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Parents, Local Middle School Clamber Over Who Can Make Worse Decisions

Ever wonder what happens when an unstoppable idiot meets an immovable dumb?

Nuclear-explosion-mushroom-cloud_1600x900

That is what happens.

Read this bullshit.

http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/04/04/17605048-parents-outraged-that-mass-middle-schoolers-were-denied-lunch?lite&lite=obinsite

Trends like these worry me, and what worries me most is that these are actually becoming trends.

The Summary
As usual I’ll stay true to my typical format and summarize that shit so that you don’t have to be bothered by one single extra mouse click. I do this mainly so that the rant which follows is at least loosely based in reality. And as usual, I’ll try to be as neutral and fact-based as possible for now. Don’t worry, the biases will flow like a river of slime (think Ghostbusters II), but we’re not there yet.

It's as though all of Bello's pent up rage has finally personified itself as pink goo. Run, run now.

These readings indicate that all of Bello’s pent up rage has finally personified itself as a pink, viscous slime. Run. Run now.

The Facts

  • Apparently a middle school in Attleboro, MA declined to serve cafeteria lunches to somewhere around 25 students who could not pay for them last week.
  • In the event that a student cannot pay for said lunch, procedure should have been to give them what I’ll call a ‘barebones meal’; a cheese sandwich and milk. For whatever reason, this procedure was not followed.
  • The combined debt of the 25ish students currently totals to about $1,800.
  • Parents are “outraged”.

The Assessment
I struggle with making sense of moral riddles such as these. Not knowing where to turn for answers, I got into my helicopter, flew to Attleboro and conducted a second round of interviews with both the parents and the Whitsons Culinary Group of Islandia (the food service provider). I encouraged them to speak freely from their hearts and assured them that their commentary would remain private and unjudged. As a side note, it made me feel insanely awesome to lie to their faces.

Here are some of the sparkliest gems that I’ve hand-plucked from the hours and hours of direct quotes that I totally recorded:

Parents:

I googled "parents" to find this picture. I did not draw it.

I googled “parents” to find this picture. I did not draw it.

“This is horseshit! Since when does my child have to pay for food?! He’s carrying a 95% average for Christ’s sake!”

“Well yes, I am outraged! Who does this school think they are? Charging money for food?? It’s a school, not a gulag! What’s this world coming to?!”

“I, uh, I never knew I was supposed to keep on filling up my kid’s pre-paid food account. I thought that like, you just fill it up once in the beginning of the year and then it’s free for like, the rest of the year.”

“Why should I have to pay when the school will just keep giving my kid a free lunch of cheese sandwich and a milk carton forever?? I fucking love cheese and milk and by God, by the end of this school year so will my child!!”

“This is an OUTRAGE! Those motherfuckers!! I missed a meal that I couldn’t pay for once back when I was a little kid and I died, TWICE!!”

“Because of this tragedy my child CRIED at school! I mean, actually cried! I’ve never heard of that ever happening to any child at any school anywhere for any reason! Just think of the mental scarring which no doubt occurred because of my inability to pay for my own child’s meal!! Do you know a good lawyer?”

“Where do they get off denying my child a free lunch? What kind of example is this setting for little Billy? If all the other kids get full meals, mine should too! And so fucking what that they’re actually paying for their meals and my kid isn’t?! My shitty financial situation completely justifies my arduously continued lack of payment!”

At this point in the interview, I became nearly overcome with rage, and did what any sane person would do when submerged in this level of horseshit. Like a giant mutant combination of a python and a great white shark, I unhinged, then extended my lower jaw out of my face to the point where it could reach both of my ears, and I then proceeded to gnaw both of them off immediately so as to save the last shred of my sanity. I then bandaged up my head (you’d be surprised how much you bleed after chewing your own ears off), grabbed the recorder and proceeded inside the school office like a wounded but resolute knight’s squire stepping into the lair of a slumbering elder dragon.

School:

Lady you're scaring us!

Lady you’re scaring us!

“Yes of course not every decision we make is perfect, like when we accidentally issued some of the derelict kids meals and then forced them to throw them out in the trash. Who do you think we are, God? The point is, we’ll be better about issuing meals by accident in the future, since it totally matters to us financially whether or not those meals which we’ve already paid for end up inside of a kid’s stomach or in the trash.”

“…and to make matters worse, I am told that at least one student who was able to actually pay for his own lunch had the gall to share his food with one of those other mooches! Oh don’t you worry, we will track him down and discipline him according to school procedu – What?! – You say a student bit into a slice of pizza in such a way that the remaining crust vaguely resembles a handgun? Dust off my cat o’ nine tails, I’m going to work.”

Since most people don't know what a cat o'nine tails is.

Since most people don’t know what a cat o’nine tails is.

“This’ll show ’em. All that free bread, cheese and milk we’ve been giving away lately is almost unfathomable. I’ve been working here for seven years and the cheese larders are dangerously low! Again, WE ARE FACING A CHEESE SHORTAGE!”

“I shouldn’t be telling you this, but whether or not the kids pay at lunchtime is almost completely moot – all the meals are already bought and paid for from the Food Service Provider. Oh, what’s that, hold on I just got an email on my iphone. Shit, it says I’m fired.”

“What’s a school lunch cost anyways, $3.50? And what’s 1,800/3.50? About 514. And what’s 514/25? That’s a little over 20. So if the school is owed about $1,800 in back payments for food, the math says that on average, each of these little freeloaders is already about twenty payments late. Can’t we just expel them?”

After this second round of interviews I felt so nauseous that I vomited remnants of my ears out onto the floor. I brushed my shoes clear of ear and fled back to my helicopter to hurriedly type this post while my last glimmer human consciousness yet remained flickering in my head.

Back to the Facts
Aren’t there some important facts and questions which need to be addressed here?

  • Aren’t the parents doing the complaining the same exact parents who’ve doomed their children to seemingly perpetual bread and cheese sandwiches?
  • What the school/food service provider did was wrong, period. Who thinks forcing a bunch of poor kids to throw out their lunch is a good idea? Whether or not a kid already paid you $3.50 (or whatever) for it, the money to process that meal was already paid.
  • If a kid cries at school because he missed lunch, is that a big deal? Is it newsworthy? I’ve missed plenty of lunches and it sucks, but I was never in the news for it.
  • What does the school/food service provider do if a kid is never and will never be able to pay for lunch? Cheese sandwiches forever? Is there a cut off point?
  • Most importantly, what kind of cheese?

The Judgement
Again, the school/food service provider fucked up. But is this really an ‘outrage’? Sometimes people like to exaggerate words that make their beliefs look more justified, even if it turns out they’re not really using those words correctly anymore. Just because your child missed a meal and you’re peeved about it doesn’t make this an outrage. If the fat kid from Kindergarten Cop was eating all your kids lunches several times a week and no one was doing anything about it all year, that would be an outrage. A somewhat hilarious outrage, but an outrage nonetheless.

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I could laugh angrily at this all day.

This is a screw up.

Because these hotheaded parents made such a big deal about one single screw up, the media spotlight shone on them, and it revealed some ugly crust.

I think it’s fair to argue that if you haven’t paid a dime for your own kid to eat a school lunch over 20 times in a single year, you may be taking advantage of the system.

Even if you’re not taking advantage and doing everything in your power to make ends meet but they still aren’t, some of you appear to be skipping over the fact that each of their kids has essentially eaten for free on average, 20+ times each. About 20 free (albeit crappy) meals and one missed free (crappy) meal, and you raise this kind of stink? What happened to being thankful for the other 19?

Frankly I was surprised to learn that any program was in place to feed kids who can’t pay. Don’t get me wrong I think it’s a great idea, but so would be giving free food to everyone who can’t afford food. I just didn’t expect such a program to even exist in the first place.

The way I see it, the school or food service provider or whoever made the call made a lousy, stupid, shortsighted decision.

Some of the parents seem to have made many.

This is Bello, and I have bitten back.

grilled-cheese-sandwich-646

Enjoy your lunch.

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