I subbed again yesterday at a local K-8th grade Catholic school, this time at the helm of their 6th grade class. Having turned 50 this year, and with the youngest of my three boys now a Junior in high school, the experience reminded me of something I often forget. Namely, the joys of Kindergarten logistics.
It was lunch time, so I began making my way toward the gym, which doubles as the school's cafeteria. Sharing the hallway was the kindergarten teacher, her class lined up behind her single file like a mother duck leading a duckling parade. I stopped and stood idly to the side and watched them pass.
The teacher's goal was to get the children from point "A" (the classroom) to point "B" (the cafeteria). That's logistics.
Now, having led the distribution and customer service functions for a newspaper with a daily goal of getting 100,000+ freshly printed newspapers to individual point B's before they "spoiled", I am somewhat familiar with the concept of logistics. That said, I'm sure the teacher didn't need to consult maps of the school, nor the use of RouteSmart software to determine the fastest and most efficient path from "A" to "B".
At this point I feel it necessary to point out the obvious to you, dear reader, that students are not allowed the use of any personal electronic media while in school. I was never-the-less initially struck by their absense. There were no ipods and ear buds, no cell phones, Bluetooths or Game Boys. Approximately 20 youngsters passing in front of me, and not one of them was checking their Facebook page on an iPad or smartphone. These poor children were left to their own devices, as it were, and efficiency and economy of motion was apparently not a priority for these moving widgets.
Several of the boys were pantomiming as airplanes, zooming and zig-zagging past me with their arms out while making jet engine sounds through pursed lips. A young lady passes, bouncing up and down on the balls of her feet while she hums an unrecognizable tune. Another girl is finding the bow in the hair of a classmate fascinating, and the wearer of said bow doesn't seem to mind. Another boy passes walking backwards, never glancing over his shoulder to peak - a veritable collision waiting to happen!
Every passing child was enjoying the moment in leisure inefficiency. Unwinding coils of controlled chaos. Kindergarten logistics.
At this point, for some reason, I thought of a busy intersection in New York at luchtime. A mass of harried businesspeople scurrying this way and that. Some walking with their heads down, opposable thumbs dancing over their Blackberrys in answer to the latest work-related email. Others appear to be talking to themselves, as they speak to a client via Bluetooth hardware clamped on their ear like some 21st century borg. Still others are checking their voicemails the "old-fashioned way" by holding a cell to their ear with one hand while balancing a Starbucks Grande in the other.
All are making their way from point "A" to "B" in the most efficient manner possible. No deviations. No smiles. Expertly avoiding eye contact and any actual human interaction. Adult logistics.
Back to schoolThe children line up to the kitchen window where they receive a flimsy styrofoam plate containing two pancakes and two sausages. From there, they are expected to grab a milk from the cooler before negotiating their way through the salad bar set up in the middle of the gym. Most children opt to balance the milk on their tray between the pancakes and sausages, thereby freeing up both hands to hold said tray. Others try the "milk in one hand, tray in the other" tactic. Both tactics seem to work equally well with the older children, but the superiority of the "two hands on tray" technique becomes apparent by the time the kindergartners demonstrate both.
Did I mention the salad bar? The layout went like this...
* Bowl of lettuce
* Tray of mini muffins
* Containers of cream cheese
* Salad condiments
A supply chain engineer with a 5-year-old at home will quickly spot the potential raw material faux paus in the above. Sure enough, it didn't take long before a kindergartner made their way to the end of the procurement chain with a tray that contained a muffin smeared with about 6 ounces of cream cheese, topped with about a cup and a half of immitation bacon bits. Is that syrup on his salad? He had a grin on his face ear-to-ear, and I thought to myself, "Why the hell not?"
That's Kindergarten logistics, and I am thankful I was reminded of it. Life is a gift not to be squandered. Not one moment should be wasted in worry over things beyond my immediate control. Why wring my hands together in frustration or ball them into fists of stress when they could be better put to use as airplane wings.
Now if you'll excuse me, there is a donut with maple syrup and my name on it.