Bagged Milk

Does anyone else remember the Great Bagged Milk Fiasco of the early 90s?

Surely, you do. If you were a part of it, you remember.

Someone in the State Board of Education decided to thumb their nose at the waxed cardboard industry and copy our friendly neighbors to the North by providing bags of milk to schoolchildren, in lieu of cartons.

“That’s not so bad,” you might think.

You would be wrong.

Perhaps you’re picturing something like a CapriSun- a sturdy, semi-metal bag of juice with a clear top and reinforced bottom. Unfortunately, the bags of milk looked more like a Ziploc- a thin plastic bag of liquid that one was supposed to carefully pierce with a pointy plastic coffee-stirrer-sized straw.

If you’ve met children, I’m sure you can assume how that went. I don’t know how they socialize children in Canada but the school cafeteria at Stonewall Jackson went full-on Lord of the Flies.

Even well-meaning children would punch the straw through the top and bottom of the bag, leaving milk to leak out all over the table. Children can’t even tie their shoes, much less carefully push a pointy straw through one piece of plastic but not the other. They know not their own strength.

The class imps were much worse- competing to see whose milk geyser could reach the ceiling first, not bothering to remember that what goes up, must come down.

The wizened cafeteria monitor would stand by the stoplight- its light blinking red-red-red- screaming for order while boys used 2% to squirt each other like water guns and the nerds squirmed away in terror.

After lunch, we would line up, the bottoms of our lunchboxes sodden with warm milk, and we would march back to class, leaving the lunch lady standing in the remnants of a war-zone, a single white drop of liquid making its way down her weather-beaten cheek.

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