‘Ottawa’ Capital Voices: ‘I’ve Never Missed a Day, Except for one Time …’
In anticipation of Canada’s sesquicentennial celebrations, the Citizen’s Bruce Deachman has been out in search of Ottawans — 150 of them — to learn their stories of life and death, hope and love, the exceptional and the everyday. We’ll share one person’s story every day until Canada Day.
“I started doing this 16 years ago. My three kids were attending D. Roy (Kennedy Public School) then, and they needed a crossing guard. I liked it so much I just kept doing it.
“My youngest one was around the age where he could walk to school by himself then. I knew I could cross him here at this end, so I knew he’d get to school. And often he would come with me and I could see him playing in the schoolyard, so it was all good.
“I liked being part of their school day. Because then you knew who they were hanging out with, their friends, and you got to know the teachers really well.
“I love watching the kids as they grow up. There was one little boy who was so shy, he could barely look at me for years — three or four years. And this year he finally said hi to me. And he crosses all by himself; he’s very independent. So that was very cute to see. I love the interaction with the kids; it brings joy to my day. And the kids sometimes say funny things like, ‘You must be cold standing out here all day.’
“There’s a real sense of community, watching them grow and mature, and conversing with the moms and dads and grandparents. So yeah, I love watching them grow up from kindergarten all the way to high school. And sometimes you see them out in the community, working in the stores, and they always remember me and always have nice things to say. And I get some cute cards.
“I do two schools now: D. Roy and Woodroffe. The job is through the Ottawa Safety Council. And my daughter, Samantha, is a crossing guard, just at the other corner there. She’s been doing it for seven to 10 years.
“I love it, because you’re outside. I hate being behind a desk. You’re with people, you chat — briefly. There’s a man that I talk briefly with every Wednesday and Friday because he goes down to the museum. He’s retired and works at the war museum, and gets his bus at this corner and I let him know if one’s just gone by or not.
“There are other regulars … some dads from the school. And there’s a guy on the corner who’s fairly new; he just moved in, and we’ve had a couple of short chats while he’s waiting for the bus. You learn a lot about them. There are some former students who are now going to university at Ottawa U, and they use the bus so I keep up with them and find out how they’re doing.
“I also reinforce the safety rules of the road, and not just with kids. I had to remind a mom today. She was running across the crosswalk with one second to go.
“In all these years, I’ve never been sick. I’ve never missed a day, except for one time: when my son got married, last year. He got married at four o’clock, so I had to miss that one — just the afternoon. But it wasn’t for being sick; that was important. And even when we got that 52 cm of snow last year, I walked. I got stuck in my driveway, so I walked from home to Woodroffe, then here, and then to my other job. And then I laid in a snowbank and had a rest on the way home, I was so exhausted.”
— Sue Deugo. D. Roy Kennedy Public School, Woodroffe Avenue, Feb. 21, 2017.