16 May 2006
The Traffic Gustapo
Home is just two minutes away from where I sat at the 4-way stop sign. If I had taken another route, I would've been home in no time. I did not mind sitting in a long line waiting to approach the intersection, though.
In fact, I needed to sit there and wait just like I need ice cream and potato chips during a certain time each month. It is my daily guilty pleasure to observe the traffic crossing guard because I've learned the secret:
roll down the window!
Each day as parents begin the walk to the elementary school or start to line along the street in their cars, the crossing guard in my neighborhood assumes her position: whistle in mouth, hand-held stop sign in hand and a gleam of light in her eye. She is ready to take down any fool who dares to speed through her intersection. And by speed, I mean go more than 10 mph in the 15 mph zone. Because, obviously, if someone would dream of going 11 mph, they have absolute criminal potential to go 16.
Sometimes I consider climbing one of the trees and just sitting there for the full hour to hear her and to watch her. For now, though, I wait in lines I could easily avoid and roll down my window so I can hear her call out to cars as they pass.
Whistle blows . . . "Hey!! A small child weighs 35 pounds! A vehicle weighs about 4,000 pounds!" Car being reprimanded has long passed the crossing guard. "Now which do you think will survive the impact? Do you want to be responsible for the life of a small child? SLOW DOWN!!!"
Whistle blows . . . "SLOW DOWN!! I'm going to take down your license number and one day you're going to open your mailbox and there will be a little gift inside for you" Car being reprimanded has also long passed the crossing guard. "A ticket! Just for you. SLOW DOWN!!"
Whistle blows . . . "Hey!! You can't drive through here like that! This isn't a race track! There are kids! SLOW DOWN!!"
She directs the 4-way stop, too. Sometimes she directs it completely wrong, allowing the left-of-way to go before the right. But nobody dares second-guess her and that whistle.
She gets her kicks yelling at people. She loves her job, I suppose; she loves these children's lives and will yell at a car for miles if they pose a threat. And people should slow when our kids are walking near. It's the law.
But it's not just about the law for this crossing guard. It's her time, her rules! And she's not about to let someone drive too fast. Not on her watch! She even told me once, "When I'm here, I'm in charge! My rules are what count!"
And, well, I get my kicks in some strange way by listening to her yell. If I get there on a rare day where she seems to wear a smile, I sometimes even rev my engine just a little bit so that I can get her all riled up.
Ahhh . . . what will I do when summer arrives? Another reason to sleep until September, I suppose.