Nolanville, VA-Every weekday morning at 3 a.m., 45-year old George Ross puts on his pants for the third time, combs every strand of hair separately and plucks any wayward nose hairs. He measures one teaspoon of sugar into his carefully prepared cup of coffee then pours it out, washes the cup and sink twice, and starts the process all over again. After exactly 16 false starts out of the house, in which he returns from the driveway to check the doors and windows, as well as the coffee maker and iron, he is ready to head off to work as the community crossing guard for Billy Bob Thornton Elementary School.
At 6 a.m., when he arrives on the same corner he has worked for 23 years, the real work begins. Every pebble and speck of dirt invading his space since he last stood there must be removed by hand lest a child trip over it. Then at exactly 7:45, because they know better, the first group of children arrive to cross the street. Before crossing the street is even discussed, the children must go through a careful inspection for any “gnarlies” that might be crawling on them, in their backpacks, or between the pages of any schoolbooks they are carrying. Then the kids must do three complete turnarounds and say, “Good Morning Mr. Ross” four times after each turn.
Ross then walks into the intersection and allows three cars of the same color to pass, but only if he places a chalk mark on their tires so he can count the number of turns each wheel makes as it crosses the intersection. After the three cars are permitted to proceed, Ross holds up his hand-held stop sign with his upper arm exactly parallel to the ground followed by two and one-half tweets on his exquisitely clean whistle to announce that all is clear. After the first child steps off the curb, the entire group must back up in unison, then the leader must step off again-this is done six or eight times depending on the day of the week. At some point, the children finally cross the street.
The town has catered to this rather bizarre behavior for years. But yesterday, impatient businessman, Ron Martin, talking on his Blue Tooth while spilling coffee over his tie, had another idea. He decided to drive his SUV around this “crazy cockeyed bullshit.” Ross attempted to stop him by blowing his whistle in a numerous series of two and one-half tweets, waiving his piece of chalk in one hand and holding his stop sign in perfect position in the other, but it was too late. Two worlds had collided and Ross came up on the receiving end of the disaster.
As the siren wailed, the ambulance carrying Mr. Ross was last seen en route to the hospital poking down main street going forward a few feet, backing up, going forward a few more feet, etc.