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Reflections on being an LDC student worker

Working at LDC as a first year has been a bittersweet experience. It’s fun interacting with other Carleton students who you may not have classes with, even if it’s just saying hi to them and asking what they would like to eat that day. It’s the little things that make a shift go by way faster.

I’ve really enjoyed working with other first years because we build new friendships through our shifts every term. Working at LDC is usually a friendly environment, which I have really enjoyed my first two terms working in the dining hall. Let’s also not forget the meals we eat as a group and the bonding time we get with each other when we clean up with music playing in the background.

However, with these wholesome moments also come the bad ones. Not too long ago I was screamed at by another Carleton student while I was working my Monday morning shift. I didn’t hear what the student wanted for breakfast so I had to ask them maybe three times to repeat themselves. I could totally understand their frustration, but there was no need to raise their voice at me. I also understood that maybe they were having a bad morning, which is why they had a lack of patience. I don’t hold it against them, but it was a shocking moment, mostly because I never expected it to come from a Carl.

I think this was a pretty rare occasion but it made me conscious of my shifts and the lack of awareness that other students have because they have never worked in the dining halls, a cafe, or a restaurant. We are humans too, and there is no need for you to treat us as anything less through your tone.

As an LDC worker, I can say that it is frustrating on the other side of the counter as well. Students need to remember to speak up because it is hard hearing through all the noise in the back. There are chefs cooking and all the frying sounds make it harder to hear what you want. It is also hard when you just point at the food you want because sometimes we can’t see what you are pointing at.

It’s just easier for both of us to speak up and just tell us what you want to eat. And also, please be okay with repeating yourself because sometimes we may forget in the process of scooping eggs onto your plate.

I think it’s also important to understand that LDC, Burton, and Sayles workers are humans too. Yes, we might get the wrong order but that can easily be solved by speaking up and not necessarily getting angry with the worker. I’m sorry that you asked for a turkey sausage but I gave you the vegetarian one. Just please tell me, and I’ll fix it.

Also, just put yourself in our shoes. We are working a 2-4 hour shift and sometimes we don’t even want to be there because we may have a lot of work to do or we would rather be sleeping. We may also have bad days but we are there just trying our best to serve you food. Yes, we are getting paid to work at LDC, Burton, and Sayles, but we do not sign up for frustration or the rush that comes when a bunch of students are waiting in line at 9:20 a.m during the week to get their eggs and sausage. Just know that, working hard in the back are not only the student workers but also the chefs. Please have empathy and patience with us. We can’t feed all of you in the line all at once. And pardon if we run out of eggs or wings when you get to the front of the line to get your food.

I don’t think a lot of people realize how much hard work working in the dining halls takes, which is why I feel like students should be mindful of the person across the counter. I’m just one voice, one student worker, and this may not be the same experience for someone else, but I think it’s something that everyone should know even when they interact with workers from fast food restaurants or any worker from a store. Respect and empathy are key to better interactions between workers and customers.

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