I once interviewed a cafeteria “lunch lady” for an article I was writing about a specific food program that she was in charge of. The questions I asked for the article were along the lines of, what type of food would be served? When would the program start? And was there a fee?
The article ended up being very informative and the food program a success but later it dawned on me that had I asked the woman more about being a “lunch lady” the article could have been much more interesting. However, to be honest, prior to the interview I hadn’t given much thought one way or the other to “lunch ladies” that is, until I became one.
I was hired to work in the cafeteria at Sierra High School not long after this school year started. Although I was very familiar with the food industry, the morning I was to begin my new job, I was a bit nervous about stepping into the role of “lunch lady.”
What would it be like? Would I like the job? Would serving teenagers take me back to the time when I was high school and make me cringe? Would it be a good experience? So many questions ran through my mind. Nonetheless, when I arrived at Sierra High’s cafeteria, I was ready to give it my best.
The first few weeks were all about figuring out the work flow but once I got the hang of it, I started focusing more on the students I was serving. Typically, students go to the same lunch line every day and because of that my lunch-lady-co-workers and I, who all serve at different carts and windows, get the opportunity to know the students in our lines pretty well. A bond has been built as each of us “lunch ladies” are on a first name basis with the students as we know who they are and what they like.
“Lunch ladies” naturally seem to slip into somewhat of a school-time-mama role and begin referring to their regular students as sweetie, honey and other terms of endearment which surprisingly the teenagers respond quite well too. Who knew that the being a “lunch lady” would be so amazing.
My co-workers and I have the best job as we not only prepare delicious and nutritious food but have the opportunity to impact young people through a brief smile or a word of encouragement while handing them their food.
Even if I had thought to ask that woman during her interview what being a “lunch lady” was like, I really wouldn’t have been able to grasp the joy that comes from interacting with high schooler’s in this manner. I just had to try it myself and I’m so glad I did.
Maybe being a “lunch lady” isn’t for everybody, after all, it’s hard work, cooking, cleaning and prepping food for hundreds of students, but for the lunch ladies at Sierra High, including myself, being a “lunch-lady” is 100% fabulous.