Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Office Microwave Etiquette

Last week, I cleaned the office microwave.  If you’ve ever worked in an office, been to an office, or merely observed office life on television, you have some idea about the importance of – and potential problems caused by – sharing an office microwave. 

I first came to work here ten years ago next month.  We have had the same microwave the entire time, and it is a dinosaur.  There is a property tag on the microwave indicating property of the institution name that pre-dates our current institution name - and we’ve had the current name for 15 years.  But I believe the giant Kenmore microwave is even much older than that.  There is no “popcorn” button and I’m pretty sure no one had even thought of a “popcorn” button at the time this machine came out of the factory.

About five years ago, I left my employment here for fourteen months.  At least one fellow employee is pretty sure that no one cleaned the microwave while I was gone.  Eww. 

There is much to be said of office microwave etiquette.  Perhaps the most succinct listing of such etiquette is here

And if individuals in your office are in need of some serious microwave etiquette overhaul, perhaps G.Neil’s “Microwave Do’s & Don’ts” sign will do the trick.  Personally, I think it’s more fun when bad behavior continues until the neat freak in the office can’t stand it anymore and explodes with a series of “your mother doesn’t work here” emails and posted 48-pt. font signs.  Sometimes I’m the neat freak and sometimes I’m not.  

A good, solid vegetarian meal

Today’s meal is the Lean Cuisine Santa Fe-Style Rice & Beans.  This is a solid, moderately filling meal that I have enjoyed before.  There’s nothing particularly special about it but nothing particularly offensive either; I tend to gravitate toward meals containing beans and this one contains both black beans and pinto beans.  At the Lean Cuisine website, I noticed that one reviewer suggested a few spoonfuls of salsa be added to this meal to add flavor; I think that’s an excellent suggestion that I may try next time. 

Since we’re talking about microwave etiquette today, it is worth noting that this meal takes six minutes to cook.  At first thought, it seems like six minutes is a ridiculously long amount of time to consume the office microwave, but when you think about the fact that many dinners *do* consume the microwave for this amount of time, it’s just in smaller increments with stirring in between, then six minutes doesn’t seem so bad anymore. 

Calories:  290
Fat:  5 g
Sodium:  590 mg
Notable good nutritional content:  20% Calcium
Notes on cooking:  6 minutes - yes, 6 whole minutes – but in a single shot
Notes on packaging:  black tray, recyclable


  1. I'm one of two people in my office and almost always have the microwave for my exclusive use, except... for microwave popcorn. The men that come to my office for meetings have become attached to popcorn, I'm guessing because it goes so well with the ice cold beer we always keep in the fridge. Nice meetings, eh? Unfortunately, not only don't they know how to wipe out the inside of the microwave when the "butter" spews out of the bad during the last few seconds of popping, but they also can't manage to bend down and pick up the pieces that fall on the floor. God forbid they actually get the vacuum out and use it. But then, these ARE the same men that use the paper shredder beyond it's expected capacity and then can't seem to figure out why the shredded paper ends up all over the floor when emptying it... but that's another story from the archives of idiots! :)

  2. If I'm remembering right that's the meal that looks good except it has sour cream on top, right? Microwaving dairy scares me!

  3. I personally think the one thing people forget about in regards to making microwave meals at work is that sometimes, although the flavor might be good and you personally are enjoying it, the people in the rest of your office may not want to smell garlic-overloaded whatever all day long. I have noticed many of these meals leaving a less-than-pleasant odor hanging in our office for several hours after the meal has been consumed. Is it just me?