is an occupational hazard in my job. Nine out of ten times I can see no reason at all for me to fill out the form. I am not actually involved in whatever is going on. I am merely providing the means by which people can be involved.
It is irritating and frustrating to waste time filling out forms. If I had a dollar for every time I have had to write my full name, my date of birth, my sex, my address and more I would be wealthy enough to retire to a centrally heated castle with a horde of servants - well not quite, but...
And now I find myself helping other people fill out forms. They know their full names, their date of birth, their sex ("although what that has to do with it I don't know") and then we get to the hard part.
"What do I put? The house isn't there any more."
His voice cracks. The tough looking farmer is close to tears. We sort this out slowly. The old address, the address where the family is staying until the end of the school holidays and the address they will (probably) be at when school starts again.
I wonder how his wife and "the kids" are coping with all this as well.
Insurance of contents. He has no idea. He needs to phone his wife. He pulls out a battered mobile phone. The battery is flat. Has he got the charger? No. That was on the kitchen table.
I point to the "land line" and say, "Use that."
He can't remember the number.
"I love her so damn much and I can't even remember the f..... number!"
He breaks down properly now, apologises. I don't say anything but I, cautiously, put my hand on his shoulder.
He grabs it, not to push it away but to hold on to it so hard that it hurts.
Someone comes in to see how we are getting on. The sight of him in tears almost reduces her to tears as well.
"A....'s phone number?" I ask, "He needs to talk to her about the contents insurance."
"I've got it J....." she tells him, "And I think we have a charger which will fit your phone. Give it to me."
He passes it over. She disappears. Silence. She returns a few minutes later with the number and two mugs of builder's strength tea.
He makes the call, thankfully sounding calm enough. We go back to form filling.
I hate form filling.