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November 19, 2008 / Maleesha Kovnesky

My Sixth-Grade Hero

One cold morning I had to walk to school.  I had to walk to school quite often.  The school was a short distance from our house as the crow flies, but I couldn’t take the shortest route to school because that particular intersection didn’t have a crossing guard.  There were three streets to cross, only one of them was busy and “dangerous” and I was not allowed to cross that one without the crossing guard.

I have no idea what his name was, but the crossing guard was a big burly man with fuzzy dark hair and a mustache.  He wore the same gray plaid jacket underneath his orange vest.  I don’t remember if he ever said anything to us kids as he led us back and forth across the street.  I can still picture his face, but my guess is he’s not around anymore. 

On this particular cold morning, I arrived at the busy intersection and was dismayed to see that the crossing guard was no where to be seen.  I was terrified.  What if he didn’t show up?  What if I was stuck on that side of the street all day?  I would get in trouble for not getting to school on time.  I would miss Ms. Dienstman singing “Miss Lucy Had A Baby” around the piano. 

Then I noticed the donut shop across the street.  A man sat near the window, sipping coffee and reading a newspaper.  He wore a gray plaid jacket.  And that hair was unmistakable.  IT WAS HIM.  The crossing guard, the crossing guard whose job it was to make sure I got across the street without being flattened by a speeding 79′ Chevy was sitting on the job!  I waved.  Surely he would see me over here, on the other side of the moat.  I waved again.  It was cold, and the warm lights of the donut shop were almost too much to bear.  He didn’t see me, or if he did see me out of the corner of his eye, he pretended not to. 

I started to cry.  I would be stuck on this side of the street all day, perhaps until tomorrow, and then I’d have to go to school wearing the same clothes and they’d be dirty from having to curl up in a ball near the base of the stoplight, and my parents would be really worried, and that stupid crossing guard probably wouldn’t even bring me a donut to make up for it and…

Then a knight in shining armor arrived.  Okay, it was more like a sixth grader with a Dungeons and Dragons Trapper Keeper, but he looked down and said “Do you need help crossing the street?”

I nodded, in awe of how tall and helpful this…this…man was. 

He held out his hand.  “I’ll help you,” he said. 

I was a little nervous, because technically this guy was a stranger, and I am pretty sure he hadn’t been to crossing guard training, but how the hell else was I going to get to school?  I grabbed his hand.  He bravely looked both ways and said, “Come on!”  We ran across the street together.

“Thank you,” I said (At least I hope I said that). 

“There ya go,” he said, and like that, he was gone, his longer and stronger sixth grade legs zipping ahead to school.  But I was safely across the street, and life could go on. 

I have never forgotten his face.  Sometimes when I am back in my hometown I will remember this story when I drive by that intersection.  The donut shop where the crossing guard ignored my waves and cries is now a Great Harvest Bread Company.  I wonder what became of my sixth-grade hero.  I like to think he grew up to be a good guy, who has a son.  He teaches his son to help other people, especially little kids and old ladies. 

He probably has no memory of that morning, wherever he is.  I guess it’s proof that little gestures can have a lifelong impact.

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11 Comments

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  1. flygurlual / Oct 8 2009 9:01 am

    I loved ths post, which I found was linked to my own.Apparently I was correct. Crossing guards carry a whole lot of power! lol
    It was particularly touching, since my son is also in the 6th grade,however,not so sure he’d be quite as obedient as you were.
    Thanks for sharing this!

    Carrie

  2. romi41 / Nov 24 2008 7:22 pm

    oh yes, those little things leave a lasting impression; it’s nice to know that there were twelve year olds in the world who were nice like that, and hopefully that is still the case 🙂

  3. Allison / Nov 24 2008 4:33 am

    Too cute. I’m with smalltownsmalltimes…I need to do something nice today…especially to a kid. It’s funny how those random acts of kindess make such an impression on us when we’re young and vulnerable. Thanks for sharing that story!

  4. thebenevolentdictator / Nov 21 2008 12:54 pm

    Ahhh. I have sympathy for that little girl that you once were.

    Also, I totally remember sixth grade boys. In my school (this is when I lived right outside DC), those boys were the cool ones that would put wind suits on and break dance at recess with their big old boom boxes. I lived in awe of those boys. Still do on some level.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog, hope to see you again.

  5. smalltownsmalltimes / Nov 21 2008 9:04 am

    I love this — the idea that random strangers do these small things and we never forget about them. Just because of you and the Sixth Grade Hero, I’m going to try and be nice today.

  6. fawnahareo / Nov 20 2008 3:17 pm

    Aww, that sweet story made me all gushy. :*)

  7. Carli / Nov 20 2008 1:20 pm

    hahaha….Trapper Keeper! I know this wasn’t supposed to be a funny story…but I got a chuckle out of it still. I LOVED the Donut Hole (or at least that’s what I think it was called). It fed me well for a lotta years. That and Taco Tuesday 🙂

  8. crisitunity / Nov 19 2008 4:09 pm

    What a lovely story. Thank you for sharing it.

  9. teeni / Nov 19 2008 2:40 pm

    What a fantastic story! Loved it! Like you, I hope he is doing well and instilling those same good values in others.

  10. bluesuit12 / Nov 19 2008 1:02 pm

    What a cute, sweet story. Kudos to the parents that raised that boy right.

  11. morethananelectrician / Nov 19 2008 10:40 am

    See…not all D&D guys were bad.

    The trouble is life turned out to be not so kind for all the 5th and 6th grade D&D boys.

    He is either a happy productive father…or living in his moms’ basement. 3 to 1 odds are in your favor.

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