The woman sits behind the counter of the county clerk’s office. It is lunch time, but once again, she won’t be having lunch. Every time she thinks about getting up to go to the lunch room, another person shows up to pay a parking ticket. She lets out a long sigh as she sees one more angry looking person walk through the door.She has been working for the county clerk for 37 years. She remembers when life was simple, tickets were on paper, and people looked her in the eye. Now, she stares at her computer screen while they stare at their iPhones. She does her very best to connect with the person standing opposite, but he’s just upset by the inconvenience of having to pay his ticket in the office.
The county clerk’s office is located on the fourth floor of the county courthouse. It is an expansive room, 50 feet long and 25 feet wide. There are enough chairs to hold 30 people. The chairs are mostly empty. They are situated around the room’s perimeter. As one would expect, the room is decorated in sterile office beige and brown. The lights are fluorescent. There are 10 cubicles available, but there are only 3 people working. People are being replaced by the internet.
In the right hand corner, the take-a-number machine stands at counter height. The outer case is red. The black lid is open, exposing the roll of numbers. The number counter is at 64 when we arrive. We take a number. The little paper reads 74. We are the only people in the room.