One of the things I worried about when I was starting my co-op job was what I would do at lunchtime. Do people normally go out to eat for lunch? Do people normally eat in the lunchroom? What will I do? I really wanted to form connections and have a friendly relationship with my co-workers, but I was not quite sure how I would do this. On my first day, I was overwhelmed with newness: new faces, new places, and new routines. There was just a lot to absorb! On the job, I mainly work with my supervisor, and when she left on her lunch break on my first day, I was not sure what to do. The break room seemed almost daunting because I heard a lot of people sitting inside speaking another language. They sounded like they were having fun, but I felt a little overwhelmed and decided not to join them. Instead, I simply took my break at my desk. I was quite bored by myself and listened to the laughter and an unknown language come from the break room.
I got home that night and reflected on my day. The only person I really talked to that day was my supervisor, and as nice as she was, it would have been nice to meet some new people. I decided that the next day, I will suck it up and go in the break room and maybe my co-workers will speak in English when I enter. The next day, my supervisor left for her lunch break and I took a deep breath and walked towards the lunchroom. I nervously sat down in the big empty room by myself. Soon enough people started coming in and heating up their food in the microwaves. Eventually, my co-workers started to sit down and we introduced ourselves. I was blown away by how incredibly friendly everyone was. Not only did they ask me a lot about myself, but also they were very considerate and spoke English the whole time I was in the lunchroom.
I noticed some trends in the office when it came to lunchtime. Most people either left during their lunch break or skipped their break. It seemed that most people did not even eat in the lunchroom except for the production workers because they could not eat at their desks (they are the ones in charge of making cameras and it requires a clean space). Because I was not a part of the production team, I think my co-workers thought I was a little odd for taking a lunch break in the lunchroom as I was the only non-production worker who ate in the lunchroom regularly. But, I figured that this was the best way to get to know some of my coworkers and it actually turned out to be quite fun!
Some of my favourite memories took place in the lunchroom. There was one infamous day where I noticed that everyone was eating bananas. I pointed this out to my coworkers and we decided that we were a part of the ‘Banana Club,’ and somehow I was appointed president. Such an honour! There were many laughs and jokes that were thrown about in the lunchroom. We even had potlucks about once a month to celebrate birthdays or other occasions. On the morning of the potluck, the TWO refrigerators would be packed full of food. Potlucks were the one time when almost everyone in the company came into the lunchroom. They were often my favourite days because the atmosphere seemed more festive and there would be new food to try, and most of it was homemade.
The friendships I formed with my coworkers in the lunchroom definitely brought an extra bit of fun into my time at work. If I saw some of my lunchroom buddies in the hallway we would often say “hello”, and sometimes it was an extra silly “hello.” Near the end of my co-op term, we had a “Christmas/Natalie is leaving” potluck. It was nice to have a last potluck with my friends, and it was very kind of my supervisor to set up.
When I reflect back, I’m really glad I sat in the lunchroom, as nerve-wracking as it might have been initially. There is always a sense of vulnerability when you are new, but I’ve learned to think of it as a new chance to meet people. On my last day, I received a lot of best wishes that I don’t think I would have received if I didn’t make the effort to make friends. Getting to know your co-workers not only helps you network, but it makes life a lot more fun!
Beyond the Blog
- Check out Natalie's other Co-op Blog Series with TFSCE.