On Wednesday, the Kitchen Table volunteers at the seniors' recreation centre where I work made a barbeque lunch. They do this once every month from May through August. They sell about 70 tickets each time, to members of our seniors' centre. For $5, members get a fresh-cooked burger, potato chips, coffee or tea, and dessert. It's all cooked and served and cleaned-up after by volunteers. Volunteers even do the shopping. It's really spectacular. My staff team and I help in little ways, but it's really the volunteers' show. For example, once all 70 people are served and the volunteers are sitting down eating their burgers, we staff members serve up the dessert. My co-worker Brenda and I scooped about 80 bowls of ice cream and squeezed on chocolate and caramel sauce. Wait - 80! I think some people without burger tickets sneaked in and got a bowl of ice cream! Then the volunteers finished their lunch (including dessert) and they did the dishes and folded the tablecloths and wiped everything down and put everything away. They rock.
I was starting up the ice cream scooping, when one of our volunteers came over to fix her burger. Cheese, lettuce and tomato slices are served up by volunteers behind a table. When it's the volunteers' time to eat, the staff takes over and we serve up the toppings to the volunteers. This one volunteer came over and saw the scraggly, raggedy ends of cheese and tomato on the serving trays. She was ready to take 2 crescent moon slices of tomato and a dog-eared slice of cheese. I told her we have a plate of tomatoes and cheese and lettuce set aside for the volunteers so they will have toppings just as fresh and nice as the first person who came to the table. She said, "no, these are fine!" Well I had to tell her that I though she was taking the mom burger. She agreed, and we laughed.
The mom burger is the meal that is eaten by the person who cooks and serves - sometimes mom, sometimes someone else. Often it's the last piece that nobody else chose. It might be cold or dried out. Often it is eaten standing up, or in a rush, because the rest of the table has been sitting for a while. Maybe they are ready for coffee or dessert, or just to finish up and leave the table, and here comes mom with her scraggly raggedy mom burger. She says it's fine, but it can't taste anything like the yummy burgers she served up to the first to the table.
I wonder why we do this? I know we don't always do it, but sometimes it's the way. Even if people offer to help, sometimes it's easier just to keep doing the job and serve them up and get it done. Sometimes, by the time the food is prepared, cooked and served, it doesn't seem that yummy after all. Once you have looked at 70 hamburgers, you might not feel like eating a hamburger, especially with 70 dirty plates with bits of chewed burger and bun and tomato are waiting to be cleaned once you finish eating your mom burger.
I sincerely admire the Kitchen Table volunteers for the work they do. They make a lovely meal for a big room full of people who are mostly grateful and appreciative. I make sure, once they are seated, that they all quiet down for a moment and I thank the volunteers and ask everyone to thank them and give them a big round of applause for their work. Then they eat their mom burgers.
Thank goodness for volunteers. Thank goodness for those who take the time to express appreciation. Thank goodness we mostly take turns serving the meal and eating the mom burger. I hope all of those volunteers went home and had a very yummy supper served by someone else, or at least cooked and eaten in a leisurely fashion. If I could go to all of their houses and scoop ice cream especially for them, I would.
question: did you eat the mom burger?
mompoet - I brought a salad and ate it after I scooped the ice cream for all of the eaters