Now that school is back in full swing throughout our tri-state area, let me say this: Drivers — you are officially on notice.
Put down the cell phone. Slow down in a school zone. And do not even THINK about making that illegal turn.
I offer this advice because once again I will be serving as security detail for my children as they walk to and from our home to their designated institution of learning.
And now a warning for Ye Who Fail to Obey the Rules of the Road in School Zones: I will be armed.
This was not my original plan, but it became necessary a few summers ago when the city we live in decided it could no longer afford the $11 an hour it paid each of the crossing guards who manned the two intersections along my kids’ route to school.
I say “the city” because I have been unable to determine exactly who in that city pulled the plug on Fred and Ethel, the two elderly guards who patrolled our walkways and whose real names were not nearly as comical.
When I called the city’s Department of Education to protest, the person who answered the phone said I really needed to take this up with the Police Department.
The police told me I should bring the matter to the city Board of Representatives.
The reps sent me back to the schools.
They all lead me straight to the bottle. Pepto: rinse, repeat.
Cost-cutting aside, these officials did offer some logic (before passing the buck) as to why our route was now a local version of the unsecured Iraqi Red Zone:
- An off-duty police officer, paid by a private school along the way, usually manned one of the same intersections as the guards.
- The other intersection had a pedestrian crossing light that could, in theory, halt all traffic.
- School-zone speed limit signs with flashing lights and radar readings to get drivers to slow down had also just been installed.
- Finally, I was told, there just weren’t enough schoolchildren who walked that route to merit the roughly $95 a day paid the two guards.
This all looks good on paper to the powers that be, but then again, on paper Bernie Madoff made many people look like millionaires.
Here’s how the morning jaunts to school will most likely play out in real life:
At least half of the electronic school-zone signs will be off or malfunctioning because they have rarely worked properly since being installed. (I’ve seen older versions of the same signs functioning correctly in other parts of town. Did my hometown get a deal on upgrading to Windows 8 when it should have stuck with XP?)
The police officer won’t be there because the private school doesn’t start classes for another week. Even so, he only works mornings, not the afternoon walk home.
And while the pedestrian crossing signal works just fine at the other intersection, chances are at least one southbound driver will fail to heed the “No Turn on Red” sign and make a hasty, blind turn into that crosswalk — just like the woman in the SUV who was yakking on her cell phone did a few years ago on the day I first walked to school with my kids.
She missed me by about 6 inches that day. But next time, I won’t miss her.
This is because on these walks, I now bring our dog. Our dog, I should note, tends to unburden his intestines right before that intersection.
So, school zone scofflaws, this year if I witness you failing to obey traffic regulations at that intersection, check your vehicle roofs when you reach your destination. In a plastic bag, tied by a single granny knot, you will find a meaningful reminder of your ignorance.
A version of this school zone humor previously appeared on Always Home and Uncool.