Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Lunch Lady On The Lam?

The two greatest adventures in school hiring come when the need arises to hire a custodian or a lunch lady.  All the qualifications you look for when hiring other positions can be thrown out the window.  The only real qualifications for these jobs are: 1) being alive and 2) having not done time for certain crimes.  I'm not trying to be disparaging, but experience isn't worth much in these jobs, and the people who apply for them often aren't pursuing more glamorous jobs for a reason.  The difference between the two is that you'll get a lot of applications for a custodial position (I'll write about this one later...).  It's usually full time, often has benefits, and doesn't require any success in school.  Nobody wants the lunchroom job.  It's only a couple hours a day (no money), the kids often act like assholes (no respect), and the kids know the lunch ladies have no true power (no authority).

I've done my best over the years to fill lunch room positions with moms who want to get out of the house for a couple of hours and know some of the kids.  However, following a resignation I couldn't find anyone.  I had already begged my current woman to stay on an extra couple weeks and I was getting desperate.  Despite best efforts, I had only one application.  I brought the woman in only to find that she spoke virtually zero English and smelled like she lived in a garbage dump (my secretary sent me out for coffee after the interview so she could Fabreeze the entire office)- not someone I was going to have around people eating.

I whined to my secretary later that day- "What I am going to do here?  Someone has to supervise the lunchroom!"  My secretary paused and said, "Well another application came in this afternoon, but I didn't think you'd be interested."  I told her as long as she didn't smell like a pile of dirty diapers and could speak basic English to set her up ASAP.

The next day was my interview with Maria.  Maria was a Hispanic lady (hey, Bilingual I thought), dressed nicely, and on time.  I cut right to the chase and asked the most honest question one can ask in an interview for a job that's top skill set involves opening ketchup packets or piercing Capri Suns (the 'where do you want to be in five years' questions doesn't work too well here)- "Why (the hell!) do you want this job?"

"I love kids!" she said confidently back to me (shit, I wish half my teachers would say that I thought).  Without invitation she continued (in broken, but perfectly acceptable English), "In my native Puerto Rico, I was studying to become teacher (experience working with kids and in schools... I've hit the lunch lady jackpot!).  I was part way through my practice teaching when this little boy come up to me and put  toy gun in my back and say 'Oooo, I like the way you move lady' but I said no-no (wagging a finger)... I'm the teacher and you will show me respect (confidence, she's perfect)!"  She paused and took a sip of water from the little 1.5 oz Silo cup we generous provide those who interview for jobs (they're also nice to have on hard if the state ever begins requiring urine samples... ).  "But it not a toy guy, it was REAL gun with REAL bullets!  I then find out that boy is son of Puerto Rican drug lord and I have to leave my home for my safety before they find me."

I sat there looking at her for a few moments (eh, she does love kids...), "I think you'll do great here Maria!"

Maria worked one week and the disappeared without a trace.  Seriously.

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