Most every weekday of the school year, I pass as many as six crossing guards. My three children attend three different schools, so this isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Still, I do spend at least a few minutes of our commute in awe of these men and women. [Note: I should say man and women due to the fact that only one of the six is male. My personal theory is that women make good crossing guards because we are excellent multi-taskers. For instance, I am—right now—simultaneously typing this blog post, cooking supper, and texting about carpools. Oh, double-X chromosome, is there anything you can’t do?!]
Since we see these same six people 180 days of the year, I begin to feel like I know them. For instance, I’ve created a backstory for the man in front of our elementary school. He has a New York-type accent and a pointy, white goatee. (true) I’ve decided he’s an independently wealthy, retired CEO who moved here from Silicon Valley to find some peace and quiet. He only does the crossing guard gig to get out of the house a couple of times a day. (fiction) He replaced a lady who worked nights, stopped traffic in the mornings, went home to sleep, and then returned in the afternoon (That part is not fictional. We got to know her as we walked to school. You can actually find out a lot about a person with just a couple of sentences a day for six or seven years).
One of the most famous crossing guards in Murfreesboro’s history has to be the lady who directs traffic on Memorial Boulevard. She wears costumes and/or holds props for all major holidays (including Veteran’s Day). Her movements are as smooth as a Japanese kabuki dancer. She seems oddly at home right in the middle of five lanes of busy traffic.
The lady who stands at the convergence of the elementary, middle, and high schools near us is the most cheerful crossing guard I’ve ever seen. At 7:45 in the morning, you’ll find her giving out two-handed waves as she walks to her spot. Looking at her beaming smiles, you’d think she was on a float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, instead of directing traffic on a cold, rainy Monday morning.
Which brings me to the weather…
Lately, we’ve had some very cold and icky mornings, especially for November. They can be seen suited up with bright, yellow raincoats, thick gloves, and rubber boots. In spite of their regulation outer garments, I know they’re freezing. And yet, these six community servants can always be found at their spot, on time, doing their job. It sounds obvious, right? They apply for the job, get trained, do their job, and get paid. But look at the job they do: they keep the traffic moving, they protect kids trying to cross the street, they intentionally put themselves in harm’s way for us.
I love to point out these six people to my kids. I want them to see that no matter what job they choose they should do it well. Like the smiling crossing guard, they can find joy in everyday chores. Like the graceful crossing guard, they should take pride in what they do. And like the crossing guard who—when directing traffic in front of the private school down the road mouths thank you to the driver who she stopped and is now allowing to drive again—they should always strive to be polite.
I also want them to see what it means to be a part of a community. We live out the phrase my grandfather used to say in all his prayers before supper. He would ask the Lord to “guard, guide, and direct”. If we can be God’s hands and do this for our fellow man (or woman), then maybe we can make it through this mess!