By Angel Sunlight
An Interview with the Man Behind the Desk
There’s a homeless man throwing up outside Berkeley City College. I know because I’m standing at the security desk interviewing Erin Walker, one of the security guards that works here at BCC. Walker just got off the phone with a 911 operator as I stand at the security desk and scribble in my notebook. In a minute or so, lights are blazing in the street outside BCC and people keep coming up to the security desk asking Walker why there is an ambulance outside the building. The paramedic comes in the building now and informs Walker that the homeless man outside was given an anti-nausea medication and will be taken to a shelter for the night. Walker explains that he doesn’t mind the homeless sleeping outside the building after school hours, but while classes are in session, students are the main priority. After a bit of chit-chat between Walker and the paramedic, the fireman leaves and I begin an interview that was expected to be uneventful, but turned out actually exciting.
How old are you?
How long have you worked at BCC ?
I’ve been here for about four years now.
What would you say is the best part of your job?
I love interacting with different types of people on a daily basis.
What is the worst part of your job?
You know, just sitting here wasting time away. I get really antsy and bored.
Do you get to listen to the radio or Pandora or something?
Yeah, we get to.
Have you ever had to intervene in a fight?
Yes, actually. Around three years ago I had to stop two young women. They were fresh out of class and in the basement. They were physically fighting over some guy.
How do you decide who comes into BCC and who doesn’t?
Well, since BCC is a public institution, for the most part we let anyone come in here. We don’t open the doors to the classrooms until the teacher requests it because of the all the recent school shootings that have been taking place.
You seem to have to enforce the smoking laws in the City of Berkeley. How do you control smokers (like myself) from smoking on the sidewalk outside the building?
We check for smokers outside every 30 minutes and make them smoke across the street. Got it. Whatever you’re smoking, take it across the street.
How do you feel about the homeless that frequently sleep outside and around BCC?
I don’t really have a problem with the homeless, you know, unless they’re arrogant.