. It's better to get out of the office.