Lollipop lite

c: | f: /

The Sweet sang about one. They appeared in the Olympic closing ceremony. But what’s so special about wearing a luminous coat and glaring at motorists?

When I was a kid, lollipop ladies were made from girders. Ruddy great iron girders with rivets the size of Klingon warships. They provided a useful service on busy roads, especially near the school bus stop, standing at the side of the road with laser vision. At the slightest sniff of a youngster, they would dutifully raise the lollipop to signal vehicles should prepare to stop and then fearlessly lunge into the road, traffic or not.

The watered down health-and-safety-aware School Crossing Patrol Officers of today are a far cry from their adamantine predecessors. For starters, most of them haven’t been on the course or ever heard of the highway code (or are just lazy). They either keep the lollipop sign upright all the time — which causes no end of confusion in drivers — or they wander into the road with it at half mast and plonk it upright when they’ve reached the white line, then scowl at drivers who grind to an emergency stop inches from their frail shins.

Then — and this is the kicker — most of the patrol people aren’t outside the school, but are stationed further away at a pelican crossing. Thus the council are essentially paying my tax money to some old / ignorant / idle duffer to press a button and wait for a green signal, then strut in front of cars that have already stopped at the traffic lights, and usher across people who could very well have pressed the button themselves. That’s not a service, it’s an insult.

There are the odd few I’ve noticed who do the profession proud; obey the code, stare down danger’s throat and assure safe passage for the future inheritors of our planet, despite 94.8% of the kids ignoring the helper and staring at a mobile screen the whole time they cross. But the majority of the workers aren’t much cop and would be better off at home with a cup of tea, the Daily Mail crossword and Emmerdale at maximum volume.

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