Back in the dark ages of the 1950s, 5th grade brought new responsibilities. Readying us to go out into the world, teachers assigned tasks. No refusals accepted. It was then that I found myself perched on the curb of authority. Literally. Swaddled in an oversized yellow belt, I was charged with the safety of our school mates every Thursday as I led them from the “Dome” and across to the Fourth Avenue sidewalk. No lights, no signs – just my short, outstretched arms and the hope that my face could be seen over the front of the Chevys and Packards that waited in line for a few of the non-walkers. It was not my favorite job. And I don’t think I was very good at it.
Which brings me to this morning’s responsibility. I’m here in Wisconsin for a few days and chauffeured my grandkids to school. It’s cold and very snowy here. Snow, cheese and the Packers never disappoint. Huge piles of snow line the streets while rows of cars and buses vie for an opening into the various entrances. There is no such thing as a left turn before or after school. And not a Packard in sight. The lean, attractive woman who controlled the flow of traffic smiled as she waved us along. Our eyes locked, and she knew. Kindred spirits? Soul mates? Illinois plates? No problem. “She’s wearing my belt” I said to myself. Then, I saw her nod in my direction. In the midst of all the commotion, she quietly, but decisively, led a group of warmly jacketed children from the curb and across to safety. She looked like she enjoyed her job. And I bet she was good at it, too. A successful drop off and one more wave, and I was on my way home. Secretly so glad that she, not I, was doing that job.