Thursday, November 3, 2011

Lunch Lady Land

Two days a week, I serve a 35 minute shift in the cafeteria. In my own happy world, I wouldn't have to do this but when it comes down to it, I don't really mind that much. In this bad economy, I'm just happy to have a job and if I have to hand out forks, mop up spilled slushies and clean tables, so be it. When I'm in the cafeteria, I either dismiss and spray down the tables, watch the classes in line as they wait for their teacher or hand out items/open random stuff for kids, which is probably my favorite job of the three. I get to move around a lot, talk to the kids some and it's not overly repetitive.

However, sometimes it can become my least favorite job whenever I see a kid with a raised hand at a table, with one of these five items in front of them.


While I guess fruit in sugary syrup is better than no fruit at all, I despise opening these things. They are sealed so tightly that you have to use the strength of a grizzly bear with the gentleness of a baby when opening them. Over 90% of the time I open these, I get showered by the juices contained in the cup. I've even tried poking small holes in the top before opening it, which doesn't really help that much. On the bright side, at least I get a quick, sugary pick-me-up nearly every time I open one.


I hated opening these as a kid and it's still the same story over 20 years later. While kids find this drink delicious, I find it obnoxious. I rarely am able to get the straw through the opening without puncturing the other side. It seems like the company realizes the difficulty of the opening process because some of the flavors have the container spread out at the top with the goal of pushing the straw through the top, which does nothing except bend the straw. I've learned to choose your battles wisely, so with this guy, I've learned to just stick a fork into it (literally and figuratively).


It was tough to choose to choose between #2 and #3 but the Nacho Lunchables take the bronze. This package is somewhat of the same story as my #5 pick, except I find fruit syrup on my hand a little more appetizing than salsa and nacho cheese. I can very rarely open this without the plastic covering splitting down the middle. That means I have to try and reopen it an additional one or two times, which require a visit through the salsa and nacho cheese departments. I guess if I carried some extra nachos with me, these wouldn't be too bad but until then, I am not a fan of these, especially when a certain second grader eats these almost every time I'm in the cafeteria.


Go-Gurt takes the #2 spot because it sometimes takes the extra mile...literally. Of course it says "tear here" but that is more of a Hail Mary suggestion rather than reality. The rare times I can tear it open, I get "yogurted", which can be good or bad, depending on the flavor. You also have the possibility of the kids already chewing and biting on it before asking you to open it. Of course they always deny using their teeth, so who knows the truth?

But most of the time, I have to take the Go-Gurt, walk back into the kitchen, cut it open with scissors and then walk back into the cafeteria. By that point, I've forgotten whose Go-Gurt it actually was, so I just wander around the cafeteria with it until some kid raises his hand and reminds me.


Man, I hate these things and Kool-Aid Bursts is the perfect name for them. While the fruit cup just gets my hand and occasionally, part of my arm wet, these things are usually an explosive, high fructose corn syrup bomb. To open them, you have to twist off the top and most of the time, the bottle is filled to the brim. The bad thing about these is that you can't just hold the top and twist because not enough torque is generated. You have to gently squeeze the bottle while twisting the top off and the second the top comes off, Kool-Aid bursts out of the opening at all angles. I've gotten my hands, arm, shirt, eyes and even my ears wet because of these guys.

I guess if you are able to stop squeezing the bottle the milisecond that the top comes off, it wouldn't be so bad but I'm a physical education teacher, not a rocket scientist. Over time, I've learned the best route is to stack up as many things behind it as possible, reach over a kid and then attempt to open it with the understanding that part of me is going to get wet.

In the future and with many years left until retirement, I'm sure I will wage battle with many other obnoxious items but for now, these are my five most hated cafeteria items.


  1. Oh Scott! Truth at its finest!! You have covered all the bases beautifully. One word to the wise, the nacho containers are best opened when you vent the chip side and pass it back to the student for them to work on the rest. That's a veteran speaking. ;)