Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Cross about crossing

I have a fair amount of respect for people who work as school crossing guards. The idea of putting oneself in charge of the safety of other people's children is a daunting one, as is the idea of stepping confidently into an intersection in the path of cell-phone weilding, coffee sipping, child scolding, gas-pedal slamming drivers who feel that crosswalk lines don't apply to them. I've been a good crosswalk citizen, stopping in time to give the guard and his or her hordes of kiddos free space to cross; I've been a bad crosswalk citizen, horning into the passageway to get a head start on a right turn and then feeling sheepish as kids flow around my car; and I've been a judgmental crosswalk citizen, tsking at those who barge through when little ones have clearly left the sidewalk.

So I value a good crossing guard, I really do, and I wish them luck in a stressful job. But I gotta say, the old fellow who's crossing kids at the corner between my children's schools is really starting to get on my nerves. It's a busy intersection, and about the only hope a left-turner has of getting through in this lifetime is to turn on the green arrow -- which the city has thoughtfully provided, presumably in the realization that it's an absolute necessity. Apparently, though, they forgot to tell this crossing guard, who refuses to wait for the light to actually turn green and instead insists on crossing kids during that little sliver of green-arrow time, effectively blocking left-turning traffic for minutes or maybe hours, the way it feels sometimes. I don't understand why he thinks this okay -- the "walk/don't walk" sign still says "don't" when he's doing it -- but he's sure of himself, alright, to the point of yelling at drivers and banging on their cars as though they were trying to run a red light. I'm about ready to call the city and lodge a complaint about this -- because he's clogging an already congested street, because it's dangerous to cross kids when cars have a reasonable expectation of having the right of way, because his attitude ticks me off -- but I don't want to fall afoul of any sort of crossing guard union. Every now and then I need to cross the street, too.

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