In eighth grade, I was too cool for my own good. So cool, I had to learn a lesson. While standing on a designated corner surrounding my school, I strapped on the orange safety belt that lead to my new attitude. I was a street-crossing safety guard.
My job was a necessity for keeping the children enrolled in the school every day. When I saw the plastic lunchboxes and little school bags approaching with the sunrise, I knew to stick my arms out to halt their next step while they knew to stop so I could take charge of their fate. After looking left, right, left and right one more time, I made sure the morning rush of cars were out of the way. I dropped my arms to my sides and the foot travelers would cross safely to the other side of the street and continue on their way to school.
The excitement of wearing the orange safety belt was felt every time I put it on except for the at the southwest corner of the school. This particular corner was on the safety rotation, even though I had protested. Plastic lunchboxes and little school bags did not travel by foot from this direction. After two rotations, I learned the definition of boredom and I took it upon myself not to stand guard on this corner. I convinced myself that eighth graders had more important things to do in the morning other than stand guard for nobody.
The school year passed quickly. Mr. Murphy was the teacher in charge of the orange-belted, street-crossing safety guards. At the end of the school year, he took the volunteers on a special field trip to the bowling alley to reward a job well done. As all teachers do, he tacked a sheet up on the wall to define the carpool and bowling team breakdowns. When I finally made it through the huddle of kids to view the list on the wall, I could not find my name listed. Could a teacher make a mistake?
“Mr. Murphy?” I called out in a questioning voice. “My name does not appear on the list. There must be a mistake.” Mr. Murphy, father by nature, teacher by choice, sat me down and told me there was no mistake. He pulled out a chart and pointed out all the times I was not at the southwest corner standing guard. Because of my neglect of duty, I was not allowed to attend the special field trip to the bowling alley.
In eighth grade I was too cool for my own good. The lesson plan for the year was the orange belt. Only when I removed the belt did I learn what responsibility and attendance meant. My attitude was adjusted from that day forward.
My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.