Monday, November 26, 2012

The Forbidden Condiment

I'm guilty of breaking the rules, and so is my Rule Following daughter.

Just last week, I smuggled an illicit substance to her during the school day, on school grounds, and under the very noses of the school officials whose mission it is to keep scofflaws like me from penetrating the sacred halls of their educational institution. I loitered in my car, only mildly menacingly, waiting for the opportunity to hand off to her the prohibited package between classes and on the sly.

Yes, that's right. I brought Our Daughter her lunch.

You wouldn't think bringing your child's lunch to school would be cause for so much super-secret spy stuff. It wasn't like I was trying to hand off TNT in a nitroglycerin sauce, or sneak her a crack pipe and baggie full of crystal meth. It was a turkey sandwich, a Camelbak sipper filled with water, and a snack bag of Sun Chips. So, you can imagine my surprise when I was informed by the secretary at the main office I was not allowed to leave the bag for Our Daughter to pick up.

Evil Lunch Item
According to a new policy instituted either by the high school or the county school system, leaving lunches at the main office puts the school at legal risk by placing it in direct responsibility over the contents of the lunchbox. As explained to me, if the sandwich in question is slathered with rogue mayonnaise and sits for several hours under a hot lamp and the kid who eats it gets sick, the school could be held liable. Likewise, should some random ne'er-do-well decide to commit some random act of ne'er-do-wellness on the unsuspecting lunch items, the school also could be held at fault.

Seemed like an overreaction to me, but I played along, offering to wait at the office for them to call my daughter down so I could hand the paisley lunch bag directly to her, thereby relieving the school of any potential threat of legal action.

Or not.

Turns out the new rule also disallows my bringing to the school any food items whatsoever and doing anything with them other than standing in the main office eating them myself and possibly wearing the lunch bag as a hat, which for all I know might also be against the rules. This is the same institution that charges me $4.00 for a poorly prepared cheeseburger cooked and served by gloveless volunteers out of a dirty concession building each fall at football games just across the campus. Exactly how serious can they suddenly have become about foodborne illness?

I tried in vain to argue the ridiculousness of not allowing me to hand to Our Daughter a lunch bag she would have been carrying around with her all day long had she not left it standing by the front door when she went to school. If anything, the mayonnaise on her turkey sandwich was all that much more the better for having sat in our refrigerator at home for several more hours instead of being kicked around the floor of several overheated high school classrooms.

In the end, I had two options: (1) leave money in an envelope so Our Daughter could purchase lunch from the cafeteria; or (2) follow the wink-and-a-nod "don't ask/don't tell" instructions from several of the people with whom I argued that morning and text Our Daughter to meet me at my car so I could hand off her lunch like covert operatives trading plutonium at the Iranian border. 

It's nice to know the health and well-being of our children are being taken so pseudo-seriously that, although I could in theory drop off a loaded howitzer and a box of hand grenades without any questions being asked, I can rely on the beauracracy of the school system to keep my daughter safe from mayonnaise.

© 2012 Mark Feggeler

1 comment:

  1. First, congratulations on your 2nd draft getting completed. How wonderful you must feel.

    Secondly, our elementary school--as of last year--would not allow parents to bring cupcakes for birthdays BUT funnel cakes were a regular breakfast item.

    Go figure...