The Case of the Missing Pork Chops

I don’t pay much attention to what goes on around me at work – I have enough to do trying to maintain focus and stay on task without getting into dishing the dirt much about colleagues. But sometimes, a topic just begs to be explored.

Yesterday, a co-worker who’s now a kind of tech services/general upgrades and hardware dogsbody was walking around behind me saying “Porkchops, porkchops,” in a sing-songy, “where are you” tone of voice. I responded with “applesauce,” because that’s what immediately leaps to my tiny little mind on instinct.

She came to my desk and related the tale of the disappearing pork chops: they previous day, her husband had bought pizza puffs and pork chops on his lunch break at the nearby mega grocery, and left the bag in the big restaurant-style fridge in the main break room (he works in the same office on another team). They had planned to have the pork chops for dinner, and after about an hour, he remembered that the pizza puffs had to be in the frozen, so he moved them, leaving the pork chops in the bag in the fridge.

At 4 p.m., they left to go home and stopped to pick up the food. The pizza puffs were where he’d left them, but the grocery bag with the pork chops were nowhere to be found!

Dunh dunh DUUUNNNH!

They searched the fridge, the freezer, and looked everywhere else they could think of, but no pork chops. Given the timing, it had to be another co-worker (sic) and not a member of the building housekeeping staff, who typically don’t appear until about 6:30 p.m. 

That’s where another co-worker rolled over on her wheelie chair to chime in about other thefts of food from the break room fridge. It’s been going on for a while and suspicion falls here and there. One person is supposed to have witnessed someone taking their milk, but chose not to confront them. It’s a bizarre deal and I have my own theory, which will have to remain mine since it depends on some identifying characteristics.

But people are starting to get mighty cheesed off, especially since cheese seems to be a favorite target – last year, a fairly large quantity of expensive imported cheese and cold cuts disappeared between morning break and lunch. Milk is also an issue – people like to have it for coffee, and it’ll disappear from one break to the next. Lunch bags don’t seem to be touched, but grocery bags of any brand seem to be fair game.

It’s almost as if the perp doesn’t or can’t distinguish between stuff they bought and brought in, and everyone else’s stuff.

My idea is either to set some bait… or to set up a webcam. Others are more serious; they think that whoever it is should be fired when they’re finally caught.

When I lived in some cheap off-campus housing one summer in Eugene (Okay, it was a frat house that rented members’ rooms out to females when school was out), there was a food thief. No matter what you left in the fridge or how it was marked, it would disappear when you were most counting on it. Milk, sandwich fixings, leftovers. Also dry goods from the residents’ cupboards. Like cereal, which I lived on that summer. And if he (it was a he) left the cereal, he’d drink every drop of milk in the fridge, from the container, but leave all the sour milk for someone else to throw out.

He was caught, I don’t remember how. It turned out to be the person everyone suspected – the loudmouth obnoxious guy who got the house in trouble with the local cable company because not only did he steal cable for the TV room (which the frat guys applauded) but he used a splitter to get it into his own room (which is what got them busted, because it was a crap job visible from the street).

When confronted by several angry housemates, who loudly demanded compensation for all the milk and cheese and beer and cereal he’d consumed, he just laughed. Obnoxiously. He thought it was a great gag that he’d pulled and how funny it was that that everyone was mad, and he was completely unrepentant. He maintained he, as a real frat house member, had a perfect right to eat or drink anything we temporary residents… especially we gurrrlz, were stupid enough to leave in his way.

Years later, I ran into him when I went on an airline reservation system training course in a distant city. He was working for the airline, and had been caught dicking around in a secure aircraft scheduling systetm. He was still obnoxious, still supremely convinced of his lordly right to anything he wanted. Still convinced there would be no serious consequences.

I don’t remember his name. But I remember the name of my instructor for that session – one of 3 sessions attended in that city, over the course of 6 months, 4 days at a time. And the only reason I remember the instructor is that one of the other guys in the session had a tendency toward Spoonerisms and a strong Midlands accent, and one day he mentioned he’d been speaking to “Mu(r)ht Killah” after class, which cracked us all up in the bar. So: the instructor’s name was Kurt Miller, but damned if I can remember the food thief guy’s name.

I wonder if our own food thief at work has some kind of memory impairment – in addition to their fascination with other people’s groceries.

Memory for me is an extremely tricky thing – there are some things that I remember vaguely, but mostly I don’t remember details unless I run across something specific that matches a pattern and brings an old memory to light. I’m listening to This American Life now, an episode about memory and how deceptive it can be.  


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One thought on “The Case of the Missing Pork Chops

  1. Apologies to democommie, whose comment had to be manually rescued from Spam Karma.

    I’ve had to deal with that a few times. I usually responded by not leaving things in the fridge. However, if I could identify the person I would bait them with something spiked with an emetic. Call me a bastard.

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