'Rock star' crossing guard earns town's award of merit

·3 min read

She's had hamburgers thrown at her, dodged impatient drivers, and trudged through snowstorms to stand guard so school children are able to cross the road safely.

"You trust in God," said Margaret Murray, who was recently recognized for more than 30 years of her work in Midland. "That's number one."

Secondly, she said, you have to have a bit of humour.

That comes in handy when a student in a bus driving by throws a hamburger at her, added Murray.

"I got up to Monsignor Catholic and a bus passed by and a kid threw a hamburger at me," said the 83-year-old. "The principal brought him to me later to apologize. I said, 'Thanks, but you could have just given it to me instead of throwing it at me.'"

Beyond that, said Murray, her years of experience have taught her that patience, courage, and wisdom helped her win respect from kids.

"I had one boy who would not listen to me," she recalled. "I threatened him with the police and the principal, but he challenged me. Finally, I just gave up on it and ignored it. Then he gave up his behaviour."

Years later, Murray said, she met the student's father in a parking lot one day and asked him how his son was doing.

She said she was pleasantly surprised to learn he was an Ornge pilot.

This pride, Murray said, comes from the bond the crossing guards form working with the kids day in and day out.

"They come by in the morning and they tell me their stories and their troubles and you listen to them," she said, adding, "It makes your day. They treat you like a rock star. They put their lives in your hands; they trust you."

The award was announced at a recent Midland council meeting.

"When the Town of Midland was in need of a school crossing guard to ensure the safety of students and parents crossing the busy Yonge and Russell Street intersection, Margaret eagerly took on this very important role," said Mayor Stewart Strathearn.

"In 2009, it was determined that Margaret's assistance was required at the Howard Street and Penetanguishene Road intersection to ensure the safe crossing of children, parents, and staff of Monsignor Catholic School, she accepted this redeployment without question," added the mayor.

"She's held the position of school crossing guard for 30 years and takes great pride in this role, rarely, if ever missing a day," he continued. "This continues to be an amazing accomplishment on its own as Margaret never drove, but was able to get herself to work everyday, despite the weather."

At that, Murray chuckled, and revealed her secret.

"I'm a Newfie," she said. "I know how to dress for the cold. I'm a hot-blooded person."

The Midland resident said she was enamoured to receive the award.

"I wasn't expecting an award for something I enjoy," she said. "It's my life now and I get a lot of joy from it."

Murray said she wants to continue doing this job until her health allows her.

"I love life and I love people," she said. "I love dealing with people and meeting with people everyday."

Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com