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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Work Relationships

Andy Richter Agrees: Leaving Dirty Dishes in the Work Sink Is Rude

a pile of dirty dishes
Martin Hospach/Getty Images

Once upon a May afternoon, Andy Richter was astonished. The comedy writer and actor—a mainstay on Conan O’Brien’s various shows, from Late Night with Conan O’Brien to The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien to Conan—hadn’t encountered a joke so funny it took him by surprise or spotted a dinosaur roaming around Southern California.

His astonishment centered on an experience far more mundane and infinitely more frustrating: He’d seen dirty dishes his co-workers had left in the office kitchen sink.

So, as one does when appalled in 2018 about anything from politics to customer service to, well, dirty dishes, he took to Twitter to express his irritation.

“It is astonishing to me that people I work with leave dirty dishes in the office kitchen sink for interns to do. Astonishing,” he tweeted. It gets worse. “And by the way, WE HAVE A DISHWASHER,” he added.

But as you might know from experience, the existence of a dishwasher doesn’t mean people will put their dishes in it, as evidenced by the dirty dishes in Andy Richter’s office kitchen sink. “The f***ing gall,” he added to his tweet thread.

So, what’s one to do when faced with co-workers who are as stuck in their rude habits?

Well, you could tweet about it. It’s unclear whether that strategy worked in Richter’s case (he did not immediately respond to a tweet inquiring about the impact of his own tweet).

You could, as suggested in the various responses to his tweet:

Okay well you probably shouldn’t throw dishes away (especially if they actually belong to the office) and your company may not be the video-making type. But realistically, you could send a message to your co-workers. Not so long ago, The Muse’s own Slack saw such a message. Christian Gerace, our senior business intelligence analyst, wrote:

Hey all, this is a friendly reminder to please put your silverware and plates in one of our two dishwashers, which, as described in their name, wash dishes. The office, which isn’t your apartment, is a community and it’s all of our duty to keep it clean, so please don’t just pile stuff in the sink!

Heatherlyn Nelson, Office Operations Manager at The Muse, also likes to start with a Slack reminder. “If the transgression continues, I will email the whole office with an Office Etiquette reminder, detailing etiquette scenarios and how we are all adults and need to be responsible for community spaces,” she says.

“Being as direct as possible with people is the best way to go,” she adds, and she isn’t afraid “to point out the situation and ask them to ‘Hey would you mind picking that napkin up? Thank you!’”

We can argue about what the most productive way to get your co-workers to clean their dishes is, but one thing is indisputable: Leaving dirty dishes in the sink at work (or at home for that matter) for someone else to take care of is rude. Just ask Andy.