You know, it isn’t always easy being a crossing guard for the kids. It especially isn’t easy when you’re an old crossing guard, and Martin is old. One of these days we’ll find out he discovered fire, I think. This isn’t meant as a slight, because there are few people around here who don’t treasure Martin for the many years he’s spent ushering kids across the intersection at the school since he retired from the ranch work. It’s just a fact, being old means extra work trying to keep up with trends and fads and technology.

“The first problem I had,” said Martin, “was those cell phone thingies. You know … the ones that stick in your ear and make you look like a Martian with an earring? Man, oh man, the first few times I saw kids using those I thought the world was coming to an end. I’d stop the cars for a kid and he’d walk across the street, talking to himself. I thought them kids were nuts, you know? Then they told me they were on the phone. I still have a hard time getting used to them.

“But this latest doo-lolly they have,” he says, “gives me the heat-seeking fantods. They got these sneakers now … maybe you seen ’em … got these little wheels in ’em? Yeah, like half a roller skate. Well, those kids come along and I go to stop traffic and before I can do that, you know, these little turkeys sit back on their heels and go sailing across the street on them wheels. They’re too fast for me now.”

He shook his head. “Ain’t safe, you know. Just ain’t safe.”

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