Being a new (almost-qualified “new-ish”) employee at any office-type environment, you are bound to be encouraged, if not forced, to attend various “training” and “orientation” sessions. I recently was lucky enough to be invited to a 3-hour morning orientation session on central administration (note sarcasm at “lucky enough”). As much as I honestly find these sessions to be informative and useful, I find that 3 hours can be quite tedious and the timing of this session was bad, as this particular session came at a very busy time for me at my work (given the nature of what I do there). However, because I’m new and I fear looking like I don’t care, I went. At the meeting, we played a “get-to-know-you” game where the presenters would make a statement that may be true or false for any of us, the trainees, and if it were true, you would have to stand up. After each statement, the seating was reset so that we could play again. Basically, this was like a truth or dare drinking game. Without the dare part. Or the alcohol. Hence, without the fun. But anyway. Statements along the lines of “I like to do artistic things!” or “I own an animal!” or “I love to cook!” or “I can sing well!” were among those that elicited half-hearted movement out of chairs, but the one that turned the most heads (mostly because I was seated in the back of the room) was the most dreaded outing statement, “I’m a vegetarian!”
I stood up. And yes, I did so rather reluctantly, mumbling under my breath, “I really hope I’m not the only one.” To my relief, a female employee at the front of the room also stood up. She was young (20s) and had really lovely complexion and dark-rimmed Lisa-Loeb-esque glasses. Aside from my obvious immediate attraction to her based on her culinary choices, I was also attracted to her for her–perhaps unknowingly–making me feel like less of a social outcast. Thank the gods I was not the only one after all. Quick count and statistic: 19 people. 2 vegetarian. 10.5% vegetarians in the room. In a room where I solely represent over 5% the vegetarian population, that’s not a statistic to live by, but it is exciting to think about at any rate. Still, it does show how few of us are out there. Or at least, how few of us are willing to admit it.
I really don’t like those kinds of games, but I acknowledge their purpose. “Breaking the ice” is very popular in the workplace and I’m not going to dis it. But I did feel kind of exposed standing up there as everyone made up their minds about me based on my being vegetarian. It’s ok though. I did my part to represent. It’s just kind of deflating being reminded how alone I am among the general population (though I do appreciate the growing veg*n community in Ottawa and still need to make an effort to be a part of it!). Makes me feel weird, like I’m missing something key to being human. But that’s another rumination for another time.
The other 5.25% and I spoke briefly during the break. She asked if I was vegan even, and I said yes. She was impressed (impressed!) and said she would love to go vegan too but wants to take things slowly since she has only been vegetarian for about 18 months. I asked her to bear my children. But not really though.
I hope I bump into her again one of these days. We don’t work in the same department and we’re floors apart, but you never know. I just find veg heads hard to come by at work and I miss being around like-minded people. I hope by the end of my term, I’ll have a veritable veggie posse stirring up da shit at the workplace. Yo.