DEAR MISS MANNERS: I manage a department of about 15 professional and clerical workers. I am a direct resource for most, and I enjoy helping them find solutions. My office is a revolving door, with usually no more than 20 minutes between visits.
What is bothering me is a complete disdain for my food and beverages. I frequently drink coffee at my desk, and just this morning, an employee came in with a question. She managed to lean directly over my coffee and then rub her face, play with her hair, and talk animatedly enough to release spittle. I found myself sneaking back to the break room for a fresh cup after she left.
Another time, an employee coughed directly over my barely touched lunch salad. Sadly, I was then unable to consume it, which left me hungry and annoyed. This unintentional contamination occurs commonly enough that it is beginning to frustrate me.
I can close my door when I eat, but that reduces my availability and hampers workflow; also, it doesn't address the coffee. I can cover or tuck away my consumables when my door is darkened, and have done so, but this seems offensive.
Is there a better way to protect my food while not causing offense nor inconvenience?
GENTLE READER: Please step aside while Miss Manners rearranges the furniture in your office. Your food should not be within leaning distance of others.
There is such a thing as being too accessible. Aside from dribbling on your lunch, visitors may be reading your screen. Position your desk on the far wall, facing a window, if you have one. When employees enter, you should swirl around to face them, leaving your food safely behind you. If you don't have a window, do this anyway, hanging a nice picture above the desk -- or, better yet, a mirror so that you can see who is coming.