Today, I learned that people—namely, the people I work with—do absolutely unthinkable shit to their computers, and that this is seemingly the norm.
Let me just begin by acknowledging that no one is perfect, and everyone has a different standard of cleanliness. For example, as a rule, I generally try to avoid putting my laptop in the same bag I’m carrying food in. Accidents happen, and food is sometimes messy! However this is not, I now realize, the standard protocol for my colleagues here at Gizmodo dot com.
One such example came courtesy of science writer Ryan Mandelbaum, who shared an image on Twitter today of their laptop jammed with sunflower seeds:
This is not the first time someone got food jammed in their computer’s ports, and it certainly won’t be the last. Still, it’s an odd one. So I asked Ryan to please explain to me how the fuck this happened.
“So I’ll begin by saying that I am not a clean person. I am a messy eater generally and typically bring mess with me wherever I go,” they told me. “At some point last week I was eating trail mix and didn’t want the sunflower seeds so I just put them back in the container, then put the container in my backpack in case I wanted sunflower seeds later. When I went to throw the container away, it was empty, which I did not think about.”
They added: “I had to take my laptop home and then back to work this weekend because we were moving offices. It just sat in my backpack for the weekend. And when I came back… It was full of sunflower seeds.” You know what? That seems fine. Accidents happen! But then Ryan offered this:
When I opened up the conversation to my other co-workers, I was absolutely horrified by what I learned. One colleague recalled using a MacBook Air to cut a bagel just to see if it would work (it evidently did). This same person claimed they kept a faulty iBook in the fridge. One of my bosses said they used their computer keyboard as a carrying tray for sandwiches.
Another co-worker said they once left ketchup packets in a bag with their laptop on a hot day—packets which then exploded. “You know how ketchup dries like..hard?” they elaborated. “Imagine scraping dry gel ketchup off your [laptop].”
One Gizmodo staffer recalled dropping a cupcake on their laptop, lodging frosting in the keys. (This person said they tried to remove it with paper towels and a Q-tip but “there’s probably still some in there.”) And yet another said they’ve eaten breakfast and lunch over their laptop “virtually every day of employment here and I’m pretty sure that makes it a biohazard.”
During the process of reporting this blog, I learned I work with animals. But I also learned that this mistreatment of technology is not uncommon. In fact, it is very common. You, dear reader, may be reading this right now and remembering a time that your computer crevices became jammed with food—or more likely something far worse, beyond even my imagination.
So I’m going to offer the floor here. Tell us about the nastiest, most disgusting thing you’ve ever done to your computer. Confess your sins here and never speak of them again.