Posts Filed Under Lunch Lady Land

Some Like it Hot

posted by Momo Fali on November 4, 2009

In the school kitchen where I work, things get hot. Not hot like a humid day in Florida, but hot like a humid day on the face of the sun.

At any given moment we could have our ancient oven running, along with the convection oven and three warmers. Add in the steam from the dishwashing sinks and you have yourself your very own steam room. You know, kind of like a spa. Yesterday, I gave myself a green bean facial.

The school doesn’t have central air, so to cool the area we use a window air conditioner. That’s right. A window air conditioner. If you stand in one particular spot by the trash can, you can almost feel a small breeze. Almost.

But, the heat doesn’t cause me to have a bad attitude. Quite the contrary. Because yesterday I told the ladies I work with that if I ever hit the lottery, I’ll totally buy them a new window unit.

I’m generous like that.

A Day in the Life: Cafeteria Edition

posted by Momo Fali on October 21, 2009

I work in a school cafeteria. Okay, I’ll just say it. I’m a lunch lady. Stop laughing before I shove my mole in your face.

If you want to read why it’s the best job in the world, go here. If you don’t want to read that, just know. It is the best. I enjoy the work, I get to see my kids and the people I work with are fantastic. I really love my job. If it paid better I would call it downright perfection instead of referring to it as glorified volunteer work.

There are four of us permanently stationed in the cafeteria. There is my neighbor/friend/manager, who knows all the ins and outs of everything. From when to place the produce order, to the intricacies of the computer program, to which kids like to try to sneak an extra dessert.

I am Worker #1. I sometimes help with the computer work and lunch count, I do a lot of the food prep, serve the kids and help clean up.

Worker #2 arrives at 10:30 and helps with serving and clean up.

The last employee is the prefect. She controls the kids. She keeps the volume low and the mess to a minimum. She is the one who dismisses the children and keeps things orderly. She also has a different parent volunteer who comes in to help her every day.

With the exception of a couple of burns on my arms, nearly running out of taco meat and a few burned French fries, this has been a stress-free job. Until yesterday.

Yesterday, my neighbor/friend/manager went to a funeral and left me to work the computer in her absence. Because I would be doing that, a parent substitute came in to cover for me in the kitchen. Keep in mind, lunch begins being served at 11:15. Here’s a recap:

* At 10:30 Worker #2 arrives and says she has a migraine. She never complains and is always reliable and would never leave me hanging out to dry, so I know it’s the real deal.

* At 10:31 we determine the parent substitute can’t be the only person serving, as the entree is chef salad. The server has to ask each student if they want cheese, ham, pepperoni and/or croutons and add them to the bowl of lettuce. One server = Kids not eating until sunset.

* At 10:35 I begin calling every parent I can think of who might be able to come in and sub for Worker #2 so she can go home and have throbbing head and nausea in peace.

* At 10:45 I give up on finding a substitute.

* At 10:50 I call my pharmacist and ask her this hypothetical question. “Say I have a migraine and I took one Excedrin Migraine at 5:30 AM and another one at 10:15 AM, would it be okay to now take a pleurisy pain pill left over from when I had pneumonia?”

* At 10:51 pharmacist says, “No.”

* At 10:55 I run up to the office where there is a parent volunteer covering for the secretary, because the secretary is also at the funeral. I ask the parent if she can come volunteer in the cafeteria after she finishes volunteering in the office. She says, “Yes.” Yay! Problem solved!

* At 11:00 I explain the situation to everyone. The permanent prefect will help my substitute in the kitchen and they will both serve the kids. The volunteer who is scheduled to come in will be joined by the volunteer who will be coming down from the office. They will control the kids. I will work on the computer as planned. Got that? No? Me either.

* At 11:07 we realize that half the chairs are being used at the church for the funeral. Three of us make a beeline for the music room and steal all the chairs.

* At 11:10 I realize the mouse on the computer isn’t working.

* At 11:11 I beg a teacher to help me. She finds me a new mouse. I doesn’t work either.

* At 11:12 the mouse starts working and we all come to the realization that the parent prefect who is scheduled to come in, is not going to show up.

* At 11:13 the other volunteer comes down from her office post and tells us she has never prefected in the cafeteria before.

* At 11:14 I consider taking an Excedrin Migraine. Or five.

* At 11:20 my neighbor/friend/manager stops by after the funeral to check on things and sees that all hell has broken loose.

* At 11:30 my neighbor/friend/manager returns from running home and changing her clothes. Then she jumps in and starts serving the kids. You know? While I work the computer…as planned.

And would you believe that at the end of the day she actually said that she feels comfortable taking a day off now? Clearly, she dipped into my pleurisy pills.

Head Case

posted by Momo Fali on October 19, 2009

I have been going to the same hair salon for many years. I LOVE my hair salon. I love my stylist, the atmosphere, the service and the fact that kids aren’t allowed unless they have an appointment. It has been my little oasis.

However, it’s not ideal. Sometimes it’s hard to get in, it’s a 20 minute drive from my house and it’s not cheap. And, that whole not allowing kids thing? It means that getting an appointment is even more difficult because I have to coordinate it with my husband’s schedule.

So last week, I walked into the little salon at the end of my street to check it out. Not only does this place allow you to bring your kids, but they’ll turn on a TV show for them. It’s also $30 cheaper than my regular place. Did I mention it’s at the end of my street? Exactly a two minute walk from my front door?

Convenience + Lower Price = “Who Wants to Give Momo Some Highlights?”

Because I was a new customer, the guy took care to make sure the color was right. He used three different shades, then gave me a haircut and waxed my unibrow. I was there for three hours.

When you’re sitting in a stylist’s chair for the better part of an afternoon, you do a lot of talking. When I got home, I realized that the poor guy probably thinks my name isn’t Momo, but rather Liar McLiarson. Why? Because these are a few of the things I told him:

1. That I had just got over swine flu and pneumonia, and that my doctor thought I had a pulmonary embolism.

2. That my son almost died from a strep pneumo infection.

3. That my son almost died after one of his surgeries.

4. That my mom was born in Honolulu and used to go to school barefoot and shimmy up trees to get away from wild boars.

5. That my mom was playing marbles outside a church when Pearl Harbor was bombed and saw fighter planes flying overhead. Then one of them crashed down the street.

6. That my daughter weighed 2 1/2 pounds when she was born.

7. That I used to have a high-pressure career and now I work as a lunch lady because my son sometimes chokes when he eats and I might need to perform the Heimlich.

8. That my husband and I went to Florida for a vacation, where we were greeted with temperatures in the 40’s. Then it took us four hours to drive 90 miles and we were rear-ended by a semi.

9. That I’m scared of cats because my neighbor’s cat used to stand on its hind legs and swat at me while hissing. Then it would attack me.

10. That I grew seven inches in nine months and ended up with stretch marks on my thighs when I was 12 years old.

Hopefully he thinks the chemicals soaked through my scalp and just made me seem crazy.

Hoagies and Grinders

posted by Momo Fali on August 19, 2009

A long, long time ago I had a career. I left that life when my daughter was born and since that time I have tried my best to bring money in. I have run my own business, sold merchandise on e-bay, worked on a contract basis for a local company and was employed by my husband. Now I have this blog, which really helps pay the bills. The gumball bills.

Almost a year ago, I wrote a post about my new job as a second-grade teacher’s aide. I worked the 2008/2009 school year in a classroom where I checked papers, listened to reading homework and helped 30 kids make abacuses out of pipe cleaners and Froot Loops. Where is Toucan Sam when you really need him?

That job served a great purpose. My son, with all his issues, had me right there in the building with him. If the teacher needed me, if my son needed me, if he was following the principal around like a mime…I could easily help.

My boy made it through half-day kindergarten like a champ and I’m certain he is ready for first grade, but there is still this one problem. He sometimes chokes when he eats.

And that is why I am starting another new job today. In the cafeteria.

That’s right. I own it. But, check out these benefits! I get more hours, I might learn something about cooking, I get to talk to adults, I still have the same days off as my children which means I never have to worry about child-care, I get to wear jeans, I will don a baseball cap instead of a hairnet…and I might just get to save my kid’s life.

You can’t really ask for a better job than that.