“So, should we mess around?”
Sehun nudged his colleague’s shoulder in the middle of lunch preparation. The new employee sent him a glare as a warning to back off. Still in her chopping mode for today’s mixed fruit parfait, Yumi had no interest in whatever he had to say.
“You left me hanging the other night,” he continued to whine.
Unbothered as ever, she pushed through him to access the pantry. The juice spill from earlier was still chilling by the entrance even when they had called the janitor to clean it up a while ago. She sighed, it would’ve been much easier if she had just cleaned the mess up herself. Yumi navigated around the spill, pulling out the remaining basket of strawberries to finish off her task.
“The juice spill, please!” She called out for Sehun once more, who finally complied this time around. If only he could put in half of the energy he uses to flirt and actually do some work around here.
Yumi nervously peered at the ticking clock with just 15 minutes left before the children are let out for lunch. After almost a full week of working here, she finally realized why this particular position was paid so well. The empty kitchen was only occupied by her and another cook, simply two staff to cater at least a hundred children in this daycare. Pushing for the finishing touches, Yumi hurriedly filled the parfait cups with yogurt for it to chill in time. Watching the two kitchen staff scrambling about somewhat made Sehun guilty for getting in their way earlier. With a sigh, he promptly washed his hands then threw on some disposable gloves to join them.
“What are you doing?” Yumi paused, eyeing him suspiciously as he worked his way over.
Sehun began to fill the yogurt cups, signaling the puzzled girl to prepare for the incoming lunch rush. He was extremely efficient, Yumi noted, unable to grasp this new side of him in real time. She returned a small nod, making use of the extra help to catch up. The 15 minutes flew by in no time and soon enough, her hungry critics arrived in a single file line, accompanied by their teachers. Yumi fixed her apron before heading out to serve the little ones. Today’s special menu consisted of a classic favorite, chicken noodle soup. The unison cheers lifted her spirit greatly, one of the most rewarding feelings after a grueling race with time earlier.
“Don’t forget your bread!” Yumi reminded each one of them.
By now, she was able to understand the system a little better. The daycare teachers usually reward those who behaved well in class by letting them lead the lunch line, while the more troublesome children had to wait in the back of the line. To Yumi's surprise, she caught a glimpse of an unlikely troublemaker at the back today. Taeho, who she recognized from their initial encounter, had been leading the line this whole week. To be set back behind everyone else caught her off guard slightly, she was curious to know why.
“Taeho, did you get in trouble today?” She asked softly as she served the sulky boy. He turned away, his lips pursed and arms folded in dismay.
“I don’t want chicken noodle soup,” he announced while refusing to move along the line.
Facing her worst fear yet, the new hire scanned around for help but the adults already had their hands full. She let out a nervous laughter, trying her best to remain composed in front of the kid. This is embarrassing, to be all flustered by a child throwing a tantrum.
“What about a ham and cheese sandwich? We also have that available—“
“I don’t want it!” Taeho stomped, his cheeks flushed bright red. He was irritated and the clueless adult before him had zero experience in childcare whatsoever. The kid almost had her surrendering on her first week of work. Yumi clutched on to her apron anxiously when a few more bodies began to complain behind Taeho.
“Taeho, why don’t you wait on the side and I’ll make you something else. Let me help your friends first okay,” she cooed. As if that would make things better.
Where are the damn teachers, she cursed in her head. There were adults scattered all around but in a room where multiple toddlers gathered, a few pair of eyes could only do so much. Just as she was about to cry for help, Taeho beat the girl to it first. His lips shriveled up, tears threatening to fall any moment now. Before she went on a full panic mode, Sehun stepped in to scoop his nephew up. He brought the little one’s head into his chest steadily, his expression much more serious than what Yumi was used to.
“I’m taking Taeho outside for a bit,” he announced, shifting the staff members’ attention towards them. They finally showed concern to this poor child who had been visibly displeased for some time now. She just wondered why they waited this long to take notice of Taeho or perhaps they thought a mere kitchen staff can handle the job for them.
Yumi finished serving the rest of the children before pushing for the main cook to take over her spot. She rushed out to look for the pair, following a single pathway from the cafeteria to an empty playground where she found them under a shaded bench. Yumi made her presence known by waving at the uncle and nephew duo on her way over. The last thing she wanted was