The Sky Is Falling

It happened. I was worried that it would, knowing how I am. I started feeling twinges of it right from the beginning and I tried to fight it. I almost appreciated “the haters” because they made it okay for me to hate the job, they made it easy for me to be irritated and annoyed by the dangerous drivers nearly running me over- by the fact that NO ONE was listening to me ranting and raving about how dangerous the intersection is- by the freeeeezing (soon to be incredibly hot) rainy, snowy, windy, weather- by the broken sidewalks that I trip over- by the shitty hours and teeeeny tiny paycheck… I know a lot of people who live that way -always annoyed, looking for malice and personal insult whenever possible, always finding the worst because that’s exactly what they’re looking for. – But that’s not me.

It has been my contention all along that “I’m not a crossing guard” … I’m JUST a person who doesn’t want to see someone maimed or killed when it could have been easily avoided. I stand by that -I am NOT a “crossing guard”. I really don’t want to play in traffic in harsh weather – BUT – after that nice 11 day vacation I had, this morning, when I put on my 3 jackets and my fluorescent yellow safety sweatshirt (and today was rasta sock monkey hat day :D) I felt that little twinge of “I missed this” … NO!!?? What’s to miss?? Did you just read that WHOLE first paragraph? I remembered that the kids missed valentine’s day. I remembered that the play (Peter Pan) was coming up soon and how much practice the kids missed. I wondered if “the little burrito” would be back. I know some of the kids names but I call them my own – I have “the little burrito” because he’s always bundled up, I have “the doctor” because, well, he JUST looks like he’s gonna be a doctor when he grows up, I have “the joker” because he just looks like he’s always just about to tell a joke- … where was I?? Oh yeah… “the little burrito” he hasn’t been in for awhile, I worry. I hope he’s being driven and I just don’t see him. I’m sure he’s fine, or I would have heard something, small towns are good that way. Maybe he moved.

WHAT I FOUND
I like this job. Crap! I did not want that! I am NOT a crossing guard!!! I wondered if “Little Red” had a nice vacation, he said he did. Oh! Here comes “Little House” (they just remind me of the old show, I’m not sure why, but if Laura Ingalls has modern day, long lost relatives in New Paltz, these are them) – they bring their dog, I was glad to see them, I really was – weird right? that I would be happy to see people I don’t know and see through glass, for all of 28 seconds, if that. There were a bunch of kids and a LOT of families I was happy to see. I even see kids from when I was a lunch lady dropping off their younger brothers and sisters . I can’t believe how much they’ve grown up. Next year, some of these kids will be going to the high school, maybe they’ll drop off their younger siblings like some of the older high school kids do now. I’ve decided that I’m “in this” for the perks. I got some good samaritan coffee today. That’s my favorite flavor. I like people! Right on the surface and way deep down. I really think most people are good -yeah, it’s bitten me in the ass and I’ve been proven wrong but I learned a lesson from it and they’ve definitely been the few and far between– a miniscule minority in proportion to the amount of people I’ve met.

Sometimes I feel like Chicken Little “CLUCK! someone’s gonna get hurt! SQUAWK” to be met with “Oh, don’t be an alarmist, it’s not that bad.” … But it really is, cluck. When I think that the first published acknowledgement of the need for a crossing guard was in late 2010, I wonder if I’ll be crossing the grandchildren of kids who bought their lunch at my register. I think of the mothers who send their children out, knowing they taught them how to cross, safely and legally – only to think, it doesn’t matter if the child was doing the right thing, it will not protect him from a driver texting, or one who has the sun in his eyes, or one trying to beat the light, or one who thinks if he speeds up he’ll make it through before your kid gets to that side of the road, or one who just didn’t see the person in the crosswalk — or whatever the million reasons that “could be” and have been that pedestrians get hit, even when they’re doing the right thing.

Thank you for trusting me to get your kid across. I mean that. You see how hard it is to get through there and you are handing your child’s life over to me. I’m not being dramatic. I could start posting statistics, or local articles about pedestrians (middle school and college aged students) being struck within feet of our own middle school. I could, but we all have eyeballs. We’ve all witnessed something unsafe, we’ve all seen it completely congested. Just before the vacation I was visited by the New Paltz Transportation Implementation Committee. I feel hopeful that “someone” is finally listening. It’s not lost on me – that if I get what I truly want – for this to be the world’s safest middle school cross walk – that I will render my newly loved job obsolete.

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