LOOK! It’s a Crossing Guard! Do’s and Don’ts …

You approach the intersection and see a giant orange safety flag appear a few feet ahead.  What do you do??

DON’T

  1. … throw your phone across the seat as if I didn’t see you talking on it.
  2. … try to put your seatbelt on, I don’t care about that.
  3. … go around to get into the other lane — to see what’s going on — to get to the intersection — because you’re late and can’t wait.
  4. … look at me to DO SOMETHING because your fellow drivers are inconsiderate. My purpose is strictly to make the drivers aware of the pedestrians
  5. … get upset if I stop you on one side of the cross walk instead of letting you pass when you’re only going to be sitting at a red light.
  6. … SPEED UP!

DO

  1. STOP! and watch for instructions!
  2. look for pedestrians, bicyclists, skateboarders… who might be about to cross from either side of the street.
  3. continue to look for pedestrians even after you’ve completely passed through the intersection.
  4. LEARN the driving LAWS regarding crosswalks, right on red, “blocking the box”, and pedestrian right of way.  —>New York State Drivers Manual
  5. be considerate of your fellow drivers – a teeeny bit of courtesy goes a LONG way and really DOES make the intersection run more efficiently and smoothly.
  6. Have a GREAT day 😀
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Thank you – You love me, you really love me

I love when parents and community  member introduce themselves.  I love meeting new people.  When I’m standing out there like a goofy goober in my reflective yellow safety vest and giant orange flag, I wonder it it’s appreciated.  Not that I’m looking for appreciation because – the full on truth is that I’m doing it for the safety of little kids. ( Why? click here) Not for politics, not for a friend, not for parents or other tax payers and not for myself, and not for a paycheck, which has so far eluded me- because I assure you, myself would rather be home in my snuffy pj’s drinking hot coffee and watching the morning news and yelling at my own kid to get his boney ass out to the bus.

I’m not sure how or why, but I’ve had 265 unique visitors to this page but I know, at least a few of you, are listening.  This morning was AWE SOME!!  A noticeable amount of people stopped and let other drivers in and out of the school parking lot. —. A NOTICEABLE amount of courtesy!!

IF I had anything to do with that – THANK YOU SO MUCH!! If I didn’t – thank you anyway 😀 I just wanted YOU to know  – I noticed.

No Peer Reviewed Confirmations just Car Eyelashes and Dogs

How much do I HATE labels and stereotypes? It’s rhetorical, don’t answer that.  That doesn’t mean I haven’t noticed some… shall I say … “similarities” in certain collective groups of drivers and pedestrians.

I just want to get it out of the way – the bad and the ugly, which, coincidentally are the same…  Honda Civics! Not the “off the lot” Hondas – the customized ones.  They usually have sunroofs, dark tinted windows and brightly colored brakes or rims.  This collective group of drivers like to rev their engines.  I can only conclude that Hondas must stall, a LOT. I can’t think of any other phenomenon which would cause only customized Hondas to force the drivers to constantly rev their engines.

Intersection Blindness is a medical slash driving term which I just invented (and my shit is copyrighted so don’t even try to steal it!). This was a natural segue from the engine revving theme because many many Honda Civic drivers have this, but unlike the revving, this condition is not unique to a certain make or model of car.  This seems to be an age related stereotype, I associate it with younger drivers. When a driver is approximately 600-700 feet before an intersection they become blind to EVERY thing else around them and only see the intersection ahead. They have to “beat the light.”  I think in some alternative driving class somewhere, they teach people to telepathically connect to the stop light by maintaining unbroken eye contact with intersection ahead and a green light fairy will hold it for them so they make it through — pedestrians and side streets be dammed! DON”T BLINK or the light will change…  and whatever you do — DON”T slow down!!

Generally, the pedestrians and bicyclists are very pleasant.  Almost all of them wear headphones. Some take them off to say good morning (or afternoon).  If they don’t take them off, they usually look up and give the nod and a smile – and – I really think the joggers are appreciative of my “Theme from Rocky” rendition as they run through the intersection.

You would think a “cute” car would indicate that the person driving was generally happier or friendlier. That is not the case unless there are accessories involved.  If I see someone driving a car that was heavily promoted by head bobbing hamsters, I would guess they had a sense of humor.  So when they pull in looking all cranky and completely un-amused with life every morning, all I can think is, “those hamsters would NOT be happy.”  Volkswagen Beetle drivers? HOW can you not CONSTANTLY drive around in state of slightly amused, especially driving past a middle school, KNOWING, in at least one of those classrooms or school buses, someone is getting “punch buggied” because of you?

I’ve noticed 3 types of families who drive to school.  The “Not Morning People” families where, NO ONE in the car is happy, smiling, or giving a wave.  The “I Can So Sympathize” families where, the parents are smiling, waving and happy – but the kids are not, at all, excited, happy or enthused about their day in any apparent way!.  Then there are “The Cleavers” – everyone is happy.  The entire car of people is excited about their day, or pretending, or at least well caffeinated. Now that I’m writing it, I don’t recall ever seeing happy kids with unhappy parents.  Hmph. Interesting.

Drivers of cars with eyelashes, minivans and SUVS with stickers all over the interior windows, moms with cups of coffee in their hands and people who drive (and walk) with dogs are the happiest. While a “cute car” has not proved to be an indication of general driver pleasantness, cute accessories totally do! I have witnessed zero incidences of eye lashed adorned vehicles containing a cranky driver.  The coffee drinkers – well, they aren’t smiling, waving goobers like me, but they always manage to muster, at the very least a nod or a wave.  Caffeine up my sister from another mister.  I’m right there with you.

The dogs that get to bring the kids to school are the happiest of all the pedestrians and vehicle occupants. Dogs don’t know from traffic and time schedules, they’re just glad to be there. The smiling furry baby faces peeking from the windows or the entire laundry basket looking fur balls hanging half out of the windows are always accompanied by generally happier looking people.

If you read today’s tale and are wondering “what was the point?” — there isn’t one.  It was all observation.  I’d like to say the point is walk, get a dog, or a car with cute accessories but I think that might be a chicken/egg thing.  ARE they happier because they have those things – or did they get those things because they’re happier?

These Go to Eleven

My first “Tale From the Intersection” is going to be one for my own personal growth.  You’d think the first one would be the one that prompted me to start sharing my tales from the intersection; the one where I almost got flattened by a car … but, no. I’ll share that another day.  Today, I’m going to talk about my own obnoxiousness – something I wasn’t aware of until I saw it from my crossing guard perspective.

I love my car! It’s a sanctuary. I love a long commute. I love traffic. I can sit in my cocoon, and listen to whatever I want on the radio, or sit in the quiet and think.  I can set my heating or cooling to the perfect temperature for me, or leave my windows down and enjoy the fresh air.  What I really love is cranking my radio to old 80’s cheesy pop metal, Motorhead, AC/DC, Frank Sinatra, Bob Marley, Anita Baker — whatever my mood calls for at the time.  But mainly, I like it LOUD. Loud like, I go through speakers like some people go through tires, loud.

It’s fucking obnoxious from the outside.  There’s no pretty way to say it.  I’ve also noticed a direct connection in the shittyness to the loudness of the music.  I rarely hear anything good pounding out of the cars, but their music is good to them, like mine is to me. My car IS my cocoon, but the intersection is not.

How long do you actually spend in the intersection? A few minutes TOPS.  You really don’t think about what goes on when you’re not there.  I like the morning part of my job because it’s slower and the busy parts come in little spurts.  A large part of my morning is spent smelling the morning air and greeting students and staff headed to the SUNY campus.  It’s almost like the Truman Show in the routine-ness of it, yet at times, it’s completely random and unpredictable.   The girl with the pony tail and glasses is off on Mondays. The guy with the brown dog comes through right before the guy in the hat, who is headed to the deli.  There’s a blind woman who crosses at the other end of the intersection – she waits for the sound of the walk/don’t walk alarm, but she doesn’t come every day.  There’s a guy with two really fluffy white dogs that usually crosses paths with the guy who likes the black running outfits. One morning, there was blue paint all through the intersection.  You could see where it led from the dumpster, and where the person driving the paint turned the vehicle around to back it in.  It’s been getting fainter and fainter every day — But you wouldn’t notice that in the 2 minutes you sit there for the red light.

The intersection is not mine.  Not when I’m driving in it and not when I’m crossing small to mid size children in it. When my radio is loud enough for other people to hear it, it means someone can’t hear the walk/don’t walk buzzer – it means me, or someone else around me, might not hear the police or ambulance coming up from behind – it means I can’t yell for a kid to stop because I can see that the car coming out of the lot is not slowing down, well… I can yell, but he won’t hear me.

I am not, not even for one iota of a second saying,  “I’m not going to turn it up to 11”. When I approach an intersection, or residential area, I WILL turn it down. You’re not going to enjoy my music, I’m a potential danger to myself and others and, even though I wasn’t going to talk about almost getting hit by a car today, I KNOW that woman felt bad — and stupid — but not as bad and stupid as if she had hit me, or the little kid I was on my way over to secure the intersection for.  I couldn’t live with myself if my audiological desires were the cause of, what could have been, a similar, horrific, but completely avoidable tragedy.