At least, for the time being, there’s still a human presence behind the wicket. With a bit of persistence, you even get admitted into the Holy of Holies beyond the waiting room. Into a small room where fingerprints get recorded on a green screen atop an electronic gizmo shaped like a cube. Four fingers of right hand, four fingers of left hand, then both thumbs. Followed by an official paper attesting the holder’s right to wander from departmental administration to municipal bureaucracy for another stretch, seeking an official address the préfecture accepts as the one and only place worthy of receiving her acceptance or denial of the right to stay for another year.
What will be the next step when The System goes all-out electronic? No more human presence to greet, treat or mistreat you and your application for a renewal of your right to take the bus to and from the préfecture. If you happen to live on the street with the rest of your family and if your French isn’t all that extensive, where will you find access to a computer? How will you fill out the electronic queries? I mean, how will you even know how to get online – assuming the library staff allows you inside in your dirty, sorry state? Where do you park the wife and kids while you tackle the screen?
Why people get tired. Why they cut corners or ignore LAST AND FINAL notices. Why they shrug their shoulders (if they still have the energy for a gesture that extravagant) or just sit like lumps with occasional glances of the common-misery variety.
Why people just give up and let others do what they will, for better or for much, much worse.
I look at the piles of papers on the table. At the scanner the electrician managed to revive the other day. I look at the novels, the poster from Hassen Ferhani’s excellent documentary Dans ma tête un rond-point. I add a few lines to the synopsis-in-the-making. I add a few brief notes to a story in the first-glimmer stage. I tell myself I must see the dentist and the doctor too. I look at postage stamps, the battery from my camera, in need of recharging. I tell myself I should eat a bite of breakfast, and ignore the rain, the rain, the rain.
I smile at the absurdities because if I don’t, who else will in this house? The dog? She’s a good sort but not too gifted in the smiling department. In fact, jokes and laughter worry her. She likes sad songs and vocalizes to some of them. Eh, sad songs cross the species barrier, but comedy? not so much. As for absurdity…