By Noah Johnson
LANSING, Ill. (September 28, 2021) – Chris Metzger never intended to be a crossing guard with the Lansing Police Department for 30 years.
But August 26 this year marked the day when she decided to take on the role in 1991. Since then, she’s enjoyed a decades-long career that’s seen her help the village’s youth get to where they are going safely. But beyond that, building relationships with them and other community members has been equally as worthwhile.
A friendly face
“I’ve met lots of people through the job that’ll stop and talk and visit a little bit,” she said. “That’s fun. Sometimes when I don’t see someone for a few days, I’ll say ‘where’ve you been? You haven’t been sick or anything?’”
That kind of warmth and connection she shares with those she meets is also evident through how she handles kids she’s crossing. Sometimes, they get antsy as they wait for traffic lights to change, she said. That’s when she keeps them occupied with conversation.
“I start asking them how school was, if they had homework today and this and that,” she said. “They kind of loosen up then, start talking and stop thinking about ‘hey I want to get across this road right now.’”
Kids crossing into adulthood
“I’ve had a lot of great kids,” she added. “In fact a lot of these kids come back as adults and talk to me and I just can’t believe it. I crossed them in grade school and they’ll come by my corner now and they still remember my name. It’s fun to see old ones who come back and visit.”
Over the years, kids have given her gifts for her kindness and her service, ranging from a pack of Twinkies to a bouquet of flowers. Last month, she enjoyed a free meal at a restaurant in Munster, Indiana after a man she crossed as a kid paid for it.
“It was just wonderful,” she said. “It’s nice to know that people remember.”
Decades of working with youth
In confluence with her job as a crossing guard, Metzger has worked for the Patti Leach Youth Center for 19 years, she said. She helps supervise the kids and conducts various activities with them, which further strengthens the bonds she has with the village’s youth.
Compared to when she first started in 1991, she said Lansing has a lot more traffic.
“Sometimes in the afternoon, I have trouble with that traffic,” she said. “They block the intersection when the light changes and I have a harder time getting the kids across but we manage.”
Metzger currently crosses kids at the intersection of Ridge Road and Chicago Avenue, a few blocks east of Memorial Junior High.
She said she “doesn’t’ know where 30 years went” but as long as “I can keep walking and keep moving, I’m going to keep doing this.”
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