A Day in the Life of the Gnome That Runs the Sheridan Crosswalk Signs
As the sun rises and illuminates the dark grey asphalt, I hobble up my pole and take my post at the Foster light. I flip on my controls and feel a rush of joy as my glowing red hand projects across a slowly waking Sheridan road.
Us Signal-Gnomes are born into this world for one purpose and that’s to keep the good students of Northwestern University safe. My father sat in my chair before me, just as his did before him.
I slip on my microphone and a sense of calm slithers through my body. This is what I was made to do. This is right. Today, as every day, I shall protect Northwestern students from the terrors of Sheridan Road.
On this particular day I’m hoping a certain special student decides to walk through my light. Her name is Britney and she is the most wonderful girl in the world. I catch her most days walking from Elder to her class in University.
From overheard conversations I know that she is something called a freshman. It is a strange, manly sounding species, but I don’t mind, for I am a Signal-Gnome and love does not come easily for Signal-Gnomes.
You see, as I am getting older, my time to find my Signal-Wife is growing shorter and shorter. Brittney is the one. Once I ask her to marry me she’ll move into my hovel beneath the steam tunnels. She’ll kiss me goodbye in the morning, and at night I’ll come back to a freshly cooked dinner. We’ll banter about the three different colors of lights and the resemblance of the crosswalk to a zebra. What fun.
It’s forty-five minutes into my day when I spy her walking past the Sheil Catholic Center. She looks radiant today. Her flowing blond hair catches the early morning sun. As she gets closer I could swear she’s looking at me right in my crosswalk sign.
Keep it together, now is your chance.
As she comes up to my corner I switch to Big Red Hand. I only have a minute to act. A minute to express all the things I’ve been thinking about each morning as I watch her journey to Comm Studies 103.
But what if she doesn’t feel the same way? She doesn’t even know me. What if she rejects me?
The lights in the intersection pulse as my heart rate rises. I feel myself getting sick.
No, Richard you can do this. You don’t have much time.
I take a deep breath and ride a momentary wave of confidence. Here we go.
“Britney, I am your crosswalk light and I would like to ask for your hand in marriage”
She looks around startled. Damnit.
“Look up Britney, I’m here”
She cries out, terrified, and reaches for the walk button. She’s needs to hear me out. She can’t press that button.
She pounds down on the button.
“Wait,” I tell her.
It’s no good, I’m not getting through to her. If she would just wait for me.
She presses the button again, hard.
“WAIT!” Again, she presses, “WAIT! WAIT!”
Britney grows more agitated and lunges into the road. Dear god.
“WAAAIIITTT!!!” I scream after her.
There’s nothing I can do! She’s going to get hit.
At the last second I flip my signal and cry into my controls. My tears run down my microphone and I blubber:
“Walk sign is on to cross Sheridan Road”