Skip to main content
Alice’s phone buzzed.
My yoghurt’s been violated! ☹ Mt 4 lunch?
Alice replied instantly.
WTF? Yep. Usual place?
They met in the university’s botanical gardens, as they did at least once a week if the weather was good.
“Licked clean. Look.” Pip delved in her lunch bag and showed Alice the evidence. “The chocolate-covered cornflakes from the corner section. Not a single crumb left.”
“I know. They left the yoghurt part, but I’m not sure I want to touch it now.”
“Same as the others then,” said Alice. “They take bits of something sweet but not all of it?”
Pip nodded, mouth bonded shut with the cheese and pickle sandwich she was eating now.
“Remind me what the others were,” said Alice.
“A couple months ago Jeanette from Finance complained that most of the chocolate-covered raisins in her lunch box had disappeared. Then Rob from PR lost one finger of a Kit-Kat. Then there was Val, PA to the Deputy VC” — this meant Personal Assistant to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor. “Val lost half a box of mini chocolate brownies.”
Pip had heard of these offences independently — at meetings, chit-chat in the lift, or, in the case of Rob, during the PR team’s turn for kitchen cleaning, when Pip and Rob were usually the only two who bothered to show up).
After the report about the brownies, Pip suspected a thief. Each item was chocolaty, and taken from the communal fridge. Only a portion was consumed, the remainder left for the owner, which Pip thought particularly spiteful. Petty food theft had been part and parcel of Pip’s student experience but to see it happening again in the supposedly grown-up, executive world of Senate House, the university administrative centre, was barely believable.
A mixture of departments, executives like the VC and other Directors with corner offices, assistants, officers, and lowly PAs and interns worked on the fifth floor: nearly seventy people in all, as well as Pip. Was the perpetrator hoping the victims wouldn’t learn of each other’s incidents?
“The Kit-Kat finger is hilarious,” said Alice.
“It’s not funny. It’s alright for you on fourth, doesn’t affect you.”
“What are you going to do?”
“Personalised note on the fridge.” Generic notices about respecting others’ food had already been ignored.
“Wow,” Alice grinned, “brutal.”
“If everyone is aware hopefully it’ll shame them.”