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Domenico, the teenaged son of working-class villagers, comes to Milan to take a test for a job with a large industrial company. During the day-long examination, Domenico becomes attracted to Antonietta, another applicant; they bid each other goodby, hoping to meet again if they are hired. Both pass their tests but are assigned to positions in different buildings, Antonietta as a typist and Domenico as a messenger because there are no clerical positions available. Although they rarely meet at work, Domenico looks forward to seeing Antonietta at the company's New Year's Eve dance, but she never arrives at the party. After the holidays, a clerk dies, and Domenico replaces him. The other clerks move one desk forward, and Domenico proudly settles down at the last desk in line, accepting the security of a dull lifetime position with the company.