Monday, June 11, 2012
The center of the large square room is lined with eight rows of chairs. The chairs are padded and covered with a patchwork fabric design in deep purple hues. Each seat is latched to the chair beside it by a metal hook along its edge, creating straight rows of eight.
Along the periphery of the room are cubicles separated by thick gray fabric covered walls. Each separated desk faces the center of the room, though there are walls designed like sliding doors which can be opened or closed.
There are three cubicles that are open, the rest are blocked by the portable walls. There is one woman behind each visible desk, each with varying pale skin tones, but with the same portly figure and plump cheeks.
The desks are gray and long and uniform. There is a computer with a raised glowing screen and a wired telephone. Each different desk is decorated with the snapshots of loved ones and tiny figurines and mugs full of pencils.
Behind the perimeter of desks is another narrow perimeter of walking space which allows movement from desk to desk or easy reference to the several bookcases full of thick tax code books and reference material.
Beside the front door is a black man sitting behind the oversized receptionist desk. A rope barrier starts at the door and leads towards the reception desk, forcing anyone who might enter the double glass doors to head in one direction. As patrons enter he hands each one a paper number and motions for them to watch the glowing screen with red numerals.
Mounted to one of the walls is a large flat screen tv, it faces the rows of chairs and is tuned to a news station. Close-captioned subtitles move across the bottom of the screen and there are no speakers. Half a dozen people sit scattered among the chairs, each holding a number and staring straight ahead into the glowing monitor.
Mumbled voices and the muted tap of the women typing on their keyboards is the only sound.