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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
As a resident and former cleaner at a guesthouse/hostel, I kind of keep an eye on things here.

We have signs asking people to put their names on their food, and threatening to throw out unlabeled food. Bins, bags, labels, and markers are provided.

The main reason is so the cleaner can know which food needs to be discarded. We need to make room for the next guest's food, and avoid old food going rotten or moldy. The idea is that the cleaner can make quick decisions: "Okay, this is Jerry's; he's still here. That's Jenny's; she left yesterday, so I'll get rid of it or put it on the free shelf."

About half of the transient guests refuse to label their food. If I say anything, they come up with bizarre responses like, "I only have a few things," or "I'm only here for one night."

It doesn't help if I try to explain why it's necessary. One guy asked in an aggressive voice, "Who's the cleaner?" Like he's going to track down the cleaner and task her with remembering which carton of milk is his.

Or they'll just put their initial on it. Initial J--is that Jerry, who's still here, or Jenny, who left?

Or they'll play little games, like putting their name on the side of the bin where it isn't visible. Or on an item of food inside the bag.

And of course if you do throw out their unlabeled food, they get angry. These people are all ages and from all walks of life.

Does anyone have any insights into why they do this?
 

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It sounds like a cultural mindset issue if it's that prevalent. Which country?
 
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Discussion Starter #3
Canada. Most of the guests are Canadian.
 

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They probably figure they can eat or throw away their own food, or if they've left, you'll just throw it out for them. Weird...

How about everybody gets their own labeled bin based on where they are sleeping then?
 

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Beer Guardian
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As a resident and former cleaner at a guesthouse/hostel, I kind of keep an eye on things here.

We have signs asking people to put their names on their food, and threatening to throw out unlabeled food. Bins, bags, labels, and markers are provided.

The main reason is so the cleaner can know which food needs to be discarded. We need to make room for the next guest's food, and avoid old food going rotten or moldy. The idea is that the cleaner can make quick decisions: "Okay, this is Jerry's; he's still here. That's Jenny's; she left yesterday, so I'll get rid of it or put it on the free shelf."

About half of the transient guests refuse to label their food. If I say anything, they come up with bizarre responses like, "I only have a few things," or "I'm only here for one night."

It doesn't help if I try to explain why it's necessary. One guy asked in an aggressive voice, "Who's the cleaner?" Like he's going to track down the cleaner and task her with remembering which carton of milk is his.

Or they'll just put their initial on it. Initial J--is that Jerry, who's still here, or Jenny, who left?

Or they'll play little games, like putting their name on the side of the bin where it isn't visible. Or on an item of food inside the bag.

And of course if you do throw out their unlabeled food, they get angry. These people are all ages and from all walks of life.

Does anyone have any insights into why they do this?
Best I can figure is you can try parsing out the fridge space by room numbers? So the labels go on the shelves and bins by room assignment.
 
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The spirit of the spirits
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It seems that you already know the problem. If people really stay there for one night, then they probably have more important business than labeling food. It's kinda rude of them to avoid doing that after they have been told to do it, but oh well.

I would suspect that it could be due to the fact that they find it weird, despite (hopefully) understanding rationally that they should do it and since it's for very short time, they can get away with just ignoring this thing. Or perhaps some people think that they can take care of their food themselves, thus see no point in doing any of this. Particularly the ones that don't get angry might just not give a damn about their food at all.

I dunno how that works, but my mom is weird. She would keep her food that she would keep and it will still be left untouched past expiration date. She tells me that she will eat it, but never does. Thankfully that happens pretty rarely, so most food is actually eaten on time. However food with long expiration dates can be abandoned for years. I found a pack of rice with expiration date of 2011, many spices with expiration dates in 2016-2017. Some people are just weird and there's no explanation for that.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
It seems that you already know the problem. If people really stay there for one night, then they probably have more important business than labeling food.
The "one night" was just one example. They also say, "Well I'll be leaving next week," etc. Makes no sense.

Unfortunately, allotting one bin per bed wouldn't work. If it was a full house, they wouldn't all fit in the fridge. And one person has a week's worth of food, while another just has a small container of hummus.

The solution would be to have everyone label their food. It only takes a second to write your name.

It would be nice if it was raw rice or something, but we're talking about dinner leftovers, half an onion (unwrapped), bread, plastic bags of greens, etc. Yes, rude to walk away and leave all that to go moldy and stink up a fridge where other people keep their food. We just want to know who it belonged to, so we can throw it away before it goes bad.

I'm beginning to think you're right, people are just weird. I like them less and less, and I need to get my own place.
 

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I think its mix of laziness and paranoia. Basically it’s extra work they don’t want to deal with, but at the same time its motivated by things like keeping your signature safe or hiding your identity.

Strangers don’t want just anybody to know their identity, kinda like that one forum what was it called?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
That did occur to me too--that they didn't want to display their names. But that just seemed too crazy. Like some bad guy is going to say, "Ooh I see there's a Natalie and a Brad and a Tim staying here, now I can ruin their lives."

Meanwhile you're sleeping in a dorm bed where you can be raped and murdered and have your shoes stolen.
 

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Meanwhile you're sleeping in a dorm bed where you can be raped and murdered and have your shoes stolen.
That’s another good point, however if that was on their mind wouldn’t it encourage the extra safety measures? If you were in a dangerous place, wouldn’t you implement added precautions?
 
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Discussion Starter #11
Okay, people's responses have shown me that there could be reasons for their behavior--which is better than thinking they're trying to drive me crazy even though they don't know me. Thank you!
 

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are there room/bed/whatever numbers that could be used instead? possibly wouldn't work since the room stays there when the people move on. or another idea: have people note their checkout dates instead of their names.

you didn't ask for advice but i suggest it because i think there may be an element of territorialness going on that is more about privacy and identity than it is about possessions. maybe people even feel a little more exposed and vulnerable than usual because they're not in their own homes.

i wouldn't consciously choose to be an inconsiderate dick, i.e. leave my stuff lying around for someone else to deal with. but if that hadn't occurred to me, then i'm pretty sure i'd be more okay with giving up on a half-box of oatmeal or an old peach than providing who-knows-who with the fact that my name is [].
 

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That did occur to me too--that they didn't want to display their names. But that just seemed too crazy.
i get what you're saying, but it's not only a safety thing. it's more just that my name is mine and i like to be the person who gets to pick whether and when someone else gets to find out what it is.

it's actually a bit of a social watershed in my city when one person says to someone else 'my name's x, by the way.' they could have been chatting cordially in some common space like a gym or a grocery store for weeks. and in fact they probably have because that's the way the rules work around here. it's very need-to-know here, so until you 'know' someone you aren't considered to need to know what they're called.
 
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Discussion Starter #15
it's actually a bit of a social watershed in my city when one person says to someone else 'my name's x, by the way.'
Interesting. I hate it when the guests ask me "Where are you from?" It's intrusive, a personal question. Also, I'm obviously from somewhere in Canada, so it means you want to start a boring conversation.

Or they'll ask me how long I've been staying at the guesthouse. None of their business. I've learned to say, "A while."

Whatever happened to talking about the weather? Or our beautiful surroundings? Or useful/interesting information (there's a bear on the front porch), or requests for information (do you know a good place to swim)?
 

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I'm obviously from somewhere in Canada, so it means you want to start a boring conversation.
HAH. well i mean, you did say you're in canada . . .

true story; i had a colleague one time who was from siberia. she told me once that when she first came to canada people freaked her out by discussing the weather so much. she couldn't figure out why it was such a big deal, got almost paranoid about it. and then (she said) she had a revelation that made me laugh so hard i had to lean on a wall wall. 'nothing bad is going on. they discuss the weather because there's nothing else for people to talk about here.'

Or useful/interesting information (there's a bear on the front porch)
well, you can't always count on an available bear.
 
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Discussion Starter #17
HAH. well i mean, you did say you're in canada . . .
Yes, well, hostels get people from all over the world. So if someone seems to be from another country, it might be interesting to ask where they're from--Australia, Japan, Germany, Peru.... When I lived in other countries, I didn't mind being asked.

But why would they ask me when we're in Canada and we're both Canadian? If I chat with a stranger in a grocery store, do I ask them where they're from? "Wow, really? You're from Vancouver? I'm from Ontario!" That's too boring even for us Canadians. Or so I thought.

I had a bad experience with "Where you from" once. When my fiance was on his deathbed (in Oregon, USA), the hospital chaplain came to see me. He asked where I was from, and I told him. So he started babbling about his experiences and good opinion of Canada. I mean really, that was the last thing I wanted to talk about when my man was dying.
 

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No idea why people are behaving like that, such a small thing to do will save lots of food and make your work more practical. But I guess such things aren't priorities of the people coming and going. The moment you settle in a place where you will sleep, nobody wants to listen to rules, I also think at the first few moments of their arrival their thoughts are preoccupied with scanning their surroundings, maybe in conversation with their partner or whatever.

Tbh if there are signs and it has been said vocally, I would enforce whatever is written on the signs. (also make it with an absurdly large font will help), no label? no problem. Bin.

Every week you have a new group of toddlers whom you need to teach haha
 

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Yes, well, hostels get people from all over the world. So if someone seems to be from another country, it might be interesting to ask where they're from--Australia, Japan, Germany, Peru.... When I lived in other countries, I didn't mind being asked.

But why would they ask me when we're in Canada and we're both Canadian? If I chat with a stranger in a grocery store, do I ask them where they're from? "Wow, really? You're from Vancouver? I'm from Ontario!" That's too boring even for us Canadians. Or so I thought.
If you're from elsewhere, you get 'do you know so-and-so? They're in [random other city on same continent]. ' I love that one.
 
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