My Name is Aurania Granville

My Name is Aurania Granville

            Aurania Granville had a natural flair for languages. She understood linguistics and, like a little parrot, was able to uncannily mimic any accent or vowel sound. She could, for example, when she was little, exactly reproduce the Boston accent of “Click and Clack the Tapper Brothers” of NPR’s “Car Talk,” including their web address at “Cah Tahlk daught cawm.”

            She attended private school all her life and beginning in the first grade was exposed to French, as it was the lingua franca, considered de rigueur, for educated people. Even though the French teacher, in the elementary levels, repeated the same curriculum, year after year: numbers, colors, articles of clothing, she managed to have a firm grasp of the language. Her senior high French teacher was a gem, and Aurania decided she would pursue a career as a High School French Teacher.

            At sixteen, her father enabled her to be an exchange student in France for two weeks. She lived with a family in the village of Chantilly, of lace fame. Every day Aurania Granville and her host family’s eighteen year-old daughter would ride the Metro into Paris. One day she found a ring she particularly admired at a flea market. She knew enough about French culture to be aware she would be expected to haggle for this ring. In the course of negotiations, the street-side vendor mentioned a word that was unfamiliar to Aurania and she told him as much:

            “You are offering me a pittance as though this valuable ring was a mere bagatelle!” the proprietor said.

            “I’m not familiar with the word bagatelle,” sixteen year-old Aurania Granville said.

            “Of course you are! You are French, are you not?”

            “No,” replied Aurania Granville. “I am an American.”

            The man was flabbergasted. His stereotype of Americans was that they were so egotistical that they could not conceive of any other language but English. Even those who tried to speak French were so awkward, that they were not comprehensible.

            When Aurania Granville reached college she devoured every French course the curriculum offered in only two years. Her faculty advisor informed her that the University could not grant her a degree at the end of only two years. Instead, she suggested Aurania Granville take a second language: Spanish. Spanish was much more marketable, as the Hispanic population in the United States was growing. Besides there were many similarities between the two Romance Languages. In the end, Aurania Granville would be awarded a double degree in French and Spanish with a minor in Education.

            However, Aurania Granville did not feel at ease with Spanish. She began her studies at age 20 when her brain felt more ossified than it had at age 6, when it was like a blank slate ready to be filled with the French language. Consequently, she spent a full year in Mexico City, living with a family that spoke no English, and thus, “immersing” herself in Spanish. As a treat, her host family took her on vacation to Acapulco. There, similar to her experience in Paris, a shop-girl said:

            “I know where you are from!”

            Aurania Granville assumed she would say “The United States.”

            But instead she said, “You are from the Capitol, el D.F. I can tell by your accent!”

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Now, Aurania Granville had been teaching High School Spanish in a private academy for nine years.   A downturn in the economy forced the school administrator to reconsider elective subjects like art, music and foreign language, so Aurania Granville was let go. She scoured the want ads and found the perfect job. A nearby, newly-constructed public high school was looking specifically for someone with a degree in both French and Spanish to teach entry level students. When she interviewed, she was hired on the spot, as she was exactly suited for the job. In fact the principal was unsure whether anyone held such a double degree, but was delighted with Aurania Granville’s background and demeanor.

But, employment by the seventh largest school district in the country had its own unique quirks. The district encompassed the same boundaries as the county. A county that included two major metropolitan areas; the one city was large enough to host a major league baseball team and an NFL football team. There were twenty-some high schools, each supplied by at least five junior highs which in turn were supplied by multiple elementary schools. The number of teachers approached ten thousand!

Aurania Granville, being a brand-new teacher, received a thick packet of forms in the mail. It instructed her to fill out the applications and read the directions carefully. The first form seemed simple enough: it asked for name, address and zip code, telephone number and area code, cell phone and area code, e-mail address, social security number, teacher I.D. number, mother’s maiden name and disposition of first-born son. There was an F.B. I. fingerprint form which would be sent to all local police departments as a background check to see if Aurania Granville was a child-molester or had outstanding warrants against her. There was a nominal fee for fingerprinting—$8. But the district could not accept cash, checks, credit cards or debit cards; only a money order would do. Other forms enrolled her in the teachers’ labor union and offered an account at the teachers’ credit union. There were insurance forms to fill out: health, dental, vision, auto and homeowners’ if she cared to. There were forms she needed to bring: transcripts and diplomas from high school and college, references from previous employers, three friends who knew her well, etc.

Aurania Granville had an appointment at the Enrollment Center for Tuesday at nine o’clock. This district was so large it had an entire building dedicated to nothing but processing new employees. She had made application late in the school year, as she did not find out her previous academy would not be renewing her contract until after school had been out for summer vacation a full week. As a consequence, hers was the only car in the parking lot at the Enrollment Center.

On entering the building, she was greeted by banks of computer stations. A sign indicated she should select a carrel and follow the on-screen instructions. After pushing “enter” another form popped up which she could fill out electronically. It asked her name, address with zip code, telephone number with area code, cell phone number with area code, e-mail address and mother’s maiden name. When she finished, the computer printed out a name tag which she was instructed to wear for the rest of the day. It was the largest name tag Aurania Granville had ever seen:

Aurania Granville


 After she peeled off the paper to expose the adhesive, it stretched from shoulder to shoulder across the front of her blouse. The letters were one inch high and could be read for three blocks around. She then proceeded through the front door to be greeted by a human receptionist.

“Good morning!” the woman said pleasantly. “And what is your name?”

Aurania Granville had always been a bit self-conscious about the unusual nature of her name and hoped the name tag might obviate that. But she answered anyway:

“Aurania Granville.”

The receptionist was already rifling through Aurania’s packet of forms.

“I see you are missing your state teacher’s certification,” she said.

“No, I’m sure it’s in there,” said Aurania, “I checked and double checked this morning.”

“Ah, yes, here it is. O.K., you may go along to door number one.”

Though the receptionist had asked her name, and it was clearly written across her chest, never once did she address her as “Aurania” or “Miss Granville.”

Aurania Granville went to the first door and entered. Another clerk was there and her first question was,

“What is your name?”

Aurania Granville looked down at her bosom to check whether the name tag had fallen off or was affixed upside-down.

“Aurania Granville,” she answered.

This clerk took the first application form Aurania had filled out at home, which was identical to the form she filled out electronically on the computer. The clerk made a photo-copy and handed the form back to Aurania Granville without another word. It seemed odd to Aurania that she should want her own personal information back.

Aurania Granville proceeded to the second door. The clerk was different but the question was the same:

“What is your name?”

“Still Aurania Granville,” sassed Aurania.

This clerk took the W-4 Form, photo-copied it and handed it back to Aurania.

“Do you still want the same number of deductions you indicated on this form?” the clerk asked.

“Yes, I suppose so,” was Aurania’s reply.

Now she was at the third door and another different clerk.

“What is your name?” asked this one, not unsurprisingly.

“Aurania Granville,” said Aurania Granville, tiredly.

This clerk made photo-copies of the photo-copied transcripts Aurania had brought and gave them back to her.

At last, she arrived at the Fingerprinting Lab.  Instead of a person, she was greeted by a machine on a short pole in the shape of a bright red, plastic wheel; not unlike those used in delicatessens for lunch orders. “Take a number” the sign read, so she did. In accordance with her luck that day it was number thirteen. She went past the machine into a large waiting room full of stackable chairs. She chose one on the front row and sat down. Across the aisle there was a window in the front wall and behind it sat a man. He peered out at Aurania, waited a few moments then opened his door.

“NUMBER 13?” he cried in a loud, stentorian voice. Aurania Granville was the only person in the room; indeed she was the only person in the building, other than the employees. The need to take a number seemed ridiculous.

But, after looking around sarcastically, as if there might be another invisible person also holding the number 13, “That would be me!” she said, holding up her ticket.

He led her into the room, took her packet and indicated a chair she should sit in.

The inevitable, “What is your name?” followed.

“Aurania Granville,” she answered for the umpteenth time.

“I see you haven’t yet paid for the fingerprinting. There is a fee, you know. Take this down to the cashier at the end of the hall, and then come back.”

Aurania Granville did as instructed. She found the cashier at the end of the hall.

“What is your name?” the cashier asked. But then surprised Aurania by asking “And how do you intend to pay for this fee?”

“Aurania Granville and I was under the impression that you only accept money orders, so that’s what I brought.”

“Good,” said the cashier. She stamped some papers authoritatively and handed them back to Aurania.

Aurania Granville then went back to the Fingerprinting Lab where she was greeted by the same, red plastic, take-a-number machine. Now she was number fourteen. She took the same seat on the front row she had previously chosen, facing the window with the man eyeing her suspiciously. After a few minutes he got up and opened the door.

“NUMBER 14!” he announced loudly.

“Still me,” said Aurania, the ticket aloft.

He led her to the same chair and asked the same question:

“What is your name?”

“Aurania Granville,” said Aurania Granville.

He took her fingerprints in silence, very businesslike.

She then proceeded to the insurance clerk.

“What is your name?” the clerk asked

By this time, Aurania Granville was more than a little annoyed and decided to stir up some trouble.

“Gertrude Strumpf,” she answered. The clerk seemed unaffected.

“Will you be including other members of your family on your policies?” she asked.

It was strange how every clerk asked her name but never used it. Even when she gave a fictitious name it didn’t seem to matter. Each clerk had a predetermined next question and the exclusion of an applicant’s name would have thrown everything off balance.

When the next clerk asked:

“What is your name?” Aurania Granville tried a masculine name to see if she were paying attention.

“Alphonse Clunkmeyer,” she replied. It didn’t seem to matter.

The next clerk made photo-copies of the photo-copied state teaching certificate. But only after asking:

“What is your name?”

Aurania Granville mumbled: “shrmblfft  trbdgttle.” It didn’t seem to faze the clerk who handed back the oxymoronic original photo-copies without another word.

                                 *    *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

It is assumed, but not certain, that Aurania Granville eventually got through the Enrollment Center and is now happily teaching French I and Spanish I at the new high school. Perhaps she still has the name tag with “Aurania Granville” emblazoned across her chest, but then, perhaps, people are still asking for her name anyway.  It would be a shame if a frustrated Aurania Granville had resigned before she started, because Aurania Granville had a natural flair for languages.


One Response to “My Name is Aurania Granville”

  1. suegma Says:

    This is great! Haven’t we all been there? (smiles)

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