The Crossing Guard
The old man with the bright orange crossing guard vest and the handheld stop sign shook his head as I Cali’d the four-way on my bike at the corner of Duquesne and Braddock south of the Culver City police station. It’s the same thing every day. I approach the intersection and slow down making sure there’s no cross traffic and if there isn’t I continue on my way. No harm, minor foul. But each time the crossing guard dude watches me and you’d think I’d just taken a public piss or stolen some little kid’s lunch money the way he scowls and cranks that judgmental head of his slowly back and forth. I can almost hear the tsk-tsk that undoubtedly accompanies it.
So today I roll up and there’s no traffic in any direction. Just me and him and the stiff onshore blow that’s moving clouds inland at a brisk pace that may or may not portend rain for the ride home this evening. He’s sitting in his little folding chair and he looks up from today’s issue of the Old Farts Examiner right at me. So I return his glare and this time I come to a complete stop up off the saddle and balanced somewhat tentatively on the pedals. I manage not to fall over while looking left, then right, then left again and then back at him and he’s scowling so severely that the corners of his mouth are threatening to drop off the edge of his jutted chin.
Guess there’s just no pleasing some.
Satisfied I’ve made a full and complete stop as required by California law, I start pedaling and pass him with a smirk and a nod and a half bow that makes him flap the paper out in front of him and with a “hmmph!” dive back into whatever article on the AARP or lumbago he had been so previously engrossed in. But he doesn’t fool me. Watching in the rear view mirror attached to my helmet I see him turn and watch me as I go. The backwards wave I give him almost makes him jump.