Here in North County San Diego, there are certain standards for hosting a swim meet, standards based on the oldest rule in the Good Book:
The Book of the Swim Meet, Chapter 1, Verse 1:
Thou shalt shew an excellent snack bar unto thy guests, otherwise thou wilt be known as “Losers” all the days of the swim calendar, and no one wilt ever cometh to thy meets again.
As you can imagine, running a snack bar is therefore considered to be a really important job. So why’d they pick someone like me to run it? I mean, I barely know what I’m making each night for dinner, much less what I should sell at a snack bar for a whole weekend.
And writing up menus and shopping lists is just the beginning! Snack bar managers have to make all sorts of important decisions that determine the success or failure of a food concession—important decisions I found difficult to make without several outside opinions…
BONNIE: On one hand, those mini Pringles cans sell really well. They may cost more, but then we can charge more. On the other hand, the little chip bags are cheaper and there’s less waste in the landfill. And there are more flavors, too, especially if we get those big variety packs.
GROCERY CHECKOUT CLERK: So… um… was that paper or plastic?
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not a total snack bar loser. I was just majorly stressed about the other half of the job I’d been recruited to do: a job called “Hospitality”.
The Book of the Swim Meet, Chapter 1, Verse 3:
Thou shalt provideth Hospitality for all thy coaches and volunteer officials for lo, they must stand in the sun all day. And Hospitality shall include nice breakfasts, lunches and dinners for them so none may say, “Nay, let’s not go there, they only ever giveth us burgers and dogs.”
Since burgers and dogs aren’t an option, and since we don’t have a kitchen at our pool, the team moms who did the snack bar before me always got all sorts of donated restaurant meals for Hospitality.
Even those ultra-busy moms, the ones who had full time jobs, five kids, sparkling clean homes, successful small business startups and several published novels under their belts… THEY always managed to get PLENTY of donated meals.
I was never one of those moms.
BONNIE: And your generous donation to our non-profit booster club— (fumbles with a folder) … uh… will allow us to spend our limited cash reserves on financial aid, sports equipment, and airfare to travel mee— (drops several papers) Oops! Sorry! Where was I?
RESTAURANT MANAGER: About to purchase three giant lasagnas?
BONNIE: Oh, yeah! Thanks! Where do I sign?
But wait, there’s more!
I not only had to buy meals for coaches and officials, I had to guess how many might show up, based on previous meets—because snack bar leaders just don’t know how many coaches and officials are going to show up until, oh, perhaps the day before the meet.
RESTAURANT MANAGER: You did say three lasagnas, didn’t you?
BONNIE: Yeah, but maybe I should get SIX, just in case. Uh, no! Make that THREE, because it’s probably best to have too little than too much. Yeah, THREE. No, wait! Let’s go with FOUR! No! FIVE!
This is why my snack bar will probably be known forever as “The Most Expensive Snack Bar Our Team Ever Had.” Actually, there are several more titles that would accurately describe my snack bar, including:
- “The Snack Bar That Never Had Any Brewed Coffee So We Had to Walk to Starbucks”
- “The Snack Bar That Advertised Nachos But Lied,” and my personal favorite,
- “The Snack Bar That Served Four Giant Lasagnas Just as the Swim Meet Closed Two Hours Earlier Than Scheduled”
The Book of the Swim Meet, Chapter 1, Verse 6:
Thou shalt not ever thinketh of getting thee hence to hide out in Mexico, either, because swim team board members haveth ways of tracking thee down.