Every weekday at 4:30 a.m., married couple Patricia and Richard Crawford wake up to go to work. He puts on a neon yellow vest, and she makes sure he and others cover every job site — if one misses, she puts on a vest, too.
“As a lead, there’s a lot to do in the mornings,” said Patricia. “Most people in this job are older adults. Richard is 70, and I’m 62, but we love our job.”
She for 13 years and he for eight, the Crawfords have been safely crossing children to and from schools with the city of Santa Clarita’s crossing guard program.
“I can definitely see myself doing this until I’m 80, another 10 more years,” said Richard. To him, the job is far too rewarding. “Sometimes, I have these arms go around me from the back, and I hear, ‘We like you, thank you.’ It’s the children, and then we get parents who trust us with their kids to cross the street with them.”
Patricia agreed. She said the impact one could leave on children is more than just gaining a new friend. “There’s an education component, too. Children will wait at the other end of the street and tell others before crossing, ‘Wait, you can’t until he blows his whistle.’”
Despite the simplicity of the job, they said, there’s a lot of responsibility between one street and another.
“Many say, ‘Oh, I can do that job,’ but when you have that paddle and step outside in front of moving traffic, it’s a whole different story,” Richard said. “You really have to be dedicated when dealing with the safety of others.”
Over the course of their careers as crossing guards, both recall multiple incidents that nearly led to what could have been tragic vehicle-related collisions. Many of those moments included reckless driving by drivers distracted by mobile devices.
“The biggest thing is to put down those phones and reduce your speeds and really look around,” said Richard. “Just because you drop off your child doesn’t mean there aren’t other children there.”
Dianna Boone, a city Parks, Recreation and Community Services commissioner, brought up the topic during the commission’s meeting Thursday. She said, “This honestly is such a distractful time, dropping off and picking (kids) up — that it really is life-threatening. It can’t be overstated just how important their job is.”
The city recognized six crossing guards, including the Crawfords, with a certificate during the meeting.
The city’s program currently has 52 crossing guards at 21 schools within three elementary school districts.