At the Gate, Power Misused

Nov 19 , 2022
By Kidist Yidnekachew ( Kidist Yidnekachew has degrees in psychology and journalism and communications. She can be reached at )

I experienced power abuse in the company where I work part-time. After showing my identification card to the security personnel, I entered the vicinity and went down the hallway to the office.

After some time, near the end of my shift, I had to go to the bathroom, leaving my bag, holding my ID, phone and anything that could identify me with my partner. I figured I would be back in no time since the bathroom was nearby, even though it was beyond the security post.

Many people were standing in the hallway, and the security warden decided to ask where I was going. She singled me out. I explained my situation. She wanted to see my ID. Understandably, the warden might not recognise me as many people go in and out daily. I offered to get my bag and show it to her on the way out. She stayed firm on not letting me pass. I asked if she would accompany me to the office nearby. She rejected this, too.

I was irritated standing there. I kept on insisting on letting me grab my handbag. After a while, she seemed Okay with the idea and cut me some slack. I started to walk back to the office.

Walking towards me, the warden began shouting, asking where I was going.

"It is rude to leave when someone is talking," she said.

From how she acted, things could have escalated if I had kept walking. I stopped. The way the warden handled her rifle showed how angry she was. I told her that I often left for the bathroom without an ID but was never asked. She thought I was undermining her authority, which was not the case. The only way to get out of that situation was for me to conceive a resolution.

I was not trying to undermine people who work as security personnel standing at the gate of an organisation. Without them, the structure of the company would be incomplete. The safety of an entire company falls on their shoulders, making them even more valuable than the person running the company.

I asked a random gentleman in the hallway to bring my bag, but since my colleague did not know him, she would not allow him to take it. He informed her about the bout I faced. My colleague relented coming out with the man and handed me the bag. The security warden did not seem happy with how the situation turned out.

But there was no reason for me to stay and continue the conversation.

Why do security personnel find an excuse to abuse or overuse their power?

It is a question that bothers me often. Their power is limited at the gate, but they never let a chance to misuse it. It could be the paradox of power; those at the top do not seem to care.

With a bit of power they have, intimidation has become a habit for the ones at the lower end of the curve. They are easily irritable; it is not easy to deal with them. They respond with a 'you should respect me because you go through me' attitude when confronted. However, the escalation depends on the response of the other party dealing with them.

I returned to the office and explained the reason for the hold-up to the senior officials. What made me angry was that the woman chose me from the many standing at the security checkpoint. She was doing her job, but it should be done regularly, not randomly.

Security personnel are responsible for whoever walks in and out. I understand that poor judgment can cause chaos. However, those at the post should know their rights and obligations without exceptions. If everyone is required to show an ID, then security should always ask for it. I have learnt that it is essential to carry something that can confirm my identity whenever I am in the vicinity of the company and elsewhere.

PUBLISHED ON Nov 19,2022 [ VOL 23 , NO 1177]

Kidist Yidnekachew has degrees in psychology and journalism and communications. She can be reached at

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