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Tina de Vries Photo by Reyer Boxem

Everyone knows… #2Tina de Vries

‘Students have friended me on Facebook’

Tina de Vries Photo by Reyer Boxem
Part 2 | There are some UG employees that everyone knows. The cafeteria worker with the nice laugh, the concierge who can always tell you how to get somewhere. Or ‘local newspaper’ Tina de Vries, who’ll fix you a cup of coffee at the UMCG’s Espressobar.
4 April om 12:41 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 4 May 2022
om 12:43 uur.
April 4 at 12:41 PM.
Last modified on May 4, 2022
at 12:43 PM.

Door Lotte Groenendijk

4 April om 12:41 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 4 May 2022
om 12:43 uur.

By Lotte Groenendijk

April 4 at 12:41 PM.
Last modified on May 4, 2022
at 12:43 PM.

Lotte Groenendijk

Today, she’s in ‘the kitchen’. That’s the restaurant below the Espressobar at the UMCG, where students can get a cup of soup or a hamburger if they’re hungry. She pulled her blonde hair back so it doesn’t get in her face, and she’s wearing a black apron. Cafeteria employee Tina de Vries has just taken out the trash and is now making sure the soup warmers are switched off. ‘Today is a quiet day’, she says. ‘The restaurant doesn’t really get busy, since it’s still new. Very few students actually know it exists.’

I’ll even chat to people when I’m waiting for the bus

She hopes the restaurant will end up attracting just as many customers as the Espressobar. After all, the hustle and bustle of the Espressobar is why she prefers working upstairs. ‘There’s always someone coming in, so the time passes quickly.

Talking and listening

Besides, she loves people. There’s a reason her co-workers call her ‘Dagblad van het Noorden’, after the local newspaper: after twenty years, she knows everything about her customers. A student suffering from a broken heart? Tina knows all about it. ‘Or I’ll notice someone yawning and ask them about it. Maybe they had a hard time sleeping? It turns out they just had a baby.’ 

Things like that. She always talks to people about what’s going on with them. And she listens. 

‘She’s genuinely interested in people’, says her co-worker Jenny van Dam, who pops in while the interview is going on. 

‘It’s just who I am’, says Tina, nodding. ‘I’ll even chat to people when I’m waiting for the bus.’

But she also knows not everyone is like her. ‘Not everyone feels like talking all the time. You have to be sensitive to that.’

Nutritionist

While Tina has been working at the UMCG for twenty years, it wasn’t always her ambition to work at the cafeteria. She actually studied to be a nutritionist and worked at the department of vascular medicine for a while in that capacity. ‘But I hated it. So many people were suffering from serious illnesses, like cancer. They would tell me all their horror stories, and I wouldn’t be able to let it go. It gave me sleepless nights.’

It’s about doing something for your guests

After a while, she ended up in the cafeteria, after taking on a side job at the staff restaurant. She loves her work, every single day. ‘It’s about doing something for your guests. Most people leave the restaurant in a good mood. If you don’t enjoy going to work, something is wrong.’

No wonder then, that when students see her, she’s always happy and up for a joke. Graduating students regularly come to say goodbye in person. ‘And then they’ll add me on Facebook.’

Dinner

She’s also invested in the close-knit group of people that work in the restaurant. She and her co-workers regularly talk on the phone, go out to dinner together, and are always up for swapping shifts. ‘We can really count on each other’, Jenny adds. ‘When you’re that close you can immediately tell when someone’s not doing great’, says Tina. 

The faculty cafeteria closed during the lockdown, and the entire team was moved to the bigger staff restaurant. That was a shame, Tina felt, because she loves the small scale of the cafeteria. ‘But we had no choice, so we just made the best of it. Just make sure to always have fun.’

Everyone knows…

Series | There are some UG employees that everyone knows. The cafeteria worker with the nice laugh, the concierge who can always tell you how to get somewhere.

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