Name: Wendy Piatti
Occupation: Traffic control officer with Hinesville Police Department for the past five and a half years.
Background: Married with one grown daughter. Piatti moved here from her native Germany almost nine years ago. She lives in Richmond Hill but enjoys working in Hinesville.
“I still come down here every day just because (I have to work) one and a half hours in the morning and at night,”she said. “I really like it.”
What do you most like about your job?
"… I am able to help people, especially to get the kids safe across the street and direct the traffic, so everybody is safe,” she said. “I like working with people. I know almost everybody who passes us every day.
"I really like (my job) the most when it’s crowded. If we don’t have school during the summer, or now with Christmas, I really miss it.”
What do you least enjoy about your job?
“I have a lot of fun doing it,” she said. “There’s actually not much I don’t like about this job.”
How did you get the job?
“Since I moved to Georgia from (Kaiserslauten in) Germany, I always liked when I saw the crossing guards out there and was wondering how they do it and what they do,” she said. “They don’t have anything like this in Germany.”
Piatti applied for the job after seeing an advertisement in the newspaper.
“I liked it from the beginning,” she said. “I’m a people person.”
What is directing traffic like?
“After you know what to do, it’s really fun,” she said. “It’s like you can do it in your sleep.”
In addition to directing weekday school traffic, Piatti said her team turns the traffic lights off during lunch and the close of business on Fridays to manage congestion downtown.
“Especially paydays, the first and the 15th, it’s very crowded,” she said.
How do crossing guards learn how to direct traffic?
“It’s on-the-job training,” Piatti said. “On my first day, I thought, ‘I’m never going to be able to be in the street by myself.’ It takes about two weeks for you to really get comfortable in the street. You get more comfortable the more you do it.”
Was there a most memorable day of work for you, or a time when you felt your job really made a difference?
“… A lot of times, drivers don’t pay attention,” she said. “There are times when you have to stop the traffic or jump out onto the street, so nothing happens. When that happens I think to myself, ‘If we wouldn’t have been there, what would’ve happened? If makes you feel good if you do something like that to prevent an accident.”
Is there anything unique about your job that people may not know? Piatti said crossing guards differ from community to community. In Savannah, for example, guards do not wear uniforms. They just carry a stop sign.
“A crossing guard is usually just a person who crosses kids, but what (HPD crossing guards) are doing, we direct traffic,” Piatti said. “It’s not just that we make sure that kids cross the street safe, but we direct the school traffic, so the main traffic is not stopped for too long, plus the buses get out on time.”