Drunk on truth to stupid baby power.

Fiction First Friday: “Crossing Log” by Elizabeth Bernstein


7:05  Arrive at corner.  Temp approx. 71 degrees; warm. Put on yellow reflective jacket and crossing guard smock; assess area. No cars in drop-off zone, only one brown car parked kitty corner from school with driver waiting. No visible children, no apparent children noise. Do not believe my five-minute late arrival has had negative impact, though I note it here per Barry’s instrux. Understand lateness not okay; extenuating circumstances include difficulty accessing bathroom (Gebhardt had morning intestinal trouble, nothing serious), late bus (I was on time), and having to turn back to retrieve cashews, inadvertently left at home. Need protein to prevent low blood sugar during morning hours, esp. with high morning sun. Acknowledge “no excuses” policy per Barry; noting that this is not excuse, but rather further information re: arrival time, which did not have negative impact on any children.

7:07    Escort three children, one adult across street. Believe kids are Shari and Kari Sperber; third child either Debbie or Lori [last name unknown]. Cannot tell D and L apart; both wear hair in two braids and have pink jacket. Adult Mrs. Sperber; texting while crossing street, not watching children nor autos. I relate to her that I am extra security for children, not replacement for parental supervision. Mrs. Sperber immersed in task, does not reply, though turns head after safe passage across street.

7:10    No children.

7:13    Major influx of children. Six boys; three adults. Two boys are engaged in physical combat while waiting to cross. Mother separates boys. I withhold passage until boys have calmed down. Third adult circumvents my authority and crosses street with two male children. I blow whistle and alert her I am recording their actions. No deterrent. Recording action, per warning. Believe children are Zack and Kevin Stamwich. Mother’s name unknown.

7:17    No children. Cashew break. Want water. Noting instrux not to bring food or beverages on job, per Barry, but impt. to note that it gets v. hot in morning, esp. under reflective jacket and smock. Note to check w/ ombudsman re: legality of denying water. Understand re: coffee, sodas, etc., but water seems reasonable. Barry sez no, not for 45 minute shift, but human body can die from heat stroke in 8 minutes, esp. people over 50 (see: webmd.com). Gebhardt sez not legal; sez suable offense, but don’t want to sue. Not threatening legal action. Not being difficult, per Barry’s warning. Only noting thirst in log.

7:21    Desmond Swartzman and mother arrive; cross when there is a break in cars but in advance of my directive. Swartzman mother uses obscenity at me when I cry “Halt!” and blow whistle. Repeat: Swartzman mother uses obscenity at me when I cry “Halt!” and blow whistle. Do not understand how parents cannot realize that children learn by our actions. Desmond is child; has no control over his environment. Desmond raised middle finger at me upon arrival to other side of street, with no visible consequence from parent. Not child’s fault. Concerned Desmond will not turn out to be reasonable, kind, safe member of society when parental modeling includes disrespectful behavior and violent language. Concerned about how rest of year will go if parental frustrations are so high already. Understand need for two-income households (I am working; I understand financial pressures; Gebhardt is the one not working (not a prob); do not have issue with working mothers; one does not need children to have empathy; sensitivity to others is not based on life experiences but rather on in-born disposition) but working mothers do not need to take out frustrations on service personnel trying to help them; i.e, me.

7:24    Regret cashews. Thirsty.

7:35    Could not record passage of several groups that arrived close together. Believe it was four girls with two adult females, one boy with one adult female, three boys and two girls with no apparent adult figure; two adults with no apparent children. Unaffiliated children and unaffiliated adults may have had some connection. No conversation was exchanged, as adults and children were rushing towards the school. Children and adults were escorted without incident to safety.

7:40    Set up portable walker seat (Rollatron) for temporary rest. Acknowledge against rules per Barry’s note, but no children visible and do not understand requirement to stand when no action to be taken. Finished bag of cashews, weighing thirst vs. hunger; remember salt is lost thru sweat and cashews are salted, tipping balance.

8:02    Please excuse absence of entries for approx. 20 minutes. Barry’s notes from exchange will reflect time block, though will not likely correspond to my record of events here. Reiterating: understand rules against sitting; eating; prompt arrival; no more conflict with parents or children; use of whistle only in cases of physical emergency; “no excuses” policy. Reasonable explanations for exceptions to all of the above, as noted in this log. Further, spying from diagonal corner is demoralizing and degrading to employees; not wise management practice. Would like to officially register my belief that Barry has a problem with female employees, esp. those who are older than him. Told Barry I would appeal firing to school board and do not believe his assertion that school board authorized his spying/ undermining. Returned yellow reflective jacket, crossing guard smock and stop sign, per his demand. Phoned Gebhardt from school front office and he says Barry was 40 miles of bad road from Day One, and we will fight this. Charlene at front desk gave me water. Washed my face in girls’ bathroom (still hot). School bell rang; heard children rushing into classrooms. Lessons underway. Hallways quiet.

Elizabeth Bernstein is a writer, editor, and writing coach. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Sunday Times, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, and US and international literary journals. She works out of the Writers’ Grotto in San Francisco.


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