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People told me this would happen. That I'd be driven to labelling each individual yoghurt in my fridge because of itchy fingers, hungry stomachs and caffeine cravings. I always thought they were wrong. 'But I,' I replied, with a sweet smile, 'am benevolent and generous. I believe the best in people. And if people sneak a drop of milk for their coffee on a morning, where's the harm in that? I'm sure sharing a fridge will be fine.' Unfortunately since then I appear to have been providing every freeloader on my staircase with five times their daily calcium intake. And I am angry.
My post-it notes have developed from the polite 'Lydia's milk - please don't steal me! :)' to the irate, caps-locked 'THIS IS NOT YOUR PROPERTY, SO BACK OFF.' And still things are getting worse. Not only is Milk Thief using almost a pint a day, but s/he feels completely justified in consuming others' cereal, bread, juice, sugar and even, on one memorable occasion, four ice lollies from a pack of six bought as a post-essay treat. This person clearly has no soul.
Milkgate, however, is not the only example of a neighbour gone rogue. Two weeks into term, Milk Thief is using everyone else's pans and not washing them up. Fairly certain that this breaches a crucial clause of the Human Rights Act, I decide that a friendly yellow Post-it is in order. 'Please can you wash up the pans once you've used them? Thanks!' We're now ten days away from the end of term, and the pan I left pointedly on the windowsill is still encrusted with what I can only hope is old cheese. It also bears a bedraggled, stained note: 'WASH IT UP WHEN YOU USE IT! THIS IS DISGUSTING.'
Now I find myself entrenched in an unwinnable battle of wills. I have warned friends more generous than me NOT to wash the offending pan up under any circumstances. Perpetrators must pay for their crimes. And in the mean time, we will have to be greeted by the smell of slowly curdling chip fat whenever we enter our staircase. Because this is about more than washing up. This is about taking a stand against selfishness and immorality. Are you with me?
My rousing speeches are rarely greeted by anything more than a weak smile and hasty retreat. And so I am slowly learning to turn the other cheek when faced with flagrant disrespect for the possessions and the feelings of others – or, as I have been told by others, an increasingly serious case of obsessive compulsive disorder. The fact that my own friends are now fearful of my kitchen wrath means that I may have to learn this cheek-turning skill post-haste. So, I have decided to take deep breaths and, as the self help books say, 'Let Go'. I resolve to see the good in people, rather than their immoral dairy theft and hideously unhygienic pans. I will limit my Post-its to shopping lists and scribblings. I will learn to accept that milk is transient.
But, just quickly: "A person is guilty of theft if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it." That, my friend, is the UK Theft Act. And that, evil, dishonest, unfeeling fridgecomber, is why you will one day, I hope, be punished for your evil deeds. You are morally reprehensible. Does your mother love you? I imagine not.
It's out of my system now. Promise.
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