Tenafly Crossing Guard Stops to Chat about His Job


Gia Shin, Maayan Matsliah, and Serra Cetin

It’s a Monday morning. Your alarm doesn’t go off and you jolt awake five minutes before you need to leave the house for school. You throw your “bed-head” hair into a knot (that hangs almost as low as your motivation to get out of bed) and prepare yourself to sit through what feels like an eternity at school. You quickly rush out of the house, ignoring your aching stomach, hoping to make it to class on time. You spot a familiar neon yellow vest as you get out of your car, and immediately your day brightens. The beaming crossing guard greets you warmly and wishes you a fantastic day at school. The saying is true, it turns out: a friendly smile and a simple ‘hello’ can make anyone’s day better. For a brief moment, it feels like all your morning troubles have disappeared.

The joyful, mysterious man in a puffy yellow vest introduced himself as Ron. Before he was a crossing guard, he worked six days a week, 10- to 12-hour days running “seven car dealerships for Park Avenue BMW—the largest in the country,” he said. After his children graduated from college, got their masters’ degrees, and entered the workforce, he felt it was ready to retire. “I couldn’t stay home,” he said. “And all my friends—I have seven of ’em— were crossing guards.” 

Ron was originally posted at the Valero gas station on Tenafly Road. However, he experienced several difficult encounters. “We had guys on bicycles that wouldn’t stop,” Ron said. “I made one phone call to the police department—they stopped them.” Crossing guards have to deal with rude people who put other people’s lives at jeopardy due to speeding. After working six years crossing at the Valero gas station, he requested a transfer to the crosswalk at Tenafly High School to replace his friend, who was experiencing back and knee injuries. That’s when Ron was hired at this post at the beginning of this school year.

While Ron may have encountered difficulties at his previous post, he says he has “no difficulties with anybody here.” His favorite part of his job is getting to cross people of all ages: “I get to cross the [Tiger Tots], elementary school kids, middle schoolers, and you guys,” he said. He remembers his own elementary school crossing guard, Mrs. Toots, and hopes to make a lasting impression on the people he crosses as well. According to Ron, not only is his work as a crossing guard an important contribution to society, it is also a great way to socialize and meet new people. “I got people to talk to; it’s not just traffic,” said Ron. “Over there,” he said, referring to his previous station, “it was four corners with one person. Here, I got just one.”

Various programs in Tenafly have shown support for our crossing guards. Recently, the middle school held a large interview in which the middle school RAPP (Reaching All Peer to Peer) program interviewed various crossing guards about their experiences. The town also held a Christmas party for the crossing guards and TPR rented a room for them to show appreciation for their work.

Without our beloved school crossing guards, our town would not be the same. If you think about it, crossing guards are responsible for our safety during those few seconds you spend crossing the street. They are even contributors to the mood of the students in the morning, since we respond with a cheerful “Thank you!” every day. In the afternoon, most of us students are in a rush to get home, and we anticipate how much homework we may have. However, every “Have a nice day!” leaves us in a good mood.