You know, if the worst thing that’s happening in your life is that you caught a glimpse of someone else’s breastmilk in the work fridge last week, maybe you should thank your lucky stars and go do something useful in the world with all that spare energy.
The Boston Globe’s “Miss Conduct” responds to a hyperventilating office worker:
A co-worker recently returned from maternity leave, and upon opening our office refrigerator today to grab my yogurt, I came face to face with a bottle of what appears to be breast milk, labeled with this woman’s name.
Although I breast-fed my children and am an ardent supporter of it, I always took pains to be discreet about it at work. If I pumped milk in the office, I stored it in a paper bag or small cooler so others wouldn’t see it. What is your take on this? Should we all be exposed to her daily output of breast milk every time we venture to the fridge?
H.M. in Quincy
Your co-worker’s behavior is seriously inappropriate, and I hope it can be attributed to the emotional upheaval of having to leave her baby and to the million-and-one things she must be trying to keep track of right now.
One does not store bodily fluids – even sacred, precious, life-sustaining bodily fluids – in containers where others might see. Reasonable discretion and unreasonable body shame are not the same thing.
Look, you’re uncomfortable about this, and you’re a breast-feeding veteran; imagine how childless colleagues, male and female, would feel. Worse yet, imagine a colleague both childless and clueless piping up at the morning staff meeting, “Hey, Sue, I ran out of half-and-half. Hope you don’t mind I used some of your soy milk!”
This must not be allowed to happen under any circumstances. I think you should address the matter with her, since you have lactation cred yourself, and she won’t think you’re a child- or body-hater. Explain to her how you handled the situation for yourself, and why.
This calls for a big steaming cup of Get The Fuck Over It. Which is why, I suppose, I’m not paid to be a newspaper etiquette maven.
What’s the worst etiquette advice you’ve ever heard?