Stinkum from fridge full of putrid cow-orker chow causes AT&T office evac

A worker at one of AT&T's San Jose offices opened a refrigerator full of rotten, forgotten cow-orker chow and released a gas so noxious that the building had to be evacuated and a hazmat team had to be called in.
Authorities said an enterprising office worker had decided to clean it out, placing the food in a conference room while using two cleaning chemicals to scrub down the mess. The mixture of old lunches and disinfectant caused 28 people to need treatment for vomiting and nausea.

Authorities said the worker who cleaned the fridge didn't need treatment -- she can't smell because of allergies.

Rotten office fridge cleanup sends 7 to hospital (via /.)


  1. The article on the Mercury News also says cleaning chemicals were mixed which is what caused the problems. I really wish that was mentioned in the AP article. Otherwise instead of just being a joke, it would be a joke with a helpful lesson.

  2. @1: Yeah, it’s kind of sad that “ammonia”+”bleach”=”death” is not 100% common knowledge any more. It’s not even worth it to our country to teach that; it’s more efficient to sell individual “X cleaner” for 100 different X’s, and bury the interaction warnings on the back of the bottle amidst a thousand other irrelevant words.

  3. As far as I know, allergies do not make one immune to chlorine poisoning. So much for “authorities”.

  4. What’s the story behind the “cow-orker” misspelling? I assume it’s intentional because I see it all the time on BoingBoing.

  5. I’ve had to explain to several bosses that being the boss doesn’t mean ordering people around; it means cleaning the lunchroom fridge. Without street cred, you are nothing.

  6. I think I understand why it’s been several bosses to whom you’ve tried to explain that…

  7. Somebody here misspelled coworkers a couple years ago and it spun out into a typical thread of rudely hilarious comments.

  8. Last time I tried to clean the office fridge, I didn’t even get to the point where I found the source of the offensive stink. I had to step outside for a while because of the overwhelming smell.

  9. we have a strict rule for our fridge… anything in it has to be marked with the owner’s name…

    checks are made when the fridge is cleaned and anything not named or in date is binned…

    we actually allocate 30 minutes a week to the cleaner for this out of the cleaning budget.

    as a result, things don’t get to the really bad vomitous smell stage.

  10. We also have to our name on ours as well as the date. Tragedy of the commons indeed.

    Cow orkers is an old meme, I first heard it (well, read it, because it doesn’t make as much sense spoken) in 2001 or 2002.

  11. Crazy JohnnyCat wondered what would happen if he put his sandwich in the microwave for an hour.
    Everybody stood outside for an hour, with the big fans blowing. Peee-yoooo!

  12. Yeah… I know tomorrow’s a Saturday, but could you come in to clean out the office fridge? Yeah… I think I am gonna need for you to come in Sunday too… Yeah…

    The dangerous kitchen
    If it ain’t one thing it’s another
    In the middle of the night when you get home
    The bread things are all dry ‘n’ scratchy
    The meat things
    Where the cats ate through the paper
    The can things with the sharp little edges
    That can cut your fingers when you’re not looking
    The soft little things on the floor that you step on
    They can all be DANGEROUS
    Sometimes the milk can hurt you
    (If you put it on your cereal
    Before you smell the plastic container)
    And the stuff in the strainer
    Has a mind of its own
    So be very careful
    In the dangerous kitchen
    When the night time has fallen,
    And the roaches are crawlin’
    In the kitchen of danger
    You can feel like a stranger
    The bananas are black
    They got flies in the back
    And also the chicken
    In the dish with the foil
    Where the cream is all clabbered
    And the salad is frightful
    Your return in the evening
    Can be less than delightful
    You must walk very careful
    You must not lean against it
    It can get on your clothing
    It can follow you in
    As you walk to the bedroom
    And you take all your clothes off
    While you’re sleeping
    It crawls off
    It gets in your bed
    It could get on your face then
    It could eat your complexion
    You could die from the danger
    Of the dangerous kitchen
    Who the fuck wants to clean it?
    It’s disgusting and dirty
    The sponge on the drainer
    Is stinky and squirty
    If you squeeze it when you wipe up
    What you get on your hands then
    Could un-balance your glands and
    Make you blind or whatever
    In the dangerous kitchen
    At my house tonight

  13. Janitors may or may not have English-language-reading skills (when I was one, we referred to different cleaning solutions as “the green stuff” or “the purple stuff”), but they usually know better than to mix chemicals. Leave the cleaning to the pros, folks.

  14. I am from SJ and saw this on tv. One person tried to clear up the smell by spraying what s/he thought was room freshener but was actually spot cleaner. That was what caused the problem and not the spoiled food.

  15. At least it wasn’t an evil Demon like in Douglas Adam’s Dirk Gently novel. I think it was “Long Dark Teatime of the Soul.”

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