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Heroic IT Dept Less Likely to Steal... Lunches? 491

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the wow-august-is-boring dept.
An anonymous reader writes "According to an article in the Houston Chronicle concerning lunch theft, people from IT are least likely to steal lunches because they are a "hero department." The most likely? Accounting and Customer-Support... "
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Heroic IT Dept Less Likely to Steal... Lunches?

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  • Re:muffins (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 27, 2006 @12:03PM (#15989764)
    I think it's because low level people are afraid they'll get caught and fired.

    Top execs know they aren't going to get fired for something stupid like that.
  • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @12:06PM (#15989776) Homepage Journal
    But if you had a bad stomach and added laxatives to your lunch *for your own consumption* it wouldn't be your problem.
  • Re:muffins (Score:4, Insightful)

    by perkr (626584) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @12:21PM (#15989837)
    How about if you are high up in the food chain you perceive the "crime" as something completely insignificant in comparison to the high-impact decisions you are paid to make. Something like people don't care if they steal a pen from the office, if you're high up, not returning a laptop kinda falls into the same category.
  • Size matters (Score:3, Insightful)

    by imaginaryelf (862886) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @12:23PM (#15989850)
    The size of the company matters. I've been in very small and very large companies. In the smaller companies, there's a feeling of camaraderie - like we're all in this together - so there's almost no stealing. In a large company, things disappear if you don't lock it down.
  • Re:muffins (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TCQuad (537187) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @01:04PM (#15990007)
    You might be over-extrapolating. Work items are a set cost, but to each person, the value is variable.

    Let's say you give two people $2,000 in equipment (laptop, phone, accessories, whatever). Someone making $20,000 could never afford all that stuff on their own, so they're likely to view it as valuable. Someone making $200,000 could afford it and is probably less likely to consider its intrinsic value. Someone making $2,000,000 probably scoffs at anyone ever being able to use such low-end tools.

    Price is fixed; value is not. As such, the appearance of scruples might vary. To account for this, it would be required to compare items of equal relative value to each person. Are the odds of someone making high six-figures not returning a laptop equal to the odds of interns making low-five figures not returning office supplies?
  • by JensR (12975) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @01:04PM (#15990008) Homepage
    Sorry, but I don't understand it at all how somebody can have his lunch regularly stolen. I'd let this happen once, assuming it was an accident. But if my lunch disappeared regularly I'd raise a major stink: Post-Its on the fridge, memos, speak with HR, etc. And I'd find out who it was, and have a "word" with him before reporting him to HR.

  • Re:muffins (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Reality Master 101 (179095) <.RealityMaster101. .at. .gmail.com.> on Sunday August 27, 2006 @01:17PM (#15990062) Homepage Journal

    All the envious "higher ups get there because they steal ha ha ha" comments aside, I think there's a simpler explanation. The more money you make, the smaller the theft seems. A buck to someone making a million a year is not the same as someone who has to watch every dollar and appreciates it.

    Or to put it another way, a more interesting experiment would be to put a penny candy jar out. A penny is nothing to everyone, so I would expect the rates of theft to much closer to the same.

  • Re:muffins (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ScrewMaster (602015) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @01:22PM (#15990080)
    No, it's because that CFO is a sociopath who is incapable of empathy, or feeling remorse or guilt. Most organizational hierarchies (whether they be corporate, military, governmental, academic, you name it) tend to select for the most unscrupulous, because those are the people that focus on moving up the pay scale rather than doing their jobs. They are also very hard to spot, because an experienced sociopath learns the behaviors that will get it what it wants (they're exceptional actors for the most part.) The only reason that such organizations function well is if there are efficient mechanisms in place to discourage bad behavior: sociopaths can do a good job if they know that they'll get bitch-slapped for screwing up. What's been happening to corporate America over the past few decades is the removal of penalties for failure. Except in extreme cases like Worldcom and Enron, there is simply no real punishment for a CEO/CFO, C-anything that raids the company coffers for personal profit or simply runs the company into the ground.

    Another part of the problem is that the laws and systems that provide corporate governance were put in place a long time ago. The country and its people had a very different view of ethics and morality in those times. I mean, where do CEO's and the like come from? Who are the people that invest money in their companies? Well, they come from us, and our own moral fiber (or lack of it) is being reflected in the nature and behavior of the corporations we invest in.

    It's like the old joke about corporations being like septic tanks ... the really big chunks rise to the top.
  • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Sunday August 27, 2006 @01:47PM (#15990184)
    It it came down to how much you could afford, wouldn't you see the CxO's putting $20 bills into the tin?
  • by genooma (856335) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @02:08PM (#15990272)
    Because people are morons, plain and simple
    A friend of mine used to have a quite big video store and allowed anyone to use the bathrooms, even if they werent buying anything, only to see the same thing happen (piss on the floor, shit on the walls), of course, it all stopped once he closed the bathrooms doors, and only gave the keys to customers.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 27, 2006 @02:16PM (#15990311)
    His point was that the bagels have essentialy no value at all to the CxO, which means that they may not even understand why they'd pay for it.
  • Re:muffins (Score:2, Insightful)

    by postmortem (906676) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @02:45PM (#15990411) Journal
    That theory is very well elaborated in "Crime and Ponishment".
  • Re:muffins (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 27, 2006 @02:49PM (#15990428)
    "My theory is that scruples will hinder people's career advancement, and the more unscrupulous you are, the higher you'll go. Being able to steal a hungry baby's food without any remorse would probably be considered a useful trait for a CFO."

    Until you rip off the company for billions of dollars in an accounting scam...

    It isn't about scruples; it's about understanding why they are there and dealing with the feelings arising from them. A lot of scruples are not based in logic or fact, and at some level, you need to be able to require forgiveness to act in the proper manner. Generals, when sending men into combat, have to be unscrupulous; they know men will die, and they choose the path of least death in doing so. As a CFO, I can see the numbers aren't adding up and report my findings to the CEO, who may order job cuts. I have to find a way, therefor, to work past that feeling of guilt. Where does that guilt arise from? Not being able to pay a lot of good men.

    Sure, I could steal a hungy babies food, and not feel bad about it whatsoever, but why would I want to? The issue with corporate america is that they have defined morality is that conscious feeling which hinders them from doing which it is they need to do. And instead of trying to understand morality, they bludgeon it with a sledgehammer until it no longer annoys them and then do as they please or are told. They cling to a rigid corporate structure to help offset that psychopathic tendancy, but really, they will never be able to do so until they understand the reason for morality.
  • There you go (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cubicledrone (681598) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @03:07PM (#15990515)
    This is why you need five years of experience and a Master's Degree: so you can have long analytical discussions about who stole a lunch. This is what chairwedges sit around and talk about all day between meetings while they suck down thick benefits and paychecks in the air conditioned comfort of carpeting on every surface except the ceiling while the rest of us are actually producing something. These people are "employable." People who produce are "unemployable."

    These are the jobs I'm told PhDs are overqualified for, and people with degrees and experience just aren't enough of a "team player" for. I guess asking "what the fuck are people doing wasting time talking about who stole what lunch?" is being a non-team-player.

    The modern workplace is an unwiped ass.

  • by Mike_ya (911105) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @03:46PM (#15990682) Homepage
    While IT doesn't steal food, if a department has food they want to get rid of without throwing it away they call IT.
    We love the free food.
  • Re:Steal? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by phasm42 (588479) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @04:28PM (#15990817)
    The neighborhood may play a role in that as well. It wouldn't be hard to find an area where the whole stand would disappear the same day.

    And I do think that Walmart would be more likely to be looted because it's a corporation, not an individual.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 27, 2006 @04:56PM (#15990896)
    bring some food dumbass. how hard is that?

    what do you do if there is no food? die?
  • Re:muffins (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BalanceOfJudgement (962905) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @04:57PM (#15990904) Homepage
    As a CFO, I can see the numbers aren't adding up and report my findings to the CEO, who may order job cuts. I have to find a way, therefor, to work past that feeling of guilt. Where does that guilt arise from? Not being able to pay a lot of good men.
    If I step on your toes here, I apologize because what I'm about to say is not necessarily directed at you:

    That feeling of guilt arises from the knowledge that the company's profit margin will remain intact, while some people's ability to even feed their families will be shot to hell.

    I don't even really fault the people who make these decisions (people like you.. you're doing your job and YOU will be fired if you don't - you have as little choice as the people you might end up firing).. I fault an economy that favors profit at all costs and a stock market that is punishingly unforgiving when a company's profit margin falls a mere 0.000000000034%.

    I fault a country that has long since forgotten what making a living is all about, and what building a community, and a nation, is all about.

    I'm all about profit. Profit can be a good thing.. but profit is not always a good thing, and that is what so many have long since forgotten.
  • Re:muffins (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot DOT kadin AT xoxy DOT net> on Sunday August 27, 2006 @04:58PM (#15990909) Homepage Journal
    I think this is probably pretty close to the truth. While there definitely may be an aspect of sociopathology involved in corporate advancement, I think it's also likely that someone who's making $200,000+ a year and brokering million or billion-dollar deals every day, just doesn't value the bagel very much. It's such a trivial amount of money to them, it doesn't seem worth the bother to find change (if they even carry cash) and pay for it.

    Obviously there's a sense of "entitlement" there as well, but I think people are jumping on the 'all executives are sociopaths' bandwagon a little quickly. It reeks of sour grapes.

    If I was trying to keep people from taking bagels/muffins/coffee in a situation like that, rather than putting out a "coin jar" where people have to put in a piddling amount every time they take an item, which requires that they keep small change hanging around (or cash money in general, which many people don't have), it might be easier to let people pay in advance. E.g., in many government offices the water coolers are paid for by members of the "water club;" if you want to drink water, you pay $10 at the beginning of the quarter and get your name put on a list that's taped to the front of the water cooler (or simply made known to everyone else).
  • Re:muffins (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AuMatar (183847) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @05:05PM (#15990928)
    There's a difference between buying at book value and just taking it. THe first is perfectly fine- you're buying the equipment. The second is theft.
  • Re:Steal? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by eric76 (679787) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @05:16PM (#15990959)
    Back in the 60s, the television store in my hometown in the Texas Panhandle was the top television store for that brand (I think it was RCA) in the nation in terms of market penetration. Nearly everyone around who had a television had that one brand.

    One of the big stores in Chicago was impressed and sent an executive down to see if they could learn something they could use in Chicago. So he flew into Amarillo, met the district sales representative for that brand, and they got in the sales reps car and drove to the store a couple of hours away.

    When they walked into the store about 11 am, they didn't see anyone at all. They figured that maybe the employees were drinking coffee or something and so they waited.

    Then they noticed a sign that said "If you see a tv you like, take it home and try it out". Another sign instructed people bringing in a tv for repair to write down what was wrong with it and put the paper on the tv. Another sign said "If you brought your tv in for repair and you see it here, it is fixed. The repair cost is on the tag. Leave the money in the cigar box on the counter or sign the tag and leave it in the cigar box and we'll bill you for it."

    About an hour after they arrived, one of the town's more idle citizens walked into the store and they asked him where the owners were. He replied, "Oh, they're out harvesting wheat. They should be back by 8 or 9 tonight to close the store for the night."

    The visitors figured that nothing that we did here would work at all in their Chicago stores.
  • Re:muffins (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Solandri (704621) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @05:21PM (#15990974)
    Clients with money who say "just do it right and install what you think it needs" are treasured rare jewels we bend over backwards to please. They get quality work at reasonable rates. The cheapskates get half-assed work with substandard materials and complain endlessly about how good workmanship in this country has declined. To them I say "you get what you PAY for, you fucking tightwads!"

    You're a seller, and apparently an honest one. You only see half the business interactions: cheap buyers with honest sellers, and generous buyers with honest sellers. You don't see the interactions with dishonest sellers. Any company which says "just do it right and install what you think it needs" to every vendor will be out of business in a year. There are dishonest vendors out there who will rape you if you give them a blank check like that.

    The key is to be thrifty with your money when seeking out vendors, then when you find one that you know is honest and does good work, be generous with it. Of course there are always tightwads who will never be anything but tightwads. But if you're seeing a disproportionate share of them, you should probably raise your prices and work harder to convince clients that you're honest and do good work for their money.

  • Re:muffins (Score:3, Insightful)

    by clifyt (11768) <sonikmatter&gmail,com> on Sunday August 27, 2006 @05:50PM (#15991046) Homepage
    "making our favorite manager/office mom cry when she told us"

    Have you ever thought that it was her job to do so?

    I've been in the position before that I had to let someone go, even though it was someone elses decision. It could be said that the one making me let someone go had no balls -- but that person had little in the way of people skills in the first place. Thats why I was there. To act as a buffer between the guy at the top (or at least top on our area) and the grunts. I've known others in this same position that when it came down to it, knew that they were supposed to tell others earlier on and waited because they wanted to delay the process. I know when I had to do it, I gave plenty of notice -- even though that goes against all rules of management (i.e., you let someone go the day you want them out the door, and the minute someone hands a 2 week notice, you escort them to the door because you know nothing good can come from the next two weeks regardless of how good of an employee they are).

    As an intern that had been at 3 companies within a single year, you wouldn't have known the office dynamics enough to know who was responsible.

    Heck, I've known folks that have been around a year and STILL can't figure out the dynamics enough not to get caught up in the currents (I have one person that works for me now that isn't getting the clue of what to stay away from and may have to leave because they are not taking my 'advice').

    But all in all, its not balls -- its a business decision. And sometimes it requires not telling someone until the day they have to leave to preserve other jobs ('the greater good') and sometimes it means letting folks waste two weeks writing up resumes and going out to monster because you know their former actions made it possible for the others that are more than likely going to go down with the ship in a years time. Until you are in management, its hard to know which is the right choice -- and even then how to carry it out.
  • by plopez (54068) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @06:17PM (#15991114) Journal
    Why? Because you are knowingly creating a dangerous situation for another human being. Using a shotgun, you *know* you will either kill them or maim them badly and that is wrong. And before you know if they are going to physically harm you, not just take some property, you have no right to use lethal force. Lethal force is only warrented in self defence.

    Now, if you string a trip wire with some tin cans on it to warn you if you have an intruder and they fall, hit their head and die, in most places you are off the hook. You had no intent to harm, and you tried to use a non-lethal approach.

    That is the difference between thinking like a 3 year old and an adult. An adult understands when the response is in alignment with the offense. Placing ex-lax in a lunch to catch some one stealing your lunch is about right. Using broken glass is way over the line.
  • "no value". (Score:3, Insightful)

    by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Sunday August 27, 2006 @06:29PM (#15991145)
    His point was that the bagels have essentialy no value at all to the CxO, which means that they may not even understand why they'd pay for it.
    Which is why I was pointing out that if that was correct, you'd expect to see $20 bills in the tin from the CxO's.

    A bagel has no real value to a CxO because the CxO earns so much.

    A $20 bill has no real value to a CxO because the CxO earns so much.

    So the CxO picks up a bagel (no value) and drops in a $20 bill (no value). But that does not happen.
  • by Guido von Guido (548827) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @06:36PM (#15991165)
    Our waitress at the restraunt was one of the girls who ate the goat dropping candy from the dorm refrigerator.

    I suspect the waitress has a good story to tell about what your sister and your family ate after the rehearsal dinner.

  • Re:Ick. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BoiseAlf (820431) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @07:20PM (#15991279)
    People DO keep track of those things. I was in my break room a few years ago when a very strange coworker reached into the fridge and said "If it's here for more than 3 days then it's public domain."

  • by Anarke_Incarnate (733529) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @07:37PM (#15991337)
    I say that we give them a complimentary "Punch in the Neck." They are entitled to exactly one "Punch in the Neck" every time they step over someone, and think they are hot shit compared to the rest of us. We all come from the same place (relatively speaking). Nobody is above us all.
  • Re:muffins (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Geminii (954348) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @09:32PM (#15991706)
    That's weird. I'm not rich, but have vague plans to move in that direction. I figure that the whole *point* of being rich is that you don't have to quibble over the small stuff. Heck, if I was rich I wouldn't even care if I was charged twice what everyone else was (for the small stuff), because I could afford it. Ten bucks for a five-buck sandwich is not going to ruin me, and whoever's selling the sandwich could probably use it more than I could.
  • Re:muffins (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Javaman59 (524434) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @09:51PM (#15991784)
    "They didn't get rich by wasting their money."
    Dead right. It's because they care MORE about every $ than the rest of us that they are rich, and they are stealing the bagels because that $1 is so precious to them, not because it's trivial.
  • Re:muffins (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Wavicle (181176) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @10:30PM (#15991883)
    Along this vein, I've been dying to share this true story of mine from back in the dot-com days...

    I was working for one of the many "we're going to enhance the users internet experience" companies. The VP of development was a woman who had become independently wealthy from the IPO of a previous company and was only working here because being retired was too boring.

    One day six of us, including said VP, go out to this new greek restaurant. The food is delicious, the service was warm, we were all happy. We all got the same thing which cost $8 after tax, and we all agreed that $2 each was an appropriate tip. Well the VP was too good to carry cash so she put it on her credit card. She received $50 in cash for a $48 bill.

    SHE FILLED OUT THE CREDIT SLIP FOR $51!

    I could not believe what I had just seen. Talk about your sense of entitlement. In my opinion she had just robbed the wait staff. Pitching in 1 of her several million dollars for an $8 meal was beyond belief. I'm not sure which pissed me off more: that she had done it, or that there wasn't a damned thing I could do about it.
  • Re:muffins (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ZorbaTHut (126196) on Monday August 28, 2006 @01:36AM (#15992358) Homepage
    I agree nearly entirely. The value of a dollar is, of course, the value of the best thing you could get for that dollar. If you make $50/hour, and you can argue with someone for 15 minutes in order to save $10, you are an idiot if you do.

    Pinching every monetary penny is an awful idea. Pinching every value is the way to go, and sometimes that involves spending more money than otherwise.
  • Re:"no value". (Score:3, Insightful)

    by misleb (129952) on Monday August 28, 2006 @03:01AM (#15992502)
    No offense, but that is stupid. If you didn't understand why you should have to pay for something as "trivial" as a bagel at work, why would you pay MORE than was asked for?

    If your company started asking for $.10 for a drink from the water cooler, would you bother putting in that dime? Would you put in $1? (assuming they had no way of knowing who did and did not pay for water)

    -matthew

  • Re:muffins (Score:3, Insightful)

    by NateTech (50881) on Monday August 28, 2006 @03:37AM (#15992560) Homepage
    There's not consensus about what "every task of management" even is. Never has been. Look at the Business section of a bookstore sometime.

    The job itself is poorly defined (on purpose) as a structural way of giving a manager power.

    Only their boss knows what they've told them to accomplish and only their boss can evaluate them.
  • by Richy_T (111409) on Monday August 28, 2006 @12:54PM (#15994657) Homepage
    Absolutely. I believe there have even been studies that "gift giving" by employers is valued far out of scale to what it actually costs. 25c per employee per day might seem like an unnecessary cost but the "pat on the head" it represents would cost much more to obtain in actual hard cash.

    Rich
  • Re:muffins (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Zevon 2000 (593515) on Monday August 28, 2006 @02:22PM (#15995284)
    It sounds like you know more about getting rich than staying rich. Best of luck.

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