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.
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.
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.