I’m a school lunch lady and it’s a job that I mostly enjoy.
Except when I have days like today.
Now, the head office’s rule is once a child has charged $5 to their lunch account, they cannot receive a regular lunch. They MUST take a cheese sandwich, either a fruit a vegetable (which is part of the lunch anyway) and a milk. Most of the time, the kids are a little embarrassed about having to get a cheese sandwich but it’s no big deal. By the time they get to the cheese sandwich, we’ve already sent home several notes saying they are overdrawn in their account and my manager has usually called their parents at least once to let them know, in case the note didn’t make it home for whatever reason.
Today I had a kindergartner who was overdrawn on his account.
“Sweetie..you’ve charged up to $5..I can’t let you charge anymore. I’m going to have to get you a cheese sandwich.” I said to him gently and took away his lunch and replaced it with the green beans he’d already picked up, his milk and the plastic-wrapped cheese sandwich. When he saw that, he started sobbing. Like. laying the top half of his body down on the lunch line and sobbing so hard he was shaking.
I felt like such an asshole.
I rubbed his back, told him it was going to be OK but he needed to take his lunch and go sit down because there were other people in line behind him who needed to get their lunch. He cried even harder, which made me feel like an even bigger asshole. I reminded him things were going to be OK and tried to move him at that point by gently grabbing his arm but he refused to move. I called the teacher on lunch duty and SHE tried to move him with no success. It wasn’t until the assistant principal came over and physically picked him up and carried him away (with the teacher on lunch duty carrying his lunch tray) that he was moved out of my line.
I wish I hadn’t had to do that but there rule is absolute..no charging past $5 because our department can’t afford to feed these kids every day. They even get charged for the cheese sandwiches ($2, which is 55 cents cheaper than a regular meal) and the bill keeps adding up until they pay it. Some parents don’t, whether because they can’t (which in that case they need to fill out a form so their child can get free or reduced lunch) or because they just don’t care.
If it’s the former..I have sympathy. I WAS that kid growing up. If it’s the latter..you’re an asshole.