Following my Montclair friend Gloria Taub’s lead, I will present the two crossing guards at Charlie’s elementary school with a box of homemade Espresso Shortbread Cookies and a Starbuck’s coffee…or hot cocoa…at early dismissal today.
The crossing guards and I wave to each other and exchange smiles and I feel a connection with each of them that warms me. The first guard, a woman, has long blonde hair that cascades down her florescent jacketed back. She always wears a baseball cap and sunglasses, rain or shine. She marches with deliberate steps from her post at the sidewalk curb to the center of the crosswalk and back again.
The second steward is a large man who waves grandly and bellows his greetings with a deep and booming voice, which I can hear despite my closed car window. Of the two, he is my favorite because I like how he saunters and strolls as he escorts. He takes his time with the children and parents who cross in front of my car. He frequently pauses to chat, leaning in to hear what a child is telling him, slowing his gait in the middle of the crosswalk. We are forced to wait and watch the crossings. The parents in their cars, who are straining to move forward toward the pick-up line ahead, must accept the slower rhythm that has now been established by the guard. We watch as each child or parent passes. We look at the backpacks, the coats, the clothes, the hair, the faces of all the people following the crossing guard’s lead. We can take deep breaths to relax until the period of waiting is over and the guard nods, with his smile and wave, for us to proceed.
The cookies, bundled in white tissue paper, within their small red boxes, are my gifts of gratitude for all the safe escorts of our children, but also they are tokens of my gratefulness for this careful woman and man, who urge us (with their gestures and stop signs and smiles) to slow down…to pause…to wait…and to watch all that is going on in front of us…in the crosswalk…for just a few moments each day.
I can’t decide about the coffee versus cocoa, though. What do you think?