DEAR MISS MANNERS: We have a co-worker who likes to sample our beverages without asking. She will just grab the drink and take a few big gulps directly from the straw. Sometimes, she’ll remove the plastic lid of the drink and slurp from the cup itself. The first time it happened, we were shocked, but now it’s become an almost daily activity for her.
The co-worker it most often happens to once blurted out quickly, as the beverage thief was about to sip her drink, “Oh, I feel like I may be coming down with something ... you don’t want my germs!” To which the offending co-worker replied, “Oh, that’s OK. I have a really strong immune system” then proceeded to slurp away.
The catch? We all work in the health care field! We’ve tried being totally direct with the beverage thief by saying, “Stop drinking our drinks!” But the beverage thief just laughs it off like we’re joking. Honestly, it’s such a strange issue to have as professionals in our 40s, but we are really at a loss here.
Aside from outfitting our beverages with sophisticated alarm devices, keeping our drinks by our sides at all times (not feasible at our job, as we move around quite a bit and are not stationed in one place throughout the day), or lacing our beverages with pickle juice, we don’t know how to handle this situation.
GENTLE READER: If you are willing to consider lacing beverages with pickle juice, then Miss Manners infers that you are willing to surrender a few drinks to solve the problem.
Very well. Next time the co-worker helps herself, give her the drink. When she protests, politely refuse to take it back, explaining that you are probably overreacting, but your training about the spread of germs is so ingrained that you just cannot overcome it. You may even resort to leaving the area, without taking the drink, as a way of indicating that it is now hers. Eventually, the message will sink in.