Faces Unseen: Patti Page
Published: Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 22, 2012 02:02
It is a cold and rainy night, almost like a page out of one of Poe's works but, despite the weather, Public Safety officer, stationed at the Fedigan Gate, is as chipper as always.
Born and raised in Lynchburg, Va., Page has been working at the University for almost five years. Originally a housing officer, Page was responsible for desk duties in the dorms, where she made sure that the dormitory entrance was secure. She was assigned to gate duty last year, something of which she is quite proud.
"This is a promotion for me," Page says delightedly.
As an officer of the gate, Page decides who is allowed to drive into campus. She must make sure that a correct parking hangtag is visible in order for vehicles to proceed.
If someone does not have a hangtag, or does not have the correct hangtag, Page asks the nature of the person's business on campus. If someone has a legitimate reason for entry, Page records their license plate number, their destination and what time they arrive in her log.
If someone does not stop for clearance at the gate and drives through, Page must report a description of the vehicle to her superiors, who will attempt to intercept the intruder.
My interview with Page is constantly interrupted by her duties—a minute does not pass without someone arriving at the gate, asking for directions, stating that they are visiting or stopping for small talk with Page.
I ask if it is always busy like this—she laughs.
"This is my job," Page says. "It's crowded all the time."
Yet she takes it all in stride. "I have an open heart, open to everyone. I hope to give encouragement to all."
Page asks if I'm getting wet from the rain, if I'd like a light to see better and she ignores a call to her cellphone while I conduct the interview. These are just examples of her approach to her work—"customer service with a smile" is her goal.
Before working here, Page was a school police officer in Philadelphia. To become a University public safety officer, a background check is conducted. Previous experience in security is helpful, and the officers go through training.
"We often have training over [school] breaks," Page says. This training includes going over how to respond to various emergencies, with the ultimate goal of always keeping the campus safe.
Dealing with the students is the most enjoyable part of her job.
Even when she must enforce the rules, Page is more akin to a scolding mother than someone trained in campus law enforcement.
Apparently, the lengths that students will go to in order to evade the rules is quite remarkable.
Page tells an account of when she was a housing desk officer in Caughlin Hall some years ago, and a girl walked in shoeless, claiming to be waiting for a friend.
"Problem was," Page says, "it was snowing out, and she had two boots in her hand." Page asked to see the boots and received a surprise. The girl had six beers hidden in her boots, and was attempting to bring them into the dorm.
While Page does not enjoy reporting students, she makes it clear that she "will always do her job."
As the interview concludes, I ask Page whether she wishes any aspect of her job were different.
"I can't complain, I'm pretty much satisfied," Page says. Then she laughs, "well, maybe more money would be nice." But she doesn't have time to mull this over as the next line of cars is approaches.