The government buildings have high tinted windows, and the cubicles are filled with white light. It doesn't just look like a flashback.
There are two kinds of government workers. The smalltime cogs who go home each day and are forever in debt are more common. But there are these people, forgotten, left here bleaching in the white light since the early seventies with the same regulations and an eerie knowledge of things no human was meant to understand. They don't have homes. They have anonymous high rise condos that look just like these cubicles. (Somewhere.) White, white, white. White enough to burn through the past thirty years.
What gets done here is secret. There are no computers to track it - they still use ledgers hand written in dead secretarial languages. More often, there is no record at all. Sit at one of these desks, the person you visit will not be working. They will be sitting facing you, workstation tidy, as though they had materialized to serve you. Get up to use the restroom, turn a corner, and you will never see them again. Once you leave, you know you were there, but why? When? Where was this place, with whom did you speak? Whitewashed, brainwashed. Draw your own conclusions.
They have permanents and beehives. Grey hairs dyed with dyes the rest of us can no longer obtain, the "rinses" that create technicolor effects on the dead follicles. They can use kitchen and office implements we haven't heard of, yesterday's hastily reconsidered wonders. They pull out a slide rule like it's nothing.
These buildings have innocuous, unmarked entrances. They are all upstairs, up close, rattling elevators and hazy stairwells with unappreciated rust hued abstract decorations. The walls have an ancient sort of uncleanliness, a cold, greasy patina that seeps into cracks and crowds behind the fluorescents.
There are no receptionists. Only cubicles and stacks of paper, frozen in the white light. Mitigated clicks and muffled coughs echo through the maze from unseen persons who may not exist at all. Half these cubicles are empty, though all the desks appear to have been used just minutes ago.
How do they end up here? Who were they, before they fell down this public service rabbit hole? Were they ever young? Were they ever outside the world of hierarchical regulations and codes, in the chaos the rest of us exist in, never certain, always moving? Did they fall in love and bury their parents and let their children fly away to wilder things? What cars do they drive, what do they watch on TV? Does their food come in generic socialist packaging, white with a black sans serif label reading "CEREAL" or "BEER"?
Maybe a certain type of person just gets tired. They see a door and step through, a door that leads to a corridor of white light. They choose a cubicle and begin a ritual they never learned. They no longer have to wonder. They do this instead.