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Dear Lola,

I work in a fairly small office setting with five other people. One of my coworkers has taken to badgering the rest of us about bringing lunches that don’t require a microwave, in order to avoid unpleasant smells. We have all been considerate, no one is microwaving a curry or something with a strong odor, but she will complain about everything. Purchasing a hot lunch and eating in the office produces a similar complaint. Yesterday I microwaved plain rice and she commented it smelled, and then asked me to refrain from bringing it again.

We’ve tried to be accommodating and most of us bring cold lunches a few times each week, but lately we’ve hit a wall. This coworker is now leaving notes on people’s desks, the microwave, the refrigerator, and has even sent out emails. She seems to think that since we accommodate her most of the week, that we somehow owe it to her to never bring a hot lunch into the office again. What should we do?!

Microwave Manager Not Needed

Dear Lola

Dear Microwave Manager Not Needed,

I was prepared from a quick scan of your issue, to side with your coworker. Many articles have been published across the globe listing foods that should never be brought to the office because they are offensive to quite a large part of the population. However, it seems like you are all being completely reasonable in your attempts to accommodate your office mate.

Your coworker is evidently part bloodhound.

Trained to sniff out even the smallest of odors amongst a sea of other odors, the bloodhound can track a fart blowing in the wind for 72 miles. They can smell a single plankton being digested inside the intestinal system of a whale residing deep under the surface of the ocean.

Nothing else on Earth is capable of smelling plain white rice.

This is where normal advice columns would recommend that you contact Human Resources for an amicable solution. The columnist might also recommend you attempt to pack a cold lunch since it bothers you less than the odors do your coworker. You may even be told a trip to the actual office manager could be useful. Lucky for you, I am not that type of advice column.

It’s time to wage a war – a cold, stinky war.

Start packing cold lunches, but make sure to get the entire office is in on the game. On Monday, all five of you will eat a salad with hard-boiled eggs and stinky blue cheese dressing. Tuesday can be a cold bruschetta with a side of canned sardines. Wednesday is  definitely a tuna sandwich day. Five of you eating those will scar the nasal passages of anyone within a one mile radius. Thursday shall be a tasty offering of garlic hummus and an array of cold veggies. If your coworker hasn’t quit her job by Friday, it’s time to release the big dog – Kimchi. Fermented veggies will test even the toughest of nasal systems.

Just remember this for when your office is called in for the meeting with management – you were nice and brought a cold lunch as requested.


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