I don’t know her name.
I don’t know anything about her, not really.
Still, I know where she’ll be every weekday morning between 7 and 8 a.m. or round-a-bout. She’s always on time. I’m not.
I know that she’s one of my heroes.
She’s the Ellsworth school crossing guard.
I know. I know! People tend to resent the crossing guard. Those crossing guards stop traffic for school busses and make us wait. We sometimes think it’s their fault we’re late for school. The crankiest of us may occasionally honk.
But crossing guards have a job to do. The crossing guard outside Ellsworth’s Bryant E. Moore School knows that. She’s out there every morning. The wind batters her gray hair. Sometimes she stoops from the weight of the cold, the wind, the rain, the snow. Usually, though, she’s standing up straight, waiting.
She waits for kids to come.
She waits for parents to cross back over to the safe side of the street.
She waits for more kids to run towards her, bundled up, late for school, back packs bumping against their snow suits.
She waits to be needed.
All crossing guards are important. Their hand-held stop signs, their outstretched hands, keep cars from our children. They put their bodies, their lives, out there every day to keep our children safe. It’s just a few dozen pounds of flesh and skin and bone and winter parka between our children and an oil truck, a logging truck, a Mini Cooper, an SUV. That’s being a hero.
But this crossing guard, the Ellsworth crossing guard. She’s gone one step beyond. It’s not about her bravery. It’s about her kindness. That kindness is apparent every time her eyes light up when a car with a dog drives by. That kindness is apparent when she helps a third grader across the street. That kindness is apparent every time a little kid waves to her and she waves back.
It’s all about the wave.
That’s because the Ellsworth crossing guard doesn’t wave bare-handed. She doesn’t wave with a nice, normal insulated L.L. Bean glove.
She waves with a giant Mickey Mouse hand glove. It’s huge and white. The big fingers are unmistakable. And that hand makes children’s faces light up. It makes my dog’s tail get all waggy. It makes me smile.
That same Mickey Mouse hand that keeps our children safe also makes our children smile.
It’s that extra step, that extra kindness…even on days where the temperature is 6 degrees or less… that’s what makes the Ellsworth crossing guard one of my heroes.