Editor’s note: The subject of this interview will be referred to as SM (sidewalk monitor), as she prefers anonymity for the sake of undercover work.
“The reign of pushy longboards and obnoxious scooters is over,” says SM. This Hope College hero has been hired to “return the sidewalks to all common walking pedestrians, protecting them from any scooter or hoverboard-riding hooligans in the vicinity,” according to the job description provided by Hope’s Public Affairs and Marketing office. This issue has lingered in the Hope community for decades. Each year, the safety of those who use the sidewalks is jeopardized by some alternative form of transportation.
In the 70s, it was roller skates. The 90s brought the sinister skateboard—later transformed by less-balanced hipsters into the longboard. We passed through 2016 increasingly haunted by a new generation of hoverboards and electric scooters. Could it get any more alarming, you ask? Well, welcome to 2019. We have it all, including the newest addition of “one-wheelers”: the nightmare of a hoverboard with one less wheel. Reports of this threatening mode of transportation terrorizing pedestrians on the sidewalks is the straw that broke the camel’s back. “We just knew that it was time,” said a Hope Human Resources representative, also wishing to remain anonymous after the creation of this controversial position. “After years of complaints, we decided that it was in the interest of safety for our beloved students, faculty and staff that we require a position such as this to come to life.”
In her new position as hero and guardian of the sidewalk, SM will be in charge of patrolling campus under the guise of a casual college student. When a biker is seen weaving through peacefully strolling students or the sound of a skateboard blazing up from behind causes innocent pedestrians to leap into the grass out of fear, SM will be there. As I shadowed her throughout a day on the job, I was lucky enough to witness one such confrontation. It was 11:54 a.m. on a Monday. Hope students streamed in every direction—heading to class, to lunch or simply minding their own business. From afar, I began to hear loud exclamations from students and a low hum that can only mean one thing: a hoverboard. I looked over at SM, already feeling those familiar waves of dread roll over me, forcing me to inch toward the edge of the sidewalk in anticipation. We locked eyes, and she nodded: “It’s go time.” At a speed I would have missed had I taken the time to blink, SM removed her casual windbreaker to reveal an intimidating, official-looking neon bomber jacket, drew a megaphone out of its hidden holster and extracted a sign out of her belt as if it were a sheathed sword. Running toward the offender with a powerful, decisive confidence I still cannot fathom to this day, SM singlehandedly slowed down the speeding hoverboarder. Once the convict had removed themselves from the board and had received SM’s warning and stern talkingto, the surrounding crowd of pedestrians erupted into deafening applause. “Just doing my civic duty,” SM said, saluting the crowd. “Giving your sidewalks back.” “It truly is a rewarding profession,” she said to me on our walk away from the scene. “I have always had a passion for protection, safety and the freedom to stroll.
I am thankful to finally share this ambition with the wonderful walkers of Hope College.” Walk with confidence, people. Now there’s someone on your side.