Every day Monsieur K makes the trek across town to the Embassy office, arriving promptly at eight am so that he’ll be the first in line when the doors open. He walks with a loping limp, but is too proud to use a cane let alone a walker. Despite his advanced age, and the rough neighborhood he transverses slowly, painfully, deliberately, he is never late.
In the first few months of his daily trek, the rough kids, gathered by the abandoned shoe shine stand of all places, would harass him, throw garbage in his path just to see if he’d trip or fall. He would. Soon, the game lost its entertainment value and now they confine themselves to taunts and a jeering chorus or two of La Marseillaise.
Monsieur K’s persistence has paid off in so far as his application for a visa sits at the top of the pile. At first his case seemed hopeless. But he’s come to realize that the seemingly stone-faced Bureaucrats he faces every day, while tightly wound, see him not exactly as a friend but neither a supplicant either. Monsieur K gathers jokes with single-minded vigilance that he shares with Lex, the man behind the counter, who wields the stamp. His future has come down to this — telling a good joke and gently but persistently pushing his case forward.