The best part of my job
Let me tell you about the best part of my job. My kids and I are running late to work and school nearly every day. Luckily they are the same place and only 3 blocks away from home, so we usually manage to rush in with seconds to spare. We drop off our stuff, the kids go to early morning study hall and I head to my duty station at the student drop off in the parking lot.
My task is to run the parking lot and student drop off. We’ve figured out that a lot of traffic cones can do most of the work, and our facilities manager has them set out by the time I take position at 7:30. Here is a list of what the job entails:
1. Open car doors and help kids out.
2. Say good morning until they say it back, following them several yards if necessary.
3. All walkers have to pass by my station also, so they also have to say good morning, or else I keep saying it louder and louder, making them more embarrassed. It’s been long enough that it only happens if they are playing, or there is something going on with them and it gives me a heads up.
4. Dislodge cones that get run over from under cars. The driving sometimes resembles what you see in a movie, but don’t buy because people can’t possibly drive that badly.
5. Keep kids from getting run over by the same drivers who run over cones.
6. Meet all parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and siblings. Next to dancing, one of my worst skills is remembering names, but this forces me to confront it.
7. Check to see if they left school stuff in the car.
8. Help zip backpacks and get them on.
9. At the beginning of the year, there are a few of the youngest kids who I have to coax into school by offering to walk them all the way in. It gets a little bit better every day and the conversations are pretty fantastic. Now, sometimes those kids try to sneak by or won’t take any help. Every time I ask them if they’ve forgotten their old friend already, and every time, they are delighted to laugh, ‘yes.’
10. Answer questions for parents and kids about upcoming activities and events, most of which are news to me also.
11. Handle tech questions and complaints from parents and kids because that is my real job. This is my least favorite part of the the duty because it reminds me that the parking lot isn’t my real job.
12. Nod to general complaints about other drivers, the parking lot, and the school. I’ve managed to establish that I’m more of just a random service provider than a school official, so that doesn’t happen much anymore.
13. See people at their most open and honest. Nobody is putting on much pretense when they wrangle kids to school at 7:30 am, and kids are brutally honest once they know and trust you. It comforts me to see that I’m not the only one with a messy life.
14. Make sure that everyone hears how much I like their shoes/boots/hat/jacket/backpack/haircut/jewelry/smile at least once a week.
15. Try to convince kids to trade me hats or shoes.
16. Give handshakes, high fives, fist bumps, or hugs.
17. Ask how everyone is feeling.
18. Hear stories about what students are doing at home and school and then remember to ask them about it later so that they know that I do hear them.
19. Confirm that yes, it was me, my kids, or my dog that they saw in the neighborhood, or at the store, and tell them that I see what they are doing all of the time. They think it is funny because they know that it works the other way around.
20. Promise to either give pushes on the swing or play some game or watch them do something during my recess duty with the 1st grade later in the day.
21. Give anyone who is visibly distressed the opportunity to stand and talk about it, get composed, cry, complain, or joke. One day a little girl couldn’t stop crying because she was so upset that she fought with her mom that morning. She wished that she had been nicer to her mom and was in distress over the fear her mom would think that she didn’t love her. I managed to convince her that mom would understand, that’s how it is sometimes with people you love, and that everything would be ok. It was so heartbreaking that I had to go find my own children at their breaks during the day to hug them and tell them how much that I love them, because we too had struggled in a similar way that morning.
Every morning, I get to see, greet, and check on nearly all 400+ students. Generally, I dislike cold and morning and it’s been both during duty lately. But even on cold, dark, tired mornings, at 8:00 am when duty is over, I am wishing that it was a full time job. On days that I’m out of school for meetings or appointments, I still arrange the day so that I can open car doors first. It is impossible to end the 30 minutes without feeling full of pride, hope, and love.