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The Best Thing About Today

Day to Day Thoughts, Recollections, and Chicanisma

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Authorized Personnel Only
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esa_morena

Trying to help a student recently, I went to the Counseling office in search of a late add card. Two very helpful administrative assistants whose offices are cubby cut-outs in the hallway, assumed I was there to see the Dean of Students, a person who happens to oversee several campus programs with which I am involved. When I explained that I was in search of a late add card, they directed me to an adjacent set of offices through a door marked "authorized personnel only."

"I can go through there?" I asked, surprising even myself, for just after I asked the question, I knew the answer.

"Your authorized personnel, aren't you?" the women whose cubby is closest to the door said, more a statement than a question.

"Well, I guess I am," I said, laughing at the realization.

Now, as I've gotten older, I am the kind of person, who can, when entering a location in which I am not exactly allowed, like a wing of a hospital after visiting hours, walk in with so much confidence that no one will question me otherwise, but I still have not grown accustomed to the fact that in many cases, that I am actually authorized personnel -- somebody with power, somebody who belongs, who belongs behind doors where confidential records are kept, and where important things get done, important things that I care a great deal about, things that will impact the futures of many, and where I am trusted to keep confidentiality and to do my job with integrity.

In second grade, I made an attempt at a regular short-cut through the cafeteria to the bathrooms. Mrs. Handy was mopping a large area in the middle of the cafeteria, so I was careful to not step into the areas that were clean and wet, my bladder about to burst at any moment.

Stopping her mop when she saw me, she said, "You're pretty bold for a Mexican girl."

I didn't really understand what she meant. I understood that she was angry that I was walking on the very floor that she was mopping, but I didn't really get what being Mexican had to with it. In my confusion, I stopped to look at Mrs. Handy, trying to better understand what she meant, considering whether I should turn back and go the other way. Already halfway to the bathroom, I decided to keep going, but for years after, I couldn't shake what she had said.

"You're pretty bold for a Mexican girl."

Perhaps it's a combination of comments like Mrs. Handy's, growing up on welfare which came with all sorts of restrictions that my mother didn't exactly obey,  and the other illegal activities in which my mother engaged, but it's still hard for me to see myself as "authorized personnel."  And it makes me laugh when I realize that I am.


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Is this really the first time you've gone through that door? I have to go back there a lot, and every time I feel weird that I am authorized personnel. So welcome to the club--I can assure you, the thrill never wears off!

Karin

Authorized Personnel Only

I've only been from the other way, and I think I may have gotten used to going that way, somewhat, and not the other. Isn't it funny how those words on those signs hold so much power!

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