Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Being the squeaky wheel

At my work, each floor has two sink-equipped pantries that are stocked with "free" soda, bottled water, and orange and apple juice. They're not really "free" because the company must spend extra money that it could instead pay us. It's also a bit inefficient, because it skews people's perception of the resources' scarcity. Instead of getting one small carton of Tropicana, they'll get two or three, since they're "free." Though we're dealing with items of extremely small marginal value, this still illustrates how prices best encourage people to conserve a desired resource that becomes scarce.

There's also a Flavia coffee machine. My previous job had one, which was very neat in that it could make cappuccinos. That coffee was in fact pretty good, but for some unknown reason, the Flavia coffee blends at my present job only insult my palate. They're likely the reason I now drink mostly tea. I was no stranger to it before, enjoying a cup or two each day, but now I drink several cups throughout the day, and coffee only when I need a stronger dose of caffeine. I like The Republic of Tea's Earl Greyer, which is an authentic blend made from excellent black tea, and Tazo Wild Sweet Orange. When I do drink coffee, I make a douple cup: half from either Flavia's Colombian or Costa Rican blend, and the other half made from General Foods Suisse Mocha (which I buy myself at the grocery store). This way it's palatable.

Well, my department recently moved to a new floor, and instead of using just half, we're spread throughout it all. Half of us are served by a good-sized pantry of the same size as before. The other half, which includes me, is served by a "pantry" not much bigger than a large closet, with a matching refrigerator that's still quite large but only half the size of the other. The food service department has not been regularly stocking the smaller pantry in the last two weeks, forcing some of us to walk to the other pantry in search of a favorite coffee blend or soda. After running into a couple of grumbling co-workers, this was an e-mail complaint that I sent Tuesday morning:
We are presently out of French Roast, Costa Rica blend, the Splenda sugar substitute, and orange juice. We are perenially low on spoons, forks and cups. When we do get new utensils, could we get the ones that are pre-wrapped in plastic, like we always had on the 16th floor? They are far more hygienic for a shared pantry.

Let this be my formal complaint as to the sorry state of that pantry's inventory. We've run out of things several times in the two weeks, ever since our department initially moved to the 17th floor. For the first week, soda was nonexistent except for a very few varieties. Moreover, the pantry has rapidly become unsanitary and revolting. The small garbage cans left for us are ridiculous, and the recent "solution," a large garbage can that sits just outside the pantry, is disgusting. There is ample space beneath the counter for mid-height garbage receptacles, but whoever is responsible for the pantry apparently does not care enough.

By comparison, the larger pantry on the opposite corner of the floor is always well-stocked and kept clean. It should not fall upon us to inconvenience ourselves by walking all the way across the floor, not when there is a pantry near us that one would think ought to be stocked.

A prompt reply is requested and expected.
I think I got my "complaint letter" style from reading my father's correspondence that he'd occasionally show me. I BCC'd a few friends, who quite liked what I said. We weren't sure what kind of reply I would get, and part of me wondered if they'd go to my manager and say, "Who does this guy think he is?"

At around 2 p.m., a couple of suits from food service came looking for me. They offered a few excuses but were extremely apologetic and promised to stay on top of things. What I didn't know was that, as a friend later told me, while they inspected the closet pantry, the two also took down the small sign giving the food service's e-mail address. Apparently I wasn't the only one who wrote something, but I was the first to get someone's attention.


Anonymous anomdebus said...

Even though the beginning of this post does not match very well the rest of the post: since you do care about these benefits, allow me to make a suggestion. Post the email address back where it was before and keep it maintained if they take it down later.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006 10:46:00 AM  
Blogger Perry Eidelbus said...

That's an idea, but I would have to be very careful lest that department complain to my manager. It's one thing to be the squeaky wheel; it's another to rock the boat.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006 11:35:00 AM  

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