What Is the Best Punishment for Someone Who Steals Your Office Chair?

What Is the Best Punishment for Someone Who Steals Your Office Chair?
Illustration:Jim Cooke (G/O Media)

Yesterday afternoon, I returned to my office after the holiday to find that someone had taken my good rolling chair—a very comfortable Herman Miller Aeron, thank you Nick Denton—and replaced it with another one which was not only shitty (old, covered in pilly black fabric, a vestige of the former occupants of the Times Square building where we just relocated), but it was BROKEN, unadjustable, and had me sitting at my desk so low I felt like a goddamn child.

To remove this chair, and replace it with the broken one, a person had to come INTO my private office, violating the sanctity of my space; ROLL the chair to their desk somewhere in our vast and rather labyrinthine new office layout; and then ROLL another chair back to my desk, entering my private office without permission not once but TWICE. Additionally, last week I noticed that a throw pillow had been taken from my office, but I did not complain then—it was old and the feathers were coming out, so I wasn’t really attached to it—but stealing my nice office chair is an unforgivable offense. We have mostly eliminated the possibility that a night custodian simply moved the chair, because it did not turn up in any nearby offices, and is highly unlikely they would have rolled a chair to another wing of the office. I have requested the return of my chair in an all-company Slack, no questions asked, but so far no one has either confessed to the crime or returned my chair. Perhaps they are afraid of me screaming on them, which is a fear that is definitely founded. I would be afraid of me, too, frankly.

Since moving to this new office, there has been a plague of thefts, some of which could have been chalked up to the general chaos of moving a 300-person office in one week, but most of which were due to the mercenary nature of the move and a scarcity of supplies. For the first two weeks after our relocation, it was truly Hunger Games up in this shit; other items that have gone missing include Jezebel Culture Editor Clover Hope’s laptop charger, Head of Audience and Social Jon Eiseman’s white mug, and Jalopnik Social Editor Aaron Brown’s BAG. Aaron told me via Slack:

i left my bag out, i dont have an office
and so i was probably out of the office for a little over a week
and when i returned it was gone, but some of the items i remember having in the bag were still there (my passport and some jacket liners)
it’s a gray kappa backpack that is slightly egg shaped. i got it for 30 euros at the kappa wholesaler in austria and it is truly dear to me

In one instance, someone traveled one flight downstairs, took a large plant from an office, carried it back up one flight, and placed it in their own office. The plant was recovered, and it was an honest mistake; the “culprit” in the plant debacle, who has chosen to remain anonymous, said this:

1. I did not take the plant on the stairs. I took the elevator.
2. I did not think the plant belonged to anyone. It was literally in a hallway by empty desks.
3. I asked Will how one got a plant, he said just take one.
4. I truly did not think the plant drama was about “my” plant when it started up on Slack because I would never knowingly take someone’s plant, what am I
5. someone came up DOING DETECTIVE WORK and when I said hi and asked what was up he said “nothing” then told someone “[REDACTED] stole it,” which was not cool, I mean remember Jennings and the pizza
6. I felt terrible, obviously, and was so humiliated I had Will return the plant

For context, Will Sansom is our beloved and beleaguered office manager. The Jennings Brown pizza incident was an honest mistake (the pizza was sitting in the kitchen, out in the open, with nary a note on it) and he replaced the pizza. There is also apparently an issue with the men’s bathroom in which it has been clogged and overflowed twice concurrent with people not flushing, but the men’s bathroom at this company has always been problematic regardless of office location. Someone definitely smoked a joint in there at the last office, since I’m airing out all our drama, which is fucking bonkers, because vapes exist. Additionally, Kotaku’s Gita Jackson described the following incident:

Okay: in the old office, my 20 sided store water bottle got stolen, which would have been fine if I hadn’t attached a really cute charm to it that my friend got me in Japan
And also there was that time that someone kept taking the batteries out of my mouse and then putting them back incorrectly??????
Never found the culprit on either and I’m still mad!!!!

Since taking up this cause, I have been inundated with tales from my coworkers about mysterious disappearances of goods.

But what these thieves might not have known is that our new office is equipped with security cameras, all around the common hallways.

Normally I am firmly against the surveillance state, but in this instance, the temptation to catch the office chair thief is simply too strong, because I would like my fucking office chair back. Later today, Will Sansom and I will review the security footage taken over the course of four days in an effort to identify the office chair thief. (This post will be updated once we do.) But because this drama has been ongoing over the course of two days, the retrieval of stolen goods and threat of public shaming seems like an inadequate outcome. I will air out this person, but I also feel they deserve some other type of punishment.

So… how should I punish this person?

Corey Townsend of The Root, my coworker who has favored a more punitive approach, offered this advice: “Unfortunately we aren’t in the dark times where tarring and feather and a light stoning is acceptable… so if punishment should be dealt then public shaming is the best course of action. Print out their faces and hang them for all to see. If possible we should walk them through the aisles with bells ringing.”

Shall I Seven Septons them? Perhaps I shall. This post will be updated when we know more.

Update, June 1: I will not be able to review the footage until Monday morning, because G/O Media’s tech department was too busy removing proprietary Univision software from everyone’s laptops (a noble and crucial task) to pull the tapes. While I would love for my pettiness to be prioritized, I understand and would also like to be free of corporate spyware. The chair thief lives another day…

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