They are just not listening…
I wrote play one time called “The Delicate Task of Listening.” It was about the meeting between couple of broken forgotten people who share their nostalgic reminiscences from past times of their lives when there was still the possibility of beauty and love.
The idea of the play was to show how the world so relentlessly corrupts us all, even when it would appear that there is nothing left to corrupt. What was missing, implied the characters, was that no one listens to each other in the world. And of course this is the truth and is, as people are prone to explain, the “way that it is”. And I suppose that understanding this and agreeing to it is considered the prime example of intelligence in any human.
But you know, I just don’t buy it. Why must it be so? I went through this ridiculous and endlessly painful ordeal at the hands of the polish judicial system and during the whole of the time I was there, this was all I ever heard from anybody. But at the same time, I kept asking in return “why must this be so?” Why does it have to be the rule? It doesn’t do anybody (who is on the “wrong side”) any good, it doesn’t make things better, cleaner, nicer, more fun, more productive, more long lasting, acceptable, agreeable, popular, better for the environment or in the eyes of God.
In fact, all this sort of thinking seems to indicate is that we haven’t learned a damned thing as a species since the days of Alexander- the Greek, not the Belarusian president.
And of course it never ends. I am in the most serious financial situation at the moment. And it is abominable. But in the course of this, I have had dealings with people who really needed to have heard me say this when we were talking. But they didn’t or simply chose not to and my life has gotten worse because of it.
A really good example of this is a situation I had with one of the main officers of the passport agency here in town. The man sold me on this residency document months ago saying that if I should invest in said document, I would no longer have to pay for my visas here. Now, at that moment I was sure that he understood that the reason we were meeting and discussing such a deal in the first place was that there was not enough money to feed my family and pay for the visas. I assumed that this was understood and the suggestion considered this. But then after we began the process, we, Tatyana and myself, found that there were a lot of little extras, many, many hidden costs; changes in the requirements and the agenda and extra trips to the capital that should never have been needed. And what is worse, these these new “necessities” were thrown at us with an attitude of disdain. And now because of all of these last minute "extras", ironically enough we not only do not have enough money for the document anymore, but now we also have no money for any more visas or even for food and diapers.
So in response to this gentleman’s removing from us about a year’s worth of money, I invested an additional 5000 rubles and made for the man a gift of my play Pod Kablukom, whose story is about an American coming to this very town and involving himself with an impoverished family. Certainly subject matter an officer of the visitor’s office would be intimately familiar with.
On my last meeting at his office I asked if he had read the text and he replied that he certainly had. When I asked for his opinion of it he quietly cocked his head at an angle, closed one eye and offered a single word: “Malodse” (well done). This meeting was during his processing of my latest visa, the acquiring of the money for which has caused a major familial rift and has left us rather stony, as the Brits might say. But as we continued with the process, I could feel a warmth from the man which previously had not been there. Indeed, with this exhibition of talent, ambition and love of this place, obviously I had risen in the man’s eyes from whatever slime I had previously inhabited. It is wonderful to feel one is amongst friends.
But why didn’t he just let the paperwork go through the first time? Or for that matter, why couldn’t he have spent just a minute along the way to give us some sort of advise on what would be a more minimalist version of the necessities? Why couldn’t he have listened to the situation rather than just handing me a package that was inappropriate for my situation?
Yes, why indeed.
At any rate, it has been a long night and Tatyana has just called me to breakfast, something I most certainly heard quite clearly. And so I will end this session now, while I am still ahead.