Wise Czar

Here’s to the Traffic Directors!

Posted on: January 13, 2014

This past week, I began work as a paraprofessional educator (a.k.a teaching assistant) at a junior high school. Although I have a full teaching degree and am capable of running my own classroom, I could not forgo the rare opportunity to gain actual experience while earning a paycheck midway through the school year.

So far I am quite happy with the work and am trying to impact students as much as possible despite my assistive role. In fact, the toughest part of the job for me has actually nothing to do with teaching—it has to do with directing cars.

This traffic director has got game.

This traffic director has got game.

The first day I was placed on traffic duty, I quipped that university teaching programs should add a traffic directing class to their curriculum because nearly every faculty member in the school is fair game to have to do this unenviable work.

I often would get vexed at traffic directors in the past. “How dare these simpletons seek to impede my commute,” I would think to myself as I grudgingly obeyed their commands. Whenever they stopped me to let other cars pass, I questioned their seemingly arbitrary decision to make me the cutoff.

Now that I must toil away at this job myself, I have attained a new-found appreciation for these people.

For one, directing traffic is harder than it looks. It requires a large degree of coordination and awareness of one’s surroundings. When I did it for the first time, I caused massive gridlock that got a number of parents who were dropping their kids off quite upset with me. It’s amazing the mayhem that one person can single-handedly cause while doing that job.

Furthermore, traffic directors have to stand out there no matter what the weather. After all, the kids have to get to school. Rain, snow, wind, sleet, hail—the traffic director must work despite each. I was never a fan of wearing hats or hoods. Needless to say, I have reconsidered as of late.

Finally, it’s a little bit scary being a traffic director because you can theoretically cause an accident if the drivers are not paying attention. I have to direct cars from two sides all while taking kids across street—there’s always a risk that something could, God forbid, go wrong.

So it’s definitely stressful work, and few drivers realize or appreciate that. I can’t blame them. After all, I have the power to make their kids late to school based on my decisions out there. You wouldn’t think so, but being a traffic director truly gives you power over people, and that is perhaps the most frustratingly annoying thing about us of all.

Hopefully someone reading this will see traffic directors in a new light and be a little friendlier to them next time. I won’t be holding my breath, though. It’s the type of job that you can’t understand until you do it. As for me, I’d like to make an imaginary toast to traffic directors everywhere.


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