Tales From the Crosswalk

OK, I know I said yesterday I would post another Shamedown, but I’m going to put it off for a few days. Why? Because it’s Story Time. I’m not telling this to toot my own horn or anything, believe me. I just need to vent.

crossingguardcartoon
Yes, plenty of crossing guards are tempted to do this.

Anyone who’s read my blog for a while knows I recently started working as a school crossing guard for a neighboring city. My intersection is a four-way stop next to a middle school, with an elementary school up the street. It was intimidating at first, but my co-workers have been great and the kids are sweet. Most of time, the drivers are pretty reasonable, too. It’s all very chummy–a lot of people wave to me as they drive past my corner.

All us crossing guards have weird and bizarre stories, because things happen. Even me, the newbie, has things to tell, but my stories have been sedate. Up until yesterday, the weirdest thing that happened to me at work was when a cat gave birth to kittens right in the street. Keep in mind, everything in this story is true, and it all happened in the space of an hour. Yeah, this is 24: Crossing Guard Edition. 

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Riverside, California

Once it was all over, I walked into my apartment, held up a flower, and my husband’s face twisted in a quizzical “What happened?” expression.

Intrigued yet? Here we go.

A bearded construction worker (I’ll call him Todd) came driving a big-rig through my intersection, wanting to make a right turn from the far lane. And he wanted me to hold back all the cars while he did it.

“It’s not my job to direct traffic, sir,” I told him. “I advise you to go straight.”

Meanwhile, the other drivers were dead silent like they expected a shot to be fired. Well, that, and Todd’s truck was blocking the intersection.

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CBS New York

“Sir, move your vehicle now,” I ordered.

Todd was having none of it. He got out of his cab and tried to direct traffic himself. That’s right. A grizzled little bespectacled scrub of a man who looks like he swigs Coors every night was actually screaming at the cars to move.

When some of my middle school kids showed up, he yelled at them to cross. I shook my head and told them to stay where they were. They stood frozen, taking in the scene with “Oh crud, what do we do?” looks on their faces.

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City of Cuyahoga Falls

I choked back a weird desire to laugh, because it was so surreal. Todd had no idea how to direct traffic, so basically all he did was wave his arms and yell unintelligible epithets at the other drivers, all of whom were just as frozen as my kids. At this point, though, I was far from minding, because I was busy memorizing the license plate number on Todd’s big-rig.

“Are you flipping me off?” Todd asked menacingly.

What I thought was, “What’s wrong, dude? Got a guilty conscience?”

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Ottawa Safety Council

What I said was, “No, sir, I am not flipping you off, but you are making my job harder and I will be reporting you to my supervisor. Move. Your. Vehicle. Now.”

At that, Todd got back in his truck and drove through the intersection. My poor kids finally got to cross the street, and the other drivers rolled through, most of them looking a little shell-shocked, although a few of them did give me a thumbs up.

Well, all except one little granny driving a white Chevy: “I called him an a-hole!” she proudly told me.

Woo hoo! You go, Granny. If there’s one thing I’ve learned so far on this job, it’s Don’t Mess With the Grannies.

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YouTube

I reported Todd. To my supervisor and the police, all of whom were very interested. I settled back in, hoping the rest of the hour would be quiet, when Samir (not his real name) appeared. He’s an older fellow, probably in his late seventies or early eighties.

I first saw this guy about a month ago when my son came with me to the crosswalk. I thought Samir was deaf or hard of hearing because he motioned instead of talking. He seemed nice, smiling and blowing kisses. My son and I waved and left.

Hard of hearing. Heh. Nope. Samir is Lebanese and speaks little English. He came up and introduced himself to me on Tuesday, which was fine, and from what I could tell, he thought I was doing a good job at the crosswalk. Problem was, though, he kept kissing my hand and cheek.

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Twitter

Now, I know people in other cultures do this, particularly in Europe and the Middle East, but my Irish and English blood felt creeped out. You don’t kiss total strangers in Ireland or the UK unless you want to get belted. Same thing in America. We like our personal space, folks, please and thank you. I shook Samir off as kindly as I could, but to my chagrin the smell of his aftershave was all over my hands. And it didn’t go away. For hours. It was like being Totsied. Those who watch Gilmore Girls will know what I’m talking about.

So yeah, after Todd grumbled through yesterday, Samir shows up to my crosswalk and stands in the opposite corner watching me work. I kept my distance; I didn’t want that guy anywhere near me.

Samir, however, was not to be deterred. As I was driving away, he motioned that he wanted to say something, so I rolled down my window and he hands me the flower. He also massaged my hand and motioned to the empty passenger seat.

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Sydenham Current

He wanted a ride.

Uh uh. Nothing doing, Samir. Thank heavens all my doors were locked. I sped away and drove home as fast as I could, my face sagging in disbelief and my right hand reeking of Samir’s aftershave. It took three hand-washings and a liberal application of Wild Citrus Sunflower lotion to get the smell off.

The morals of these stories? Drive carefully, don’t expect others to cover for your mistakes, and beware handsy men.

That brings us up to today, and I’m about to head out for the morning session of my work day. I do like my job, but Todd and Samir had better not show up again because I have no interest in taking prisoners. Days like yesterday happen, and I can laugh about it now. Took a while, though…ugh. Still, there may be a book in all of this someday, who knows.

Did you like my little foray into storytelling? It felt kinda good to write about something different for a change, and thanks for letting me vent. More tales of a different kind are on their way Sunday, and who else is glad it’s Friday tomorrow? Later…

4 thoughts on “Tales From the Crosswalk

  1. As a former truck driver, I can sympathize with Todd. I’ve made a right turn like you described many times. Depending on the intersection, you may need two lanes so you don’t end up dragging your trailer over the curb, or wrapping it around a light pole. Also, if you miss your turn, a truck most likely can’t just go up a block or two and turn around. There are restricted routes, there are dead ends, there are roads that are too tight for trucks, there are low bridges, you often have to go a few miles before you can turn around. So try to look at things from the truck driver’s point of view.

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    1. So, Patrick, was it OK for Todd to get out of his cab and obstruct traffic? Was it OK for him to berate me and other drivers? There were plenty of places on that street where he could have made that right turn, and we have plenty of big-rigs come through. What they usually do is they straddle the lanes and then everyone gives them room. Both the police and my employer told me I did the right thing, and so did my husband, who used to be in law enforcement and was also an A-class truck driver. Helps to have all the information, you know?

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      1. He didn’t handle it well, but understand what it means to have to find a new route to wherever it is a truck is trying to get to. When I was at one of those intersections I just put my turn signal on and then waited until it was clear, or a car could see what was going on and would stop and let me make my turn.

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      2. Believe me, I understand, but that’s not what this guy did. It’s not my job to direct traffic, but it was the guy’s job to be vigilant and not obstruct it. I told him where to go, and he didn’t follow my advice. That’s on him. Also, Patrick, consider things from my point of view. Todd was in a school zone in a residential area on a two-lane road, and it is my job to make sure the kids get across the street safely so traffic can keep moving. It’s not my job to help a grumpy truck driver break the law.

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