Monday, April 10, 2006

My silent war with the school crossing guard

Every day I pass my old grade school on my way to work. It's the Paul Revere School, on Revere Street, in Revere. You can't get quainter than that. Here's the thing: The crossing guard at the school is making me miserable.

Look, I'll say this up front: Of course I want children to remain safe as they walk to school. And this is a woman who volunteers her time to make sure the children stay safe. That's fantastic. I'm sure she's a wonderful lady with a big heart. My concern is that her heart's a little too big.

Our Lady of the Crossing Children stops traffic for every single little snot who steps up to her crosswalk. She doesn't wait for other kids approaching to reach, and then cross them all at once. She doesn't allow parents to cross by themselves. She crosses everyone as soon as they show up.

As a result, she stops traffic like a dozen times before I can pass her. I turn onto Revere Street about 6 blocks away from the school. It should take me 30 seconds to pass the school. Instead, because of her, it usually takes me the better part of five minutes. Every day. That's nothing, really, but it's killing me because it used to be different when I went to school there.

Back in my day, Dotty was our crossing guard. Dotty was awesome (I was best friends with her son). A kid would walk up to her spot, and she would look to see if anyone else was coming. If there was, she'd wait patiently until everyone was sort of gathered up and THEN cross us. It was a marvelous system that balanced the safety of children with the need of everyone else to get to work every day. Thoughtful, pragmatic, caring. Those were the golden years of school crossing guards.

Today, however, was a perfect example of how this once-great art has been lost. We all stopped for the bus as it let out the kids. The crossing guard (who I swear really must be a nice lady) stood in the road to block traffic, which is fine. But then she lets some van scoot out from a side road in front of the bus, which seems crazy to me. But fine, whatever, the van is also a school bus of sorts, so it's in her purview, I suppose. But after that, she stops traffic to let a kid across the street, and then stops traffic AGAIN to let some old Buick out from the same side street. I was trapped a block away from the school for like seven minutes while all this was going on. What the Hell!

Had Dotty been there, things would have been different in a number of ways. First, the bus would have used some side street to turn around and therefore dump the kids off onto the sidewalk in front of the school. Maybe that wasn't Dotty's doing, but it happened back in my day and it was better. Traffic would still have stopped, but keeping the kids on the right side of the street is safer to begin with. This would also allow the van to pull out and line up behind the bus, dropping off the kids inside and saving us all an extra step in the process.

Dotty would have held onto the kid as others were walking down the street toward her, and she never, NEVER would have stopped traffic to help some old guy in an Eighty-Eight pull out into traffic, because she has better things to worry about. Just like that, you trim the wait time in half, and stop at least one commuter from mentally swearing at a person doing a bad job with a good deed.

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