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Summer Job: Chapter 32

“The food is lousy. What kind of kid is going to choose raw chicken if they can get a knish or French fries next door?”

Thursday, December 08, 2016

C haim was walking with Shia Langsam past the arts-and-crafts hut toward the small garden, a favorite gathering place for the married staff. A group of women sat in a circle, their young children playing in the playground.

“Look,” Chaim was saying, “it’s poshut to me. As long as the canteen is in the main building, of course there will be kids skipping meals. Let’s be honest, the food is lousy. What kind of kid is going to choose raw chicken if they can get a knish or French fries next door? They don’t care about the money, it’s their parents’ problem. If we move the canteen out here, it’s far enough that they might not want to walk. We’ll make it harder to get there and we’ll limit the hours. It’s brilliant.” “Okay, I’ll be honest with you,” Shia said. “Have you met Mordy Wax? You know, the guy who takes care of maintenance?”

“I think so.” Chaim had met several people over the past few hours, and he wasn’t sure which one Mordy was.

“You know, big guy, not much for smiles. Look, he’s got to be tough, he’s in charge of all the janitors and workers and they all quake in their boots from him.” “Okay, what about him?”

“This is off the record. He wanted to leave camp, got a better offer a couple of years ago from a girls’ camp. He has this unofficial deal with Penner: He opened the canteen and he operates it. It’s his business. Penner doesn’t want to pay him more money, so he rolls with it. Your shver knows it too, and he never said anything, so my advice is not to rock the boat. Leave it as is.” “That’s crazy,” Chaim said, grimacing. “It’s cheating the kids and their parents. I think we should move the canteen, and we’ll pay Wax more money, if that’s what it takes. But this way isn’t good. It’s a scam.”

Langsam looked at Chaim uncertainly. Neos Deshe wasn’t a big place for change, he knew, but he also had instructions from Penner to listen to Chaim Reimer. He was, after all, the de facto director, and, in a sense, the boss.


“Let me speak to Wax about it. I’m sure it’ll be no big deal. I’ll get back to you later.” They walked down the grassy slope, toward the fence that divided the camp from the neighboring farm.

Snippets of conversation from the women seated in oversized Adirondack chairs wafted toward them on the soft midmorning breeze.

“Shauly says he’s a bully, he knows nothing about camp, has zero experience, and barges in here like a big macher.”

Chaim stopped walking.

“I don’t care about the fact that he has no experience, but what bothers me is the attitude. His wife too. She’s a Levinsky, right? She knows that all the married staff eat together, it’s always been that way, so why do they have to go make their own table like it’s a restaurant? Who do they think they are?”

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