Tuesday, July 1, 2008

there's no such thing as a free lunch ... except for our free lunches

because library in the hood is in a low income neighborhood, we qualify for a program which provides free lunches for children (children being defined as anyone under 18). you might be thinking to yourself, "wow! what a great program! the children of the ghetto need free lunches!" and by gum, i would be in total agreement with you. however, there is an employee here who does not look kindly upon this program. can you guess who it is? even with her meds re-adjusted and her mood improved, she-who-must-not-be-named frowns at feeding lunch to malnurished underpriviledged children.

so my story has two parts.
part 1: food handler training
as part of the nyc health code, anyone who handles food must go through food handler training. and apparently, distributing bagged lunches to kids counts as handling food. so we were told about a month ago that with the responsibility of giving bags of food to kids, comes the responsibility of being trained. now, there was some discussion on who would be responsible for giving out the lunches. of course it would not be she-who-must-not-be-named because she hates children. 'nuff said, no one even mentioned the possibility of her being involved. then i said that if i was around on the afternoons in question, that i would do it. our assistant manager said the same. but we also discussed the impracticality of taking our own lunch breaks and what to do on our days off etc, etc.
then there is the loophole ... employees who are unionized (all full time employees) cannot be "forced" to go to the food handler training. as opposed to the mother goose training, which is mandatory and i can be forced to learn to sing stupid songs. but i digress.
so then ms. manager decides it would be best to have our part-time employees go to the training. let me break this down for you:
we have a teen computer monitor who comes in late afternoons to help with the computers.
we have two teen pages who come in late afternoons to put away books and straighten at the end of the night.
we have my assistant who is invaluable to me, assisting at afternoon programs.
and we have our "security" woman who roughs up the trouble makers in the afternoons.
you may be asking yourself, "what's the problem, miss decimal? why not have one of them do it?"
well, i'm glad you asked. the problem with that is that NONE OF THOSE EMPLOYEES ARE IN THE BUILDING AT LUNCHTIME! furthermore, their hours are fixed and they cannot come in earlier in the day. nor can they extend their number of hours per week. does this stop she-who-must-not-be-named from signing up my assistant and the security woman for the training? no! no it does not! she signed them up for the training even though they will NEVER be working during the time the lunches are to be served.
thank you fearless leader.
as i am not in charge, i decide to ignore this. i chose to assume that there must be a logical reason for signing up these two women, and i just don't happen to know what it is. i am not in charge. it is none of my business.
so then earlier this week my assistant and the security woman are discussing how they don't understand why they're going to the training. she-who-must-not-be-named is there complaining about how she doesn't like the free lunch program. and i finally caanot help but interject.

me: wait? so you guys won't be here to give out the lunches?
assistant and secuity: no, we won't be here. you know that.
me: i assumed you guys had worked something out where you extended your hours.
a & s: no. ms. manager just told us to go because she needed to send someone.
me: well who is actually going to give out the lunches? whoever is going to give out the lunches is the one who should be sent.
a & s: (shrug)
me: (to manager) who is actually going to be giving out the lunches?
ms. manager: you see .... they can't force union employees to go to the training.
me: yeah ... i get that ... but who is actually going to be giving out the lunches? because whoever is going to give out the lunches should go to the training. it doesn't make sense to send two people who will have absolutely no involvement in the lunch program.
ms. manager: well we have to send someone! and union employees can't be forced to go to the training!
me: well am i going to be the one giving out the lunches? because if it's me i think i should go to the training instead of them. they won't even be here.
ms. manager: since you're a union employee you can't be forced to go!
me: yeah, but i'll go if i'm the one who's going to be giving out the lunches.
ms. manager: i don't see why anyone needs to be trained to give out a brown bagged lunch.
me: this is retarded.
and so on and so on until it was decided that yes ME, ME and the assistant manager would be the ones most likely to be giving out the lunches. and because i was not available the day of the training, the assistant manager wound up going. but god damnit! how ridiculous is this scenario!? why did this conversation even have to take place? am i the only functioning person in this library?! do i have to do EVERYTHING?!

part 2: lunch delivery
so i return to work yesterday after a glorious day off and the assistant manager fills me in on the lunch rules. there is only one ... RULE: lunches must be served within one hour of delivery. okay. no prob. get the lunches and serve them within an hour. after an hour, lunch is off the table. now, there is a stipulation to this rule ... if the lunches arrive too early, we can send them back and have the people keep them refrigerated until an appropriate time when they will return. cool. good to know.
when i greet she-who-must-not-be-named this morning i say with a shit-eating grin "happy first free lunch day!" she rolls her eyes at me, but in a new friendly playful way which says, "i don't really understand you, but your existence no longer disgusts me." and she and discuss the "lunch rules" and the "send the lunches back" option.
have i ever mentioned that on mondays, tuesdays and fridays we don't open until 1? well it's true. and it will come into play later.
around 11:50 a man knocks on the door to the library (because we were still closed) and she-who-must-not-be-named lets him in, announcing that the lunches are here. i look at the time, and i do a little quick math in my head even though i am not typically mathematically inclined. if it is 11:50 when the lunches arrive and the lunches must be served within an hour ... that means we must stop serving the lunches 10 minutes before the library even opens. get it? so i say to ms. manager, "ahem ... we can't take the lunches now. they have to take them back." then she gets all flustered saying she isn't sure and she doesn't know how long the lunches can be here and she's going to check some sheet of paper she has hidden under a pile of crap on her desk. and as she disappears into her office to avoid any confrontation or problem-solving, i turn to the lunch man and say, "i'm sorry but we don't open for another hour and you will have to take those lunches back and bring us fresh lunches any time after 1 pm."
he and i go back and forth a bit, then he makes a call, then looks at me and says he's sorry and that from now on he will bring the lunches between 1 and 1:30 everyday. ms. manager returns from her place of hiding but the lunchman ignored her completely, seeing that she can be of no help in any situation. then he walks off into the sunset to return later with fresh lunches.
now, i look over to see that our lovely custodian has been watching this entire interaction. and once ms. manager skulks into her office and is out of earshot i say to him, "seriously, who is the manager of this library? tell me! am i the only person who can get anything done properly around here?" and then my custodian just gave me that look he gives me and he gave me a little hug and said that i am the man. and then dear blog readers i went on my lunch break.

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