Friday, January 31, 2014

Invasion of the school lunch snatchers! And other assorted annoyances of yesterday...

Yesterday, I, along with many Americans, watched as a news story out of Utah went viral.  I first read about the school lunch snatchers at Uintah Elementary School on RfM.  As the day wore on, the news spread like wildfire.  About forty kids at the school had just sat down to eat their hot lunches when they were snatched away and tossed into the trash by the lunch ladies.  Why?  Because the kids' parents apparently hadn't kept their lunch accounts current.  Someone in charge had ordered a crackdown and the kids whose accounts were in arrears had their lunches replaced with a piece of fruit and milk.

Now I'm sure none of these kids were in danger of starving to death by missing their midday meals.  What concerns me about this incident is that it no doubt embarrassed and humiliated the kids involved.  Young kids often have a tough time assimilating into their peer groups and being singled out can be devastating to them.  Even if they don't get teased by their classmates for being "poor", it's still very upsetting for something like this to happen.  It makes me wonder just how much learning went on after that lunch fiasco.  More than one parent interviewed in the rash of news stories about this situation has said their child came home crying.  It seems to me that very upset and possibly hungry kids would be very disruptive in the classroom environment.

I understand that schools have to pay their bills and they need parents to meet their financial obligations.  But we shouldn't punish or embarrass little kids for a situation that their parents control.  Of course, this whole debacle has been an embarrassment for the school, too.  Not only did they humiliate a bunch of kids, they also wasted food.  So no money was saved or collected by taking this action.  All they did was waste perfectly good food and upset a bunch of innocent children.  FAIL.

Moving on...

Perhaps it should come as no surprise to me that Amanda Knox has been declared guilty of murder yet another time.  This time, the Italian courts have sentenced her to 28 years and a bunch of fines.  Fortunately, she is in the United States, so it's not likely she'll see the inside of an Italian jail cell anytime soon.  In the meantime, she will live in limbo as her case gets appealed yet another time and more bills are racked up.  The whole thing seems utterly ridiculous to me.  I mean, I know the Kercher family lost their daughter and sister to murder and wants justice, but from what I've read, the evidence tying Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito to the crime is just not there.  But hell, my opinion doesn't count for much.

And finally…

Facebook is ever annoying.  A couple of days ago, a woman I knew in school asked for help locating a source of used car parts.  I happen to know someone who works at an online car part store, so I passed the link on to my old schoolmate.  Her response was that the prices were too high for her.  Shit, I was just trying to be helpful by offering a source.  I don't know what her financial situation is.  Next time she asks for help, I'm ignoring the call.

And yesterday, I posted about Bristol Palin and was having an interesting discussion with a few people.  Another acquaintance came along and wrote "I didn't read past the first few comments here nor that information posted on that site ( I couldn't believe someone would take so much time to write that lengthy piece) I will say in reference to her son "being teased unmercifully as he grows up," it will be because of all the catty and ridiculous attention given to a person who is really a nobody unless all of you keep on talking about her. Just my take."

My response?  "So why are you posting a comment, then?"

He came back with, "Snark!"

I thought about that for a moment and wrote, "I'm just puzzled as to why, if you say you aren't interested in the article or the comments posted here, you would take the time to leave me a comment essentially telling me I'm wasting my time. I saw this article posted by someone else, read it, and felt like sharing it. I don't usually give Bristol Palin much thought one way or the other, but you know, sometimes you find stuff on Facebook. If you don't think it's worth discussing, why bother commenting at all? I should thank XXXX, not just because he sent me some NC beer, but because his comment led me to learn more about Wendy Davis. I don't think that's time wasted, given that I live in Texas and may have to decide if I want to vote for her."

So then this guy comes back and says he thinks I'm taking his comment too personally.  He apparently just meant to be "snarky" and was trying to be funny.  I don't really see what's funny about his comment.  To me, it came across as a bit shaming and accusatory.  I think what happened is that he didn't expect me to take him to task over his comments and was backpedaling a bit.  He probably expected me to say nothing out of embarrassment.  If you say something accusatory and someone reacts more seriously than you expected them to, it's easy to say you were kidding and brush it off.  I've done it myself.

It's my Facebook page.  If I want to share something on it, that's my prerogative.  Telling me you didn't read the article or the comments but think the discussion is unimportant just makes me think you're a bit of a control freak.  You control what goes on your page.  I'll control what goes on mine.

Incidentally, the guy who posted that is a category lead on Epinions and a moderator.  I get the feeling he gets off of his moderating gig and the "power" he has to control what other members-- presumably all adults-- can post in the Epinions forums.  It's pretty pathetic if you ask me.  I have actually met this guy in person and he's a nice enough man, but he's also a bit pushy and opinionated.  On the other hand, so am I.  ;-D

It's true, I do take things more seriously than I ought to.  Too bad I don't have any real responsibilities.


  1. You have the right to take what you want seriously

    It's a particular pet peeve of mine when people make inflammatory comments then try to claim they were being facetious when offense is taken. Hiding behind the guise of humor is lame. People need to take responsibility for their words.

    I know two people in real life who are moderators for various online forums. Both are insufferable in person. I don't know if the positions and the "power" associated with them made them that way, or if their already insufferable personalities caused them to seek out such positions of pseudo-authority, but either way, they now seem to think that their moral high ground extends far beyond the forums they moderate.

    I'm not sure why Bristol Palin believes she has anything of substance to share with the voters of Texas or with the public in general. I totally agree that she was in a privileged position and squandered away her opportunity for an essentially debt-free college education by failing to use birth control. She has no clue as to what hardships are faced by the legitimately underprivileged among us.

    When Bristol Palin was merely the daughter of sarah {Palin, I had some qualms about criticizing her. I usually did it anywy, but i had misgivings because she was essentially a private citizen who was the daughter of a politician. When Bristol chose to cast herself into the public eye, however, she became fair game. If she says anything I find especially obnoxious or ignorant (and because she was neither blessed with exceptional intelligence nor, as far as can be discerned, took what little education she has particularly seriously, most of what comes from her mouth or her computer reeks of stupidity), it is my right to take exception to her words.

    If I lived in Texas I would vote for Wendy Davis.

    If Uintah Elementary School was going to deny the children hot lunches, they at least should have made the decision before lunches were distributed. By paying both for the lunches that were tossed and the fruit that was distributed to the children, they ended up paying more than they would've paid had they just let the children eat the lunches. Furthermore, now they cannot bill the parents for those lunches, since the trays were seized from the children and tossed into the trash.

    I will say, not in defense against the school district because I would not say anything to defend the actions of that district, but against the parents of those children, that I'm appalled that any parent who was in arrears with the district over school lunches would have the gall to show his or her face on the news to complain. I think it's proper and morally right for those parents who were not deadbeats and for the public at large to call the school district on the carpet and to publicly ridicule them for their mistreatment of children, but those parents who were behind in their financial obligations to the school need to shut the hell up. They caused the problem in the first place. Yes, the district was way out of line, but those particular parents were even more out of line. The public in general -even those not living in Utah -- should be putting the heat on the school personnel responsible for this really cruel practice, but the parents who owed the school money and were nether paying up nor sending their children with sack lunches should probably hide their faces in shame.

    I know because my mom was a k-12 school district assitant superintendent that no matter what a district does to prevent it, they lose thousands of dollars each year because of parents who stiff the district for the prices of school lunches. many of the greatest debtors in this regard, according to my mom, were people who lived in expensicve homes and drove luxury automobiles. They had learned through word of mouth that there wasn't much the school district could do about it if they didn't send lunch money.

    1. There was some discussion that some of the parents had just gone into arrears and weren't warned that they had no money in their accounts. But aside from that, I agree with you. The parents are ultimately responsible, though the school officials totally handled this in the wrong way. That school is really facing serious PR issues now and a couple of people might even lose their jobs.

      I remember how easy it was to be embarrassed when I was a kid. Other kids seize on that and can tease others mercilessly. I hate to read about people who say they lived through humiliation like that and turned out fine. If you think it's okay to publicly shame small children for something their parents did, I don't think you turned out "fine". I'm not one for coddling kids and shielding them from all of life's unpleasantries, but I don't think this is a situation in which that particular lesson needed to be taught.

      As for my FB friend, I think he's a bit of a chauvinist. I've seen him treat other women as if they need special help. But, at the risk of sounding like I'm stereotyping, he is kind of an old school Hispanic man and that behavior is probably a product of his culture and age.

      Nevertheless, I agree that Bristol Palin is a public figure. When she writes or says dumb things, people have the right to offer a rebuttal. And while I don't condone all Wendy Davis has done in her campaign, I do think she's leagues more intelligent and accomplished than Bristol Palin will ever be.

    2. I think someone should certainly lose his or her job over how the lunch money deficit was handled. The lunchroom ladies were presumably only doing as they were told, but the person in authority who told them to do what they did should be history. No one should be allowed to treat children in such a way and get away with it.

      In terms of the accounting system being wrong or parents not being notified, I'm pretty skeptical. At the very least, notes were probably sent home that or were never looked at by their parents. I wouldn't be surprised if voicemails were ignored as well.

      I helped pseudoaunt teach kindergarten summer school a few years ago. This was in Utah, where kids were frequently one of four to eight children in a family, and kindergartners were often expected to fend for themselves. We would put important messages in children's backpacks that were ignored repeatedly. We had to leave four children at school during a field trip because their parents couldn't be bothered with signing permission slips even after phone calls home to remind the parents. The children were dropped off and picked up by siblings, so we couldn't have the parents sign the forms on the spot. Then the parents threw hissy fits when their children came home crying because they had to sit in the office while other children visited a dairy, petted baby calves, and built their own sundaes at the attached creamery.

      I'm generalizing, but I have no trouble believing that a similar scenario could have occurred with lunch money deficit notifictions in Utah. The children should not have been stigmatized, but I don't believe the most of parents' claims that they were never notified.

      Compassion to children notwithstanding, I really wonder about the intelligence of the higher-up who ordered the seizure of school lunches from the children. You or I could have seen this public relations fiasco coming from a mile away. Why could they not foresee the whole thing as well?

    3. Unfortunately, I think there's a combination of hive mentality and tunnel vision going on in Utah. It's not really like the rest of the country for so many reasons. Although I'm sure what happened at this school could have happened anywhere… Somebody wasn't thinking clearly, obviously.

      I just feel really bad for the kids.

  2. "in defense of" not "in defense against"

  3. Someday I will learn to type the word "assistant" correctly.


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