#44: A Fridge for All, by Liz Mathews

As anyone who does not work from home has probably experienced, life during the workday involves a lot of shared spaces. Even as one so lucky to have an office, my own little room with a door to close is a shared space, and that’s because I have a mini-fridge.

At the company where I work, on the floor where we are located, there happens to be a tiny kitchen that consists of a sink (sometimes featuring a clogged drain and/or dirty dishes), one garbage can and one recycling can (the difference between the two is confused by most, despite this writer’s best efforts at sustainability and clarity), a microwave, a coffee machine (which makes mostly disgusting “coffee” water), and one dorm-room-sized refrigerator.

I would like to point out that even a regular sized refrigerator is not large enough for forty people, which is the approximate number of humans who work on this floor.

As such, several of us have either been allowed to have small refrigerators in our own offices, or have inherited them because the passing of time allowed Office Services to forget that a mother no longer occupies this space I call my home away from home. (Pregnant and nursing women get first dibs on extra mini-fridges, you see.) And since it’s not really mine, but I just happen to reap the rewards of having a fridge a foot from my desk, I feel obliged to share.

Given the lack of access to cold food storage elsewhere on the floor, my office is a hot spot at the beginning of the day, the middle of the day, and sometimes when people need an afternoon snack.

The thing about having adequate kitchen spaces is that they’re areas where one might expect to run into others, and need to strike up a conversation to ease awkwardness. The thing about having parts of a kitchen in a private office is that the person the office belongs to is generally doing work when others show up for food drop-off and retrieval, and the person who the office belongs to does not need, expect, or perhaps even want chitchat or thanks or any acknowledgment at all when folks happen by the fridge.

You might think this is an issue that would dissolve with time. But it doesn’t, due to the new people who discover one’s fridge, or the fickleness in moods of the fridge-keeper, or even the characters of the people who deem it their right to use the fridge.

Life is not easy. I’m going to lean over and grab a soda from my fridge, now.

Liz Mathews composes ads for many things science fiction and fantasy. Her writing can be found in magazines, catalogs, newspapers, brochures, and books; and on bookmarks, postcards, cable television commercials, and even doorhangers all across the United States and in some parts of Canada. She lives in Brooklyn but considers the cornfields of Iowa home.