Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Free Lunch

I was too young to appreciate how cool it was at the time.  We were poor enough for me to qualify for free lunch most of my childhood.  Mmmmm, Fish Sticks.  Yeah, that's right!  I got to eat all that quality food that those upper crusters shunned.

I really shouldn't be so snide about it.  It was a great thing for me.  I tried foods I might not normally get to eat.  I'm sure it broadened my horizons along with my thighs.

By the time I got to high school free lunch was a thing of the past but I still bought hot lunch because there was pretty much nothing to eat in my house that wasn't microwave chicken.  As soon as dad forced a car on me though, I was all about going off campus for lunch.  I was working to pay for the car so I had the disposable lunch income.  It wasn't unusual to find us at Taco Time, McDonald's, etc., EVERY day for lunch.  'Cause we were kewl like that. 

Once out of high school I moved in with my mother in another state.  I eventually found a job while waiting to get into college so eating out wasn't really on the menu.  Not to mention that I hit that period in my life where lunch is really breakfast if you catch my drift.  So lunch was usually a bowl of cereal before I headed off to work.  After work we'd hit the local Vip's Big Boy for coffee while we hung out trying to figure out how to get into trouble without going to a bar as we weren't yet 21 and didn't have fake IDs.

It wasn't too long before I had a real job while going to school part time in the evenings.  Occasionally us working stiffs would splurge on a lunch at a local restaurant.  There were plenty of decent cheap ones close by since we were across the street from the university.  Even so, we didn't go out much.  Most of us brought lunch or a frozen entree of some kind.  For a while there, I would walk to the nearby Walgreen's for a yogurt and a piece of fruit.  That was great for the thighs.

After I finally graduated to a much more lucrative job I found myself working for a places that did not encourage you to indulge in off-site lunches.  WTF?  I soon found myself working in a foreign country with an on-site cafeteria - which was free - mostly because it was a benefit for the nationals and because you only got 30 minutes to eat lunch.  Wait, I thought I was a professional?  You must be kidding me with the 30 minutes for lunch, right?  Wrong.  I must admit to the occasional off-site lunch with a few comrades and/or suppliers.

The next job was an hour away and out in the middle of nowhere.  Yet another on-site cafeteria but this time it wasn't free.  Most everybody brought their own lunch because, once again, you were only allotted 30 minutes for lunch.  Off-site lunches NEVER happened.  Boy was I glad to leave that job!

Lunch on my next job was anything but a catered affair.  I usually ended up eating leftover PB&J or whatever I was feeding my kids that day.  Until they were old enough to hang with he big kids at the McDonald's indoor playland my boys stayed at home.  BUT, when that day came I was delighted to eat my salad while they ran amok.  Rinse and repeat for about 5 years.

Pretty soon I could convince my kids that there were other places that served food that was, gasp, better than McDonald's.  Blasphemy, I know.  Pretty soon my stay-at-home mom friends and I were invading BWW and Lone Star on the "Kids eat free" day.  Talk about an entirely different kind of FREE LUNCH!

Unlike when I was a child, my boys don't qualify for free lunch.  Every month they bring home a lunch menu and we carefully go over it and determine who is going to eat hot lunch or cold lunch each day of the month.  Talk about spoiled!  My boys are in school all day most every day for several years now so no more free lunches out for them!

It's back to just me for lunch.  You might think I'd be loaded up with lunch dates with the other "ladies of leisure" that I hang with.  Nawt.  I usually just scrounge around the house or pick up something on my way home from running errands.  Sometimes I still long for the free lunch days.  Life was easier then.


MacAnthony said...

I'm lucky. I'm spoiled when it comes to lunch. Wife packs me a lunch that usually consists of leftovers but fortunately, both her and I can cook pretty good so I typically eat well for what is essentially free.

Arthur said...

Maybe it's just me, but that kitty litter cake would drive me out to eat lunch...just saying.