5 Ways to Make Life Easier – for canteen ladies

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The secret to a successful canteen duty shift is to listen the professionals. In my case today, it was the supremely experienced Mrs Jenkins. Arrive on time with coffee and listen and nod, while she instructs you what to do.

Fridays is Sushi Day. This is both bad and good. Bad, because every kid orders it, and good as there is minimal preparation. Just phone the local place with the number, and it will be delivered.

Today, I was put in charge of the Teacher’s Sandwiches. This is a big responsibility, as you want all the teachers to like you. This is important, as you can later successfully elliciet sympathy when you fuck up. Like when you forget it is a swimming carnival etc.  As it is Valentines Day, I took extra care, and drew hearts of the wrappers, and wrote MADE WITH LOVE on the bags. It’s the little things don’t you think?

As I chatted away to Mrs Jenkins, and the equally lovely Mrs Puncher, I floated the question.

What makes life easier for the canteen ladies? And here is what they said.

  1. Remember when you are on a shift and turn up. Preferably not hungover.
  2. Do not write orders upside down on the bags. For some reason, this was a particular irritation. Both spoke passionately about their hate of this practice.
  3. It is perfectly normal to go and search around the house for five and ten cent pieces. I know this, because I have done this. I find success in old handbags and on the floor of the car. Anyway, if your ordering bag is chockas with small change, write EXACT MONEY on the bag. Even if it is not the EXACT MONEY, just do it anyway. It will save some profanities coming out of your kids canteen.
  4. If you write THANK YOU and include a smiley face, your order will be shown to others and you will be declared a lovely human being.
  5. Please remember to put your kids name on the lunch order, as well as their class. A plain paper bag with the words SAUSAGE ROLL written on it, and nothing else, is insulting to ones intelligence.

Then they also shared best practices for actually making canteen purchases.

  1. Form an orderly line. Unless you are a new Kindy Kid, you can do whatever you want you little munchkin…
  2. Have some sort of an idea about what you actually want to order when you reach the top of the line. Don’t just stand there like some slack-jawed yokel, and give a look of shock that you are actually in the canteen line. Don’t then start saying sentences that have no ending. Don’t stare at the 50 cents that you have placed on the counter, and expect us to read your mind. Unless you are one of the new Kindy Kids. You guys can get away with anything, you are so freaking adorable.
  3. Don’t hand me 5 cents and ask me “What can I buy with this?” The answer will disappoint you. You can not even afford the fucking lunch order bag. Tell your oldies to cough up some more cash. Unless you are of course a new Kindy Kid, and then you can buy anything you want. In fact, you can have 2.
  4. Use the words please and thank you. Today, one kid said to me “Can I have a Chocolate Chip Cookie.” and I flat out told him no. Learn some manners. Unless you are a new Kindy Kid, and then you can have the contents of my handbag.
  5. Don’t expect to be about to buy a Paddle Pop after 1.30pm. You have no idea why… I have no idea why…. But there is this big bloody sign stuck up behind the counter. I am sorry Kindy Kids, if it were up to me, you would eat nothing else than rainbow Paddle Pops. ALL DAY LONG.

We need to realise the those hot cheese rolls just do not appear out of the sky. The mini party pies don’t get themselves into the warmer on their own. And the julienned carrots, prepared lovingly by hand, are not rolled in foil and labelled with CARROT STICKS without love, care and attention.

All hail to the canteen ladies and men out there. You do good work, sometimes under very difficult conditions. And if you are anything like me, and have mental computation skills that are completely shot to shit, you will know just how physically and mentally draining this canteen business can be.

Canteen Duty. Do you do it?