Joe’s Taco Lounge / Cup of Joe’s manager Enrique “Rico” Ruiz.

On a typical morning at the Cup of Joe’s coffee cart outside Joe’s Taco Lounge on Miller Ave., manager Enrique “Rico” Ruiz has his hands full serving up coffee, lattes, pastries and breakfast burritos and more to busy commuters.

But there’s also his unexpected-yet-vital role as a quick-footed crossing guard at the ever-unpredictable intersection at Miller and Montford avenues where Joe’s resides. Since Cup of Joe’s debuted in April, and particularly since the new school year began in August, Ruiz and Joe’s owner Gabriel Leis have noticed how often Homestead Valley students have a hard time getting across the intersection on their way to school because of a combination of inattentive, hurried drivers and an oft-confusing intersection that features 14 incoming lanes.

“It’s incredible,” Ruiz says. “It happens every couple of days.”

PictureThe intersection of Miller and Montford avenues from above.

​But instead of firing off an angry letter or yelling at a driver from a distance, Ruiz has taken to rushing over to the intersection and calmly assisting children across Miller.

That act has not gone unnoticed.

Tara Ordonez, a longtime local resident and teacher at Edna Maguire Elementary School, took to Nextdoor several weeks ago to praise Ruiz for stepping up as she watched, sitting six cars back on Montford, “countless cars going in all directions ignore my son standing in the crosswalk waiting carefully to cross.”

That’s when she saw Ruiz appear and tell her son, “I’ll help you out there” and got into the crosswalk to block traffic. “I was told by a friend that this same scenario happened again and that he kindly walked both of my children across the crosswalk,” Ordonez adds. “I am so immensely grateful to this kind soul but I am equally shocked and dismayed that drivers are in such a rush in the morning that they can’t let people safely use the crosswalks. Slow down and make sure to visit Cup of Joe’s, he is clearly doing a lot more than just selling coffee!”

“What I’ve seen working 6am to noon on this corner is astounding,” says Leis, suggesting the City add flashing crosswalk lights like those that exist further down Miller at Evergreen.

For Ruiz’s part, he’s considering picking buying a handheld stop sign like those used by crossing guards.

​”Whatever helps,” he says.

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