Mrs. W. was the lunch lady at my elementary school. She was mean and everyone hated her. She was obese, with a softball sized goiter and a severe hunchback. Her eyes bugged out in that unattended thyroid kind of way.
Her cantankerousness was legendary. She ran that lunch room like a drill Sargent. There would be no walking around. There would be no shenanigans. She’d be all up in your face if you even looked at her funny. She’d inspect your tray and send you back to your seat if you tried to dump any of the soggy school lunch in the trash.
It was cool in elementary school to have your parent come visit you for lunch once in a while. One day my mom was visiting me. I was in third grade. But my sister was in sixth, and my mom got up to go over and say hello to my sister on the other side of the gym/cafeteria. My mom is petite, and she was only about 27 at the time. From behind, Mrs. W. mistook my mom for a fifth or sixth grader, grabbed her by the shoulders, and laid into her for being “up from her seat” without permission. Mrs. W. was shocked to realize it was a grown woman she was manhandling.
It was a glorious moment. Mrs. W. looked foolish. Oh the glee! Here, a grown up, my mom, had proof of how mean Mrs. W. was. Inwardly, we children were dancing jigs. We snickered at our table and talked about it for weeks.
Thirty five years later, I know what it feels like to have your thyroid out of whack. My out of whack must be a speck of what Mrs. W.’s was…with that goiter, those eyes. Her physical condition spoke of some serious neglect throughout her life. The world had not been kind to her. That woman did not feel good and it wasn’t just the thyroid. The proper term for hunch back is “kyphosis.” I looked it up, and with kyphosis comes musculoskeletal pains, tension headaches, back aches, and joint pains.
Try dealing with that while being in charge of a gym full of rowdy children, squeaking out pennies for it, I’m sure.
No one is born hateful.
I’m not saying it was okay for Mrs. W. to terrify the kids in my elementary school.
I just wish she would have experienced being cared for, so she’d have known how to be kind to the children in her charge.