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For 3 weeks I've been doing a project with my school team for another company (it's unpaid). We make biweekly (twice a week) visits to the company.

It's a company with around 8 employees.

The way lunch works at that company is that they put everyone's name in a randomizer. The one who gets chosen has to do the groceries. But on the two days that we go there they only put the name of me and my school team. They expect us to do the groceries for them before lunch. We have to pay, but they reimburse us.

So last week we said that we as a team were going go eat lunch outside. A woman that works there came to us and said, that it's not nice and actually we are supposed to eat lunch here and that we should eat lunch with them.

I think she was more upset that we didn’t do the groceries for her. She is not even the boss there. I felt like she has no right to tell us where to eat.

Is it reasonable to expect us to eat lunch with them every time?

I've worked for different companies but this is the first time I'm hearing this.

I'm there as part of my software engineering course. Rather than doing a project for the university, the university want us to do it for a company. Bunch of different companies came to the university at the start of this school year and presented what they do. We had to rank which company appealed us most to least. The company I chose didn't mention anything about doing groceries, it was only the technical aspect of what they were looking for.

migrated from interpersonal.stackexchange.com Sep 24 '18 at 23:19

This question came from our site for people looking to improve their interpersonal communication skills.

  • Is fetching errands a part of your volunteer position description? – rlb.usa Sep 24 '18 at 18:37
  • I'm there as part of my software engineering course. Rather than doing a project for university, the university want us to do it for a company. – Do0msDay Sep 24 '18 at 18:46
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    I'm also quite sure that if I told my university about it, they would also agree that it's not my task to do the errands. – Do0msDay Sep 24 '18 at 18:46
  • Are you being asked to do something regular employees don't have to do? Are is it only a problem of the odds of someone on your team having to do it. – cdkMoose Sep 25 '18 at 16:20
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Is it reasonable to expect us to eat lunch with them every time?

No, it is not reasonable to expect that every time.

One should be free to eat wherever and whatever you want; sometimes one may bring lunch from home, or are in the mood of going out to a restaurant, or just want to have some time alone.

But on the two days that we go there they only put the name of me and my school team. They expect us to do the groceries for them before lunch.

This is not OK, not to mention unfair for you and your team.

Every company has it's own culture and "rituals". However, it seems to me that they are taking advantage of you and your team by "forcing" you to do the groceries. They are bending the rules of this tradition they have in a way that will benefit only them.

It's not like they are abusing physically of you, but surely they are crossing the line by only having you on the random pool. It would be less unfair if they included all people and not just you, and this is something you may consider telling them if you are willing to join the tradition.

Still, you are not employed by this company, and you will be there only for some time. Adding that to the fact that "The company I chose didn't mention anything about doing groceries", then by all means don't feel obliged to follow this "tradition".

If this lady, or any other worker, keeps pushing you and your team to do the groceries politely turn them down. If they insist and this starts to become a bigger issue I suggest you tell this to the person/teacher from your school in charge of this project, so they can take proper action and have this potential abuse to stop.

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    Smells like a bit of abuse to me too. – Mister Positive Sep 24 '18 at 23:58
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    @MisterPositive Abuse is a strong word. I recognize it's literally the correct term, but it has strong connotations. "Taking the piss" is how I'd phrase it – rath Sep 25 '18 at 8:56
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You are asking the wrong question. The problem isn't that you are eating with them, the problem is that they are trying to enforce a totally unfair shopping arrangement.

Most days of the week when you are not there, someone from the group of people having lunch is picked at random to do the shopping. But when you are there, they change the rules: One of a small subgroup (your school team) is sent to do the shopping. That is deeply unfair, and they are trying to take advantage of you.

The correct way to solve this would be to remove the unfairness of the arrangement. But you are absolutely fine to not join the lunch and not go shopping, because when you have lunch with them, they try to enforce their unfair arrangement.

There is one (deleted) answer that worries about your relationship. Your relationship will be best if you stand up for yourself and don't let anyone exploit you.

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That is just an initialization ritual on the company for new people. I guess something similar to what happen in university fraternities. (My university doesnt have fraternities so only know what I watch in movies)

They did it to me on my internship too. They put all the names on a hat and surprise my name was choosen. (of course all the papers had my name).

My task was go to McDonald during lunch and pickup Ice Cream Sundae for everyone. A litle cumbersome but I did the task.

Next Friday they try to do the same, and I just said "that wont work again" and went back to my job. They did a show about how ofended they were and how irrespectuful are intern those day (or at least I decide to think was a show) but I just ingore them and the topic was never touch again and I finish my internship without any problems.

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    Hey Juan Carlos. This currently reads more like an anecdote rather than an actionable answer. Would you mind enhancing your post? (This was recently migrated from IPS, so surely you may want to adapt it now to TWP) – DarkCygnus Sep 24 '18 at 23:41
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    This is called hazing, and is not appropriate in fraternities or at the Workplace. Just because it happens some places doesn't mean that it's okay. – David K Sep 25 '18 at 12:43
  • @DavidK Sorry I didnt mean to imply was ok. But because wasnt a really big deal I let it pass the first time. But fight against it the second time. – Juan Carlos Oropeza Sep 25 '18 at 13:37

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