Two situations observed at different times on different continents and my very personal thoughts:
A. Grahamstown Department of Home Affairs. Few people work, a lot of people wait to be helped. The vast majority is happy about the provided chairs and sits very patiently. Most of them for a very long time. A handful of people are busy with their cell phones or chat to someone. But the rest does absolutely nothing. They don’t move. Their faces express nothing.
What do they think? Where are their emotions? Is that some kind of a survival strategy to not think and see, otherwise you become insane by the sight of this useless and extremely slow bunch of people who sit behind the counter and does not know what the person next to them does or is supposed to do and where their boss is off to today?
B. Berlin subway. Everyone waits to be at their destination, hopefully soon. The vast majority is happy about the provided chairs and sits very patiently. Some of them for quite a long time. A handful of people are busy with their cell phones or chat to someone. And the rest reads. A newspaper, a magazine, a book, an advert, a scientific paper, anything.
Do these people still realise where they are? Did they escape into a different world to not become insane by the sight of these other tired and unknown people around them, the non-existing view and the unpleasant smell? Do they realise that this kind of escape – reading! – has strong impacts on their behaviour, their future, their culture, their life?