The Council office isn’t everyone’s favourite place to visit. It’s one of those enormously strange environments where for the sake of making things better the whole population is made into a reference number. Here the ticket numbers in waiting queues carry extra weight in making people into cogs. When it’s sorting out tax or registration we grin through gritted teeth and bear it. But when it’s someone who’s just lost her husband and she has to come to this depersonalised space to sort out the administration that death causes there is an added sadness to the situation.
Before this gets into a rant about dehumanisation I must add that the human on the other side of the counter makes all the difference. In this case he was sufficiently sympathetic, courteous, clear and efficient. This makes it bearable.
The waiting becomes more meaningful when human company is involved. It doesn’t have to be full of conversation or entertainment but knowing that we are in the presence of someone who fully is aware of, and in our presence allows us to feel well… human.