So I’m filing medical certificates and letters from parents, and I come across a document which a student passed to me some time back as proof of her/his absence from school.
This document is an important one; it marks a point in the life of someone the student knew.
I hold the document up to the light, to differentiate between fine print and photocopied smudges.
I read the document, and then I read the document again.
I do some calculations, then it hits me: said student’s life story is contained within the digits that have been inked on the document.
I wonder what the limits of professionalism will allow me to ask said student.
I remember that it is not within the limits of the job to wonder.
The document returns home, slipping into its plastic folder like a late night out at the clubs.
The folder, like its compatriots, is crinkled. Each bears its owner’s name, scribbled with a marker on a white sticker, pasted on the top right-hand corner of each clear sheet.
I carry on sorting the stack of papers that sit on my desk, sheaf after sheaf a demonstration of presence, of absence, slotted into its assigned vault.
The bell is going to go in a few minutes. There is marking to be done when I go home from work. There will be papers looking for lodging tomorrow.