Soon after I started my new job, I was reminded to always lock my computer screen when I walk away from my desk. I used to be in the habit, but for the last few years I only ever used my macbook, which I simply close when I take a break. The desktop computer runs on Linux, so my tried and tested Windows shortcut ctrl + alt + del didn’t work. It didn’t take long for me to forgot about locking the computer.
My colleagues were making jokes about the dangers of leaving the computer unlocked. And I promptly forgot again when I got up to make tea. I returned to my colleagues giggling about something when I noticed I hadn’t locked the screen. I sat down at my computer to find a croissant as a background image and giggles all around. I put a post it note with the correct shortcut (ctrl + alt + l) on my screen, and I haven’t had a second croissant. Yet.
The croissant is not some sort of hazing ritual for the newest team member, by the way. It’s a team tradition to put a croissant on unlocked computers. Depending on time and circumstances this can be the background image, or like it was for a colleague a little later, an email going out to the entire team. He had just turned away from his desk to help someone when another colleague snuck up and sent the one word message.
I still don’t know why it’s a Kipferl but now I know what my colleagues mean when they say croissant :-)
The other food frequently referred to at work are schokobons. There’s usually a bag of them around somewhere and they exist as emojis in the internal chat. When you mess up, then you caused a schokobon and you are supposed to supply them. I once misunderstood a colleague’s comment and deleted some code instead of deleting the comments that surrounded it – “careful, or you will have to get schokobons soon!” was the reply.
I ended up getting a bag of them not much later when I messed up in a time consuming and embarassing manner that required somebody who knew what he was doing to unmerge and rebase and do other things I don’t really know how to handle yet.
They take it all with a lot of humour and I like it. I like a company culture where saying you made a mistake is accepted and accompanied by chocolate and support. When I once finally got something to work I said “Juhuuuu! Endlich!” in German, more to myself than to anyone else. The immediate reaction of a colleague was: “Is everything okay? Did a schokobon happen?”.
The internal chat is also very educative – I learn a lot more colloquialisms than during French class. And with written information, I can at least look it up. I have a browser window with the dictionary, google translate and wiktionary open at all times. My favourite words so far have been: saperlipopette (Sapperlot), trombinoscope (an employee directory with photos, not a trombone shaped microscope!), and schmilblick (thingy).
When people talk I ask a lot of questions, but sometimes I give up and let it all just wash over me. The moment I get completely lost is when numbers are mentioned. I’m a little better with quatre-vingt-dix-neuf than I used to be, but it just takes so long for me to parse a number that’s higher than 60 that I usually lose the plot on account of still calculating “soixante quinze, that’s 60 plus 15…”, when the conversation is already much further.
I used to not understand why people don’t simply ask, when they don’t understand something. And now I get it. Oh I get it so well. Sometimes I have already asked so many questions that there comes a point where I don’t want to ask anymore. Sometimes I didn’t understand the first and second time and when it would be time to ask a third time, I decide that it’s probably not that important anyway.
My colleagues are not the clearest enunciators. These days I atone daily for all the times my mum told me I mumble and talk so fast and low and I didn’t slow down or spoke up for longer than a phrase or two.