Thursday, September 02, 2004

Responsibility and the Art of Watercooler Maintenance

Sorry if this is a bit of a rant, but it bothers me how it seems that most people will do whatever they can to avoid taking responsibility for their actions. I'm not necessarily talking about big things here like commiting a hit and run on the road, but I think the little things are in indication of people's attitude when it comes to the bigger things.

Specifically, I'm talking about the office kitchen. I don't remember it being clean for more than a couple of hours. Ever. The sink almost always contains dirty dishes, there is always something spilled on the counter and the table is usually strewn with empty bags, food wrappers and occasionally leftovers from someone's lunch. A good example of the attitude many people in the office have, though, is with the water cooler. I recall a time when I poured myself a cup. Realizing I had used the last of the water, I threw a new bottle on top. As I was replacing the bottle, a co-worker came in to get water. When I finished changing the bottle and picked up my already-full cup to leave she was baffled. Why would I change the bottle if I was able to get water without changing it? She practically made fun of me for not slipping away to let the next person do it.

On a different occasion, I entered the kitchen in the morning as a co-worker was filling a large plastic bottle. As the water dribbled dry a couple inches from the top of his bottle, he said "just enough" or "that's all" or something similarly assinine, grinned smugly and left as I stood waiting with my cup. In my office, as well as in the general public, we do as little as we can get away with as a matter of policy.


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