Stephen Miller is the very popular Lane Cove Public School Crossing Supervisor. He is at is his post if it is sunny, rainy, foggy or fine. He is used to dodging cars failing to stop at his pedestrian crossing, but today he had a new threat to deal with.
This afternoon Stephen Miller was also dodging bees.
A swarm had clustered just inside the Lane Cove Public school staff car park on the other side of the fence.
It was safely and expertly relocated by an expert who vacuumed them into a temporary hive using a very long pole.
Stephen told us
“The swarming process is part of the natural reproductive life cycle of honey bee colonies. Together with the worker bees, the queen leaves the overcrowded hive and cluster on a nearby tree. Scout bees then search for a new home. Back in the parent colony, new virgin queens emerge from queen cells and fight each other to death. Only the fittest queen will survive and then continues to maintain the colony. There’s nothing boring about bees.”
Stephen Always Going One Step Further for His Kids
When he is not dodging bees or cars, Stephen takes his job very seriously. A few weeks ago, ITC was reading the Lane Cove Council Traffic Advisory Committee and noted that Stephen (on his own time) was lobbying the Lane Cove Council for safer conditions at his pedestrian crossing.
Previously ITC asked Stephen a few questions about his job.
Why Did You Decide to Become a School Crossing Supervisor?
I actually saw the advert on ITC and thought I’ve got time to do that, so why not? Somewhat naively, I thought I’d be on a crossing within a week or two if I got the job, but it actually took several months. The process is very thorough, and after a lengthy online application, there was a full medical examination; Police and Working With Children checks, and three days of training.
Well, I should probably say that my wife, Henrietta, thought I was bonkers… as did my son. But I just thought, hey, this could be a nice little bit of community service, and I haven’t been disappointed from that point of view. My main priority, of course, is to assist the children safely across the road, but where possible, I also work hard to maintain good traffic flow – or ‘let the cars have a turn’ as I describe it to the kids.
So here I am ‘strutting the stripes’ as we school crossing supervisors like to say… Actually, we don’t; I just made that up!
Have You Seen Some Crazy Things While Strutting the Stripes?
I thought I’d seen pretty much all I was likely to see after about a fortnight – but sadly, no. I’ve ducked for cover twice after two vehicles separately hit the broken curb nearby, and their rear tyres exploded… Once I was about to summon the children to cross, I suddenly heard the car behind me rev loudly and lurch forward, brushing my arm with their wing mirror. I yelled to the children to stop, which they did. Incredibly this vehicle just kept ongoing. On another occasion, a man who’d driven through while I was on the crossing, celebrated his driving ability by then giving me the bird from his open window?!?
Twice now, drivers have decided it was actually ‘okay’ to do a three-point turn on the crossing itself – they wanted to go back in the other direction to get into the school pick-up zone. After suddenly veering at me on the footpath, they then held up angry traffic while completing this dangerous manoeuvre.
So what do you hate, and what do you most like about being a School Crossing Supervisor?
I don’t think there is anything I hate about the job, but I suppose one or two things frustrate me. Speeding cars would be top of that list.
Too many seem oblivious it’s a 40kmh school zone when I’m there and also 25kmh over the crossing itself – at any time!
Then there’s the occasional pedestrian who, despite being greeted warmly, chooses to just look the other way.
Once, as I walked out onto the crossing to stop the traffic, a very grumpy older man shouted at me in a highly derogatory tone, “Do you know how embarrassing it is at my age to be seen across the road? by a lollipop man?”. This gentleman failed to understand how many drivers simply won’t stop unless they see me going out on the crossing. As an adult, though, he’s entitled to take his chances, I guess. Thankfully none of the children are ever this silly.
I do, however, love the genuine feeling of ‘gratefulness’ from parents, teachers and children alike; this always makes my day. In the newsletter, I was introduced to the school community, so many parents and children now know my name. I always try to brighten their day, and their responses back always brighten mine. Seeing their trusting, beaming smiles and observing such polite manners from some so young is heartwarming. Hearing “Thank you, Steve” yelled by an excited pre-schooler or once being given a hug of appreciation is just lovely. I’m there to do a job, though, and I take it extremely seriously. I look after all the children as if they were my own.
By the Way – He is also a Marriage Celebrant.
I have married a number of lovely Lane Cove couples. I also do funerals now, which, while obviously not the joyous occasions weddings are, can still be an enjoyable celebration of that person’s life.
As you know, we lost our 21-year-old son Elliott to rare cancer three years ago, and if anything good can come out of that heartbreaking tragedy, it would be it’s given me a newfound empathy towards anyone who’s also lost a close loved one. I live every day as if it were my last – life is a precious gift, and as I’m painfully aware, you never know how long you’ve got it for. You can read more about Stephen’s journey to becoming a marriage celebrant here.
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