Later that day, Tomas is washing a display window when a man approaches. It's the hospital colleague named S., – the one who smiled at Tomas because he himself had been pressured politically but did not fold.
Tomas gets a sense of self-satisfaction, because now S. knows that Tomas did not sign the retraction.
The conversation is stilted; both men are uncomfortable. They speak only briefly before S. leaves.
In general, Tomas's role as a window washer has become more normal.
His old patients no longer send for him by name and give him champagne while he's supposed to be working
"The situation of the déclassé intellectual was no longer exceptional; it had turned into something permanent and unpleasant to confront" (5.20.16).