Stylized line drawing of mark playing the flute

Freshman Lunch Shenanigans

When I was a freshman in high school, there was a bizarre system in place where every 8th grader from every middle school in the district was shunted to this one school. After one year at this school, they would then go on to whatever the high school was for their area.

As you can imagine, this school was huge. I'm pretty sure enrollment was over 1000 kids.

1000+ crazed, hormonal 14-16 year olds all crammed in one big building.

It was an awful place. I saw fights every single day, including one where a kid was stuffed into a garbage can and thrown down a flight of stairs. Or another one where I saw a kid being bludgeoned with a full can of soda. I knew multiple people who carried large knives. There were always rumors about people with guns and, while there was never actually a shooting during my time there, they were constantly cancelling after-school functions because of drive-by threats.

Mostly, I kept to myself. I went the most public and direct way possible to class. I hid in the library at lunch. And I tried to hide wherever I could until the bus came at the end of the day.

There was a big cafeteria where people could buy lunch. Lunch cost $1.80 so my parents kept a big evelope of dollar bills on the shelf with my school supplies so I could get lunch money everyday.

Of course, I wasn't about to try eating in the cafeteria by myself. On the far side of the cafeteria was a little stand that sold candy and chips. So every day, I'd go over there, buy a couple of candy bars, and then rush off the library until lunch was over.

Granted, this was small rebellion on my part but I was still terrified my parents would find out.

To that end, I'd always spend less than $1.80 on my candy and I'd always ask for my change in dimes. That way, if my parents ever asked for my change, I'd have $0.20 to hand over.

Not once, however, did they ever ask.