HR Strange But True!
November 22, 2011

Are you still staring at tables loaded with bowls of candy leftover from Halloween?

Whatever you call it where you work, the giveaway or share table may shed insight into your company culture—or just exist as a “purgatory of stuff.”

An article in the September 2011 of O Magazine caught our eye when it described the giveaway tables at the magazine’s New York City offices that helped get it cited for infractions at its last building inspection (hope that was a joke).

We do have share tables at BLR—in fact, that’s where we found the O Magazine! Our Nashville staff reports that its table contains the usual books and catalogs, but also an admirable supply of overflow fruits and veggies, including a variety of hot peppers, from employees’ gardens, along with the usual boxes of tea, granola bars, and leftover cookies and baked goods from undetermined events.

One editor tried having a coupon share table, but reported that employees knew how to get the coupons out of the envelopes (cereal, juices, etc.) to look over, but somehow couldn’t figure out how to put them back into the envelopes!

The Connecticut share table can be good (leftovers from the anniversary luncheon, cookbooks and knitting patterns), funky (old Happy Meal prizes, glitter balls, and other trade show toys), or stuff that doesn’t quite make it to the tag sale (chipped cups, warped baskets, and music tapes from one-hit wonders).

The most unusual offerings we’ve heard about were an unopened package of adult disposable diapers, a mysterious platter of Dayglow-orange barbequed legs (we couldn’t tell if they were chicken or turkey), and a framed picture of Abraham Lincoln.

Some offerings even recycle themselves, as when a lampshade made two back-to-back appearances.

But oh, the treasures that abound on the ultimate giveaway table at O! Writer Meredith Bryan describes their “transcendent” giveaway table, loaded with a “bounty of self-help tomes, olive oils, doggie outfits, PBA-free water bottles, biscotti, shape-wear, plastic martini glasses, flip flops, and organic cleaning products, replenished daily with items leftover from photo shoots or sent by helpful publicists.”

However great this sounds, Bryan says the pile can rise mighty high with the usual castoffs such as VHS and Beta tapes and packaged snacks.

O contributor and master organizer Peter Walsh says that while he knows that workplace giveaway tables are “well-intentioned,” such as when a group shares leftovers from a meeting with colleagues, they often just turn into an unsightly and unhealthy “purgatory of stuff.”


O Magazine

How about the one in your workplace? Send us your stories of the most unusual items.

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