By Christine Waldman
You may not know this about me, but I am well versed in the Crossing Guard arts. In fact, I have my own Crossing Guard name - Chris Cross. Now, you may be asking yourself: "There's an art to being a Crossing Guard?" Yes, my friends, there is.
First, not everyone can make a fashion statement wearing a neon-green vest. Apparently, I know how to work it, because during my first week of standing on the corner working (so to speak), a scruffy looking guy in a rusty car slowed down and said, "It's about time they got a good looking crossing guard in this town!"
"Um...thanks." I replied.
This same gentleman has driven past other times, usually he gives me the thumbs up, which is something that never fails to impress us ladies. I had to stop his car once so I could cross some kids and he yelled out enthusiastically, "Good job!" as if I had just performed brain surgery or completed a really good balance beam dismount.
I have also noticed a few appreciative looks from borough workers driving by in their trucks who, like me, were sporting neon-green work clothes. There is the possibility that my ego is getting the better of me, though. They might just be snickering at the fool on the corner who is also forced to wear a fluorescent uniform.
You probably are wondering about now how one enters into the field of Crossing Guard technologies. There is a rigorous training program which begins and ends with the supervisor showing you the ropes.
"Oh, so you stand in the middle of the street and hold up the sign?"
"Yes," says the CG Supervisor, "Make sure you hold the sign up so the cars can see it, oh...and so they don't run you over."
"And then you wait for the kids to cross before you put your sign down," she adds. "Ohhhh," I mean, what else is there to say, it's pretty obvious that's the whole purpose of the Crossing Guard;s job is to guard kids while they cross the street.
The favorite part of my job, besides the ultra-hip vest, is getting paid to yell at kids. As a mother of three, I have a lot of experience in this field and I am quite proficient at it. When kids aren't crossing the street properly, I get to shout at them to stay in the cross walk. They always listen to me because I have the Mommy voice.
One day a kid started running out into the street at an angle and 10 feet from the cross walk. A police car just happened to be the vehicle that he ran in front of. I made the child come back to where he started and walk in the cross walk. The officer rolled down his window and said, "Nicely done."
It's great to be acknowledged for a job well done by a fellow officer. Well... I technically do work for the police department, so that makes me an honorary policewoman, right? Well, maybe not, but I think I should at least get a badge...or a gun. Yeah, a gun would be awesome because I could shoot out the tires of all those idiots that go over 15 mph in the school zone.
Another wonderful thing about being a CG is that everyone waves at me. People I have never seen before in my life wave and I still have no idea why. Maybe I look lonely standing there by myself on the corner, I don't know, but I like it because all that waving makes me feel like a beauty queen. A beauty queen in a fluorescent vest, but a beauty queen nonetheless.
There is also some unwritten rule that CGs and school bus drivers must wave at each other. I think that it is a sort of solidarity between two professions who deal with crazed children. Or perhaps a secret signal meaning, these kids are driving me nuts!!Meet me at the bar after work!
One other perk to my job is that I get a lot of holiday and end-of-the-year gifts. I have received many pretty packages filled with chocolate and coffee, as well as some gift certificates for Dunkin Donuts. Obviously, those parents see the merit in me being very alert while crossing their darlings across the busy streets.
All in all, I do like being a crossing guard. I enjoy the cute kids and helping to make sure that they get home safe, and I love that I get to wear neon on a daily basis. And I dream that some day they might give me a badge and a gun.
Well, they probably won't give me a gun, but the badge would be nice.
Christine Waldman is a CG in Phoenixville. For those who my want to give it a try, the job pays $22 a day.