“The society of women is the foundation of good manners” — German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832).
Just one question led to a dialogue and then more outside-the-topic questions, eventually transforming from one question into a session of questions.
This happened in a government department where I visited just to get some transactions signed.
The receptionist at the counter had asked me to wait at the “outside” chairs (outside is the term the receptionist used). As I was seated there, waiting for the receptionist to call my name (assuming that is how things work), seated next to me was a woman who appeared to be senior in age. Since I had already started the spree of assumptions, I assumed she was there waiting for her turn to be served.
I greeted her but she did not reply. I assumed she did not hear my greeting due to the “assumingly” lower voice that I used, which led me to excuse her, despite the fact that I was just being “well-disciplined”.
After a while, she asked me, “What brings you here?” I told her, “O’ my aunt, I am here for the same reason you are here — to carry out some transactions”. She quickly responded, “I am not your aunt”. In fact, she rejected all the kind terms that are used when one addresses someone who is older than them.
I smiled to myself, asking, “Why the cynicism? You inspire kindness and rapport”. She smiled and told me with a commanding tone, “Go and fetch me a glass of water”. With that, I knew her kindness has kicked in.
After she finished sipping from the small cup of water, she asked me about my transactions. She looked at them and then took them inside one of the “assumingly” administrative offices. Within few minutes, she came back with my transactions. When I checked them, I discovered everything had been signed. That was when I realized she was the head of that department.
Her attitude and her eccentric demeanor amazed me. I couldn’t help but wonder — How can the head of a department, or rather center, sit on the “outside” waiting chairs where the visitors sit?
Could this be part of her administrative philosophy? Or she was just in an intricate mood? Is it possible to find other officials of this kind who have devised a way of interacting with the people whom they are supposed to serve?
Indeed, I was left with many questions. However, one thing that I am sure of is that she is a competent official. If I am not over-assuming, I am certain that the operations of her department are comfortably under her control. Perhaps, although I failed to notice it, she was just having fun.
By Yousef Awadh Al-Azmi