When shoelaces come untied

Published 10:09 am Monday, June 22, 2015

by Dr. Don Newbury
We are broken–or at least badly bent–by breaking news. It raises our blood pressure, confounds our minds and reduces us to hand-wringing, often at the beginning of TV newscasts. Brows furrow, even though we know that much news content is a true reflection of the people we’ve become—and what we condone.
Confidence is shaken in governments and institutions, as well as in ourselves. We don’t feel equal to whatever comes next—and “next” shows up fast. We are rightfully afraid–quivering, quaking and hunkering down. Eye-closing doesn’t help; rage abounds–on the road and otherwise. The crowd maddens; life is cheapened.
So, when unscripted scenes suggest some good remains in the world, we want it shared—through broadcast and social media, newspapers and over back fences. Wake the town and tell the people. Sometimes the simplest and kindest gestures make us smile, make us pause and make us grateful.
They occur at unexpected times, often in unlikely places. A friend in San Angelo beheld one recently. She brought her car to a complete stop–as instructed. So did drivers from all four directions–when the crossing guard held up his stop sign near Fannin Elementary School.
Before escorting a kindergartener across the street, he lowered himself to one knee, and helped the lad re-tie his shoe. Here’s what makes the vignette even more special. Not one driver honked, there were no threatening gestures, and no peeling of rubber occurred when traffic resumed. For that brief moment, motorists were transfixed by the loving act of an elderly crossing guard, one long since retired from fulltime employment.
Raul Morales, who has hovered over youngsters at “his” intersection for a total of two hours and 45 minutes twice daily for 14 years, is proud of his safety record. No one–not even one–has been injured during his watch. He loves children, understands his role and is doggedly determined to arrive early and stay late, always looking out for the children—and to his 15th year of crossing duty come August.
A survivor of the depression, Raul grew up on Runnels and Tom Green County farms and ranches. He embraced the work ethic early. High school attendance was out of the question, but he learned to read and write during spasmodic elementary school attendance in Knickerbocker. Days were never long enough to tend livestock, pick cotton and handle dozens of other chores. Going into town—usually Ballinger, Miles, Veribest or Knickerbockere–was rare.
His English is only “pretty good,” but it’s better than my Spanish. His kindness, love and patriotic bent, however, are unmistakable.
Morales’ patient, caring spirit is evident; he calls it “all in a day’s work.” He’s employed by the City of San Angelo, and is part of a team—both in law enforcement and education—to help children. True, many such folks are often harshly criticized. And yet, they persevere. I’m so glad they do.
My friend, Candace Cooksey Fulton, took careful note of this “shoe-tying scene.” Thankfully, she shared it.
Understandably, some of the motorists may have been late to appointments. To their credit, they patiently waited, honoring the moment. Safety came first. Pulses slowed, and all else could wait. Rarely is a setting so perfect for us to remember there are times–as biblically admonished–to be still and KNOW that He is God.
The day Raul and I had a phone conversation, he was on his way to mow a neighbor’s yard. The friend is no longer able to mow, but Raul is.
He’s been a widower for 28 years. His crossing duties give him reasons to get up each day.
“I love kids,” he said. “I’ll tie their shoes, help them button coats and pick up their books when they drop. Sometimes, the traffic just has to stop, because the children’s safety is always the most important thing.”
Someone said we shouldn’t be able to tell where school boundaries end and the community begins. This is true in San Angelo because of folks like Mr. Morales. He’s a weekly church-goer– serving his fellow man along the way–including World War II US Army service. Confidence in him is not misplaced. He’s a keeper.

Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Inquiries/comments to: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: www.speakerdoc.com. Archived at venturegalleries.com, newbury blog.