Power Cards

In America, plastic cards give you power of some kind or the other. Growing up, many cards passed my way, many cards came and went, a lot of cards I lost or let expire and could never get back.

I’ve had a Kroger’s card, that gets me a discount everytime I purchase something.
I’ve had a Sam’s club card that you MUST have in you want to shop at Sam’s.
I’ve had a school ID that I used as identification when I flew to California and when I flew to panhandle cities for competitions. The first and only time I’ve ever flown because now I’m an “adult” and I used to have a Texas ID, but that expired a long time ago, and when I tried to renew it it was already too late.
I’ve never had a credit card because when I went off to college and tried to apply for one just in case they rejected me because I couldn’t get one unless I had a co-signer who could show a green card and who would pay for my debt in case my plan all along had been to spend all the money and then run away. I do not have a green card. I do no have a blue card. I do not have any type of card that makes me “American”. But I do have a bank card, that works as both a debit card and a credit card. And even though I was bummed out then, I guess it was all best in the long run because now I don’t have a credit card debt which I’m sure I would’ve accumulated being in college. And when I did start college, I had to go to my New Student Conference and was supposed to do a lot of things that day. I was supposed to sign up for classes, meet with my advisors, get a meal plan, get a parking permit … and of course get an ID because cards are powerful. But I couldn’t get an ID at school because I didn’t have a Texas ID in the first place, and what I could do was come back to Houston, get my parents to go with me to College Station, and have them show their ID as my legal guardians and then, only then, could I get my picture taken for my Texas A&M ID. (That was an issue in itself because my parents already didn’t want me to go). But when I got my school ID, I loved it. I cherished it and guarded it with my life as no one else with the privilege of getting card after card under their name did. Getting my school ID felt better than when my mother dragged me to the Consulado Mexicano to get my Matricula Consular and we waited there for 7 hours just to get this card that looked like I could’ve made myself at home. A card in which my picture was blurry and in which waiters and doormen always have trouble finding my date of birth. A card that has no power, yet the card my mother always reminds me to carry with me when I head out the door, just in case the police stops you, she tells me. What is that going to do? Nothing. I’m still going to either get a big fat ticket for no license or get arrested. The reason I was kicked out of my certification exams because I needed to have a “valid for of ID” — and what constitutes that? Because even FIESTA (the grocery store) won’t validate my matricula consular and I thought FIESTA was “un cachito de lo nuestro”.  But it doesn’t matter because I can shop somewhere else …

… But when I showed this ID in attempts to renew my Power Card the librarian across the desk said “sorry do you have anything else? This ID is not valid” turning it around, looking at it with a confused look on her face, and returning it to me. Oh, well this is my old Power Card I told her, pulling out my expired card, the card I used to use to check out books every single weekend from the Houston Public Library and I was always on time when returning books. Always. Because I cherish books. I love books. My mother offered to get the card under her name, but it’s not about that anymore, it’s about the principle of the thing. Why can’t I get a card that’s already free? That let’s me borrow books so I can read with my students (I’m sorry but I do not want to go buy The Diary of a Wimpy Kid, I just want to read it with my student).

All I want to do, is be able to check out books. I will return them. I promise. I will not run away with them to Mexico.

© April 2011. T.A.

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