Wow, it just really blows me away that there seems to be this unique breakdown in respect for someone else's property in kitchens. Do you think that it has to do with the close quarters and not having your own space? Or just a general American culture that doesn't even register knives as tools/anything of value.
I know that the Japanese culture has very strict rules and that a Chef will not let anyone other than his own apprentice touch his knives.
I may have told this story before:
My family knows how I am about knives, but a couple years back when I was visiting home, my little sister thought that it would be a funny to sneak into my knife bag and use one of my knives while I was out. She was planning to make it obvious so that I would know and freak out.
Well, she did make it obvious: she cut about 1/4" off the tip of her thumb, nail and all. -Just missed the bone. She had a square thumb for about 7mo till it grew back out.
For some reason my mom wrapped up the thumb tip and put it in the freezer (maybe she thought that it could be re-attached or re-animated later like Walt Disney's head), but she forgot about it in the commotion. Months later, I came across the frost covered wad of paper towel with the tiny, freeze dried bit of thumb-tip. I glued it to the tip of a broken screwdriver and proceeded to poke my sister with it, saying "quit poking yourself! " (we've all got a pretty a pretty morbid sense of humor.)
Anyway, my sister continued to mess with my stuff, but never touched my knives again. However, it actually sparked her interest in quality knives and very sharp things. The next time they went on sale, I bought her her own copy of the knife that she still calls "the thumb knife" and it became her first good knife.