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Picture hundreds of 14 and 15 year old teens flocking to a designated area in Bismarck, being told that this spot is the only area at which they can get food for the next four hours. There are only about five law officers at the spot, and none of them carry visible weaponry. The hundreds of kids are supposed to wait in line, choose their food, eat it, and get the heck out of the area in twenty minutes, or else trouble will begin.

Nineteen minutes (to the second) later, the task is complete, and with time to spare. How did this huge crowd get all this food in mere minutes? And who are the amazing workers who carry out this monumental task every day for 36 weeks out of the year? The answer might surprise you.

Itís school lunch. Yes, thatís right, itís not a basketball tournament, Lollapalooza, a Chicago Bulls game, or a day at any fast food restaurant during the summer. Itís just the middle of the day at any school. So how come I made it out to be such a big production? If you think about it, it really is a big production.

It all starts as food companies send out large, economy-sized, bigger-than-life packages of food. Once the cooks get their too-large boxes of food, they must prepare it so that they wonít have hundreds of kids complaining that they didnít get anything to eat. So they must make it fit for a king, or at least the jester. They prepare, mix, bake, and do whatever they must do so that most of the plates don't have half the food still on them when they're dumped in the garbage.

Once the children are stuffed fuller than animals at a taxidermy shop, the real fun begins. Amazingly, only about five law enforcement officers, also known as teachers, keep over 300 kids from causing a mass teenager riot! How is this done? First, they

make all of us file into a very long line. This line is how weíre supposed to sit at the lunch tables, and we're not supposed to move around in the line either. So, if someone finds themself standing in line by some kid whoís more annoying than Gilbert Godfreid on helium, they're stuck there.

So what do kids do to get to sit by their friends? They cut in line, of course! Although this is kind of like a magician giving away one of his secrets, hopefully this won't divulge too much sensitive information. First, a kid waits until there are no teachers that have direct eye contact with him or her. Second, he or she will try to make a break to the area where his or her friends are.

There are many ways this is done. One is 'The Wanderer' technique. There are usually a few groups of kids that have bunched up in line that block teachers' field of vision. A Wanderer will quickly walk to this group, wait a little bit, then walk to the next group, wait a bit, and so on until he reaches his point of destination. Another technique is the Decoy technique. You get someone who's bigger than you, and then you start walking behind this person until you get to the point where you're going. Another classic is the Cold Lunch diversion. You start walking into the gym with the cold lunchers, but then quickly dart to the left or the right, wherever your target may be.

But letting kids move to the front of the line is usually the teachers' only fault at lunchtime. Students rush us into the gym, the lunch ladies give us our food quickly, we sit and eat, then go outside. Here we act as normal as we possibly can, trying to be the new standard for a slacker. All the boys have their hands in their pockets and spit at the sidewalk, creating a puddle that would drown small children, while the girls talk, whisper, talk, giggle, talk, and laugh loud.

To close my article on a serious note, Iíd like to give a big ďthank youĒ to all those unsung heroes of schools, the lunch workers. I think students owe a big round of applause to the cooks, the teachers, and the other helpers. Lunch workers usually donít get enough credit for the fine work they do, and I think everybody should recognize their fine work.

It doesnít look like youíre gonna eat that cookie. It'd really go to waste if you just left it on your plate, and I'm still kinda hungry. Okay, fine, Iíll give you my mashed potatoes for it...and my corn...

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Karl Becker, the author of all these articles, uses New Tricks for his writings.

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... Picture hundreds of 14 and 15 year old teens f...

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