Two Crossing Guards

Bumpy Roads

Our crossing guard would firmly lift his left arm, stop the traffic on the left side of the road: at the same time, with his right hand he would keep on inviting the vehicles towards the hospital gate. While moving his right hand inwards he was moving his body backwards in the same way. The co-ordination of his hands and feet was perfect. It was as if he was rowing a boat, without the sound produced by the movement of an oar while rowing a boat. He would tilt his neck a little bit, greeting the in-coming employees wordlessly, and without disturbing his assignment. I always found him enthusiastic, cheerful and well dressed. His determination to stand near the gate was matchless and no extreme conditions of weather would ever disturb him. In the bright sun he wore lovely sunglasses and no sooner would the clouds hover a bit more, he would be seen in a raincoat.

I greatly appreciated the way he carried out his morning duties. One fine day I met him. He shook my hand firmly and I could see his shining teeth all the time while he conversed with me in a warm manner. Unfortunately, I never told him how much I admired his enthusiasm. It is said that people who shake hands firmly are often warm and enthusiastic. The litmus test was certainly positive in this case. He was living with zest, and that was the secret of his happiness and not the income!


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The story was quite different when I joined another hospital. The crossing guard there would often lift his body slowly from his extra-large chair. He would be too miserly in his gestures The belt he wore could be seen hanging from his obese belly over his untidy uniform. His eyes looked heavy and he would often yawn, reflecting his complete lack of enthusiasm. Dear reader, having presented before you the story of two crossing guards, you will agree that it is the person and not the profession what matters. Be proud of any job you do, but don’t develop a conceit and feel inferior to none. All jobs are important and sharing them amongst human beings is simply the division of labor during your short stay in this world. One gets to know the importance of any job or profession as soon as people in that particular job stop working. Enthusiasm of employees is crucial in the progress of any society. Know your job well, perform it well, and be dutiful. Play your role and create the work culture. Focus on today’s work, as yesterday is a dream and tomorrow a vision. It is only today that can create a nice yesterday and a hopeful tomorrow, wise men have said.

Stress at home or at work is unavoidable, but the clever thing is to maintain that thin demarcation between the two. One must never bring work stress home and vice versa. Even though it is more easily said than done, maintaining that thin line is the art of living, and it can be observed that successful people often do this. Further, you will always come across negative people at any workplace. They are like hot potatoes, so keep away from them as much as possible. Do your job sincerely and with dedication? “Honor and shame from no condition rise. Act well your part, there all the honor lies,” I conclude with what Alexander Pope wrote in the 18th century CE. (Book Excerpt)

“I have never in my life learned anything from
any man who agreed with me.”
– Dudley Field Malon

Author is a MD. DM (Gastroenterology) FACP, FACG Consultant Gastroenterologist & Associate Professor at Yenepoya University, Mangalore. He can be reached at



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