An interesting thing happened on the way to the teachers' potluck. Not on the way, like when I was walking down the hall at 10:53 a.m., my lunch time. On the way, like the class period before lunch time.
There I sat, monitoring a film I was showing my smallest class, steering them toward the conclusion like a seasoned tournament bass fisherman steers an outboard motor toward his honey hole. Two students came bursting through the door to interrogate me. Okay, to be accurate, they knocked at my door, then entered when I motioned them in.
One girl was carrying a list and a pen. She was what we in the scientific world call the data recorder. The other was the interrogator. Or, more accurately, The Interrogator's handmaiden.
"Did you bring something for the teachers' dinner?"
"What was it?"
"What is this? Why do you need to know?"
"Don't hate the messenger. We were sent here."
"Who sent you?"
"Why does she need to know that?"
"We don't know. She just sent us."
"There's a list on the table in the teacher workroom. It has everything you need to know."
We're only doing what she said. So...what did you bring?"
"It was a cake."
"A Mississippi Mud cake!" My statement was accompanied by a heavy sigh and an Olympic-caliber eye-roll.
"Okay. Thanks." They went on their merry way to interrogate more of the innocents.
I got on the hotline to my buddy, Mabel. "Did some girls come in and ask what you brought for the potluck?"
"Well, one girl did."
"Don't you find that highly suspicious? And smacking of an ulterior motive?"
"I know what you're getting at. But I think it's just because we have to switch rooms, and they want to make sure all the food gets brought in."
"If you think so. I don't." Because, you see, it's not like there's going to be food squirreled away in secret stashes on the day before Thanksgiving break. Everything brought in would be in a pile on the kitchen counter in the FACS room, or in one of the two fridges there.
Here's the deal. Many years ago, an insult was made toward my lunch shift, the accuser being none other than the instigator of today's inquisition. Not only were we insulted, we were insulted in the form of a giant handmade sign on pink posterboard, taped up in the dining area where we held the potluck. It was the first thing we saw upon entering the room. The sign announced that the last lunch shift needed to eat, too. Why The Instigator did not just walk in and start oinking at us, I'll never know. But it was a rude gesture that has been festering for many years now.
The Instigator was quick to point the finger at a handful of teachers. Neglecting to consider how support staff, office staff, counseling staff, and retirees who wander in to celebrate holidays at precisely the beginning of first lunch shift had a hand in depleting our resources. Those unfettered souls who normally eat at a later time, bum-rushing the potluck buffet the moment it was set out on the counter. Some of them came early to warm the food, since they were not tied down in a classroom. And stayed through all three lunch shifts. They snickered upon seeing our outraged response to the pink posterboard insult. They bought into our presumed guilt, and self-righteously refused to warm the food in later years. Do you know how stressful it is to set out the food and warm it and eat it in the span of twenty-three minutes?
To add insult to that knife in the back, The Instigator only brought a bag of frozen corn that year, which was left in the freezer.
One of our crew, not known for wearing his heart on his sleeve, sat at the lunch table today without eating. When questioned, he replied that he didn't bring anything, so he didn't feel welcome to eat.
Next year, I fully expect to be weighed before and after lunch, to see if I consumed more than my fair share.