Monday, October 10, 2005

Lunch Money

I posted last week about bringing my lunch to school. It got me to thinking about when I would purchase my lunches in the cafeteria.

Once I entered Junior High/Middle School I no longer had to pack my lunch. I actually got to buy my lunch in the cafeteria. I know a lot of people complain about school cafeteria food but when you are 11 and you actually get to eat spaghetti and meat sauce from a can (think Chef Boyardee) on a regular basis because that is what the school served, it IS GOOD. A lunch platter at that time cost 80cents.

Since we were a large family and met certain criteria we were issued a card for discount lunches. I called it Well-fare lunches, although it was not. The card that was issued was the size of a baseball card and had 10 spaces on it. Monday through Friday. The card was valid for two weeks. Every two weeks I had to go to the school office to get a new card.

I would go through the line, present the card and pay half for the lunch, which was 40cents. The only problem with this card was that it was yellow. Big Bird Yellow. There was a slight embarrassment every time I would present the card. Not only could the other students see I was presenting a discount card, and of course would heckle me, but the lady at the register with the hair net, always rang up the wrong amount. She was so used to hitting the 80cent button that she would get all flustered, moan something under her breath, and have to void the transaction, re-ring it into the register and punch the hole in the card. So the embarrassment level went up a bit because I was also holding up the line.

In the beginning of the school year, because of this process and the uneasy feeling I rarely used the card. I would buy whatever items I could for the 40 cents that I was given to me every morning. I don’t know if someone ratted me out, but eventually I got into trouble for not using my card.

My dad, being the genius that he is, decided on a different approach. He was going to let me decide. He was giving me control. He said something like “You can decide whether you eat lunch or not. I will give you 5 dollars every two weeks. Whatever you don’t spend you can keep. I expect you to buy lunch with it, but you decide what you want to do with it.”

5 bucks! Wow I could buy the full price lunch 3 times a week. Then I thought it through. If I used the discount card at 40 cents I would have 50cents left over every week. Comic books were 40 cents at the time, so every two weeks I could buy 2 comic books. Man, my dad rocked. He was paying me one comic book a week to eat lunch. There was no embarrassment using the card anymore because I had something to show for it at the end of the week.

Then I thought it through even further. If I would just buy milk and a Jell-O every day it would only cost 20 cents. I would have 3 bucks left over at the end of the two weeks. That was 7 comic books every two weeks. I was still buying "lunch" with the money so my parent's couldn't be mad.

So that is what I did. I would pour the milk over the Jell-O and I would slurp it up with a straw (seriously drinking Jell-O with a straw was fun, try it). Everyda, for a few months, I had Jell-O and milk for lunch.


Then my parent's started to check the card to make sure it was punched. Either someone ratted me out again, or the boxes of comic books gave it away.

It was good racket while it lasted.

24 comments:

kimmyk said...

i remember having a discount lunch card when i was growing up and i was embarressed everytime i presented it. i had completely forgotten about it til i read this post-sheesh.
each of my kids lunch costs me $3 per day-insane.

(that's roughly $800 bucks a year on lunches)

Lori said...

Great story!

At the schools my kids go to they now have accounts at the school and they just punch their student id into the keypad at the end of the lunch line. It's good because kids can't be using lunch $$ for other things, other kids can't rip em off, and the kids who do get meal assistance - nobody know.

McSwain said...

I had a card and hated it too! They have the keypad Lori talks about at my son's school. My Aunt used to eat a fudgesicle and a orangesicle for lunch every day. Then she wondered why she got acne.

eclectic said...

You get extra credit points for ingenuity, William.

Lunch account tied to the ID card is awesome! Up here the school district charges $1.70 for full-price lunch. It would cost me more to make a lunch and send it, so I don't.

monkeygirl said...

Can't say I've ever tried Jello and milk! Doesn't sound very appetizing, but I'm sure it was quite the tasty treat when you got to use your spare change for comic books!

Jewl said...

You have some very strange eating habits.

maggie said...

talk about cheap a reagulaer lunch at my school is 3$

judypatooote said...

Funny, I thought my friend was nuts when she said she pours milk over her jello.....thats now, this day and age.....but hey, I guess I can't knock it until I try it....I'll let you know......lol

kalki said...

Milk over jello? And through a straw?! AWESOME.

Cat said...

Ah, the discount lunch tickets... I can SO relate to this post! Except ours were black- and white- striped. Like a zebra. I hate zebras to this day. Yep. Good times.

I love the way you wrote this. It really sent me back, you know? Well done.

No_Newz said...

You did it again! Who else on Earth drinks Jell-o and milk through a straw??? I was sure I was the one and only! Amazing! Did you also drink milk through a Twizzler after biting the ends off, making "strawberry milk"??? Did you dip French fries into chocolate shakes too??? Did you try the Laverne DiFazio special, Pepsi and milk and almost puke? Unbelievable, Jell-o and milk! Hahaha! Glad to have someone out there as freaky as me. :)
Lois Lane

Stacie said...

Jello & Milk? Yikes! Does Maxfield eat this too? My kids caught my dad pouring milk and raisins over a bowl of rice with a little spoonful of sugar and now they want me to make rice all the time so they can have grandpa's version of rice pudding. UGH! I guess maybe if I wasn't allergic to milk.... Stacie

Twixie said...

I ate chocolate chip cookies with chocolate milk for about a whole year or more in high school because I hated the lunch they served. And somehow that sustained me for the whole day and throughout track practice after school..that cost about a dollar I think.

lehighmary said...

Am I the only one that is wondering why you were buying comic books in junior high and high school? That seems a bit old, but then again, I've never been one to read them myself.

Tammy said...

I remember those damn cards. How embarrassing.

Lauren's sister Lisa said...

LOL..that is funny...do you still have the comic books?

Anonymous said...

well several things on this one .. but first, its' been a long time since I have been on Poop and Boogies because quit honestly, I was booted off or should I say asked not to post because I gave away too much secret Family Info... But I'm back!!!
First observation: I think only females read your Blogs...which is fine, just noticed that everyone who comments usually is always a Female. So does that make you more or less of a Female yourself?

2nd observation: You are giving away too much material... You need to focus on getting each one of these Blogs produces into a half hour sitcom!!!!! The material is all here... its like the WonderYears all over again.... except with a Larger Family, and well a different time period, and well ok, bad comparison but you knew what I meant.....
Later.

No_Newz said...

Had to link you again. You really have a way of jogging my memories. :)
Lois Lane

Tammy said...

ROFL! Great Story, thanks for shaing it.

Island Jen said...

I Love the story!! You were lucky to have a cafeteria at any age.
I beleive they now call jello and milk through a straw "bubble tea"...
LOL!

Anonymous said...

I remeber the Comic Books well. I had to clean them up every other week. My brother paid me, to clean our room because it was so messy. I don't even know why my parents carpeted our bedroom, the Comic Books took care of covering our floor.

Patti K. said...

"So that is what I did. I would pour the milk over the Jell-O and I would slurp it up with a straw (seriously drinking Jell-O with a straw was fun, try it)."

Ok so I thought I was the only one on the face of the earth who did this....LOL kudos to you..my husband looked at me as if I were absolutely insane when I told him about eating jello with milk over it..and I put an extra sprinkle of sugar..

Mermaid B said...

I did a search for "milk & jello" and your blog came up. We've always teased my dad because grandma used to serve him jello with milk on top. Somehow, my husband hadn't heard the story until a few days ago and called up my father in absolute horror. I wanted to see if my dad was absolutely crazy or if it was a generation-thing. By the way, he also puts maple syrup on vanilla ice cream. Thanks for the laugh, and my dad will thank you for the verification!
http://arielmerm8.blogspot.com/

amadan said...

I punched "jello with milk" into google and this is where it took me.
Great story! I just finished eating Jello and milk.