There is free filtered water on my floor available from a 5-gallon water dispenser unit. The replacement water bottles are about 30 feet away in a storage room. As it would happen, I tend to find the water fountain completely empty more often than I would like.

In the perfect world, the person who takes the last of the water would go and fetch a new cartridge, or if the person does not have the strength then he or she would ask someone else to do so.

What should I do? Put up a poster saying "Thank you for drinking from this fountain. Are you doing your part in making sure we can all enjoy to drink as well?"

  • Why is this your problem to solve?
    – Lilienthal
    Mar 2, 2017 at 13:49
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    @Lilienthal because I replace the bottles very often and people just go get their water and do not do their part. Mar 2, 2017 at 13:53
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    Why not go to a different method of getting water. Those jugs are heavy and some of us have been known to spill them and make a bigger mess. I wouldl never consider trying to replace one of those at my current age and physical condition and running to get someone else just doesn't work.
    – HLGEM
    Mar 2, 2017 at 15:02
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    You've put up an obnoxious passive-aggressive sign. I really don't see what more you can do. Mar 2, 2017 at 16:06
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    If you don't like replacing the jug then stop doing it, fill yourself a large jar and stop minding about it. Unless you own the place I think the only one with the right to boss people on fixing things is... their boss, why don't you ask the guy in charge of the facilities? probably maintenance people won't mind about replacing that thing
    – user49901
    Mar 3, 2017 at 4:01

4 Answers 4


I wouldn't do anything. If you want water, get water. I face a similar problem in my office with the paper towel dispenser. When it runs out people just put a new roll on the back of the toilet instead of putting it back in the dispenser. It disgusts me, so I took 5 minutes to learn how to defeat the locking mechanism on the dispenser and replace the roll.

Realistically speaking, Some people may be unable to lift and position the ~50lbs water jug in a manner which does not result in spills or damage to the water fountain. So bullying them into doing it (even with just a passive agressive sign) is probably asking for trouble. As an example they spill, they slip, and that 50lbs jug of water caves their face in.

If you really wanted to put some sort of sign up, at most it should read "replacement jugs available in room 205" In case someone wants to replace it but doesnt know where they are kept.

  • I've replaced some of those jugs... they're heavy and the flip & insert process is cumbersome. I can imagine people not wanting to do it.
    – Erik
    Mar 2, 2017 at 22:26
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    +1 for being that person who lockpicks the TP dispenser. I've tried in the past, but invariably break them.
    – sleddog
    Mar 3, 2017 at 15:35

If you're often finding the water cooler empty, it sounds like you are a frequent visitor to it, and therefore a contributor to the cause of its frequent emptiness. Being the bigger person, while sometimes aggravating, will carry you much further than a poster that everyone will figure out who posted it. Let's be honest, if you feel strongly enough to post on StackExchange about it, your co-workers already know how you feel and will immediately know you put up the passive-aggressive poster. Depending on your company's culture, notices posted without HR approval can lead to discipline processes.

It's not worth it.

My advice: continue to refill it as necessary and lift with your legs. There are no doubt several other processes in your office that you benefit from, despite contributing nothing to their acquisition or execution, unless you also brew every pot of coffee and refill the vending machines.

  • 1
    Yup. Put up with it, or "be the parent". Don't expect people to do such "household tasks", nor expect them to be thankful for your doing it. I have worked in several places where I and one other person were in charge --TOOK change-- of putting away coffee cups left on top of(!) the dishwasher. Annoying, sure, but less so than having to look at it not being done, and thus worth it.
    – KlaymenDK
    Mar 3, 2017 at 9:06
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    My advice: continue to refill it as necessary and lift with your legs. Golden!
    – Anonymous
    Mar 5, 2017 at 17:55

I'd see it the opposite way. In a perfect world the first person who needs a new cartridge, gets a new cartridge. If you arrive there and it is empty, you are the one in need.

  • Eh, I'm not sure I agree. Let's say you have a dishwasher in the break room. If you're the last one to put dirty dishes in and it's now full, you should run it, not the next person to come along that needs to clean their dishes. Mar 2, 2017 at 13:32
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    @AndrewBrooke Running a dishwasher is directly useful to the person putting the dishes in, and running the diswasher in fact takes time. Someone coming to a full washer needing to start it still won't be able to load his stuff in. Someone getting a new cartridge will be immediately able to use it. The situations are vastly different.
    – Weckar E.
    Mar 2, 2017 at 13:35
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    @AndrewBrooke We'll agree to disagree, then. I'm not changing my answer as it not only reflects my own but my workplace's philosophy.
    – Weckar E.
    Mar 2, 2017 at 13:37
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    Clearly, we already know the answer to whose problem it is: "You kill the joe, you make some mo'" - Terry Tate, Office Linebacker
    – Chris G
    Mar 2, 2017 at 16:08
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    @WeckarE. But where do you stand on putting the toilet seat down? Mar 2, 2017 at 16:09

What do you think a sign would accomplish?

Thank you for drinking from this fountain. Are you doing your part in making sure we can all enjoy to drink as well.

You are able to to enjoy the fountain - you just need to get more water.

If you want to be direct the place a sign

If empty the fountain please refill the container.

But get approval from management as they may not support that policy.

Many people don't care about water enough to refill so they wait for people like you that do care enough about water to refill.

Consider it your contribution to office hydration.

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