This is What Kindness Gets You

April 30, 2015

Just the sight of an email from the head of the PTO makes me groan, because I know what it means: more work for me at a chaotic time of year. The Minxes have less than 3 weeks of school left; we are thick in the weeds with end of school madness. The last thing I need is one more thing on the calendar.

But, friends and neighbors, it’s Teacher Appreciation Week at school! And we sure appreciate all of the things our teachers do, right? Our wonderful, hard-working teachers? The least we can do is provide them with a home-cooked, healthy luncheon, don’t you think?

Actually, I do think they deserve a nice lunch, and I do appreciate them, because the teachers in our school district are aces. I have no trouble making extra time to make a pot of soup for them.

Except for one leetle problem. I’ve written here and here about our kind of whackadoodle PTO, but even worse than the PTO are the parent volunteers. Or shall I say, lack of parent volunteers. Whenever the PTO organizes meals for teachers, everyone signs up for paper plates and plastic utensils and the slots on the list for actual food items remain barren. That list is especially barren at the end of the year. It’s sad and it sucks and people are lazy slobs and clearly, I have the word shmuck written on my forehead because I always feel the need to pony up. In a big way.

This shmucky tendency is why, this week, I prepared a huge vat of chicken noodle soup (to feed 8-10 people), a huge vat of roasted tomato bisque (to feed 8-10 people) and a gi-normous Greek salad (to feed 15 people).

It was a pain in the ass.

Once everything was prepared, I realized that I had a bit of a technical problem, because I don’t own two crockpots (does anyone?) and soup needs to be, well, hot. So I emailed the head of the PTO about possibly someone else bringing in an extra slow cooker and I got the reply, “Well, why not just bring a large pot and leave it on the stove in the teacher’s lounge on low?”

Okay. Fine.

I cool the tomato bisque and put it in a huge (2.5 gallon jumbo) Ziploc bag and put the Ziploc bag in a Goliath Le Creuset Dutch oven for easy transport. I secure the piping hot chicken noodle soup (simmering in the slow cooker) in the bottom front seat, put the Dutch oven and my heaving tupperware of Greek salad in the back, and shlep to school. Since I have to heat the soup on the stovetop, I arrive at school 45 minutes early.

With this huge load of cargo, I’m going to have to make several trips out to the car. I tuck the salad into a huge shoulder bag and grab the Goliath Dutch oven first because I need to heat the tomato bisque. I waddle up to the school and press the buzzer. “How can I help you?” the secretary says. “It’s me, Dana,” I say. “I’m here with food for the Teacher Appreciation Luncheon. “Oh, thanks!” she says and buzzes me in. I have to use the handicapped entrance because I have zero free hands and waddle through the door and down to the teacher’s lounge.

The food table in the teacher’s lounge is alarmingly bare, except for a large box of bagels. Then again, I am 45 minutes early and people always do things last minute, so I don’t really think much about it. I put the salad on the table, plop the Dutch oven on the stove, cut open a corner of the Ziploc bag with scissors, deposit the tomato bisque inside the pot and turn on the stove.

I’m humming along in there, stirring soup, when one of the secretaries comes in.

“Uh, Dana?” she looks a little stricken.

“What?” I say.

“Umm, I checked and the Teacher Appreciation Luncheon is, umm, next Tuesday.”

What. The. Fuck. and screw me seven times ’till Saturday.

Now I’m stuck with gallons of soup and Greek salad to feed 15. And now, I have an “unsecured” quantity of tomato soup in my Goliath Dutch oven.

I mutter under my breath and feel like an idiot and gather up everything and waddle back to my car. “At least you have dinner, right?” the secretary laughs nervously.

Stuff it, sister.

I place the Dutch oven in my car and realize that I am going to have to drive very, very carefully with all of this unsecured soup in the car. I pull s-l-o-w-l-y out of the parking lot and begin the journey home, fuming and embarrassed at the same time.

In my head, I’m thinking, “Okay, I can eat off the salad for a few days, but not that many days because I already put the feta cheese on it and it gets goopy. I’m screwed with the tomato bisque because it has dairy in it and fresh basil, and none of those things will keep/freeze. I’m also screwed with the chicken soup because there’s cooked noodles in there and those will turn to complete mush. Shit, I’m screwed. All of this food and none of it is salvageable…”

I’m so busy thinking that I fail to notice, until the last minute, the suicidal squirrel in the middle of the road. The suicidal squirrel that I’m going to ram right into unless I…

Slam on the brakes.

Of course I did.

Of. Course.

If you wonder where I’ll be this weekend, I’ll be shampooing red tomato bisque out of the carpeting in my car and vacuuming up bits of carrot, celery, chicken and noodles.

And then I’ll be at the grocery store, buying ingredients for two more vats of soup and a mammoth salad.

Because on Tuesday, I’ll get to do it all again.

That’s what kindness gets you.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Velva April 30, 2015 at 6:38 am

Dana, I started laughing, a really good laugh reading your post. I got to believe that was your intent, make us laugh. I am not sure I laughed because I would be someone to show up at the wrong date/ time with a truckoad of food too, or I am remebering 6-quarts of seafood gumbo that spilled in my car when I applied the brakes for geese.

Rock on my friend! Rock on.



Dana Talusani April 30, 2015 at 6:54 am


I can laugh about it now (two days later) but at the time, I pulled the car over to the side of the road and cried. I am glad it made you laugh, and encouraged that this actually happened to somebody else!


elizabeth April 30, 2015 at 7:04 am

This really is the definition of no good deed going unpunished. Someone really needs to get on the ball and actually make that Valium Salt Lick, if only to preserve your sanity!


Dana Talusani April 30, 2015 at 11:14 am


A Valium salt lick has never been more welcome.


Jennifer April 30, 2015 at 7:42 am

This is why I just send money.


Camille Brightmith April 30, 2015 at 8:04 am



Lisa @ The Meaning of Me April 30, 2015 at 8:46 am

Oh no! Meanwhile I actually do have two crockpots. .plus a smaller one. WHY? For just such occasions. And it has been well worth the cabinet space.


Annie April 30, 2015 at 11:08 am

Oh. No.

Cringing in sympathy for you!!


Tiffany April 30, 2015 at 1:50 pm

Oh no!!! You are so sweet to make it again!!


ThisIsNottheLifeIOrdered May 1, 2015 at 6:49 am

Here is what else kindness gets ya..

Picture if you will…

The other night, as they sat down to a garden salad with pine nuts, one VERY relieved father squirrel responded to the family inquiry about his day with a HILARIOUS anecdotal recollection of how he was “almost killed” by a crazy lady who slammed on the brakes at the last minute. He chuckled as he said, “Oh you should have SEEN her face when she saw me and hit the brakes. Priceless.”

This was met with smiles from the young furry faces and an admonition by the mother that they “all needed to watch the road.” But later on, as they drift off to sleep, the mother will snuggle up closely to her “man”, grateful that the “crazy Lady” did indeed care enough to slam on the brakes.


Dana Talusani May 1, 2015 at 9:45 am


You clearly are an optimist and see the glass as half-full. I need more of that.


Abbe @ This is How I Cook May 1, 2015 at 7:26 am

Oh no. You had me laughing and crying. I was PTO president for two years and I used to give out a “Sweets for the Sweetie” cookie award each month. I would have chosen you. I really miss my kids being in school, but I don’t miss THAT! Hope you had a party over the weekend!


Alison May 2, 2015 at 6:58 am

Oh fuck.
You are too kind!


Biz May 6, 2015 at 2:28 pm

How did I known that it was going to end that way?! Gah! Yep, kindness gets you know where!

It used to piss me off too because the parents who DIDN’T volunteer were the first to criticize how something was organized after the fact.


Kim K May 7, 2015 at 7:40 pm

I always enjoy reading your stories, but this one is especially fantastic! Please write a book.


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