Ingrid navigated her way around the peace activists scattered all over the grassy area in front of the library. Many of them held up signs that said such things as 'bring our boys back home' and 'give peace a chance', the latter of which she believed to be a line from a song by a band that her friend Patricia liked.
Whatever those words were, she had an afternoon shift to show up to and couldn't join the protesters' ranks however tempting it was.
"Just imagine, how radical it would be if I let my hair down and started dressing like them. I could even stop waiting for a nice man to come along and have a secret arrangement with...with a..."
She stopped at the top of the library steps and glanced behind herself while remembering just how unattainable her greatest desire was. People were more aware these days and she could never recover from the potential shame and disgrace if it became common knowledge.
It was obvious that she needed to keep living life the way her parents and ancestors had done, even if it started to eat her up inside.
Tony kept a photograph of ex-girlfriend Patricia in his wallet, for it was one of the few things that gave him solace in a life that now revolved around satisfying his employer and traditional family.
He knew that it was about time that he made an effort to move on, what with her once again being able to live in comfort and apparently about to resume her career as a model.
"She should hate me, if anything. I was the one who got her pregnant and almost ruined her future..."
He remembered how he'd never even had a chance to see the baby, before her parents came to take control of things and deprive him of any chances at redemption.
His name being shouted loudly from the kitchen made it clear thar his break was over. He hurriedly slipped the photo of Patricia back into his wallet and headed back inside to bring another customer their meal.
Though his mother had once said that he was good at cooking for a boy, he was no match for the professional chefs in this restaurant.
A lone elderly woman sat at table nine and she smiled up at him almost dotingly.
"Here's the veal parmagiana you ordered, ma'am. Would you like a glass of water with it?"
"Why, that would be splendid, young man..."
He left to fulfil her wishes whilst envisioning Patricia aging into a dignified and classy dame like the one he was serving.
Curtis slowed down and entered the nearest vacant parking space to pick up his next passenger.
As expected, it was another white salaryman whose smile faded the moment they entered the vehicle and saw his face reflected in the rear view mirror.
The ensuing silence went on for two minutes before Curtis knew that he'd have to 'break the ice' a little.
"Nice summer weather, ain't it?"
"Speak for yourself. I burn easily."
"I see. How's the family?"
"It's none of your concern." The salaryman grumbled whilst furrowing his gray eyebrows. "I wouldn't have boarded this taxi if I knew who you were."
Subtle words of discrimination no longer bothered Curtis and he began to speak about himself.
"I'm an only child. My Mom and Dad used to live together until she had to go to hospital. The doctors say..."
The thought of his mother lying in bed with most of her former strength gone caused his attention to stray and he would have run a red light if it weren't for his passenger intervening.
"Stop! Stop! What in the bloody hell is wrong with you?!"
Curtis slammed on the brake just as the driver behind them honked loudly. Both him and the salaryman were thrown forward slightly, but otherwise they were alright.
"That...that was a close one. Whatever you do, please don't file a complaint..."