How to Deal with a Toxic Office Refrigerator

by Staff - Original publish date: January 18, 2012

Dear Annette,

It's about the office refrigerator. What can I do?


Dear Ew,

Thanks to the artistic and janitorial exertions of an army of excruciatingly fastidious People, my kitchen refrigerator is an illuminated heaven of champagne, caviar, and assorted nail colors, plus the occasional foil sculpture concealing a savory ort for my dog Dickie. Naturally, his water bowl must be chilled before use as well.

Refrigerators were an excellent idea in their day, but really, do we still need them in this economy? These days, I wouldn't be caught dead eating groceries. Even when I entertain, the food is from a restaurant or a caterer - although Alberto, who used to be my favorite chef, has fallen off my A list lately because he occasionally forgets that Tall is over.

Still, it's very difficult to refrain from putting things In the refrigerator, even if you have no intention of taking them Out again.

Moreover, unlike workspaces with their carefully allotted ceiling tiles, the office refrigerator often becomes a free-for-all, a frontier, the domain of pioneers who will stop at nothing to stake their claim on the precious tundra inside.

Guilty as charged.

Why not start afresh once a week? Try Purge the Fridge Friday, a collaborative performance art ritual in which everyone can participate with near-Bacchic pleasure.

Gather the entire company into the kitchen after lunch on Friday - you'll probably be wearing casual clothes, so this is the safest time. Open the door to no-one's land and listen to the gasps and squeals. Record them into a tape loop to play on the corporate intranet. Marvel at the assortment of colors and shapes. Pass items around for group inspection and horror. Take turns guessing who contributed what. Point fingers and name names. Make sure each person gets to discard something, wipe a shelf, or in some other way leave a mark on the festivities.

Purge the Fridge Friday will set you apart in your industry as an innovative, change-oriented company. It will also create deep bonds within your corporate community. Or at the very least, it will leave room for my champagne.

Stay fabulous,