The walls were institutional sage. A halfhearted welcome splayed insistently across the counter: dusty plastic rose petals, willow branches, decaying trypophobic green-foam.
Everywhere else, heavy utilitarian lines prevailed. The two queues killed time in parallel silent sighs. Forehead furrows and deep frowning folds greeted each new customer in mimicry of human noise.
Customers seldom spoke a whisper beyond an echoed salutation. Their forms were filled; elsewise why would they be in line? What more need be decided? What more could be construed?
They say when it all came down, the two women waited quietly at their stations. The lines were overflowing as the working tone would never again stand.
The way my soft uncle Steven told it:
Even as the building burned and collapsed about them, the two old G&R compu-operators waited for morning instruction. In some sort of mindless bureaucratic zen they succumbed to choking fumes and died where they’d always stood.
Steve said he almost felt sorry for ‘em, ‘til he remembered the smile one cracked at his young mother’s second reconciliation.