The wheat paste gums his fingers as he fumbles with the small poster. It is dark, but the vague light of the tower still makes him nervous. He must be quick. The gray metal box in front of him has been used before. Pieces of other advertisements and statements encrust it, clinging to the thin residue of glue still remaining. They tell of events past and sentiments forgotten and of the many others who have furtively made their posts in the night. Clumsily scrawled tags of permanent marker cover the box, only to be endlessly written over and washed away by the rain. Their authors do not realize that the only ones who recognize these territorial claims are those who would replace the most recent name with their own. It is an old game, played in many cites and on many surfaces. The cycles of creation and destruction, of overwriting and whitewash form an endless loop. The layers of poster and glue and ink grow like mold on these surfaces, with the organic binders shrinking and the pigments fading in time. Though shop owners and weather occasionally erase this build up, it soon begins again, at night, as if alive. His contribution is political. The photocopied cartoon depicts politicians, oil, money, and blood, a story no doubt already familiar to those who pass the box. Still, he thinks, it needs to be done. With the coffee shop next door he anticipates his sign might get good exposure. Done at last, he thinks. He checks down the sidewalk to see if anyone has spotted him. Confident, he walks away, fantasizing about those he might anger and those who might agree.
The city worker arrives at dawn. He opens the gray box and checks the readings, marking them on his clipboard. Behind him, the first customers of the coffee shop begin to arrive, paying him no attention. He packs his things into the truck, preparing to leave. He closes the door to the box and, as is his custom, removes the week’s worth of graffiti accumulated since his last visit. He laughs at the crude political cartoon. Today he is lucky, the glue is still wet. It comes off in one sheet.