Why, you may ask, would a young boy dream of growing up to be a crossing guard when so many other promising careers (janitor, drug dealer, paper shredder) had presented themselves to him? Beside the obvious power you can lord over children, there is a certain amount of prestige one earns from wielding a miniature stop sign and sporting a fluorescent vest in the face of oncoming traffic. And, of course, there are the perks. I was lucky enough to learn all these marvelous things at the tender age of 8 from Reginald, our local crossing guard. Or, as he liked to be called, El Captain de Asphalto. El Cap Asso for short.
My curiosity was initially piqued when, on the first day back to school in grade 3, I noticed a number of mothers from the neighbourhood gave gifts to El Cap Asso. Being a lover of presents, I wondered what, when I saw no Birthday cards attached, he had done to deserve them. So, over the course of the next few weeks, I observed his every move. And what I saw left me dumbfounded. He could silence children with a gentle tweet of his whistle. He offered up a bon mot of wisdom whenever someone was waiting to cross his tiny patch of asphalt. He could make all our mothers behave like my little sister (I later learned this was called flirting). And everyday a truck would show up and bring him lunch. Though the gift giving remained a mystery, when you factor in the above nuggets, the hours he worked, and the complete lack of education required to perform the job, well, I knew I had found my calling. And how many people can say they knew for certain what they were going to do with the rest of their life at 8 years old?
From this day on, I spent every waking minute preparing myself for the day I would don my very own fluorescent vest and have lunch delivered to me on a street corner. In actuality, it didn’t require much preparation. Grades didn’t matter, so I pretty much got lazy when it came to all things school – except for gym, it’s important to stay in shape in the line of work I was pursuing. As for my mental preparation, well, not much changed. Though I did start working on a few new twists to the classic “Why did the chicken cross the road?” joke.
Needless to say, my parents didn’t really agree with this choice. They thought I was “aiming low” and “should seek professional help”. But it was my dream, so I ignored them and forged on. Which proved to be easy. For as I soon discovered, there really are no requirements for the job. As long as you can walk, talk, see and aren’t a pederast, you’re eligible.
So here I am, 20 years later, in the prime of my life, living the dream. I’ve been ushering people across a 25-foot stretch of asphalt ever since El Cap Asso got hit by a car and died. Yes, that’s right, I’m now guarding the very piece of road that inspired me to do what I do. Can you believe it? I can’t sometimes. Anyway, it’s a blast.
Since inheriting my little slice of asphalt, I have taken the position to a whole new level. First by pioneering the extended arm with pointed index finger crossing technique. And later by becoming the first crossing guard to use a foldout chair during non-crossing moments. Now some kids from around the neighbourhood wear a fluorescent vest with my intersection printed on the back. And, not to sound like a braggart, I’ve won GTA crossing guard of the year 3 years running – and 6 of the last 9 years. There’s even talk of me being nominated for the Order of Canada. (So what if I started that rumour.)
But it’s not the accolades I live for. Or the power. It’s the people. They’re why I’m out here 3 hours everyday no matter the rain, shine, snow, sleet, hail, or angry drivers. They’re why I stopped doing drugs (at least during work hours). And, the mothers, are why I read the Kama Sutra.
So there you have it: my life as a crossing guard. If you’re looking to follow in my footsteps; if you like the idea of protecting, and enriching, young lives; if you dream of having numerous yet meaningless sexual dalliances with hot housewives, then come find me at the intersection of Dreams Rd & Good Life Ave. (just kidding, that’s a little taste of crossing guard humour) but any of the above tickles your fancy, well, I’d be happy to mentor you.