So today I went to the post office. A friend stepped behind me and kissed my head. It was affectionate.
The man in the post office yelled at him and told him not to do that. The friend said Okay and moved away from me. I glanced up from writing an address carefully on a piece of paper to see him motion to his friend that it was disrespectful by pushing his arm out and smacking something along the lines of, “I can’t believe such disrespect goes on here”.
I continued unfazed although I smiled inside. Firstly because it reminded me of where I was and the hypocrisy of it all.
It took another 30 minutes for me to get through all the paperwork and I was the only customer almost.
The post office man helping us looked like he hated his job and perhaps the rest of his life, exhaling at every turn to listen and respond and close the boxes and take long amounts of time to stare at his screen. Surprising that the post office has one when the police don’t even have them. They click on typewriters in Arabic…and file the paper into books onto shelves. Years worth of documents no one will ever be able to find again or maybe that is the whole point. I was told its that they have to buy their own from their pay if they want one and on their 200 dollar a month salary that just wouldn’t fly with a family of 5 and an alcohol problem to feed. No, the police don’t have computers but here at the post office they have at least two.
After 30 minutes of him assuming I didn’t speak Arabic and huffing in disdain I answered his Arabic with English and said, “Yes, that is exactly what I am doing. See!”
He paused as if trying to figure out if he was speaking in my language or if I had just understood him perfectly in his. He knew a little English I could see. He froze and stared at me a moment. He stopped with his brooding. Curious.
He asked for my passport. I didn’t have a passport on me. I am not a tourist. I speak English and choose to speak to my friend in it. So I told my friend to give him his National ID card. He worried they wouldn’t accept. “This isn’t the airport. If it’s a problem we’ll fill out the forms again and throw these out and they will start another 30 minutes with us. I don’t mind. I am not going anywhere, I am sending this off now.”
He gave him his ID, the young man asked his boss, the one who told my friend to stop kissing my head. He had walked on the other side of the counter with us looking at our documents and told him yes, it’s okay take his ID.
My friend handed his ID to him. “Ah you’re Moroccan! So you should know better instead of acting like that here.” The friend tried to respond but the man looked at me and directed the next comment to me. “What he did was wrong. We don’t that here.” I couldn’t bite my tongue anymore. “You don’t do that here!” I scoffed. I then said slowly with raised eyebrows and a little smile on my face, speaking calmly so he could hear, “I have seen things here I have never seen a-n-y-w-he-r-e in the world.”He blinked, trying to understand what a tourist could possibly mean by that remark.
My friend started to speak angrily and quickly in English. My cheeks started to burn with a tinge of anger and I smiled at the man. He said in his best calm English,”We can’t do that here.”
I started, “So there is prostitution here but…” My friend interrupted again. I told him to please let me speak, he kindly obliged with a quick, “Sorry.”
“So there is prostitution all over Morocco but a man can’t kiss a woman’s head in the post office?”
He paused and thought about it as my friend excitedly started again. I asked him to please be calm and again he politely accepted. The man said, “This is a building of respect. You can’t do that here.”
“So all of that can go on and I can do whatever I want just not here in this building? Not in this post office?”
He said, “Correct.”
“Okay you’re right then, our bad, he’s right.” My friend started but I continued, “No he’s right. We’re sorry.”
The man took the first occasion to flee the scene. And before we could say goodbye he was gone.
There was a silence suddenly. A welcome one. I said, “He’s right. This is the post office. The world of prostitution and child molestation and rape and corruption can go on but as long as a man does not kiss a woman’s head in our post offices in front of a photo of the King then all is right with the world especially our country. It’s just those other countries with problems…like Israel and America. Not France the colonizer and certainly not us.”