Crossing guards are different everywhere.
Perhaps I should rephrase that since, after all, I haven’t been ‘everywhere.’ It would be more accurate to say that they’ve been different everyplace that I’ve been but that’s more wordy, less pithy and in any case you probably understood what I was trying to say in the first place.
When I went to school in Calgary (lo these many years ago) the crossing guards were (a) students and (b) almost paramilitary in their organization. (In those days I wouldn’t have called them ‘paramilitary’ but only because at that age I had never heard the word.) They wore neon orange (I almost said ‘dayglo’ but that, apparently, is a trademark) Sam Brownes and (for lack of a better word) drilled, seemingly endlessly. There was marching (almost but not quite goose-stepping), smacking of signs and whistling and I thought that they were impressive as hell.
Of course, I was younger then.
When we moved (to Ottawa, in case you care), things were different. The crossing guards at my new school were something of a shock. As in Calgary they were students and wore the same hideous Sam Brownes but there the similarities pretty much ended. There were no whistles. There was no marching. There was no drilling. Heck, they were positively laid back.
In both cities, the crossing guards ‘guarded’ the street outside the school and nothing more. That made sense because the street outside both schools was the busiest in the neighbourhood. In Kingston, though, things are…different: most of the local-ish schools are located on streets that aren’t all that busy. There are, however, busy streets near them so a fairly large flux of kiddies (those without helicopter parents) will have to cross busy streets on the walk home. Because of this, there are crossing guards stationed at ‘some’ high traffic intersections. These guards are adults, not students, do not wear Sam Brownes (sometimes they wear ugly jackets or vests instead), are not paramilitary and typically work alone.
I mention all this because one of those intersections is on the route I take when going to Thursday hockey: I drive north on M St. and turn right onto J St. Last week I pulled up to the ‘Stop’ sign, signalled a right turn and looked both ways (but mostly left — J St. is one way). The crossing guard (a young lady, probably in her twenties) looked at me, nodded and walked to the middle of J St with her sign so that I could turn right without delay.
Say what? I’ve never seen a crossing guard do that. Maybe I looked helpless or old or pathetic or something.
As I turned the corner I asked myself if I felt guilty that a pregnant woman (oh, did I forget to mention that part?) was standing in traffic so I could get to hockey a few seconds faster.
Nah, I decided. There weren’t any cars coming anyway.