The bell rang. I went to open the door and in front of me there was a man. He presented himself as a police inspector. He was serious and dignified when he asked me if I could help him identifying a person. Being an abiding citizen and an obedient Christian I was evidently eager to help him in any possible way, and I I told him so. He thus handed over a photo, which left me quite puzzled. It was a photo of an empty office: a table with a chair, an old telephone with a rotary dial, the window, with a white plastic jalousie. I looked at him and I kindly expressed my doubts about what kind of help I could offer with that photo. He asked me if I knew a person whose personality could be reflected in the photo of such an office.
I frowned and looked at the photo once more. An empty desk. It occurred to me that M. was very methodical and orderly and perhaps the office could be his. But even A. could have been comfortable there. Then I remembered L. who, after living in China, told me that the desks of the Chinese offices he had visited for work were always empty. The idea seemed to fit and so I said: “Somebody from China,” sure of myself.He told me that it was not possible because in that case there would be at least a flag of China, everyone knew that. Despite this statement eroded a little my good Christian consciousness, I recognized that what he had said made sense. I looked at the photo again for inspiration. The chair. Such a chair could have been the result of a calculated budget and therefore in this case M was again a good fit. But maybe the chair was actually one of those design pieces of furniture, a vintage revival or whatever, with a 3-digit price tag. And in that case it couldn’t be M. The telephone. Anna was a chatter and surely having a phone on the table when she is sitting at her desk would have been practical. With a look full of understanding, I slowly returned the photo and in a hoarse voice I said, “Anna, the hairdresser on the street that goes to the church.” The detective took the photo and he too, thanked me with a knowing look. I closed the door and went back to watching TV, happy to have done my good deed.
The next day the inspector returned and told me it couldn’t be Anna. Anna died yesterday. I pointed out that even if Anna was dead, the office could still be hers. But he insisted on having a person alive, because he could not question the dead and, above all, accuse them of kidnapping. I noticed the investigator started getting on my poor nerves and, as kind as I could, I told him that I was not a factory producing people who could stay in that blessed office. Then something occurred to me. I asked him if the office had a carpet or a tiled floor. He replied that there was blue carpet. I was delighted and replied that I knew who he belonged to: a housewife. A carpet obviously needed a housewife to clean it, thus I suggested him to go and ask a housewife. He looked at me with open mouth, discouraged. There were several housewives around the office block, he said. Yes, I replied, but he only had to look for one who had a vacuum cleaner, I said. His eyes got brighter and thanked me profusely for my help.
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