Ken still held out hope. He looked over the eight forms on the black table and the six forms on the brown one, and picked forms 603a.1 and 402b.89 from the black table. He went to the line with a sign reading "Driver's Licenses" next to it, and waited.
The women at the front of one line burst into tears while the man wearing wire-rimmed glasses behind the counter looked on without pity. Her plea for mercy went unanswered; at length, she left.
Ken reached the head of the line. "I'd like to renew my license, please."
The man behind the counter didn't look up from his computer. "You're in the wrong line."
"But the sign said -- "
"This line is for new driver's licenses. You need to wait in the line marked 'Registration'."
"But I don't want to register -- "
"To renew your license, you need to go to registration."
Ken opened his mouth to voice another protest. The man in the wire-rimmed glasses turned his head and gave Ken a look. Ken realized then the futility of it: this was the petty tyrant's bailwick, and no outside power could appeal to it. He bowed his head meekly and moved to the line for registration.
A man screamed and beat his head against one of the countertops. "I just want the tags for my car! That's all I want! I'll pay you anything! Is this too much to ask?"
At the head of the registration desk, a woman with a pageboy haircut told Ken, "You'll need form 603a.1 and 402b.88."
Ken produced his forms. She barely glanced at them. "That's form 402b.89."
"But I -- "
"Form 402b.88 is on the end of the brown table. Next!"
Ken shuffled back to the brown table and filled out 402b.88. He looked thoughtfully at the other forms, then picked up one of each and got back in line.
When he reached the front of Registration again, the man in wire-rimmed glasses was staffing it. Ken gave him forms 603a.1 and 402b.88. The man scrutinized them with eyes full of suscipion. "You live in the Belmont school district. You'll need to complete form 602b.2."
"You mean this one?" Ken whipped it out and lay it on the countertop.
The man recoiled, his lips peeling back from his gums. "... and form 93b."
"Right here." Ken beamed and lay it on the counter.
The man in wire-rimmed glasses snatched the papers from the counter and flicked through them. All around them, the room full of gray-faced people watched, holding their collective breath.
The man in wire-rimmed glasses dropped the forms to the counter with a heavy sigh. "Very well." He punched a few buttons on his computer, and passed the renewed driver's license to Ken.
"Thank you." Ken took up the laminated card and held it high above his head. The crowd burst into wild applause, and the sound of cheering followed him as he exited the building with his prize.
bailiwick n. 1. A person's specific area of interest, skill, or authority. 2. The office or district of a bailiff. Source: The Free Dictionary.