Wednesday, February 20, 2008

This World is Just Crawling with Pat's

I often have "Pat" encounters and have even done a previous entry on Cassidy's first Pat experience. It's rare that I ever have to interact with these Pat's, but I've come face to face with two of them since starting my new job.

I work for the voluntary drug-testing program at our local high school. Each week we administer 75 random drug tests to students enrolled in the program. During the drug testing, I sit at a table across the hall from the boy’s restroom and around the corner from the girl’s restroom. I check the students in as they come and go and also make sure no one jumps ship.

We use one drug testing company for the process and they send the same male and female specimen collector to our location each week. Joe is the male collector. He's seventy years old and we sometimes chat in between groups of students coming and going. He's really a nice man with a good personality.

My first Pat experience at the job was a few weeks ago when a student with long hair approached the table to check in. I assumed it was a longhaired boy until he opened his mouth and he sounded like a female. I immediately wondered which bathroom I was going direct him/her to, so I was hoping the hall pass would confirm his/her gender, but no such luck. The name on it was Cory. I didn't know it at the time but my boss was on the same page as I was and he immediately went to look up the students name and gender on the computer. Still not knowing he’d confirmed the sex of the student, I was afraid of the outcome when he directed him to the boy’s bathroom but soon realized he had called it correctly when the boy didn't flinch upon entering the boy’s restroom.

My second Pat encounter was a little more intense. There was no way I could've determined if this was a boy or girl on looks alone. He/She was sporting a very short haircut and wearing cargo pants and boots. I saw him/her approaching the table and thought to myself, please have a gender specific name! Bingo, we had a Jennifer! Mystery solved.

Then came the close call. I really didn't want her to be embarrassed by anyone mistaking her for a boy so I made sure that I had my eye on her when she came back out of the office with her paperwork and I pointed her towards the girl’s restroom. At about that time Joe spotted her and started heading towards her, not having a clue as to what was going on. He reached for her medical form and told her to follow him. I had just pointed her in the opposite direction so she became confused. To my credit I played it off well, or at least as well as I could. I said, "Joe, Joe, she's (with emphasis on the she) is going to the other restroom.” I had to repeat myself a few times before it finally dawned on him and he realized his error. He felt terrible. Admittedly we did laugh about the circumstances and how he’d mistaken her for a boy once she was long gone. We might have to come up with a code word or hand signal to prevent any future confusion because there are definitely more Pat’s in that school that will probably come our way.

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