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Spadina Literary Review  —  edition 29 page 17


“You told Rachel?”

Rachel, a PR assistant, was Pip’s manager. Rachel had promised to talk to her boss about the matter, but Pip knew she was being fobbed off.

“No one cares unless it happens to them. We’re never all together — it’s all small team meetings. This topic never comes up. In the last few PR meetings the kitchen-cleaning rotation has been on the agenda as AOB, Any Other Business. We never get to AOB.”

“Any suspects?” Alice wondered.

Since the food disappeared during work hours, Pip had discounted cleaners and other ancillary staff that worked the dawn or twilight shifts. She decided the culprit had to be a colleague. Entering the kitchen alone they must eat the item immediately or secrete it and hurry back to their desk.

“I’ve decided it’s a normal person, or maybe a bulimic.”

Alice was beside herself with glee. “Excellent deductions, Miss Marple. A normal person, or someone who vomits the evidence down the toilet straightaway. You’ll have this case sorted in no time!”

“For some reason I just think the culprit is female,” said Pip. “It’s a person who is clever, calculating, discrete...”

To the person who has been stealing chocolate items (raisins, brownie, kit-kat finger, and cornflakes from the corner of a yoghurt mix):

STOP eating other people’s food!

What kind of grown-up
steals food from a colleague anyway?

After Pip posted that notice, there were no incidents for a couple of weeks. Pip and Alice had nothing to talk about except rent, bills, job prospects, and non-existent love lives. Mid-morning one Tuesday however, Alice’s phone buzzed:

Another incident this morning!!! Lunch?

“I really thought that note had done the trick,” said Pip.

“What was it this time?” asked Alice.

“Half a big bar of Dairy Milk.”

“Who brings a big bar of Dairy Milk to work with them?”

“That’s beside the point. Pete in HR left it on top of his lunchbox in the fridge first thing, went back to grab some around eleven and it’d been snapped in half! I was in the kitchen with him at the time when he discovered it.”

“Blimey, you might have just missed them! Did you see who came out of the kitchen before you went in?”


Pip and Rob had been keeping a close eye on the kitchen. It was far from a perfect stakeout — sometimes they had meetings to go to or were out of the office for other reasons. And crucially their desks were around the corner from the kitchen entrance. Passing traffic could also be heading for the lifts or toilets. Pip made frequent trips to the water cooler in the kitchen, just as a pretext. Her eyes burned holes through each person she saw. She looked for anything suspicious bulging in their pockets, or smudged on their clothes or faces. She worried about getting a reputation for staring. The office gawker.

“The only suspect I’ve got is Miriam from the Legal Team,” said Pip. “She uses the kitchen the most, but I’m worried I just suspect her because she’s a bit...large. You might have seen her — short, bit squashed, purple glasses, lime green coat.”

“Oh yeah,” said Alice, “I’ve seen her. Sort of waddles? She is a bit of a heifer. But it’s probably fattist or sizist or whatever to suspect her just because of that.”

“What now? Secret camera? Wiretap? Another note? Maybe all in capitals this time!...”