As promised last week, a poem about one of those moments of unexpected kindness and human connection which can touch us so much. Here’s ‘For the TSA agent‘ by Barbara Crooker.

The poem is of course an act of thanks, commemorating a moment of kindness —someone stepping out of role and being “just” a human again. But the poem also registers how bewildering an encounter this is: ‘I was left wondering/ what had just happened, and what was I supposed/ to make of it’. I know I’ve felt the same in benefit offices, when I’ve gone in braced to fight with officialdom and have then been disarmed and a bit flummoxed to find myself met as a human (not a Case) by another human (not a Benefits Officer). And yes, it’s beautiful to be met in I-Thou when you don’t expect it. But it’s sad that it’s so rare as to be bewildering and even slightly disquieting.

Next week we’ll be back in American Immigration and having a very different experience. You have been warned…

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