Black Market Lunch
When I was in public school, lunch was doled out according to the number of lunch coupons you had. You could buy a week's worth of coupons, or you could buy them daily.
Mom thought I brought my lunch every day. I never told her that I usually got my lunch on the black market. Because some of the more enterprising 8th graders would make copies of their lunch coupons and sell them throughout the week. So, if I was lucky enough to find money on the ground, or if I had something to trade; I could get a black market lunch. The 8th graders would take money, cigarettes, pills, or services -like running stacks of coupons to other sellers.
It didn't take long to learn that food coupons had different values on different days. On "meat"loaf day, you could buy black market lunch for a dime. On pizza day, the cost was 75 cents or 5 cigarettes. I never stole my mom's cigarettes, but I did carry a pack around in my purse for trading. The white kids smoked Marlboro, the black kids smoked Kools. Sometimes I'd find a half a pack of smokes on the ground in front of the bar after a fight. That was a good find. It meant I could eat without being part of the crime syndicate... Although I was a good runner.
Another way to get in good with the 8th graders was to hide their activities and warn them when a teacher was coming. That was easy work. All you had to do was start a game of dodgeball on the side of the school and have a watcher. The crowd of dodgeball players would obscure any 8th grade activity, and give plenty of time to put out their cigarettes if a teacher was coming.
Playing dodgeball was how I learned about black market lunch in the first place. I wondered why there was a crowd of kids around the 8th graders, and wandered over. It took me a few days to figure out that you really could get a hot lunch, practically for free! From that point on, I ate black market lunch and gave my peanut butter sandwiches away.
When I finally fessed up to my mom (last night), she told me she used to counterfeit bus passes at her school.