Posted by on Jul 24, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Cafeteria Bottlenecks

Cafeteria Bottlenecks

(As with the rant “Cafeteria Design” this is moot as lunches are now pre-packaged and shrink wrapped at a central kitchen.)

The movie Home Alone has a scene when Kevin is sitting in a chair eating ice cream covered with all sorts of junk food. He yells, “Guys, I’m eating junk and watching rubbish! You better come out and stop me! ” Of course he is home alone so so one stops him. I always thought that his parents had not spent a lot of time stopping him before, but that is just me.

My mother was an official ’50s mother. She cooked supper for us every night. She didn’t ask me what I wanted. She didn’t ask me if I wanted something else. She cooked it. She put it on the plate. No family style at our house. That way, my father didn’t overeat. If he went to the stove to look for more, there was no more because she cooked enough for the three of us.

When I was teaching at the new school, they had 6th grade kids helping with the cafeteria. Some of them were my kids. One of the upper grade teachers had cafeteria duty each day. We also had lunch recess duty which made other schools crazy. What the other schools didn’t understand was that we wanted it that way. We wanted a teacher out during lunch so we wouldn’t have to put up with recess nonsense at the end of the lunch hour. We ran a tight ship.

I didn’t mind the cafeteria duty because all we had to do was keep the kids lined up and excuse them one class at a time as there was room for them in the lunch room. It usually went pretty quickly because we had two principals in the cafeteria making sure things kept moving. However occasionally things would jam up. The principal at the door might be called to the office to talk to a parent who was upset because someone made their kid behave and the lines would move very slowly. Teachers never were supposed to leave the outside lines, but I would tell the kids they would be walking the line until “Santy Clause” comes if they so much as breathe. I would then go inside and see what had caused the holdup.

The problem was that there are eight zillion wimpy parents who let their kids run the show. The reason for the jam up was that the primary kids were still in line. Here you have squeakers, pushing their tray above their heads. Then there is the helpful sixth grader asking each kid if he or she wants peaches! What does a squeaker know about peaches? He is in line because his teacher told him to line up. He may be a second language learner and is not sure if the word peaches should make a picture of an apple or peach in his head. So, he stares. The helpful sixth grader asks again.  What does the squeaker know? He isn’t tall enough to see what is being put on the tray. He is just pushing the tray and hoping for the best.

Enter Mr. B. who tells the sixth graders to dish up the food. Don’t ask. Put a peach on the tray… There are 300 kids outside, waiting to eat. Step two is to tell the kids in line to get moving. Get your spork package, put your tray on the slider and start moving. Step three, fix each one there, including the cooks, with a “teacher stare” and go back out. The lines outside were usually still neat because the kiddies believed you might look out the tinted window and make their class last. Plus they have seen Mr. B’s class walking the line and there might be a teacher walking by who will tell them if the don’t stay in line and keep quiet they will be walking the line when Santy Clause comes. If they look across the playground, they would likely see some kids walking the line. Sometimes I looked out the tinted windows. We ran a tight ship.

Moral. Don’t ask a kid what he wants to eat. What does a kid know? Kids will eat garbage if you let them. Look at Kevin. I don’t think you should ask a four year old what she or he wants to eat and I don’t think you should let a four year old drive your car, either.

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