The Shack

James has been coaching Nate’s tee ball team, the River Dogs, this season.  It has been a season full of laughs, a bit of chaos, and innovation in tee ball drills… we’ve trademarked the “Not in My Yard” drill.  The only downside was that, as the life partner of Coach James, I somehow inherited the role of Team Parent, when all the other parents became intensely interested in the passing clouds and gopher holes beneath their feet.

And as Team Parent, I’ve followed James’ lead and brought innovation and creativity to the role.  New improvements like, “Bring your own snack!” and e-mail subject lines titled, “A Message from the Snack Shack Police.”  The good news is, any complaining gets you immediately promoted to Team Parent!

One of the primary roles of Team Parent this year is to open the Snack Shack every day for an entire week.  Nothing like needing to report for duty at 4:45PM on a weeknight when the entire world has relocated to Cupertino.

This week truly shone a light on the giant hole in my education that is the competency of food service.

I reported to duty on Wednesday night and began diligently following my checklist.

Soda Machine: I had no idea that the ice that comes out of a soda machine gets in there by dumping giant buckets of cubes into the top while precariously perched on a step ladder.  I’m kind of bummed they don’t trust us to refill the syrup.

Icee Machine: Two “on” buttons.  Why two?  I wish I knew.

Hot Dog Machine: Now this, this was a wake-up call.  I came upon the hot dog steamer and someone had dutifully disassembled it and washed every piece.  Now the Shack is filled with myriad laminated little signs that are infinitely prescriptive and almost dummy-proof.  But there were no signs explaining how to reassemble the hot dog machine and as Coach James would attest, I did not inherit “the Pop gene”… my auto mechanic grandfather.  I poured hot water into the bottom reservoir, directly onto the heating coils… I deduced (and prayed) this was correct given the hard water stains in the bottom of the machine.  But now I had three metal parts and two glass door-like pieces without hinges.  I was not really in the mood for an intelligence puzzle when the Shack needed to be open and ready for business asap.  When all else fails… I turn to Google.  A quick search on my trusty phone for “The Dog Hut” and I find an image of the very conundrum I’m faced with.  A few adjustments and my Cal Poly “Learn by Doing” approach, and I’ve conquered The Hut— I’m filled with pure Shack power.


Pretzel prep is easy, hot water for Cup O’ Noodles and instant coffee and hot chocolate— Piece O’ Cake.  Restocking candy, snacks, straws, cups, napkins, trays, plates— effortless.

But Cheese Nachos: They still haunt me from last season.  This morning I opened the Shack at 9:15AM.  I slopped cups and cups of orange into the enormous Pyrex pitcher to be warmed in the microwave.  I admit, when a lady showed-up and asked me how she could help, I delegated plastic cheese warming without a corn nut of guilt… even when it splattered a little onto her shirt.

9:15AM on a Sunday is way to early for nacho cheese.



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