By Michael Turton
Tom Herring has been a Haldane crossing guard in Cold Spring for nearly 20 years. He is on duty on Route 9D at Craigside Drive from 7 to 9 a.m., 10 to 11 a.m. and 2 to 3:30 p.m.
What weather do you dread the most?
The winter. In the beginning, it didn’t bother me. But I’m going to be 49 soon. My back is bothering me and the colder it gets, the more it hurts. But then we get a day like today: warm with blue skies. You take the good with the bad.
What are the students like who cross at your post?
Ninety-nine percent are amazing. It’s a small town; people care about their kids and it shows in the way they behave. There’s always a couple who think they’re a little smarter than I am and don’t listen to me. That hasn’t changed a lot over the years. Most kids thank me.
Has traffic changed over the years?
When I started, I didn’t have a stop sign or a vest. I’d walk to edge of the road, put up my hand, and cars stopped. It was a cakewalk. Drivers have changed. Nobody pays attention anymore; they’re in a rush. I see so many close calls. We have that orange barrel on the sidewalk for a reason. If I have traffic stopped, some fool will whip down the shoulder to pass four cars, thinking they’re all waiting to turn. God forbid there’s a kid crossing the road. They slow down because they don’t want to hit the barrel.
Do you help adults cross as well?
I can. We don’t stop the traffic for the kids; we stop the kids for the traffic and cross when there’s an opening. It’s not as easy with adults. They tend to do their own thing. I don’t mess with them unless they appear to need help.
Why do you pace so much on the job?
I started doing that a couple of years ago and I’ve walked off close to 65 pounds. It’s the crossing-guard diet. I should have figured that out 20 years ago. I walk six to 10 miles a day, basically standing still. I get paid to lose weight.