Chirrrrrrrrp! Welcome to the eighth version of HACK. If you’ve made it this far, be advised that jay-walking will not be tolerated.
So there’s this crossing guard who works at the intersection right next to where I work. She’s a grandma-ish older lady, skinny, with a perpetually sour look on her face. She is insane. Let me explain…
This woman blows her whistle CONSTANTLY. Now when I say constantly, you may be thinking, she blows her whistle a lot but probably not literally constantly. I mean what I say. She blows that damn whistle EVERY SINGLE TIME SOMEONE CROSSES THE STREET. In fact, she blows it multiple times while people are crossing. My room on the second floor faces the main street and her intersection. I hear that whistle all day long. In fact, my co-workers in the basement clear near the other side of the building hear it. ALL. DAY. LONG.
I asked my boss about it, refraining from complaining by simply asking, “Have you heard that crossing guard whistling all the time?” (His office is next to my room so it faces the same side.) He replied, “She’s supposed to be the best crossing guard in the city.” Oh…great.
Granted, this lady is good at her job. I would trust her to safely direct a herd of elephants on hover boards through that crosswalk. That’s not the point. The point is that the constant blowing of the whistle is unnecessary and downright offensive. It’s the very definition of noise pollution, if you define pollution as something wasteful that could otherwise be conserved unless absolutely necessary.
There’s more than enough noise we have to deal with: constant traffic, car horns, squeaky truck breaks, police sirens and fire trucks. Side Note: It’s quite amazing how many disasters occur in a single city in just one day. Adjacent Note: Sometimes I imagine that the police and firemen take insignificant events and use them as an excuse to joyride through the city with sirens blasting. Like some 90 year old guy at a retirement home just croaked but they gotta bring out the calvary.. Anyway…
As I see it, the whistle should be used like a car horn—to get the immediate attention of drivers or pedestrians during situations of possible or present danger. Blowing the whistle every single time negates the essence of the whistle’s purpose. All it does it is increase tension among ordinary pedestrians, distract every single kid I teach and all the kids in the adjoining classrooms facing that street. It becomes so commonplace that you could reboot The Boy Who Cried Wolf as The Crossing Guard Who Blew Whistle.
I’ve watched her carefully. It’s not like the drivers or the pedestrians are doing anything wrong. They’re all docile, compliant peons just like most of the rest of humanity. NO ONE IS DOING ANYTHING UNSAFE, NOTHING TO WARRANT THE WHISTLE.
It’s like that old movie whose title I can’t remember where everyone had implants that would buzz inside their brains if they had an original thought or displayed the potential to become more than just average. That’s what this whistle is like while I’m trying to present a lesson. I can only imagine what it’s doing subconsciously to my students’ thought processes.
It was so bad one day that I came home and did a Google search for “jersey city crossing guards whistle.” This was the FIRST result:
For those people that live near the corner of Jersey and York….how in the world do you tolerate that lady BLASTING that whistle every 1-2 seconds?? I live on the other side of the park, and can hear it loudly though closed windows. I can only imagine what it sounds like if you actually live on that corner.
Not to bitch and moan, but I’m genuinely curious…is blasting the whistle in that manner necessary, and helpful? Are the whistles intended for pedestrians, or cars, or both? What exactly does the whistle chirp signify?
All serious questions — my thinking is that the whistle chirps would confuse and irritate both pedestrians and motorists alike…not help them.
THIS IS HER. IT MUST BE HER. SHE TORTURED THOSE POOR PEOPLE AND HAS MOVED TO OUR INTERSECTION. WE MUST UNITE. SOMETHING MUST BE DONE.
That was my status update when I posted the above article on Facebook. My co-workers agree, but c’mon, who’s really going to take the time to carry out this mission? I’ve gone so far as to devote an entire HACK to it.
What intrigues me is trying to figure out what mission this crossing guard has signed up for. Why does she take her job so seriously? The simplest answer is that she’s hyper-conscientious and generally wants to do the best job she can, by keeping every single person safe. But there are other possibilities. She could despise us. That whistle could be her constant subconscious revenge on the world that put that permanent sourpuss look on her face. Maybe something tragic did happen on her watch and she’s vowed never to let it happen again. Perhaps she takes genuine pleasure at blowing that whistle and being able to control every single motion on her corner. Maybe it’s all she’s got left. Maybe she’s blowing the whistle on this wholly absurd farce we call “reality.”
One of my walls is almost entirely windows. I am adamant about the room constantly having fresh air, which now means sacrificing sweet silence. As it gets colder, we’ve had to keep the windows partially closed. As winter sets in they’ll be closed almost all of the time and that will drown out the harshness of the whistle. But when it gets warm she’ll be back.
An enlightened sage would look at this whole thing as a lesson in Zen. I recently watched some show on Stephen Hawking and this guy (not Hawking, some other guy) was talking about (I THINK) the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin. It may have been another cosmonaut but he was definitely Russian. Anyway, as soon as he got up there and saw the beauty of Earth from space, something malfunctioned which caused a repetitive tick that apparently there was no way to fix. He soon realized that he would be up there for days and would go insane from that ticking. Instead, he concentrated on making the sound into music. He just convinced himself that he was listening to music and thus was able to remain sane for the rest of the voyage.
I should accept the whistle as just another part of the dualistic illusion, the background noise of life that I can filter in and out at will. So just filter it out. Well, perhaps I’ve done that a few times in the last two weeks. However, think of Chinese Water Torture. I mean, if it’s that constant for that long, it’s going to take a strong will not to crack. So instead I’ve gone the cosmonaut route. I’ve decided to pretend that the chirp of the whistle is the chirp of a bird. It’s actually working, I mean, chirping. It’s a very bitter and disgruntled bird yet it keeps flying nonetheless.
This woman also seems to take it upon herself to direct traffic. I also did a search for “crossing guard rules and regulations. I found Adult School Crossing Guard Guidelines which explicitly states:
An adult school crossing guard should not direct traffic unless specifically trained as a traffic control officer.
OK, you got me there. She has a uniform but I don’t know if she’s a traffic control officer. I still say she’s slightly or very insane. I’ve actually watched her point at a car that was stopped and doing nothing wrong. She mumbled something that my brain interpreted as, “I got you!” as she pulled out a notepad and scribbled down the license plate number. I mean, I actually read a sense of mild glee on her. WTFF? What is this lady’s ISSUE?
In a way she’s an archetype for the perfect liberal.
Everything regulated. Everyone safe. No risks.
My first encounter with this woman was when I was standing on the corner next to the left side of the traffic pole. She comes over and taps me…
…let me stop right here and say I DON’T LIKE BEING TAPPED, especially if it comes out of nowhere and I can’t see who’s doing it. The only people I will allow to tap me are deaf people, if banging some surface fails to get my attention…
…she taps me, and tells me in broken English, “You have to stand here!” indicating the part of corner connected to the white lines. I do understand her position. Strictly speaking, that’s the designated safety spot, right? Give me an effing break. My Nana reminded me to cross the street safely every single time I walked home from a visit since Kindergarten. If I get hit crossing a street I’ll just have to deal with my stupidity like I always do.
My second encounter with her didn’t even happen because when I got to the corner I immediately turned left and walked down to the next intersection, then doubled back across the street to the parking lot located mid-block.
My third encounter with her was today, about 2 hours before I wrote this. I came to the corner. She was standing there. There was no one else around, just us. I was trying to get my headphones untangled. I should have already had the earpieces on. We looked at each other. Neither of us smiled. In fact, all I could read on her face was a look of utter disdain, as if my very presence at that corner was the reason why her karma has led her to this.
She put the whistle in her mouth about half a minute before the light changed. As she did so I looked down at my phone to select Genesis – Selling England By The Pound – ‘Firth of Fifth.’ Out loud but kind of to myself I said, “No. Don’t do it. Don’t do it. Just don’t. It’s not necessary.”
I looked up and for a couple of seconds she was looking at me. She clearly heard me, but I could not tell if she understood what I said or if she knew I was indirectly talking directly at her. She had a brief, puzzled look of self-consciousness on her face, the kind of look I imagine I have all the time. Then it was gone. She blew the whistle as she stepped into the crosswalk. She blew it much gentler this time, though there was still absolutely no reason to do so.
At this point I should have taken video of this crossing guard so you can see exactly what I’m talking about. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do and will at some point.
I haven’t worked up the courage to try and calmly and politely ask her about the whistle. I imagine some nightmare headline, “Teacher Harasses Crossing Guard In Front of School.” I’ve made some test runs on rallying my co-workers but I’m not really the rallying type. I could be a hypocrite and waste everyone’s time with this inane bullshit at the next staff meeting, or I can annoy my boss by pleading that he make a call to the crossing guard’s supervisor. Any way I play this I’d look like a jerk. So… bird, bird, bird. Bird is the word.