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Fridge Follies

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I am a person of simple needs when it comes to the place at which I work. A comfortable yet supportive chair, a working computer, an HVAC system that cools me down in summer and keeps me warm in winter, and having a reasonable expectation that when I leave work on Monday the place will still be in business when I get there Tuesday are about all I need as far as the comforts go.

Sometimes, though, because I work at night, when the food court is locked up and the only places to get a hot meal are joints where I tend to be the only sober person in the place, I will bring something I've made or purchased earlier, which I can then heat up at 8 p.m. or 3 a.m., depending on the particular shift I'm working that night. All I need is a place where I can keep my Marie Callander's rigatoni or the Noodle Zone pad woon sen (and my accompanying diet soda or Arizona Iced Tea Arnold Palmer) cool until I take my break. So I turn to the employee fridge in the office, where I expect, especially on the weekends, since most of my colleagues are at home doing whatever it is people do on the weekends, that there should be ample room in said fridge, since the Caesar salad someone got for lunch last Tuesday was certainly either finished or thrown out before it went bad, as was the yogurt or juice someone didn't finish on Wednesday.

But nooooooo, because when I open said fridge I am greeted by a refrigerated Fibber McGee's closet of Lean Cuisines, yogurts, salad dressing, 2-liter bottles of Coke, 96 percent-empty containers of "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter," and unknown lunch leftovers, wrapped and then wrapped once again in plastic. I know I'm not much of a foodie, but do restaurant leftovers somehow improve with age? Is that why it seems someone's leftovers are always in the work fridge? And what type of mentality must one have to pack the fridge with frozen meals, as if it was their home refridgerator, then if they do not use those frozen meals during the week, just leave them there because, well, it's not as if anyone else would need the space they are taking up?

I've snapped a picture of the fridge at my workplace, which is included here. Fortunately the accompanying smell is not included. I have heard of offices where not only does the employer provide things like cream and sugar for employee coffee, but the fridge is clean, orderly and cleaned out regularly. I am sure the fridge pictured here isn't as bad as some, though. I'd like to hear some other workplace fridge tales. In the meantime, I know there may come a day, maybe not too far in the future, where I've forgotten to bring a lunch to work on the midnight shift, and if that Lean Cuisine pizza that has been on the middle shelf since late December is still there, well, I can't be held responsible for what may happen to it.
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Janet Rausa Fuller

Sun-Times Food editor Janet Rausa Fuller is always thinking about her next meal.

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