Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Friday, February 22, 2008

Numb and Number

"When dealing with the insane, the best method is to pretend to be sane."
-Hermann Hesse

Recently Spouse and I needed to get some paperwork done. It required a trip to the bank with a copy of each of Spouse's two passports. What Spouse needed was to have a notary read what we brought and then sign and swear that he had seen the documents and could verify that they belonged to this person. That is, in general, the very reason for a public notary.
We entered the small office- we had discovered that our local bank offers the service for free if one has an account there; the matter was otherwise unrelated to the bank- and sat at a desk.
The notary asked Spouse to sign something, and he scribbled words of his own on the pages.
The two passports were side-by-side and open at the appropriate pages; that is to say that Spouse's face beamed brightly up from both documents.
The notary moved about a bit in his chair and then made the most remarkable comment. He said, "so, those aren't your passports, right?"
Spouse and I are ready, these days, for any sort of infantile questions but this was a bit odd, we thought.
"Those are not both your passports?"
"They are both my passports," Spouse said gravely.
The man continued to scribble. He never once asked Spouse for identification so we are still a bit unclear on why he was a necessary tool. One could hardly say he verified anything without checking to see a driver's licence or some such paper. Aside from that, it was a most curious way to have phrased it; instead of asking if the passports belonged to Spouse, which they most obviously did, being that the pictures matched the man sitting in front of him, he asked the question in a negative way as if it were a given fact that they were not Spouse's at all and that would be acceptable to him. What, then, would we be doing with the passports in the notary office of our local bank? It begged too many questions; so we immediately gave up and let him finish his work and do what we came in for, before discussing the issue outside.
We got into the car and I went to put my seatbelt on. We had not exchanged a word so far. I let out a wretched cry; I could not catch my breath. I noted that Spouse was observing my motions with milder concern than I would have hoped.
Eventually Spouse fathomed that my gasps were not ones of anger or frustration at the notary fellow: I had swung my seatbelt around and the metal buckle had clipped my knee. I had bashed the bone, the fleshless bit of bone that makes one quite nearly faint if the lightest thing taps it. It felt as though my knee had split open. I know, too, exactly what that feels like but let me not digress.
"I'm sorry," said my Spouse when I was a natural colour again and had ceased clutching my knee. "I thought you were furious at the notary."
Only then did we both come to realise that we are getting much better at dealing with the people we so often encounter. He scarcely affected us at all. We are numbed, at long joyful last.


Anonymous said...

I enjoying reading this very much. I felt like I was there during the whole story.

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Thank you, Harriet! I'm glad you liked it.

Please look around, explore my writing, leave a crumb:
I welcome comments and thoughts.