'You Knew It Wasn't Yours': Employee Backed For Embarrassing Lunch Thief

Commenters stood firmly on the side of one studio employee who said they caught somebody eating their lunch at work in a popular internet forum.

In a Reddit post published on r/AmITheA**hole, Redditor u/Steelsnapdragon asked the subreddit's 3.6 million members if they were wrong for making an example out of the man who stole their food. Titled, "AITA for embarrassing a lunch thief at work?," the viral post has received nearly 21,000 votes and 2,200 comments in just 10 hours.

Explaining how they recently started a new job at a small studio, u/Steelsnapdragon said they were about to prepare their lunch one workday, when they noticed another studio employee eating their food.

"I made coffee and while at the counter, noticed my tupperware in the sink, empty," they wrote. "Imagine my surprise when I turned around and saw a man I didn't know sitting down at the table with my food on his plate."

Detailing their reaction to the lunch thief, the Redditor said they acted rashly, and decided to bring as much attention as possible to the situation.

"I sat down next to him and said 'hey that looks good, mind if I try it?' then before waiting for an answer I yanked the plate away from him and snatched his fork out of his hand," they wrote. "He caught on quickly that it was my food and went a [little] red."

"He stuttered out some nonsense about not knowing it was mine and I replied 'well you knew it wasn't yours right?'" they added. "The people there just stared in silence."

Stealing a coworker's lunch is a major office faux pas, and according to the Society for Human Resource Management, "erodes trust and sows an environment of suspicion in [the] workplace." Despite potential consequences, stealing lunches is common practice in offices across the country.

Reddit lunch thief
One Redditor asked commenters if they were wrong for how they reacted when a man stole their lunch out of a shared refrigerator at work. Getty Images/Thomas Northcut

In 2017, Business Wire surveyed 1,061 office employees about their workplace etiquette. Amid data about not understanding office jargon, stealing parking spaces, and general workplace habits, the survey revealed that 18 percent of employees admitted to eating a coworker's lunch without permission.

Over the last two years, the onset of COVID-19 and an increasing number of employees working from home have transformed workplace meals, but for those who have returned to offices, questionable lunch politics remain a concern.

Last December, Newsweek reported on an employee who claimed their boss stole half of their lunch before heading into a meeting. Following the theft, the employee was informed by a coworker that the boss stealing food was "to be expected," and encouraged to simply "shrug it off."

In the viral Reddit post, u/Steelsnapdragon said they were also reprimanded for calling out a lunch thief.

"2 of the silent watchers, maybe his mates idk, told me that I was rude to him and that there had been nicer ways to go about it," they wrote. "I told them to think how they'd feel if someone ate their food before saying they should focus on their lunch and I'll focus on mine."

"It's been a little awkward at lunch since and I have the impression a few people are talking [sh*t] about me at work now," they added.

However, Redditors responding to the viral post told the original poster not to worry about what other employees were saying, and commended them for standing up to the man who stole their food.

"You. Are. An. Absolute. Baller," Redditor u/garbfink wrote in the post's top comment, which has received nearly 30,000 votes.

"Don't think anybody is going to mess with you from now on," they added. "Don't worry about the 'whispers' I reckon most likely people will deep down respect you more."

Redditor u/AllegraO, whose comment has received 7,800 votes, assured u/Steelsnapdragon that they were not wrong for reacting how they did, and pushed the original poster to report the theft to their employer's human resources department.

"[Not the a**hole]," they commented. "But you need to go to HR about this and get ahead of it. Especially since it sounds like now there's an unpleasant workplace in the making."

In an additional comment, which has received 5,700 votes, Redditor u/OrcEight said that there is no need to be cordial when dealing with a lunch thief.

"There is no need to be polite to someone who stole your lunch and would have let you go hungry if you had not caught them," they wrote.