My First Week Back To Work

Ok, so it was only half a week.  School always starts on a Wednesday or Thursday and I have always thought it was stupid.  The argument is that a midweek start is good for the kids as they transition back to a school schedule and that the first three days are pretty much throwaway since all that gets done is paperwork and learning routines.  It sounds logical.  Smart.  It’s bullcrap. 

Starting midweek has NOTHING to do with transitioning kids to a school schedule.  It’s transitioning all the teachers, teachers’ aides, principals, crossing guards, custodians, and lunch ladies to a school schedule.  Exactly one week before the first day of school, my behind was in bed where it belongs at 5:30 AM.  It was not up making coffee, threatening my children with bodily harm if they didn’t get out of bed, finding matching pairs of shoes for 5 children, gathering school crap from every corner of the house, yelling my head off, and scarfing down a Pop Tart while changing a diaper.  A person shouldn’t be doing this at any time of the day, certainly not before the sun comes up.  It was a hard three mornings. Theoretically, I should now be “transitioned” and next week will be better.  Yeah, I’m not counting on it.

Not our crossing guard. Unlike ours, she smiles.

The commute is a lesson in timing and careful planning.  It takes exactly 1 hour and 15 minutes to get the baby to daycare, four kids to three different schools, and me to work on time.  I left the house 1 hour and 10 minutes before time every single day.  The -5 minutes went against the middle schoolers.  Middle school starts at 7:40 and I got them there at exactly 7:40, but the 7:40 means butts in seats, not simply “on the premises.”  Someway, somehow we have to leave 5 minutes earlier.  That’s not going to be easy when I have to keep going in the house to swap “forbidden shoes without backs” for allowable shoes my daughter hates because “they make her feet look big,” make the  forgotten snack for the kindergartener, retrieve the valued baby doll the baby girl needs for daycare, find backpacks the older ones left either “on the couch, under my bed, or in the bathroom” which I actually find on the washing machine, under the kitchen table, or in the closet, and get the coffee I made and then left on the counter or, oddly enough, in the bathroom.  Next week, backpacks and necessary baby dolls go in the car the night before.

Now, the Job.  I am a lunch lady.  (There are no lunch gentlemen.  Good thing, too, since Monday is carnation pink uniform day.)  So what does that entail?  Basically, it’s preparing large vats of mysterious substances that are stirred with metal canoe paddles, pouring sweat, and wearing rubber gloves and hairnets serving the students and staff attractive and nutritious meals in an atmosphere of efficiency, cleanliness, and friendliness.  As the newbie, I’m on fruit trays, milk, and serving and that is fine by me.  I don’t have to bake the bread (done from scratch every morning and it is delicious), prepare any meat item (I hate cooking meat even at home. It grosses me out, although I certainly am not opposed to eating it), or wash dishes.  Of course, this may change, but for now I’m going to enjoy the luxury of being new.

Fruit and Vegetable Trays I love symmetry and making up these trays is a highly satisfying experience in that regard.  I line up juice boxes (10 on each side) and then fill serving cups with peaches, applesauce, cucumbers, carrots, or tomatoes (8 rows of three between the perfectly aligned juice boxes.)  It’s a wonder to behold.  It’s also very mechanical work, which gives me ample time to write in my head.  Oh, the blog posts/novels/character sketches that will get written this year!  You’re in for a real treat.  Then, when I’m done, there are 12 perfectly uniform trays to line up in the cooler.  It’s a true thing of beauty.

Isn't that pretty?

Milk.  Milk coolers stink.  It doesn’t matter that the milk is new or that the coolers are cleaned with vinegar and water.  They still have a tinge of sour milk smell, like the rim of the milk jug in your refrigerator.  Go ahead, smell it.  It stinks.  I also don’t like filling the milk cooler because lifting hurts my back.  But, it takes five minutes and then I don’t have to think about it anymore.  And the perfectly aligned milk cartons are kind of pretty.  Yes, I have a problem.

Serving.  I thought I would hate serving, but I actually kind of like it.  I like talking to the kids and trying to convince them to eat their veggies.  It doesn’t work very often.  Nevermind that I knocked the gravy ladle to the bottom of the gravy tray at least 4 times that first day and had to fish it out, it was fun and very fast-paced.  Once the kids start coming all time for thought is over.  It’s slinging food on trays and restocking the fruit and vegetable trays, which kind of hurts because they are no longer the beautifully uniform specimens I took such satisfaction in arranging.  Oh, the life of a lunch lady is cruel.

Cleaning.  Not a whole lot of explanation necessary.  I clear my station, wipe down surfaces, rotate milk and juice, sweep, and mop.  By this time my feet feel like they’re on fire and gone from my mind are the wonderful stories I wove in the AM.  All thought is, “get it done, I hate sweating, is it 2:00 yet, and must get out of these shoes.”  2:00 arrives and I hoof it out the door to my 1000 degree car, crank up the A/C, change into a pair of flip-flops, start the MP3 player, and light a cigarette–my first in over 6 hours.  It’s a glorious 5 minutes. 

Picking up kids is a lot less stressful than dropping them off.  I get off 40 minutes before the first school lets out and there’s no rush, unless I just feel like sitting in a car line for 30+ minutes. (I don’t.)  Sometimes I go to the daycare and talk for a while.  Sometimes I go to the grocery store and leave the baby until last.  I could go to the Starbucks or the library if I want.  I have options, which is nice. 

I get home a little before 4, turn on the television for the kids and take advantage of their slack-mouthed stupor and take a 30 minute nap.  Pathetic, yes?  I’m overweight, chronically lazy, and I haven’t had a job in over 11 years.  I NEED the nap to prepare for the evening routine, but that’s a story for another time.

So that’s it.  My job.  I actually like it, aside from the excruciating foot pain.  As for those wonderful stories and blog posts I promised, you’ll apparently have to wait.  I’m not sure where the ideas went, but  I suspect they were sweated out and are now swirling down the floor drain with the dirty mop water. 


Oh!  I forgot the most important thing.  I look absolutely FABULOUS in a hair net, people.  I’d post a picture, but I don’t want to make you jealous.  Seriously, you’d hate me.


36 thoughts on “My First Week Back To Work

  1. Just think: Military percision, Military percision, Military percision, Military percision to the whole before, during and after job routine and you’ll do fine.
    Get the kids to lay out their clothes, shoes and bags for the next day themselves… we got totally sick of the morning madness doing it for TWO kids and now they have to do most of it themselves.
    Yep, life is tough kids, but if you do it it *won’t* kill you and if Himself and I have to keep being the slaves we “may” be remotely tempted to. It’s not worth the risk right?
    Tell them that they are part of a team and get a routine going… it really helps believe me 🙂

    • I was just thinking about this on the way to work today. I think I’ll make a schedule and post it in the kitchen just so everybody knows what they’re supposed to do (no excuses.) Thanks for the advice. I think I’ll take it. 🙂

  2. I don’t know how you do it all. I remember how hard I thought it was with two at the time. Just remember – 1 day – this will be a memory that blisses you out. It’s true – thank God we only remember the good stuff. LOL 🙂

  3. “chronically lazy”
    Not buying this, sorry.

    “I haven’t had a job in over 11 years”
    Not buying this, sorry.

    “excruciating foot pain”
    Spanko’s might work, with really comfortable shoes. You put them inside and they cushion your feet. You can also get a mat for your feet.

    “As for those wonderful stories and blog posts I promised, you’ll apparently have to wait.”
    Who’s waiting? You punched it out at the very beginning, exposing a definite lie, and you held that tone all the way to the end. That you write about fruit trays and talking kids into their veggies and how long it takes to drop off your kids and not bore me is amazing. There is constant conflict in your stories!

    Here’s a thought…

    You can write a few of these stories and submit them to your local paper -not for publication b/c they won’t accept anything that’s been published. But you can submit them as writing samples. You would submit two or three and make sure they’re showing different parts of you or things that are different somehow. You want a range. What you’d have to cut out is the language and keep it at 500 words (half of what you wrote here). You would also have to refrain from saying anything that might make the school uncomfortable, not b/c it wouldn’t read well but b/c the paper wouldn’t accept it, believe it or not. It would just mean wording things cautiously while still keeping your voice. (So you could keep the beginning but you’d have to reword it for them to accept it.) If you find someone that’s interested (you’d submit them to the “Features Editor”), they may or may not be interested. If they are, they won’t pay much but you may get a contract. If you decide to do it, give your column a short title (a few words, the shorter the better), and write a “tag” –that’s a brief explanation of what your column is about. Being the lunch lady and how you do it with 5 kids and a husband. The tag always stays the same.

    • Now that’s what I call a useful comment! I’ve been thinking about doing what you suggested for a while. Now it’s simply a matter of getting up the courage. Fear of rejection is always a slight problem with me. 😉 As for the tightening up, I am capable of it, though I don’t do it too much on the blog. It’s almost always a first draft with only spelling and grammar mistakes corrected. I like the flow for this particular platform.

      Two things. One, I am lazy. Ask anyone who knows me. Two, I’m glad I don’t bore you.

        • I’m not sure on either answer. There is The Bryan County News, The Savannah Morning ?News, and a local magazine called Richmond Hill Reflections. I’m not sure about our new town or who owns any of the above publications. I guess I’m not a very well-informed person, but I can change that.

          • I’m assuming you’re in Bryan County. Also assuming the Savannah Morning News has a higher circulation, with a daily of about 40,000 (I’m not psychic, I looked that up.) So the Bryan County News probably sells less papers is my guess b/c it looks like they service only one county. If you’re in Bryan County then, ideally you’d want the Savannah Morning News b/c it has a higher circulation. I get the sense the Bryan County News only has a handful of employees and they might not be able to hire any freelancers/stringers, etc. Nobody worth their salt will let you work for free. Looked it up and the median income in your county is about $45k; this works to your advantage when writing b/c people will associate with you and all you’re going through. The Savannah Morning News has a few columnists and I see 3 school stories posted but nobody is writing what you write (if that’s what you want to write about) so you’ve got a unique angle. Papers always have their own columnists so don’t let this deter you. What you have going for you is primarily the fact that you have a great talent, you have a unique angle, and you’d be writing a lot or all local stories (a story that isn’t local is if you went on a trip and came back to say what happened in Hawaii). The word “local” is key and if you decide to do this, you’ll want to make sure you use it. “I’ve got writing samples that are local,” “I want to write only local stories,” local local local. It’s going to make them listen. If they can get a freelancer to work for under $100/story and not have to pay her medical/dental benefits and she’s writing local stories and she’s good and people start writing in about you, that’s going to be your card.

            OK, I’ll shut up.

          • lol! Thanks so much for all the advice and the encouragement. Are you a motivational speaker/career coach by any chance? If not, I think you missed your calling.

  4. We used to take the 5pm bus into the city for work every day. We’d get trapped on the helix leading into the Lincoln Tunnel and would get at least a 30 minute nap. I lived for that nap the first year we got the kids, oh man. I totally relate to the symmetry thing. I volunteered at the high school library for a while because I could wear my ipod and put things in order. Nobody asked me for anything and nobody moved anything I arranged. Bliss 🙂 Congrats to you! Great writing too- I wish I wrote like you!

        • Remember those quiet days of dread at the beginning of summer, before school finished, you were worried about what you were going to do over the summer? It was hot, swampy, the A/C wasn’t working, soon you were going to have your five children at home, all day etc etc and you were missing that green grass of Kentucky, so far away and not easy to get to on your own with the five and the price of gas so high etc etc. Menace is in the air already, it’s brewing all the way to Plot Point 1 – The fire! Remember your husband telling you that the time had come for you all to put your money where your mouth is? This moves you, via the road trip and the new job, all the way to Plot Point 2, which sorry to say, involves more drama for you to work through to the point of resolution. Perhaps you could have Michele Bachmann or Sarah Palin roll through town on a campaign bus, they come face to face with the force of Momfog, find a point of confrontation, they get under you skin and raise your heckles (also get Billy to stir up some trouble, lose Baby Girl / Potty Mouth – only for long enough to max out the tension), cameras catch it all, you and the family are a big hit and the country wants to elect you as the first woman President!

          • But you don’t want to be Pres. You want more power than that, plus we all know how much you value your sleep. You pick up where Oprah left off. The sofa, and world domination is all yours!!!

          • You are a mess. I mean that in the nicest way possible, of course. As for valuing my sleep, I would say I value the freedom to sleep more if I feel like it. Which I never do. I rarely get more than 5 hours a night, if that. I love the silence and the solitude too much!

          • It sounds like Patti is drinking while writing. 🙂

            I think she’s saying this…

            She’s equating your life to a screenplay, a movie. In the beginning of you’re life’s movie, your life has a fog to it (my words, not hers). And you were missing home yet concerned about going home with 5 kids, the price of gas, etcetera. This is how movies start. They “brew.” And the characters brew for a good 30 minutes, or 1/4 of a movie. So for the first half hour, we learn about you and your family and the deepest core of your heart –you want something to change. Every main character in every American movie wants something to change. This is the story’s conflict. “Menace is in the air already.”

            All of a sudden, a fire occurs. This is Plot Point 1. PP1 is a term used by the Hollywood screenplay guru, Syd Field. It is the place in a film where the story takes a major change. It takes place about 30 minutes into the movie. The fire made a major change in your life so the fire is PP1. And when your husband says you two have to put your $ where your mouth is, that’s the line Patti’s recalling b/c that’s the line every Hollywood writer kills for. Maybe you didn’t know it when you wrote that but that was a definite prize line. You’ve got your husband pushing the story along with that one prize line. It moves the story in the same direction as the fire. It fits perfectly.

            And so the story starts to move. It changes. You now have a job. (This is Act 2).

            And when Patti says, “…all the way to Plot Point 2, which sorry to say, involves more drama for you to work through to the point of resolution” –what she means is… you are now at about the 40th minute of the movie (just after PP1) and you have to get to the climax of the movie (which is Plot Point 2, at about 90 minutes into the movie), so there has to be something that fills up from where you are now to get you to the climax. That’s a good 50 minutes.

            And for Patti, she sees that as …politics, you lose your baby (harsh), you’re the first female president, world domination. Well, that’s Hollywood for ya’. (I’m thinking it can be more simple than that). 😉

          • “…all the way to Plot Point 2, which sorry to say, involves more drama for you to work through to the point of RESOLUTION.”

            I am laughing so hard right now at this line. Erin, Syd Field breaks a screenplay up into 3 major parts:

            1. Exposition (Act 1)
            2. Confrontation (Act 2)
            3. RESOLUTION (Act 3)

            As if she doesn’t already have it hard with the hurt feet and waking up at 5:30am and having to drive 1.5 hours to get to the damn daycare and THREE different schools and hot grease and cooking meat and God knows what else… THAT’S Act 2. So Erin doesn’t want to swat you over the head for implying she needs more drama, let’s just say this isn’t directed by Steven Spielberg or William Cameron. It’s an indie film, character-driven. We love our main character for all she goes through and the resolution is withIN her, not outside.

  5. Look at it this way. We don’t have school canteens like you do, our kids have to take their lunches to school. Well, they don’t HAVE to, but at $10.00 a day per child to buy a sandwich, a piece of fruit and a drink, most kids take lunches. If you added making school lunches to your morning routine, you’d be in serious trouble.

    School starts at 7:40am? WOW! My kids leave home at 8.30am and still get to school on time. Schools start at 8:45 or 9am here!

    Military precision is essential. All bags ready the night before. Ask for all notes from school the night before too – nothing worse than needing to cough up $10 for an excursion in the morning rush – especially if ALL of them suddeny find the notes they were supposed to give you last week.

    Damn, I was looking forward to the hairnet shot – sounds very fetching!

    • It’s to die for. Our lunches are $2 and everybody thinks they’re too expensive. Between the price you pay for bananas and school lunches, I’m beginning to realize just how spoiled Americans really are.

      Military precision is NOT in my vocabulary, but I’m always looking to learn new words.

  6. I’d love to see a picture; cooking meat is definitely totally gross; I used to arrange shelves at JoAnn Fabrics the same way you arrange fruit and milk; and oh yeah, you’re insanely amazing! To do all of that EVERY DAY. You deserve an Oscar. I am, however, starting to rethink my plan for seven children.

  7. Get some of those heavy duty doctor shoals inserts. They will do wonders, and sleep with your feet up on a pillow. I imagine the exaustion. Im sure your used to being on your feet all day, but standing in one place for long amounts of time is always the hardest. Im glad you are happy with your new adventure.
    Your writing as always was fun and interesting. The flip flops looked like a cake.

    • I was looking for a picture of the most ridiculous flip flops I could find and these won, hands down.

      I think I need to get a craftmatic adjustable bed. I have to sleep sitting up to save my back and now with my legs in the air to save my poor feet. I look like a “V” when I settle down to sleep.

  8. crushed and wounded 😦 not to mention embarrassed. Yes, I had been drinking – coffee! It was mid-morning.

    @gigisanchez thank you for presenting it in far more style and making exactly the points my ramblings didn’t. The excitement of seeing it all unfold was too much. !

    @emily would love to see the picture and has given you the Oscar already.

    I want say more, much more, but mercifully for you I have to go! Oh, and absolutely nothing happens to Baby Girl, she is always safe!

    • ha HA
      I’m up and embarassed that I wrote, “… and the resolution is withIN her, not outside” cuz Momfog isn’t in a movie and she doesn’t have to resolve anything –that was a sentence that only makes sense if this is a movie. (I was drinking grapefruit juice.)

      Patti, would be fun to talk screenplay stuff with you sometime.

    • @gigi and @patti Can I just hire you two to adapt my blog posts and some supplemental material into a screenplay? Of course, that would give my Oscar to the writing team of Gigi and Patti for Best Adapted Screenplay and I’d be left in the lurch. I’m vain enough for that to bother me.

      Maybe you should both quit drinking anything but water from now on. 🙂 Love you guys!

  9. Girl, I wanna be jealous. share the wealth here. Give us a smile. 😉 I bet you are one cute lunch lady even if your feet hurt. Glad you are having a great time … I am praying for you that your evening routien actually works out like you planned. I am tired just thinking about 5 kids and school. YUCK! hahaha. Have a GREAT WEEK!

    • Well, I don’t have a hairnet pic, but I am going to share one of me in a stunning updo I tried the other night. As for that evening routine, it’s a work in progress. Stay tuned!

  10. Okie Dokie, just to declare, cocktail time!

    Erin, this is your writing, no way are you on the side-line. Gigi, agree? Let’s have fun talking and more than happy to get going.

    Cheers dears!

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