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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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?