Let's Talk About the Office Microwave

OK, wow, yes, the office microwave. Honestly, on the subject of microwaving leftover fish, I was only thinking about home use, because who would even want to eat fish after smelling the office microwave?

Till the warmed-up oceans rise up and drown us, the office microwave oven will be our greatest everyday illustration of the tragedy of the commons. Everyone's food is a little bit gross, and in the aggregate, the communal microwave is irredeemably foul. A splash here, a drip there, the accumulated vapors of dozens of unrelated foodstuffs, most of them heated thoughtlessly and destructively—there is no smell quite like that smell, no stickiness quite like that stickiness.

And that's before you get to the people who commit overt crimes against the community by cooking things uncovered or making popcorn. Gawker editor Max Read reports that at one early job, he was shamed for violating the boss' absolute no-popcorn rule. As well he should have been. Unleashing the popcorn smell in the office is antisocial behavior. No popcorn, ever.

What other crimes have you witnessed? What other laws do we need? Is there any way to reconcile the responsibility and practicality of packing one's leftovers for lunch with the horrors of the office microwave? Discuss below, please.

[Illustration by Tara Jacoby]