When I grow up I want to be a crossing guard

It takes a certain type of person to be a crossing guard. 


First of all, you have to look good in orange.  Check.

Gotta like kids.  Check.

Gotta be reliable.  Check.                         

Gotta be willing to get up early, and then leave your afternoons free.  Hmmmm….                                       

Most importantly, you have to be willing to throw yourself out there in front of five thousand pounds of hurtling , caffeine-driven, steel,  plastic, and glass, armed only with a wispy little stop sign on the end of a stick.  I could do that.


I have a favorite crossing-guard.  Twice in the last month I have parked my car near her cross-walk with the intention of asking if I could take some pictures of her.  Twice I wimped out.  OK, one of those times it was raining.  Plus, I’m shy.          

So I’ll paint you a picture.  She’s in her sixties at least, probably older.  She wears a baseball cap over what appears to be a wig.  Either that or she has some unnaturally thick hair of an  indescribabe color.  Ok, it’s the color of tuna fish.  The cheap kind.  Not albacore.

She has jowls that would make Walter Matthou jealous.  But they look good on her.  She’s plump, like any respectable grandma.  She wears sneakers.  But my favorite thing about her is that she often wears pink pants.  And they look amazing with the orange vest.

What can I say.  Every time I drive past her spot, early morning or mid-afternoon, rain or shine,  she’s there.  I wonder what her name is.  She looks like an Edna.  Yup, definitely an Edna.  Or Dora.

She must have seniority among the crossing-guards because she has the best spot, with the public library on one side and a beautiful old church on the other.  Warning lights flash when someone wants to cross.  Good back-up.  She has a folding chair set up on each side.  This morning she was sitting propped against a telephone poll, lost in thought, umbrella at her side.  Across the way she sits beside a huge planter that is currently in bloom with yellow daisies and purple rosemary, the church towering behind her.  Go ahead and picture it. 

Someday, hopefully not too soon, Edna will get a promotion and find herself guarding that big cross-walk in the sky.  By then I should be ready to wear pink pants.


About Zahara

gardener, cyclist, student, mom,
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21 Responses to When I grow up I want to be a crossing guard

  1. Edna seems pretty scary and tough. She could probably stop a train and make it go in reverse with a stern look. The turtle/snail cartoon is a scream.

  2. afrankangle says:

    I also get the picture that the kids don’t mess with this lady. Nonetheless … you’ve gotta stop to say something to her. Just go up … and hopefully you don’t have to cross right away … say hi … ask her how long she’s been doing this …. or why she does it … just be nice with small talk.

    • Zahara says:

      Yes! That’s what I’ll do. I’ll get to know her first, without my camera. Then one day I’ll spring it on her and she’ll whack me with her stop sign.
      But seriously, I love the suggestion and I’m gonna do it.

  3. huffygirl says:

    You didn’t need a photo Z – your description was so vivid I could almost see her.

    One year my son had a favorite crossing guard and wanted to give her a present at the end of the year. We went to the greenhouse together, picked out a plant, and brought it home where we carefully wrapped it in tissue paper and ribbon. My shy third grader carried it all by himself to the crossing guard the next day. It’s a memory that still brings tears to my eyes even though he’s all grown up now. Thanks for reminding me.

    • Zahara says:

      Oooooh! I love the story of your son and the plant and the crossguard. Super-sweet. Don’t ya love it how a blog post can revive lost memories and bring on another story?! Blog on!

  4. Crossing guards? I have never seen one that’s not at a school (or special event). So she’s there all day? Ours are just there to for 30 minutes or so in the morning and in the afternoon to help kids get to and from school.

  5. Linda Lewis says:

    Z, I am laughing out loud. Yesterday I drove through the elementary school zone in my neighborhood and as I watched the crossing guards smiling and laughing with the kids, I wondered if that was a job for me. Then I thought about having to get up early, standing in the rain, suffering through cold days and decided maybe not.

    • Zahara says:

      There’s that. Imagine all the weather these brave people have to face. Rain, snow, sleet, hail, freezing cold, scorching heat, global warming… Letter carriers and crossing-guards: built of the same tough stuff. Choose your climate wisely.

  6. Kim says:

    “Gotta be willing to get up early” is definitely the hardest part!

  7. I love this post. It reminded me of the crossing guard at the elementary school my son attended. He’s in middle school now so I only see her on my way to work. I always beep and give a wave. Love the turtle/snail graphic.

  8. I think this is the most wonderful post Zahara! Can I be your side kick? I can wear pink pants with you! 😉

  9. duckofindeed says:

    I couldn’t do that job. I get bored easily. And I don’t think I’d look good in orange.

  10. Sandi Ormsby says:

    Oddly enough, I asked our crossing guard if I could ‘interview’ her and take some pictures for my kids blog (it’s a separate private blog I do for the first grade families and I wanted to list ‘safety rules’ etc and get to know our guard) and she said she wasn’t ready for pictures and never really was receptive to the idea. She always side-stepped when I brought it up, “Oh, I don’t have time today.”

    Hopefully in northern Cal it’s different, but in Southern CA, everyone is freaked out about publicity, saying the wrong thing, appearances, political stuff…especially in orange county. Too bad. I think I would have a GREAT story! She has become a part of our daily lives. (well, Mon-Friday anway!)


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