We’ve all heard of situations in the workplace where one coworker steals someone else’s food, sometimes to the point that someone will label everything they bring to the office to make it as obvious as possible that it is theirs.
But sometimes, coworkers take the extra step and directly pressure their peers to share, agreed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor sxrllyya had been actively pressured by one of her coworkers for a while to share her lunches or to even bring in larger portions to share with the entire office.
When it escalated to the point of other coworkers getting involved, the Original Poster (OP) felt especially fed up with the situation.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for Refusing to Share My Food with My Co-worker?”
The OP felt pressured by a coworker to share her cooking.
“I (22 Female) work in a busy office with several co-workers, and one of them, Lisa (26 Female), has been causing a bit of drama recently. I’m not sure if I’m the a**hole in this situation.”
“It all started when Lisa noticed that I often brought delicious homemade lunches to the office.”
“She began making comments about how she’d love to try my cooking and suggested that I bring extra portions to share with everyone.”
“While I don’t mind sharing occasionally, I didn’t feel obligated to do so every day.”
Lisa recently pressured the OP about a special anniversary meal.
“One day, Lisa saw me heating up my lunch, which was a special dish I had prepared for my anniversary with my husband.”
“She asked if I could share some with her and a few other co-workers.”
“I politely declined, explaining that it was a special meal for my anniversary, and I had made just enough for the two of us.”
“Lisa seemed offended and said I was being selfish. She continued making comments about how I should be more giving and share my food with my coworkers to foster a better office environment.”
“I tried to explain that it wasn’t my responsibility to provide food for everyone, but she didn’t seem to understand.”
Lisa continued to pressure the OP after that.
“A few days later, Lisa confronted me again, asking if she could at least have a taste of whatever I brought that day.”
“I was getting frustrated with her constant requests and told her no, which led to a heated argument in the office kitchen.”
“Other colleagues got involved, and it turned into an uncomfortable situation.”
The OP felt conflicted.
“Now, I’m wondering if I overreacted by not sharing my lunch with Lisa and whether I should have been more accommodating.”
“AITA for refusing to share my food with my co-worker?”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some reassured the OP that her coworker, Lisa, was crossing boundaries.
“Lisa is a mooch. She is an effing mooch. Feel free to tell her I said so.”
“Also tell her you would like her to bring in lunch for the office first before you will even consider taking a turn.”
“You’re NTA. Lisa is the AH (and a mooch).”
“Bring her coupons for Micky D’s if she is so hungry.” – imnotarobot78
“NTA. She can also help foster a better office environment if that’s what she’s interested in. Perhaps she can bring some food for everyone? If she’s not interested in that, maybe she could also help foster a better environment by minding her own d**n business.”
“From experience, I would say even if they offer to chip in, avoid bringing stuff for everyone. That usually just leads to more drama.” – GYEmperor
“Many years ago, I was trying to get into eating healthier with more greens so started making salads with special ingredients and toppings for my lunch.”
“One of my coworkers asked me if I would make him salads, too. I didn’t want to, so I said I didn’t really want to buy the ingredients for two, and so he offered to pay for his. That was kind of a pain in the a**, because it’s not like I only grocery shop for lunch ingredients separate from everything else I eat. So now I have to do salad lunch math?”
“But he was someone I was friendly with, so I didn’t make a big deal about it, so I did it for a week or so, and then he started making suggestions and telling me what he didn’t want in the salads, and I was like, nope. You’re on your own, bub. I don’t run a salad restaurant.”
“I told him he was completely ruining something that brought me joy. If he even said something like, ‘Ooh, that looks good,’ I had to shut him down. Even if he was just making conversation, I couldn’t tell if he was trying to get me to make salads for him again.”
“Anyways NTA. I find it weird when people think they should have your food, that you made yourself. even if they’re offering to pay for it, it’s just weird.” – pppowkanggg
“Crazy Patty, the secret meth head at my office, would freak out if you made popcorn and burned any. Just because she was busy eating candy by the handful, complaining her teeth were bad from eating lemons. She screamed at a lot of people for a lot of things.”
“Oddly enough, she was either fired or never came back from an FMLA time off.”
“OP, your Lisa is a very entitled person… I think Lisa moved on to your office and is Crazy Patty. NTA.” – KrustyKatzJill
“NTA. Ask her why she feels you should spend money to feed her. Food costs money. And it takes you time to prepare the meals. Why does she feel entitled to your time and money?”
“Does SHE bring food for everyone?”
“Until she can give you a valid answer to these questions, you should just shut her down every time and refuse to discuss it. Tell her she is harassing you and it has to stop, or you will report her to management.” – dontbither
Others advised the OP to take this weird situation to Human Resources (HR).
“What is her problem? I’d be interested in what other colleagues thought of her request.”
“Normally I would say to tell her clearly that you will not be cooking for anyone else, but it seems you’ve tried that to no avail. Getting a manager involved might be a good idea, but it might turn against you.”
“NTA, obviously.” – Equivalent_Box5732
“NTA and go to HR now. Tell them she’s creating a hostile work environment and trying to push you into sharing food, which you are not comfortable with. If she’s bringing other people into it, it’s time to squash the issue.” – Zadsta
“NTA. ‘Just a taste’ will turn into splitting with her and then feeding her every day. She is harassing you. It is causing trouble in the workplace. Tell her to drop it, or you take it HR.” – baubsyeruncle
“I’d spit in my own food the next time I was aggressively demanded for a taste. I’ve seen homeless people who don’t ask for food in such a hostile manner.”
“What is your coworker’s problem? This is such bizarre behavior.”
“You better go to HR and report the incident because if someone is this unhinged and entitled to make such unreasonable requests, there is nothing stopping it from blowing up any worse than it has already.”
“NTA, you are not responsible for feeding the entire office.” – BeeYehWoo
“NTA. Lisa seems obsessive about food that isn’t hers. If she wants homemade food, she is welcome to do the work and make her own food.”
“This is odd behavior. You should consider (because this became such an issue) reporting the incident to HR or your supervisor to CYA (Cover Your A**).” – NoDaisy
“It would be an interesting conversation for Lisa to have with HR.”
“Lisa: I’d like to make a formal complaint about OP.”
“HR: What is happening that you wish to make a complaint about OP?”
“Lisa: I’ve been pestering her for weeks and weeks about sharing her lunch with me, and she refuses to give me any.”
“HR: I see. So OP has declined to share HER lunch with you because she brought it to work so she could eat it, and you want me to . . . um, do what? Tell her to share the food that she has purchased with her own funds, cooked on her own time, and . . . ah, tell her she should be sharing her lunch with you every day.”
“Lisa: Yes, yes, exactly that. She needs to be told to share. She is being greedy and acting like she is entitled to keep her food to herself.”
“HR: I see. I will do one better, Lisa. I am going to write YOU up for creating a hostile work environment, and if there is even a suggestion you have pestered OP again, you will be terminated.”
“NTA, but Lisa certainly is.” – Shattered7Done1
A few suggested things that the OP could say to Lisa in the future.
“NTA. Often, commenting on their behavior in a neutral way can be helpful in this kind of situation:”
“‘You seem very interested in my lunches.'”
“When someone refuses to hear your ‘no,’ sometimes just stating what you are seeing and not being drawn further into the conversation can be a neutralizing technique. Whatever she says, reply with nothing more than variations of, ‘It’s interesting how fascinated you are with my home cooking.'”
“‘You seem to think that I should be feeding the office for free since I like to cook for myself.'”
“‘You seem to have a hard time hearing my NO.'”
“‘If you like the look of this, I can recommend the cookery books that I use.'”
“‘Thank you for your compliment on my food. I’m sure you can learn to cook similar food if you put in some time on it.'”
“You can maybe escalate eventually to things like:”
“‘Are you struggling to feed yourself? Do you need some help finding out where the local foodbank is?'”
“‘I love that you are so impressed by my cooking. Maybe you and your spouse could find some ‘cooking for dummies’ courses that are running locally, so you can learn to feed yourself.'”
“‘I’ve heard that this cost of living crisis is really hitting people hard. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to cook meals for those who are going without, but I think there are resources out there for people who cannot afford to live right now. Maybe HR can put you in touch with some of those.'”
“Note: I wouldn’t use all of these in the same conversation. I’d pick one and do variants of that for the entire lunch break or day. Pick a new one tomorrow.” – amberallday
“I would also add:”
“‘Did your other coworkers feed you? I’ve never heard of that in the workplace. This is bizarre to me.'”
“‘I only share meals with guests, relatives, and close friends. We are coworkers.'”
“‘Stop asking for my food. I don’t want to share, and you’re making things awkward.'”
“After you make the report and she confronts you, tell her, ‘I went to HR because you wouldn’t stop bothering me to share my lunches. If you can respect my ‘no’ in the future, we won’t have these problems. This is my only issue with you.'” – rollercoastertyc
The subReddit couldn’t stop shaking their heads over this situation, wondering what the OP’s coworker could possibly be thinking and how she could believe this was acceptable behavior.
While it might be nice to occasionally share with fellow coworkers or to surprise the office with donuts or cookies, it seems like the company would need to get involved and additionally compensate an employee if they were to provide homecooked meals for the entire office regularly.