It was ugly.
There was surely some time in the past, before this ancient facade was constructed, someone thought it was attractive, or perhaps simply appropriate for the purpose. But it was ugly — cast arches and framing in concrete, and burnt red bricks dominating. All of it was crumbling.
This was the older part of the high school campus. The predictable nature of bureaucratic inertial action kept the historic building in use, with a generous maintenance budget, most of which was consumed in more bureaucracy. Thus the bureaucracy pronounced it well maintained simply because it was so on paper. He stood for a moment envisioning brightly colored murals and abstract designs, but realized the structure would probably not offer much of a permanent painting surface.
With a rueful sigh, he climbed the worn stone steps. Pulling on what was surely the eighth set of doors, none of which ever properly fit, the ponderous and incongruous nondescript blank faced steel door, he stepped into the entry hall.
The whole thing was the symbol of political favor and disfavor. The fancy, new and equally ugly facility which had been built on the confiscated warehouse site next door was reserved for the most politically popular activities, those deemed so important the teachers’ fears of stuff happening to the expensive new equipment and supplies in their classrooms was set aside. In this building were the teachers and classes required by some other bureaucracy, but somehow not participating in the current trends of the school bureaucrats. One bureaucracy thumbing its nose at another. Thus, unfavored extracurricular activities were also relegated to this mausoleum.
As it was, his group met in the basement room used for storing the ancient and unused desks, most of which were broken in some way. Reaching the bottom of the stairs, he turned into a darkened hallway to be greeted by the sound of light stepping in sensible shoes. In a random splash of light he met the faculty sponsor for his meeting. This was the first time they met in the flesh, having only chatted online in a forum until now.
It was her first year teaching. She was not particularly young, so she had her own ideas about things. Nor was she particularly pretty or interesting in any of the ways which breed popularity with the management. With a half-smile, he greeted her, all the while wondering how long she would last. He had been a public school teacher himself once, and knew all too well how the system either broke you down by making you adopt a measure of its bureaucratic conformance, or made you so miserable you had to leave teaching, or at least that particular school system.
Her smile and response was all he needed to realize she would last longer than most. She turned to walk with him down to the end of the hall to the assigned room, and chatted about her positive hopes, as if this were the best of all possible worlds for such a thing. From the direction of their destination even now were the scattered sounds of student chatter and laughter.