Friday, February 10, 2012

accidental mentor

Normally, I would have just stepped aside and let him go on his way.  High school kids aren't big on having an elementary school crossing guard walk them across the street.

But there were some elementary kids approaching from the other direction, so I asked him to please wait for them before pushing the crosswalk button. 

"No problem", he mumbled.

He was wearing a large arctic parka - the explorer-esque kind with fur lined hood - a knit cap with a brim, baggy jeans, and work boots.  His backpack was large enough to amply supply an all-day hike.  He was about 6 feet tall.  It was hard for me to see his face since the cap was pulled down low and his longish dark hair was streaming out in all directions. 

He pulled something out of his coat pocket and brought it up to his face, cupping his hands around it.  At first  I thought he might be preparing to light a cigarette, but then I saw he was shielding the screen of his iPod as he scanned his playlist.  iPods are handy devices for teens when they don't care to interact.

this morning
Near where I live is an alternative high school.  It's part of our public school district and was opened to help "at risk" students - those at risk of dropping out of school, or worse.   It currently enrolls 94 students and there is an application process required to get in.  The other high schools start their days so early as to nearly be nocturnal, but the alternative school starts later in the day, so a few of these students cross my path in the mornings.

To me, they all have a certain look - maybe even an "aura"?  Even though there are various reasons for them being at the alternative school, there is a commonality about them.  They all have a noticeable guard up.

The little ones arrived and we all crossed as a pack with the big guy leading, dragging his big boots with each step. 

"Go learn stuff, see ya later", I said as they continued on.

"Remember:  there are no stupid questions!", the big guy advised as he went left and the littles went right.

I say I like Mondays.  My Friday started out nicely too.


  1. Don't you just love that? Tough on the outside, but a sweetness that sometimes slips out. What a heartwarming way to start your day. :)

  2. That reminds me of my favorite saying: There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

    Some kids are hard boiled on the outside but still good in the middle. Sounds like he had his heart in the right place.

  3. I love that the big guy offered the littles a bit of advice. Kids like him seem to have such a hard exterior and we tend to think there's no use in trying to see if there's more to them than that toughness. The big guy obviously has a sweet interior.

  4. I like the anticipation that you create in your stories. I'm sure there is a nice, professional writing term for it. I'll have to consult my Strunk and White book. :)

    I like that kid.