Substitutes for non-teaching positions are apparently even harder to find. Apparently there aren't a lot of people qualified to serve food in a hurry to 150 students. We have one substitute cook. And when our school's cook went home sick yesterday, the substitute was not available. So, they called me.
Our school serves breakfast every morning. Sometimes my kids eat breakfast there, sometimes we don't. They always eat at home, but sometimes they like the breakfast at school, too. Our getting there early gives me time to have quick conferences with teachers if needed, and I usually help the preschool teacher cut french toast or open milks for the little kids.
Thursday we walked in and I kind of got mobbed. Somehow I ended up being President of the PTA (I'm still not sure how that happened, but I intend to make sure I don't get pressganged into this duty again!) so a teacher came up and asked if we could help with a food drive one of the Seniors wanted to do to help with a scholarship (I'm avoiding commenting here, but it's really, really hard). As I'm talking to her, one of the aides comes up and asks if I'll do the breakfast count. This is where the school accounts for everyone that's eating the meal so they can get reimbursed for the ones that are covered by the School Lunch Program that I'm sure has some official name that I don't know. So I postpone the food drive discussion and head over to help with the breakfast count.
As breakfast is winding down, the aide, whose been serving breakfast, asks if I'll be willing to help later if the Cafeteria Lady isn't feeling any better. Having just given a
What I'm envisioning is helping to put the sack lunches for the next day's field trip together, or slopping some jello on a tray, or maybe washing dishes. I can handle that. I can handle that like a BOSS! I tell them sure, I'll come help. I need go to home and walk the dogs and do a few things, then I'll come back.
The Cafeteria Lady, who was there, but stylin a paler than death visage and a wheeze (she'd been on antibiotics for 24+, but still feeling icky), hit me with the reality after she lured me in with the simple task of slicing tomatoes for that day's lunch of chicken patty sandwiches. She brings me over to her desk, and hands me a piece of paper.
Cooking instructions for a meal for 150. Yeah. Apparently the one aide that was helping this morning will be unable to help serve lunch because she's used up all her hours. And the other aide, that normally slings the jello, has never touched the food prep equipment in her life. Because I worked in food service 20 years ago and have a whole bunch of kids, apparently I was the one best prepared to cook and serve lunch.
So what did I learn when I was Being The Cafeteria Lady?
1. You really can't screw up chicken patties and fries, as long as you give them long enough to cook.
2. The bonus of having Pre-K through 12 in one building is that when you cut the jello squares unevenly, you can serve the small ones to the little kids.
3. Your small kids are really really really happy to see you serving lunch. They're even happier when you get to go sit with them while they eat once the serving part is over.
4. Your big kids, not so much.
5. Approximately 1 in 10 kids say "Thank you."
6. Approximately half my kids were included in that count, and probably only because I was there.
7. If my kids ever talk in front of adults the way some of the high school kids did, I will have to do very bad things.
8. Hungry children will attempt to bribe you for seconds, even when there's no seconds available.
9. I'm not sure why the Cafeteria Lady doesn't order enough for there to be seconds.
10. My feet think I'm a mean, mean woman for making them be useful all day long.
If you're looking for a gift to get your school's Cafeteria Lady, may I suggest a gift card to a really good shoe store, or some kind of foot massage contraption. Seriously.