Farewell North Dining Hall
Pablo Lacayo | Monday, April 3, 2023
1,256.75 hours, scattered throughout 403 shifts worked over the last four years.
That amounts to more or less 54 entire days and is the total sum of my time spent working at North Dining Hall since I first came to Notre Dame.
After eight semesters in NDH, last week was the last one I worked before “retiring.” Without a doubt, the dining hall had a profound impact on my Notre Dame experience. After all, once you withhold weekends, finals, my two stays in quarantine during the throes of the pandemic and the random times here and there I had something in the way, I worked nearly every weekday dinner since freshman year up until now.
I must admit, I have no idea what I will do with the sudden explosion of free time in the weeks that lie ahead. However, I look forward to them with great excitement, as for the first time in my college career, I will have the ability to make dinner plans at normal, convenient hours without having to incorporate things like the band practice schedule or the regular dinner rush into account.
As I look back and reflect on the variety of lessons and experiences fate chose to give me over the years, I can only smile with gratitude for the cornucopia of blessings that came with the job.
Certainly, it has given me a unique perspective on student life at Notre Dame. In my eyes, the dining hall is the most democratic place on campus. No matter your dorm, major, friend group or background, the dining hall opens its doors for everyone to come in and enjoy a meal. Everyone swings by, and you get to see a little bit of everything. Having worked through the years has allowed me to bear witness to the many ways one can live their time at Notre Dame. Whether it’s athletes eating an amazingly early dinner before practice at 4:30 or an awkward dining hall date between classmates tucked away in a corner right before close, working at the dining hall allows you to discover parts of the Notre Dame experience in a way no other place can. This has certainly made the last eight semesters amusing and entertaining, as I have been living in the background to the rise and fall of friend groups, the blossoming of relationships and much to a random couple’s misfortune, a very obvious breakup during my sophomore year.
By far, my favorite part of working at the dining hall has been the social component of the job. Since most of my social network at Notre Dame lives on the Northern side of campus, I am blessed to have had the opportunity to see 90% of my friends, every single day I work. It allows you to stay in the loop with the people you care about and guarantees time in the day for you to see your friends, update each other and catch up. Losing out on this part of my social life will be one of the most challenging things to adapt to, considering it has provided me with easy access to my friends from all over campus.
As my time working at the dining hall draws to a close, I can’t help but extend all my thanks and gratitude to the wonderful people I have worked so closely with all this time. They were the ones that taught me the ropes of North Dining Hall (NDH) and have constituted the backbone of my experience there.
The dining hall has been a cornerstone throughout my time at Notre Dame. As I finally turn the page of this chapter, it feels disconcerting to walk into uncharted waters for me that are more than charted waters for those around me. I walk away with the most amazing memories and hope that students that continue to work at NDH, present and future, get the enjoyment and satisfaction I have attained throughout the past 4 years.
Hasta la victoria siempre.
Pablo Lacayo is a senior at Notre Dame, majoring in finance while minoring in Chinese. He enjoys discussing current affairs, giving out bowl plates at the dining hall, walking around the lakes and karaoke. You can reach him at [email protected].
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.