Grilled at School

I’m not even sure how to preface this story, so I’ll just plow in.

My wife’s school had a BBQ last night. These sorts of open social events are not me scene (preferring, as I do, to sitting behind the computer and commenting on these sort of things instead) but I feel that as a school is a community, and teachers have an odd, somewhat isolated existence from their colleagues, that I should fully participate in such things for my wife’s benefit.

Besides, what social event is complete without at least one caustic, sarcastic, witty commentator? It’s like the Muppet Show without Statler and Waldorf.

IMG_0259 The BBQ started at 6:00 and, despite my efforts to be in-line for the food at 6:00, we were late – at 6:05, and already they were out of hot dogs. “Out of hot dogs” my evoke images of lines of people stacked down with three dogs on every tray, but, in fact, it meant that they had served in total something like 4 hot dogs. You see, the school had bought themselves a nice, new gas grill a couple weeks before, and, apparently, never bothered to check to see if it worked. Frozen hot dogs and hamburgers were being prepared at what could literally called a glacial pace – that is, exactly at the speed of global warming.

There were “experts” trying to help get the grill working, but the consensus was that this new, fancy, large-sized grill was a piece of junk that was designed so badly that it couldn’t have all the burners turned on at once. While I have little faith in merchandise built by slave labor in China and probably sold at Wal-Mart, I also seriously doubt that the design was so feeble that it couldn’t get it all its burners up at once. It seems far more likely that the gas regulator was defective. Any way you slice it, the flames were barely visible in the darkening gloom.

At 6:05 we were second in line to get hot dogs. At 6:20 I couldn’t take it anymore. My back was killing me from lugging around a dead car battery earlier in the day, so I let the kids hit the playground while I went to sit down and watch the ants swarm. I took this picture of the hot dog line shortly thereafter.

6:35, I saw a hot dog being moved towards Chu-Wan and I got up to go help her manage the food. They’d only manage to cook 6 hot dogs since 6:05, and the people in front of her got four of them. We go two of our four dogs, so James and I went back to eat our dinner, while Chu-Wan continued to wait. Even after 30 minutes, the dogs weren’t cooked fully, but at that point, I didn’t care.

At 6:45, the line was just as long, but Chu-Wan had been given two more dogs. She also told me that they had decided to go buy another grill because they had reached an almost catastrophic situation. Virtually all of the parents, teachers and school employees were just standing in line waiting for food. They decided to go for the old reliable standby – a charcoal grill.

Oh, how the comedy potential flashed through mind at that moment. Unless you go to a nice, swanky grill shop, most modern grills required some considerable assembly, so I imagined they’d being buying those pre-made, disposable grills or better yet, going to someone’s house and borrowing a working grill. Nonetheless, did they realize that it takes a good 45 minutes for coals to get up to temperature? The party only lasted until 8:00, so this didn’t seem too viable.

IMG_0264 At 7:30, the food line wasn’t any shorter, although they had taken my suggestion and started using the microwave ovens to at least /cookpre-cook the frozen hot dogs. The gas grill had been turned down to only one burner working to keep the gas pressure up but that meant only a couple dogs/burgers could be cooked at a time. In the cafeteria, a lone young man struggled valiantly to put together the new charcoal grill.

At 7:45, as we were leaving, the food line was just as long, the new grill wasn’t assembled and there were parts all over the floor, but it was standing on four wobbly legs, and I heard him proclaim, “That’s good enough!”

I’ll have to have Chu-Wan find out if they ever got any food cooked on the charcoal grill, but I can’t help wondering if they’d remembered to buy charcoal and lighter fluid when they bought the grill.