How to do…. CANTEEN DUTY

Ever since Debbie came over and scraped up the dead animal from the backstep, I have been thinking about the notion of community.

Since then, I went on to agree to manage the Under 10 G-Grade Elks Rugby Team and yesterday I trotted off to school with the kids… to do…

Canteen Duty.

Who am I?

Turns out living in the suburbs has morphed me into a joiner.

I am not at the point of joining the P & C yet, as I fear confrontations and I think those ladies take it to the next level, but I can butter a muffin with the best of them. So I reported for duty bright eyed, bushy tailed and with a willingness to learn to ropes.

Turns out that yesterday was the biggest day when it came to lunch orders. And you cannot really blame the parents. I mean, it has been a very long term and I cannot help but shake the feeling that everyone is completely over it.

My morning duty was to collect all the bags and count out all the money from the 50 plus orders. It was an exercise in precise mental computation and sticky taping change to paper bags.

Then there were the orders that requested special requests. Such as “Please open the drink..” “Please cut the roll in half..” “Please do my child’s homework…”

The orders dribbled in for ages, even way after the bell which frustrated the Mum in Charge no end. Because she had to recount the sushi orders.

Sushi is very popular, you see.

My Mum did canteen. It was always our favourite day. You could get a packet of Twisties for 10 cents. 35 years ago, she met her best friend, Aunty Lois, behind the counter. They went on to share their lives which included divorces, boxed wine and later, travel.

I was not looking for a kindred spirit, although I would take one if offered. But the only thing I was offered was a cup of tea and a good chance to listen in on the school gossip.

Which was quite amusing and a tad frustrating, considering that I knew no one that they were talking about.

I prepped all the salad ingredients as per instructions. I started to play a game in my head that I was on Masterchef.





Service rolled around at 11am and there were customers everywhere! Lined up as far as the eye could see. The Mum in charge had warned me about the kindy kids, telling me that they might look innocent, but they will try and play you. Bringing you ten cents and telling you that their Mum had “forgotten” their lunch.

I spent a lot of money on those kindy kids yesterday.

One little fella stuck out though. He was simply angelic. He came and asked, in a sweet little voice, for an icy pole. It was against the rules to have icy poles at recess and I let him down gently.

He put his head on the counter and wept. Softly. My heart broke and I questioned the injustice of why they could not have icy poles at recess.

I whispered the the Mum in Charge “We have a crier….”

She looked at my angel and said “You know you are not allowed to have an icypole at recess. Come back at lunch.”

The little boy lifted his head from the bench, looked at the Mum in Charge straight in the eye, stuck out his tongue and blew a massive raspberry. All over the bench before running away, disappearing into the crowd.

I liked him immediately. VIVA LA ICY POLE FREEDOM!

After I disinfected the bench, I kept up with service, all the time feeling that someone was watching me.

Because someone WAS watching me. With awe and admiration and announcing “That is my Mum!” to anyone who would listen.

Which made doing canteen duty all the more sweeter.

What about you?
Have you ever done canteen?
Or like many, do you run for the hills at the mere thought?