March 22, 2019

The Tailored Criteria

posted on: Thursday March 7, 2019

by Jessica Polanco ’20

Woman who fits all the criteria as ascribed by the checklist in her head

Photos courtesy of pixabay.com

When I walked into the building, I noticed how easy it was to just push through the doors and walk into any classroom. I wondered if the police car outside of the school was just for decoration. I do not know if it was intentional to place the Main Office on the second floor, but I guess that saves intruders from getting to the administrators quicker. That is what I felt like, an intruder. Although I blended in with the students that walked the hallway, I felt like an outsider. None of the students wondered who I was and no one approached me to ask me if I need guidance looking for the office. I guess I did not wear my heart on my sleeve that day, and my eyes were not crying for help.

As I entered into the room, the first thing I realized were the dull colored walls. The cubicle was covered in neutral colors that held less life than those at a funeral. I was the only one moving in the room; being the only unfamiliar face, and they still could not acknowledge me. There were five elderly ladies sitting behind their computers and once I greeted them, their eyes wandered to find me. “Hello, I am here to see Mr. Creel,” I let them know. Moments after signing in, they sent me away, never once looking into my eyes.

I found myself in the hallways again with the students who probably thought I was one of them. There were several students lined up outside of the principal’s office waiting to meet. It was not clear about what, but once the principal arrived, he shot them down, letting them know he was not available to meet with them at the moment. They pouted and sighed angrily. It must have been something that they were really passionate about if they reacted that way, I thought to myself. And that is when the flashbacks began. I remembered roaming the hallways during my classes senior year of high school, searching for my guidance counselor to let her know about the acceptance letters that I had received. I also remembered getting dismissed by the same person I was looking for, feeling like no one cared about my success, about everything that I had worked hard for. The betrayal that I felt that day, I found it again in these kids’ eyes. They looked at me like they were waiting for their lottery ticket out of there.

Moments after realizing Mr. Creel’s class was still in session, I was invited to wait in the guidance counselor’s office while time passed. The woman who extended the invitation resembled the ladies from the front desk. They must have certain appearance criteria that is checked off during the hiring process, I thought. I was soon distracted by the motivational quotes on the wall. The quotes were printed on copy paper, as if they were chosen specifically for those who walked through the door. I say this because one of them read, “Don’t waste your time trying to explain yourself to anyone because those who care believe you and those who don’t care already don’t believe you,” and I was soon reeled in. I could relate to this I thought, this could be some sort of motto for myself. But it also made me wonder if this is how they planned to program these kids, teaching them to not to use their voice.

As I was waiting, I overheard chatter coming from a room that was lit by a dim yellow light. Not that there was a lamp with a yellow lightbulb, but all the light protectors seemed to not have been cleaned in years. The voice was coming from a woman who fit the criteria. In a low, friendly voice, she said, “Get out of my office.” At first I thought this lady was rude for speaking to children that way until she began her conversation with the next student who stepped in. A tall, dark-skinned, teenage female was showered in motivational words. The words sounded like they were set on a tape recorder that was set to play every morning. In a very monotone expression the woman encouraged the young lady to believe in herself and to check out a summer internship that she wanted her to try out. I never heard anything come out of the young girl’s mouth which left me to wonder, the criteria used for the employment of this school was not tailored for the students. It reminded me of me when I was a senior in high school trying to find someone who actually cared about my future as much as I did.

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Short Fiction