Thursday, June 7, 2018

final daze

Aaaaah, the last day of school.  Remember?  Going to school in shorts, shades, and flip flops because... who cares?  No tests, no assignments.  Really, just a day to clean out the lockers and then get it on to summer break.  Even the teachers... or maybe especially the teachers... are all relaxed and smiley and all, "Have a great summer! *smartasses*"

Admittedly, when I was a school kid, I didn't really stop to think about... The Lunch Ladies.

But this past semester, I did a part-time stint as exactly that - a lunch lady.  Specifically, I took a job with the company that contracts food service to various local school districts, hospitals, and retirement communities.  I worked in a middle school kitchen, and middle schoolers really cover a wide range of adolescence!  Anywhere from looking and acting like they're about 10 years old to resembling college frat boys and sorority girls.  I got quite a kick out of the contrasts.

And to go along with that hormonal smorgasbord, school lunch is not anything like what I remember.  The school where I worked had seven different lines to choose from, and four of those lines included three options within, making for a total of - go on, do the math - 15 selections for lunch!  Sixteen if you count the "nothing" option.

In the end however, school food service is a business.  There are regulations to follow and costs to control.  As the end of the school year approached, we were hyper aware of our inventory.  It was a fun challenge to manage the various items so that we would have enough to serve on that last day, but with near to nothing left to store or throw out.

Additionally, there is that thrill of knowing a long break is coming, to which lunch ladies are most certainly not immune.  So a mentality of "get rid of everything!" combined with "We're outta here!" seems like a lunch recipe for:

Luckily,  there were no such lunch ladies in our kitchen.  Some could be rough around the edges at times, but in the end, there was pride in the final product.

Our supervisor, Gayle, probably had the roughest edges of the bunch.  She's a self-proclaimed "Italian rebel from Chicago" who's trained in culinary arts and somewhat underutilized as a school lunch lady.  But hey, you can't beat the hours.

In the final week of school, as we were tasked to "get rid of the inventory", Gayle tunneled into the cooler and later emerged with various bags, cans, bottles, etc.  determined to create something that would sell and never be seen again.

With her Pvt-Vasquez-From-Aliens poise, she went to work

After several minutes, I heard, "Well?  Whaddya think?"

I turned to see these precious little desserts. THAT from the hodgepodge mess of ingredients sitting lonely about the cooler?

And I said, "Wait!  Lemme take a photo!"

And it's a good thing I did get a photo of this batch, because there is no other evidence that these things ever existed.

They literally nearly started a lunch room riot because there weren't enough for everyone who wanted one.

Better luck next year.

Linking up with Mama Kat this week for the prompt:
3. Share your last day of school plans/recap.


KatBouska said...

So funny! I was actually JUST thinking about our lunch ladies because the last 4 days of our lunch menu say "Cook's Choice". I laughed to myself because I can only imagine how much food they need to piece together and get rid of. Kainoa always loves those days!

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

My mom is a lunch lady. She is the head lunch lady and for some reason this cracks me up. She got this job when all her children were adults. She tells me about the changes in the role of budgets,regulations and food allergies to deal with. Paperwork for the gov't that must be filed. She preferred just cooking but as you said it is a business.
At the end of the year once she brought home some ice cream cups that all the ladies split when cleaning out the freezers for the year. I went to visit and when I opened the freezer I saw the small cups of vanilla and choc ice cream with a wooden spoon attached to the lid. Talk about a flashback. I didn't know I wanted ice cream but after seeing those I had to have one. Best of both worlds - no school and ice cream! :-)

John Holton said...

I liked this. Mom taught in the Chicago Public Schools, and for years worked with a lunch lady who was from Ireland and especially blunt. When the government decided they needed more paperwork from the schools, they told her she had to fill out a sheet that told them what choices there were for lunch and how many kids took each choice. Her reaction was, "I t'ink I'll jus' send 'em stool samples and let 'em figger out what the kids had fer demselves."

Abby said...

"Cook's Choice" is wide open! Good for Kainoa!

Abby said...

I remember those little ice creams with wooden spoons attached! Nice haul for your mom while she's completing her paperwork :)

Abby said...

Oh, that's hilarious - accurate and scientific too!

Cheryl said...

This was so much fun to read! I was a middle school teacher for a number of years, and always felt like the lunch ladies had it WAY worse than we did when it came to the middle school hormones and drama.

ShadowRun300 said...

I just checked in a lunch lady who’s last day of school was yesterday. She walked in with a beer in her hand, and was SO ready for summer break. We talked school, and kids, and parents for a while, and I walked away thankful I was working my 3rd 12 hour shift in a row. :)

Abby said...

That's funny, we have student helpers who get free lunch in return for helping serve. migosh, the drama!
I remember two boys who were discussing how ready they were for their next class. I asked if they had a big test.
"No, we start sex ed!"

Abby said...

Walkin' into the hotel with a beer. Bring on summer!

Linda Hensley said...

Wishing you the happiest summer ever! The desserts look scrumptious. As for jury duty, I was on call for a few weeks this year but they never wanted me. I did a happy dance when my public duty was over but a friend of mine is excited to be called, so whichever makes you happiest, I hope you get it.

Abby said...

Thanks, at this point in my life, with little to no kid responsibility, etc. I'm more open to jury duty. I've been called before but have yet had to serve on a trial.