Why don’t you believe me?
I had a successful year as an officer in our school’s safety patrol. The Summer before entering my sixth grade year, I received notice that I was selected among my peers to be part of this proud department. I considered it an honor. Not every body could meet the high criteria needed to be part of this prestigious group. Right? Certainly the school had impeccable standards. This is what I had thought.
Until I met my partner at the initial safety patrol meeting.
I then realized that there must have been very few 6th graders in our 4 block radius neighborhood to pull from. Probably just two. I was disappointed. But not devastated.
Because we were given our Floresant orange safety patrol vests with yellow belt and a badge. Yes, a badge. And rain gear. Because we would face all types of weather.
It was hard work. Dangerous work. Rewarding work..
Well. Maybe not too rewarding.
It was humiliating, uncomfortable, and I wasn’t lying when I wrote that it was dangerous. Being part of the safety patrol is not for the faint of heart.
My street corner was busy. I had to wake up early to be at my post before all the other little walkers. I’m not sure my charge needed guidance across the street – they were street wise little townies who could time things appropriately. But I was there to – well – I was just there. I warned them against foul language. I warned them against the dangers of j walking. My partner did not want the morning shift. He didn’t really want the afternoon shift either as I recall.
A perk about being part of the safety patrol is that we got to leave school earlier than the rest of the school in order to get to our posts before the rest.
Unfortunately, I had to walk past the Senior High School.
Inevitably, there would usually be a teen guy or 2 hanging around. Now, I used to think that the reason for the wolf calls and whistling was perhaps due to my beauty. At least this 1% hope was the one hope I chose to focus on. I looked especially cute in the rain gear.
My job in law enforcement was also a dangerous one. There were 2nd graders bigger than I. Part of my job was to monitor bad behavior. Sometimes I’d have to report kids. There was one particular kid who was the epitome of the term “bully”. One winter day he was throwing snowballs at the cars parked outside the high school. I had warned him a couple times. But soon it became apparent that I needed to report him. I told him so. He then proceeded to push me up against high school building wall and threaten me. I was more determined then ever to report his bad ass. The school authorities warned him, contacted his parents, but other than that, their hands were tied and he remained a thorn in my side the rest of the school year.
After my retirement, I decided to volunteer my time in the Jr. High School’s library as a library aide. This was during the time when the bar code was first introduced. How fun it was to use the laser gun (when it worked)! I didn’t get a gun as part of the patrol. I loved the library. The organization. The quiet. The smell of thousands of books. This was where I wanted to spend the rest of my retirement. What a contrast to the dangerous, temperamental weather and bullies, & extreme hours of the patrol!
The library was where I belonged. But I was once in law enforcement.