JASPER, IN–Jasper Junior High School became the site of the nation's latest incident of teen ridicule Tuesday, when a pair of lunch ladies was brutally mocked by two students while serving breaded chicken patties and tater tots with fruit cup or raspberry-cobbler surprise. The students, eighth-graders Alex Byner, 14, and Dan Mattson, 13, have been detained for questioning. They have not yet been formally charged.
According to school officials, lunch ladies Birgit Szlach, 54, and Agatha Klogeil, 69, were ladling gravy onto the trays of Byner and Mattson when the youths opened fire with a barrage of insults, "giggling, pointing and making fake vomiting sounds clearly directed at the cafeteria employees."
"What we have here is a couple of kids looking to exploit the inherent dumpiness of school-cafeteria workers for their own humor purposes," school principal Milton Leyner said. "Trying to make themselves feel like big men by picking on the lowest of the low. It's sick, that's what it is." While most details of the mockery are still not known, it is believed that the teens focused primarily on the lunch ladies' appearance, cracking wise over their leathery skin, hideous hairnets and shapeless, mustard-yellow frocks. Particularly amusing to the teens was the German-born Szlach, who, with her squat, blockish frame and tree-trunk ankles, resembles a barn.
Also mocked by the teens, sources said, were the indifferent flips of the lunch ladies' wrists as they haphazardly ladled creamed corn onto tray after tray, splattering everyone in the immediate area with the vile substance, as well as the overall impression of world-weary despair they exuded as they plodded through their daily labors without the slightest glimmer of enthusiasm. Both Mattson and Byner have histories of lunch-lady mocking. In November 1997, Mattson was sentenced to one day of after-school detention for calling lunch lady Edith Greil "Edith Whale." That same month, Mattson was sentenced to two days detention when he placed a pea on his chin in the same spot where Klimt has a mole. In May 1998, Byner was sent to the principal's office in connection with an impersonation of lunch lady Patricia Grosbeck, whose speech is mildly slurred as the result of a stroke. The site of over two dozen mockings since 1995, Jasper Junior High School has developed a reputation among district administrators as a "trouble spot" for lunch-lady-related juvenile crime. Because lunch-lady derision is generally considered a "gateway mockery," leading to humor at the expense of other, more serious institutions in later life, a number of Jasper alderpersons are calling for the school to be classified as "high-risk" by the Mayor's Special Task Force On Lunch-Lady Abuses. "Lunch ladies are far too easy a target for today's youths," alderperson Irene Heep said. "Kids need to learn that just because lunch ladies are among the most depressing people in our society, they should not be singled out for ridicule." PTA treasurer and concerned parent Brenda Severson agreed. "How would these kids feel if the tables were turned and, God forbid, they had to go through life as one these bovine lunch ladies, shunned and reviled by decent folk?" she said. "Maybe they wouldn't laugh so hard if such a fate were to befall them." "Though you'd never guess it from their emotionally deadened, reptilian countenances, lunch ladies have feelings too," Jasper Junior High principal Martin Lovell said. "With their fungoid facial phenotypes and lack of human dignity, these poor troglodytes are vulnerable to mockery and derision of the most base and callous sort. Our society should be shocked and deeply pained by what these youths, in their childish, savage cruelty, have done."
Due to the unusual severity of the mockery, Mattson and Byner are expected to be tried as tenth-graders. If found guilty, the pair could face up to two months' cafeteria clean-up duty.