You go in through double swing doors. Inside the double doors there is a combination PBX and Information desk at which sits one of those ageless women you see around municipal offices everywhere in the world. They were never young and will never be old. They have no beauty, no charm, no style. They don’t have to please anybody. They are safe. They are civil without ever quite being polite and intelligent and knowledgable without any real interest in anything. They are what human beings turn into when they trade life for existence and ambition for security.
Excerpt from Raymond Chandler’s The Little Sister.