We have taken the children to the park to run off all of that pent up energy. Our local post office is situated in the middle of the park.
An elderly woman — old but not that old — studies the notice on the door. She is well dressed but her face wears a fixed miserable expression. She asks me if I can tell her how to get to the main post office — this one is closed. I tell her that it's closed because it's the first of January and that the other one will be closed too.
"Ah, c'est le premier janvier?" she repeats, surprised. "Bonne année".
She doesn't live far from here. It's just that she needs some money - will the other post office be open tomorrow? I say yes and explain in great detail how to get there - it's not difficult. She looks at me in an anguished, vacant way. Could I possibly go with her? Well, no not really. Could I write the directions down?
She fumbles in her near-empty handbag and finds a pen. I find a piece of paper and write the instructions down. She re-reads them several times and at the bottom of the page she adds that the objective is to go to the post office to get some money. She seems to know that she will have forgotten that part by tomorrow. She frowns, says again how lost she feels and explains that she hasn't had this maladie for long so she is still getting used to it.
She squeezes my arm. "Merci de votre gentillesse" she says. Somehow, I don't feel at all kind.