30 June 2017

The Crossing Guard

There is a crossing guard near my house who dresses up as Elvis. I don’t even know if this is legal, but he wears the regulation orange vest, and has a big red stop sign instead of a guitar, so I guess it’s okay. At Christmas he dresses up as Santa, and around Easter he wears a big pair of furry ears.

His job is to take care of all the tiny souls that cross the street. Like a heard of turtles, they amble across the road lugging giant backpacks. They are too young and too distracted (and too weighed down) to really understand danger, and their only real job is stay between the white lines and not fall down.

I take my basset hound for a walk just before kiddy rush hour – but the crossing guard is standing there, holding his sign. He sees me walking slowly down the street with my short-legged buddy, who stops to smell every blade of grass, and every drop of dew. Sometimes the dog gets lucky, finding a discarded sandwich in the hedges, and like lighting, I stick my hand in his mouth and grab it. One of my hands is usually covered in slobber.

The crossing guard watches me. When I’m about ten feet away he blows his whistle, marches into the crosswalk, and hold out his big red sign. Traffic halts, and the lucky drivers in the front car get treated to a bunny, a Santa, or the King. It’s fun for them for about a minute. Which is about how long it takes for us to actually reach the road. And when we do, the crossing guard has stopped all oncoming traffic, and is quietly whistling ‘you ain’t nothing but a hound dog’ as he waits vigilantly for us to cross to the other side.

This is when I feel the safest. Not just safest during the day, but the safest, ever. Seeing this man (and many other guards) standing, beckoning, waiting, and bringing to a standstill thousands of pounds of metal is impressive. The fact that he withholds danger is amazing. And the fact that he devotes his time to bring people safely to the other side makes me want to cry.

I need more crossing guards in my life. I need at least three right now that I can lend out to my friends and family, especially  to one gorgeous soul in particular. Life is not stable. One lousy phone call can bring the strongest person to their knees. And when that happens you need someone who will stop the oncoming madness and make sure that you land safely wherever you need to be.

 Mostly, we need someone who will keep us from harm. A six foot Easter rabbit who will watch us as every step of the way. A lookout. A guide. A protector.

Now my dog and I are on the other side of the street.  Safe from harm, and exactly where I want to be. I wish for everyone to be so lucky.