Notice the question mark in the header. Of course, a consul speaks and breathes like the rest of us…, or so you thought. But this is a legitimate question about at least one consul: the main character in the Consul opera.
Earlier in this blog, I wrote about this wonderful Menotti opera but it has continued to haunt me ever since I saw it in May here in Miami. The Florida Grand Opera (FGO) did a magnificent job in communicating the frustration felt by the lady endlessly waiting to see the consul. Two things in particular have stayed with me:
There’s a trickster in the waiting room, who tries to make the waiting time pass by entertaining everyone with his magic. When the secretary, quite annoyed, tells him, “Don’t you know how to behave in a consulate?” he shakes his head, no. I thought of how some people ask if our behavior in the waiting room of a consulate should change according to some special consular or diplomatic protocol. The answer is no. If you find yourself in a consulate, just conduct yourself in the dignified manner you’d use for waiting at your doctor’s or dentist’s office.
But – and this is our learning moment – when you’re finally face-to-face with the consul, you’ll want to use the appropriate title (“consul” and not “counsel” for instance) and also be prepared with realistic expectations of what he can do for you. In the opera, it wouldn’t have mattered since nobody ever gets to see the consul.
“Have you ever seen the consul?” the mother of a baby asks the secretary. “Does he speak, does he breathe?” Her voice shows her hope eroding fast as she faces the gatekeeper. Although consuls are regular human beings like you and me, their official position requires a certain kind of respect that comes with knowing what it really means when someone is a consul. And I don’t mean on stage, in an opera.