Life with a lollipop

(News about “The Servant’s Voice” at the end of this post…)

Five years after being made redundant, the Blogger is once again on a payroll.

A few months ago, I noticed a few laminated signs tied to lamp-posts around the area, advertising a vacancy for a School Crossing Patrol, and it occurred to me that I could do this. I’ve now done four weeks’ work, two half-hour stints per weekday, standing in or by the road with an oddly-shaped stick, so that children and other pedestrians can safely cross to and from school.

So far I’m enjoying the work very much. In case it’s of interest, I have put together a list of what I’ve noticed/learned:

  1. It’s a wonderful way to feel appreciated. The vacancy was of long standing, and even non-parents stop me to say how glad they are that it’s filled. Parents teach their children manners by encouraging them to thank the lollipop lady, and I have daily dozens of sweet short conversations. (It goes both ways: thanking the drivers with a polite wave is an official part of the job.)
  2. On the other hand, and by contrast, there is a wonderful feeling of unbridled power when you step into the road and make the cars stop. The motorist does not rule the world, not here, not now!
  3. I’m placed to serve the local primary school, but as it happens I also see a lot of slightly older children going in the opposite direction to/from the local secondary. Also people out with their dogs. I stop traffic for all of these, which surprises and pleases some of them. They don’t need to be grateful – it would be a lot duller if I didn’t.
  4. But not always. The tricky element is managing my arrival and set-up, because I’m only insured and empowered to stop cars within very specific windows of time. Yet if I’ve arrived and there’s an early-bird child, it’s hard not to assist.
  5. The other strict rule is uniform (I have provision for dry, wet, cold, and windy weather.) The Patrol must always be in full uniform, showing all the reflective strips, and wearing the official psychadelic yellow hat.
  6. The most fiddly bit is packing the lollipop away in its case. And since it’s awkward carrying the case plus something else (and I don’t have a locker to store a handbag) I have to plan the contents of my pockets carefully, especially if I want to pop into Sainsbury’s on the way back.
  7. About 33% of the children bike or scoot rather than walking. There are of course also a lot of younger siblings in buggies.
  8. When it rains, everyone sympathises with me, which is nice. The uniform is waterproof, however, so you don’t need to feel too bad. I think the cold will be worse. Singing “Singing in the Rain” in the rain is very therapeutic, and recommended to all.
  9. The official four lollipop positions are as follows: a) Lollipop upside down – I am in repose, waiting for customers. Cars need not stop; b) Lollipop held horizontally – I am waiting my moment, restraining any children. Cars need not stop; c) Lollipop held diagonally out into the road – I am about to cross. Cars should stop; d) Lollipop held upright in the centre of the road – I am crossing pedestrians. Cars must stop. By law. This also applies to bikes, although they don’t always…
  10. “What flavour is the lollipop?” is a traditional question on my patch, as I’m sure is the case for many Patrols. So far it’s been anything from “lemon” to “cheese and tomato pizza”. Suggestions welcome…

Four weeks in, I’m enjoying the work greatly, and have taken particular pleasure in tearing down any adverts still on lamp-posts.

Love from the PPI Blogger, now also an SCP

PS  “The Servant’s Voice” will be available to buy from 5th November 2019. The first two chapters are available to download free NOW on the website!


  • Stephen Hall

    6th October 2019 at 9:01 pm Reply

    Wonderful that you’re enjoying the job Penny. I hope it remains fun through darkest January!

    Have you developed a catchphrase yet? My cycle route to work for several years took me past a particular junction manned by a very nice lollipop man. And every day when he withdrew to his corner and the lights turned green he would cry “Rock and roll” as we all pedalled off. I quite liked it.

  • Penelope Wallace

    7th October 2019 at 4:45 pm Reply

    I have enough trouble thinking of a flavour… Everyone chats to the lollipop person, it seems!

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