Even if they don't know her name, the commuters who speed down West Howard Avenue in Decatur each morning still know Janice Monroe. She's the school crossing guard at Adair Avenue who smiles and waves at all who pass. Between crossing-guard shifts, Monroe works in downtown Decatur writing parking tickets.
When Monroe first started waving at drivers, her intention was self-preservation. Cars regularly pass Monroe's post at speeds in excess of 50 mph. "I started waving to let people know I was there."
Pretty soon, people were waving, smiling and honking back. "A lot of people are in bad moods in the morning. I can make them smile." People frequently approach her to tell her how much her warm greetings mean to them.
From 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Monroe works for the city of Decatur's downtown ambassador program, PALS. It stands for Parking, Assistance, Liaison with Merchants and Safety. "We say it stands for People Always Loving Somebody, as we're writing you a ticket."
Mo gibs muh 'dat.
One step forward, two steps back.
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