Friday, January 15, 2021

The Storming of the Cafeteria

He was a new teacher in his present school, but he had come from a very wealthy boarding school. Through a series of innocuous circumstances, he'd had to move jobs. To his disappointment, he found himself in a public school with students who were below the standards he was used to, both academically and in terms of social status. He didn't mind the's just that some of those kids were just not "fully civilized" as he'd said to his wife over dinner.

The first time he sat down for lunch in his new school, he was disgusted. He was used to real cooking. This food wasn’t fit for second-place State Fair pig, let alone human children and adults. But the lunch was free, so he picked around and tried to eat only the least horrible of horribles each day; each day walking the halls back to his classroom muttering things like “garbage heap” and “no respect" and “a starving pit bull would turn away from…”

One day, after having gagged his way through the worst of the meals so far, he came back from lunch in a rage. (His salad had actually been slimy...and, was that a gnat? He shuddered.) 

He glared, from under lowered eyebrows, at his students, who became afraid. What had they done? What was in store for them? They all liked him this new guy. He was “cool.” He never gave homework. He even cursed a little in class and had once let the “F-bomb” fly. They didn’t want him to be mad at them.

Then, he poured forth his feelings: For a full class period, forty-four minutes, he railed against the horrible quality of the cafeteria food. For the tax dollars the parents were paying, he argued, they should at least get to eat like human beings.

"If I were you," he said, "I would not accept this slop for another day! Why,” he pointed out, “should you get soggy fries and pink-slime hamburgers day after day? What does the administration take you for, fools? The principal is an idiot, the vice-principal is lazy and the whole administrative staff are dimwits. I also heard that they don't refrigerate their meat properly and that they keep sandwiches out over the weekend and serve them to us on Monday! Several teachers have said so. When you get down to lunch today, you need to make them change their ways! You are not idots. You are pigs at the trough! You've been brushed aside just so they can save a little money! Stand up for yourselves!"

"YEAH!" the kids responded. "YEAAAAH!!!" Fists were raised in the air; violent high-fives were given. The teacher's chest puffed out. 

They started stomping on the floor and chanting "No-more-slop! NO-MORE-SLOP!"

The bell rang, and they spewed out of the classroom door like white water from the dam, chanting. 

The supervisors in the hall were powerless to stop them or to calm them down.

In his classroom, our teacher opened a Thermos and poured out a good, strong cup of coffee, from home, sipped, sighing at the warmth and deliciousness.

When the kids breached the dining hall, they siezed the warming trays and dumped food on the floor. They whacked one of the lunch ladies on the temple with a big, metal spoon. Two boys urinated in the mashed potatoes. They toppled tables and spit on the lunchroom supervisors whom they'd forced into corners, all the while chanting: “NO-MORE-SLOP!”

When called to task by the school's administration, the teacher said: "I didn't tell them to do trash anything. I didn't say one word about destruction or violence. All I did was mention that the food here should be better. It was probably that Roderiguez kid who talked them all into it. He is a problem, that kid."

All of the kids involved were punished, thank goodness, for their monstrous behavior.

The teacher started bringing his lunch to school after that: delicious sandwiches made at a local gourmet delicatessen.

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