What a difference a smile, a wave – and a watchful eye – made.
Eric Saide may not have been noted for playing a role in local politics, building grandiose edifices, or establishing community groups with impressive acronyms.
But thousands of people who heard news of his passing through Peace Arch News’ Facebook page mourned him just the same.
The 86-year-old South Surrey man – a proud father, grandfather and great-grandfather – retired from his crossing guard duties just over a year ago.
Until then, he was a fixture in the 17100-block of busy 24 Avenue where he gave his friendly ‘victory-sign’ wave to countless drivers before ushering his charges – students at Pacific Heights Elementary – safely across the road.
He’d been there more than a decade, after spending eight years as a crossing guard at 176 Street and 20 Avenue.
Last year’s retirement assembly at Pacific Heights for Saide, a volunteer with the Commonwealth Frontiersmen, was the cue for an outpouring of affection from current students and staff.
But, as Facebook posts suggest, his impact on the community was much more far-reaching than the smiles he gave the students.
Many adults – including parents and former students and even those with no connection to Saide – gave fond thoughts to a man who achieved so much with such modest yet meaningful gestures.
It warmed the heart to see a senior still so actively and passionately involved in his community, gladdened many of us to know that young people in at least one corner of a sometimes dark and uncertain world were in good hands.
Although many didn’t know it, Saide had a long career in the aviation industry as an aircraft engineer. He spoke of it as a rare opportunity for broadening one’s horizons, and there’s no doubt that the work he did was important in guaranteeing safe travel on the planes for which he was responsible.
But we cannot overvalue the contribution that Saide – and others like him – have made to our community.
Saide’s passing reminds us how seemingly small positive interaction can end up making just as much of a difference in our daily lives as the most impressive resumé.