Larkin about: Why sometimes your best friend is a stranger

Ideas

Larkin about: Why sometimes your best friend is a stranger

You can make yourself miserable in the four-hour queue at the traffic department, but it does seem rather a waste

You may not believe this, but I enjoy visiting the traffic department. In the middle of our hectic lives it’s comforting to know that for the next few hours I can take my ease (the plastic bucket seats at Gallows Hill are quite surprisingly comfy) and do some reading and be pleasantly checked out from the hustle and flow of this too clamorous world. Some people pay good money for mindfulness retreats where nothing is asked of them but to surrender to time and observe the sweet, poignant passing of the world. Not me! I just need to lose my driver’s licence.

But what I most like about it is the other people. The traffic department, like home affairs, like heaven, like hell, is a great social leveler. We’re all the same in there. It doesn’t matter who we are or how important we think our time is, we all have to enter that same narrow door and take that ticket – U0734 – and look optimistically at the digital board to see how many numbers must still be called before us – 692 – and search our own souls about how best to confront the next three or four hours of life.

There are always some people – sorry, fellow white folks, but I think we all know who I’m talking about – who choose to spend that precious time huffing and fuming and feeling put upon and personally aggrieved. Of course, it’s everyone’s right to make themselves more miserable, but it does seem rather a waste...

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