Life Lesson: The Cranky Crossing Guard

Saturday, June 6, 2015

On my way to work there is a crossing guard in the school zone. Now she may be a nice, caring lady - after all, she spends her mornings looking out for the safety of our kids come sun, rain, freezing temps, etc. - but she always looks as though she has eaten an entire basket of lemons before coming to work each day. She stops traffic waaay before the buses arrive to cross the intersection. Why does that bug me so much? Because there is a railroad crossing about ten feet before the intersection. This means that the vehicles she stops have to not only sit and watch the line of buses lumber slowly up the road, but also wait as each individual bus stops at the tracks to open and close the doors. When you factor in 5 or 6 buses in a row, this takes a long, long time (which becomes forever if you happen to be running a bit late). Toss in my [somewhat reformed but apparently not enough] Type-A personality, and it makes for a stressfully unhappy start to the day. I can remember snarling at a coworker one morning as I frantically rushed through the doors, "That woman has just GOT to be on some sort of power trip. It makes me CRAZY to just sit there. Why-oh-why-oh-why can't she just wait until the buses stop at the tracks before she holds us all hostage? ARGH!!" 

I don't remember the why, but one morning I was in such an exceptionally good mood that when she stopped me I gave her a friendly wave. She frowned, then looked at me like I was some sort of weirdo, before looking away. Hmph. Well now, that's not very nice. Maybe she's just not used to anyone giving her a G-rated hand signal. (Ha ;o) I honestly don't know what possessed me (though I'm pretty sure I know Who ;o) but I decided I could at least do my part to be nicer. After all, talking the talk isn't worth a flip if you're not gonna walk the walk, right? I smiled and waved at her again the next morning. She drew her head back sideways as though somehow offended and offered me a scowl in response. After that? Well. Never let it be said I would back down from a challenge. IT. WAS. ON. From that day forward, I made it my personal mission to give that woman a big old smile and cheerful wave every single morning (whether she stopped me or not, no matter if I was running early or late, it didn't matter). I am nothing if not tenacious. *laugh*

It took more than half the school year (about six months), but one morning she tentatively waved back. I almost drove off the road, I was so shocked. Funny thing is, it made my day. I yelled at my Mom (who I call every morning on my way to work) through the bluetooth, "Oh my goodness, she did it! SHE DID IT! SHE WAVED BACK!!" I walked around smiling for the rest of the day. Even more shocking? A few short weeks ago, she waved me through ahead of the buses before she stopped the rest of the traffic. Holy cow and wonders never cease! It's funny isn't it, how much easier it is for us to match someone's attitude scowl for scowl? I'm trying to make kindness my new thoughtless habit, particularly when it comes to people who are not at all nice (even when I don't feel like it). How about you? Is there a cranky person in your life? I absolutely encourage you to step out of your "Right back at'cha bud" mode (if you're in one) and become a bright spot in their day. Who knows? One day they may just wave back at you, too ;o)

Did you know that could change your "default" facial expression? My default mode used to be set to serious, for the simple reason that I am often deep in thought. An unfortunate side-effect of this type of expression, however, is that it always generates the same conversation with friends and/or family members (well, except with my dad who has the same look on his face):
Friend/Family: "What's wrong?"
Me [in confusion]: "Nothing. Why?"
Friend/Family: "You look mad."
Somewhere in the middle of my medical misadventures I decided to see if it was actually possible for me to change my default expression (having had a bit of a Divine attitude adjustment ;o) While it wasn't easy, I am happy to report that it is completely doable, and has brought the annoying aforementioned conversations to an end.
Simple heredity made the following conversation occur recently:
Me: "What's wrong?"
DD: "Nothing. Why?"
Me: "You look mad."

I think she and I need to talk, don't you? *grin*


  1. Hello,

    You surely made me understand how a smile begets a smile, a kindness begets kindness and above all a wonderful lesson in HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE.

    Excellent post. I enjoyed reading it.

    Best wishes

  2. Love your kill em with kindness approach. I confess I'm the grump in the bunch at work :). I must always look grumpy even when I'm not because when I'm busy working hard people are always telling me to smile. I tell them I'm smiling on the inside. One guy even asked me if I gave up smiling for lent :)

  3. Joseph: Ah, if only everyone would choose to emulate Mr. Carnegie the world would definitely be a much nicer place! Thank you for your kind words ;o)

  4. Ann: I still struggle sometimes to overcome my "default face". Ha. Smiling on the inside is a good one [though knowing me and my big fat mouth, I probably would have suggested that you notify your face *grin*].

    I LOVED that give it up for Lent comment - what a hoot!

  5. :) I've found that when I'm thinking hard people often think something is wrong. Frowny thinking faces must be common.

    :) Just made me think of your posts about reading horse body language and how you can't read one thing in isolation (eg swishing tail) - seems to be same with humans - frowny face not necessarily indicate bad mood.

  6. Clancy: Considering the sheer numbers of frowny faces I see on a given day, we must have a boatload of deep thinkers in this country ;o)

    Sadly, we are not quite as multi-faceted as our equine friends are (we seem to be mainly punctuation, don't you think?) Except for those talented individuals who are able to wiggle their ears, that is.....

Your comments really brighten my day!

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