It might technically be “going to work,” but Joe Grossi loves what he does.
Grossi, a retired information technology project manager who now is in his third year as a crossing guard with Crystal Lake Elementary School District 47, keeps students safe while smiling and waving to passers-by. Affectionately known as “Mr. Joe,” Grossi, 70, makes it a point to wave to everyone he sees.
In 2016, Grossi posted publicly on the Facebook group “Crystal Lake, Illinois,” thanking parents and teachers for bringing him coffee and hot chocolate on a cold December morning, and thanking others for remembering him with Christmas gifts and brightening his day.
The public thank you took off, receiving more than 850 reactions from community members and many comments from people who recognized the smile Grossi has become known for.
“I was dumbfounded,” Grossi said about the overwhelming response to his post. “I didn’t think people notice, but they do.”
In December 2017, Grossi made the choice to try his hand at driving a bus, but the stint was short-lived.
“Very soon into it I realized, I just didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would,” Grossi said.
He gave it two months and went back to work as a crossing guard.
“It is a very stressful job. I tip my hat to bus drivers,” he said. “It takes a really special type of person to be able to do that.”
However, ask anyone who has seen or spoken to Grossi, and they’ll tell you he is a special person. He was welcomed back to his previous post at West Elementary School in Crystal Lake.
On Friday, the last day of the school year, he was remembered again when a car pulled up to his crosswalk at Briarwood and Ballard roads with two grateful children in the backseat bearing gifts for him: a home-grown sunflower, a bag of M&M’s and a heartfelt thank you for making them smile every day.