I’m not a morning person.
Let me reiterate: mornings and I are not on speaking terms. In fact, I really don’t like to speak to or with anyone in the morning. My boy soon learned not to expect anything more than a grumpy grunt or groan from me if he asked me a question within two hours of my waking. Not that much later he learned that it was better not to ask me any questions at all during that time.
Thankfully, not everyone shares my aversion to mornings. Or if they do, they hide it well. These people make it a lot easier for people like me to begin our days.
Each morning that I drive my boy to the station to go to work, we drive across a school crossing manned by such a morning person.
Geoff the crossing man is a local celebrity. Rain, hail or shine, during school terms he is out there, waving enthusiastically at each passing car and giving drivers a wide toothy grin. Geoff exudes such light, warmth, joy and fun that no matter which side of the bed you climbed out of that morning, you can’t help but smile and wave right back at him. When he sees you smiling and waving back at him, he becomes even more animated. And if you dare pop your arm out the window to wave at Geoff, he will likely yell out “hello!” and excitedly jump up and down a little on the spot. Geoff is so well liked that someone created a mosaic bench with his image on it right near his crossing. It must be a little weird to sit next to a likeness of yourself on a bench.
Not far from Geoff is another crossing man who also has a penchant for improving your morning, albeit a little more sedately. He mans a crossing on a particularly awkward bend where it’s hard to see any vehicles coming or their speed. I imagine he’s seen one too many close calls at this bend. As a result, he has taken it upon himself to not only guide children and their carers safely across the street, but also direct drivers of vehicles turning onto the street near the nasty bend.
On my way to work, I am one of these drivers. I can confirm that when you’re running late to work, his hurried waves to go while it’s clear, or steady ‘stop’ hand when it’s not, are rather helpful in avoiding any close calls. He takes on this role with such seriousness and sincerity, but also with a smile.
These men have creatively turned their potentially tedious jobs into ones in which they brighten and improve the day of literally hundreds of people every day. What they do seems simple enough, but when it’s rainy, cold and windy, or 30 degrees celcius plus, or when you’re under the weather, tired and grumpy, or have things on your mind, it’s not always easy to stay positive and engaged and shine your light for other people. But these crossing men choose to do this, every day, rain, hail or shine.
Actually, how we interact with our families, friends, colleagues and strangers is a choice each of us makes every day – rain, hail or shine. How we interact with others really can make all the difference to their day. Smiles, hellos, laughter and kindnesses are contagious and for best effect, should be shared freely and widely, without reservation or expectation (although if you need an incentive, these things usually make you feel pretty good, too).
So, thank goodness for these crossing men, and all of the other people who offer a warm smile or "Good morning", who make our mornings more sunny and welcoming. Their gestures also make the rest of the day a little brighter. They drag morning-phobics like me out of my gloom and help me to better face the day ahead, armed with a more positive, lighter and brighter outlook.
(And in the afternoons, perhaps when these morning people are feeling a little flat and I’m firing on all cylinders, I like to think I can repay the favour.)