Monday, August 31, 2009

Never Cross Me in a School Zone

crossing guard old ladyDrivers -- you are on notice. 

Slow down. Put down the iPhone. Stop for all reds and do not even THINK about making that illegal turn.

I offer this advice because the local public schools are back in session tomorrow. That means that once again I will be serving as security detail for my two children as they walk the one mile to and from classes. 

Moreover, be warned Ye Who Fail to Obey the Rules of the Road in School Zones, I will be armed.

That was not my original plan, but it became necessary two summers ago when the city decided it could no longer afford the $11 and change an hour it paid each of the crossing guards who manned the two intersections along the route to school.

I say "the city" because in two years I have been unable to determine exactly who pulled the plug on Fred and Ethel, the two friendly elderly guards who had patrolled our walkways and whose real names were not nearly as comical. 

When I called the school system to protest, the person who answered the phone said I really needed to take this up with the Police Department. 

The police told me I should bring the matter to the city Board of Representatives. 

The reps sent me back to the schools.

They all lead me straight to the bottle. 

Pepto, Jim Beam; rinse, repeat.

Cost-cutting aside, these officials did offer some logic (before passing the buck) as to why our route was now a local version of the unsecured Iraqi Red Zone:
  • An off-duty police officer, paid by a private school along the way, usually manned one of the same intersections as the guards. 
  • The other intersection had a pedestrian crossing light that could, in theory, halt all traffic.
  • School-zone speed limit signs with flashing lights and radar readings to get drivers to slow down had also just been installed. 
  • Finally, I was told, there just weren't enough schoolchildren who walked that route to merit the roughly $95 a day paid the two guards.
This all looks good on paper to the powers that be, but then again, on paper Bernie Madoff made many people look like millionaires. 

Here's how Tuesday will most likely play out in real life: 

At least half of the electronic school-zone signs will be off or malfunctioning because they have rarely all worked properly since being installed. (I've seen older versions of the same signs functioning correctly in other parts of town. Did my hometown get a deal on upgrading to Vista when it should have stuck with XP?)

The police officer won't be there because the private school doesn't start classes for another week. (Ah, it's good to be a member of the leisure class.) Even so, he only works mornings, not the afternoon walk home.

And while the pedestrian crossing signal works just fine at the other intersection, chances are at least one southbound driver will fail to heed the "No Turn on Red" sign and make a hasty, blind turn into that crosswalk -- just like the woman in the SUV who was yakking on her cell phone did two years ago on that first walk I took to school with my kids.

She missed me by about 6 inches that day. But next time, I won't miss her.

This is because on these walks, I now bring our dog. Our dog, I should note, tends to unburden his intestines of the previous night's meal right before that intersection.

So, scofflaws, this year if I witness you failing to obey traffic regulations at Newfield Avenue and Newfield Drive, check your roof racks when you reach your destination. In a plastic bag, tied by a single granny knot, you will find a meaningful reminder of your ignorance.


  1. I get the shakes just thinking about the five-way intersection, the 81 billion hormone-ravaged middle school students, and the 301 thousand parents behind SUVs who fill the roads after school each week day here. The need for crossing guards is obvious, the feasibility of directing that kind of chaos is impossible.

    Heed the call, masked avenger!

    (and oh,the Internet rests easy tonight knowing you're back out there!)

  2. The sign on my street usually flashes 90 miles!

    I have a beef though with Northeast School parents on the p.m. car run:

    Please remember that the last stretch before High Ridge is a two-way drive, not two lanes for turning left and right - I don't appreciate being given the finger when I try to drive into the Historical Society parking lot ...

  3. I get scared when I get close to a school. If regular driving is the first level of a video game (the practice level), driving near a school is the advanced level, where kids short and tall just jump in front of the car when they feel like it. And people threaten you with poop (I'm sure you can find that one on some hidden level of Grand Theft Auto).

  4. The dog poop sling.

    Always an effective weapon.

  5. Stamford has the worst drivers. I lived in NYC for years and i've never seen people running a red light so often.

  6. Sigh, I can rest easy knowing that my kids take the bus, with their friends. Oh, and that creepy kid...the one who started the fires.. And they learn new words... And 'bout the birds n' the horrid killer bees...from 8th graders....

    Kids, put on your sneakers 'cause were walking today. The traffic on the highway is safer.

  7. If you can get the address of an offender, then you could leave an additional bag of flaming poo on their doorstep.

    Happy first day of school!

  8. Bravo! I'd keep my cellphone handy too, to take a quick pic of that license plate!

  9. So glad you're back!!

    Must wonder, however, why you're aiming for the roof rack. I think you should aim directly at the driver's window. And don't bother tying the bag.

    Happy School!

  10. That's a good Idea. I hate that people can't follow the rules around school zones. If you get a ticket, just email me and I'll help pay the fine.
    Deanna Chandler
    Yeah, I'm serious. At least someone is serious about keeping our kids safe.

  11. Amen and hallelujah. Me and the kids were almost run down in the crosswalk yesterday. And it's in a residential area. No stoplights to speak of. Just too many cars and too many people not paying attention.

  12. I'm usually falling all over crossing guards between St. Clair Shores and Grosse Pointe and I would witness drivers just blowing past the guards - standing out in the road! - as if they weren't there. Luckily my kids took the bus when they were younger so I didn't have this problem, but you witness the same problem in school drop-off zones. I know people are in a hurry - but cutting people off in a drop-off zone? Zooming out of a school parking lot? People, seriously think about what you are doing!

  13. I love you. Not in a gross-I-want-to-hump but in an I-am-totally-stealing-this-idea. Lobbing diapers at these people will be my retaliation. And it shall be sweet.

  14. I am right there with you Uncool, cept I do not have children, but drivers be ware I have some tricky things up my sleeve 9or is it in my pocket?).

  15. If I was famous and needed a body guard, I would hire you.

  16. I go through up to four school zones on my way to work (including my own school zone). One of our intersections is a red light camera school zone nightmare...yet people for some reason think that going 5 mph through the intersection at a redlight camera in a school zone is a good thing. Common sense, people!

  17. Have you considered asking for a PTA meeting and discussing people volunteering for the crossing guard posts? Like a revolving volunteer program? Might be something to think about. They used to use the 6th graders as crossing guards when I was in gradeschool ... 2 kagillion years ago and in a land far far away!

    Just a suggestion!


  18. ...and then some kid gets hurt and the dog and pony show begins.

    School parking lots aren't much better. I drop the girls off and every day there's at least 3 or 4 line jumpers in trucks and SUV's that think it's okay to bypass everyone so they can drop their kids off first - problem is, to do so they have to drive right where the other kids are getting out of cars.

    Your school should think about outsourcing. It worked out pretty well for Dell.

  19. Hell Yes! You could start of group! You and a whole bunch of other parents can sit on that corner with buckets. Parents With Poop! People will be terrified.

  20. I'm normally in favor of disarming, but in this case, I vote for going heavy. Anything to catch the notice of non-attention paying drivers and startle them out of their stupor.

  21. I'm glad you were unarmed this morning when this strange curly-headed woman in a blue car honked at you a little too loudly.

    Just sayin'.

  22. "Pepto, Jim Beam, rinse, repeat."

    Brilliant. It made me laugh aloud and it's still wayyy to early in the morning to be laughing!

  23. We live in the boonies, so my kids ride the bus. And our bus driver is all about rules. So, Godspeed, bus riders!

    As for your kids . . . my dog's bowels have been on hyperactive excretion mode lately. I'll overnight you some samples to fling . . .

  24. No way you're really going to fling poo.

    Are you?

  25. I have been known to stop traffic and verbally and quite publically assail people texting, cell phone talking and driving unconsciously in school zones.

    Never thought of the bag of poop thing.

  26. I am digging a tunnel between our house and the school.

  27. I'm thinking the bag should be left untied.

  28. I just noticed the date of the original post and now I'm really, really curious. How did the first week of school go? Or did you take Susan's suggestion and dig that tunnel?

  29. it's true, too many people do not pay attention in school zones. We lived near a school once and , as with you, the cossings were manned by elderly folks. The funniest part was how far the people would back up traffic because it took them so long to get out of the road after all the kids had crossed. They moved sooo slow. But, it was funny so it was worth it :-)

  30. This is why they need to make it legal for one to carry a flamethrower in one's car. 'Nuff Said.


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