Crossing guard shares lessons learned

Bay Village can boast that some of its school crossing guards have been on the job longer than most. Although officially a senior citizen, I’m a relative “kid” on the crossing guard staff, on the job less than two years.

Crossing guard duty seemed a good way to spend time – if even a brief time – with children. It didn't matter that they were somebody else's children, I like them all. (My grandfather was a school crossing guard in the '60s but he quit because, as it turned out, he didn't really like kids.)

I love the "work," and I take it seriously. I was a substitute crossing guard in both Westlake and Bay Village for a while before I landed the permanent "gig" in Bay Village. I would have loved to be the person a kid brought to school on Career Day but, alas, it wasn't to be.

We crossing guards don't look very menacing with our little STOP signs and fluorescent vests, but anyone who has violated our space or broken our rules won't soon forget the warning "LOOK" we give them. Crossing guards are, in fact, what often stands between the cars and the children.

And, just like the postal carriers our motto is that "Neither rain nor snow... " nor the winds off Lake Erie, will keep us from our posts. This past winter was a tough one; when I was dressed in full gear I looked like a gingerbread man.

Guards who have been at this duty a lot longer than I would probably tell you the same thing, that we would like to really get to know your children but there's not much of an opportunity when we're watching the cars this intently. Kids, guards and drivers can't afford to be distracted by anything more than a wave, or a quick "Good morning," or "Have a good day." (I do, however, take the time to remind the children to floss regularly.)

In closing, I want to share a few things I've learned while "on the job" in Bay Village:

  1. Your children are generally well behaved and follow directions for crossing.
  2. Many drivers either talk on phones or read their smartphones while waiting for green lights. Talkers try to hide the phone, but I can always see you.
  3. Afternoon drivers are generally more attentive. (Better moods on their way home from work?)
  4. I try to warn kids about LOOKING TO THE LEFT for cars turning right on red. There are no “no right turn on red” signs at our corner.
  5. Bike to School Week was a good idea but the little ones who are new to riding need serious practice beforehand. They need to learn how to control their bikes starting up and slowing to a stop.
  6. Hand-braking bicycles are difficult for young riders. They would be better off on bikes that stop using foot pedals. “Hand brakers” tend to use their shoes to stop.
  7. Helmets are apparently "optional" once many of the children are out of sight of their house (and Mom and Dad). Helmets often end up in the baskets or hanging from their handlebars.
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Volume 6, Issue 12, Posted 9:17 AM, 06.10.2014