Sunday, January 21, 2007

Emergency Call Box – 22nd & Rio Grande

Heather looked over her shoulder and quickened her pace. She hadn’t meant to stay in studio so long, but she had lost track of time talking to her friends. Now it was dark, and walking through West Campus in the dark made her nervous. Heather told herself she was just being paranoid, but ever since she had been severely frightened by an unexpected encounter with a homeless man asleep in the bushes that lined the 22nd Street sidewalk, she could not shake the feeling that lurkers beset her path around every corner. She glanced back again, and her breath caught in her throat. A menacing hooded figure had appeared suddenly behind her. Unreasoning fear gripped Heather. Blood pounding through her veins, she half-ran down the sidewalk. In the distance she saw a blinking blue light and was immediately reassured, for she knew that beneath this beacon of hope was an emergency call box, installed there for just such an occasion as this. She did not ease her stride until she entered the reassuring halo of light that surrounded the box, and with an increased sense of security and gratitude for the box’s presence, she turned to mark the progress of her assailant. Upon turning, she was relieved (if slightly embarrassed) to see the hooded figure walking innocuously down the sidewalk half a block behind her. Heather turned and hurriedly walked the remainder of the distance to her apartment.

Amin pulled his hood further down against the evening chill and scowled at the sidewalk as he walked down 22nd Street. He had spent most of the day trying to sort out his courses for the new semester, and was generally frustrated with the establishment. Amin had lost the courses that he had previously registered for because he had neglected to pay the tuition on time, and was tired of jumping through hoops to get back into them. He angrily kicked a hapless rock off the sidewalk. Looking up, he saw a girl walking at an annoyingly slow pace on the sidewalk ahead of him. She was walking directly in the middle, preventing him from passing her without awkward social interaction. He was definitely in no mood for that, so he slowed to match her pace. Without warning, she looked back at him, gasped, and sped off. What was her problem? Growing increasingly offended, Amin watched as the girl stopped at an emergency call box, looked back at him, and continued on. What, did she think he was some kind of kinky stalker? Upon reaching the box himself, Amin pulled out a permanent marker to vent his irritation. In his best graffiti lettering, he wrote the word “kinky” on the call box. Unconsoled by this act of vandalism, Amin continued morosely down the street.

Steve hung up his cell phone as he drove down West 22nd. The reception was so bad that he had barely been able to hear his wife nag him about coming home late. Also, he had been experiencing quite a few dropped calls, an excuse he sometimes used for hanging up on his wife, he thought as he chuckled to himself. He stopped dutifully at the 22nd and Rio Grande intersection, and checking for oncoming traffic, noticed a Cingular advertisement at the bottom of an emergency call box sign. That little orange Cingular guy was everywhere! It struck Steve that many of his acquaintances had Cingular, and none of them seemed to have as many complaints. He thought maybe he should consider switching providers.


5 comments:

Kayla said...

I find emergency call boxes to be quite ironic - I honestly don't receive much comfort from them. To me they are more like an assurance to worried parents that their kids are safe walking around by themselves. If someone was attacking me near an emergency call box, I would first have to consider their rationale. Then I would realize that there would not be time for someone to help me evade assault by the time I reached the box and explained my situation. They are interesting beacons or landmarks. You can find maps with the purpose of marking all the call boxes in an area. But what does that say about the area? I personally would be dismayed to look out my window and see someone installing an emergency call box across the street. It's basically a stamp that says an area isn't safe. Some reassurance that is.

ANE said...

I like this. One object with three very different uses solely because of the users' moods. One uses it for comfort, the other to relieve frustrations, and the last only notices a part of the box-an advertisment that will hopefully make his life easier in the future. I do, however, agree with Kayla. The call boxes don't bring me much comfort. By the time someone arrives, your attacker probably has already had time to rob you, harm you in someway, and leave...even if you do press the button beforehand....

Lauren B. said...

I really like how the first two stories are linked, being able to see the situation from two very different perspectives is facinating. Also the different connotaions derived from the hood of the jacket, "Heather" found it frightening, while "Amin" found it useful and it provided comfort. And I too find the call boxes to offer no comfort what-so-ever. The only logical use is more if you witness a crime, wait till the coast is clear, then call for help.

Montry said...

I think emergency call boxes produce a false sense of security. In fact, who’s to say that’s not where someone is waiting. It’s usually the places that are most comfortable (where you let your guard down) that things can take you by surprise.

paul g said...

Yeah ever since I was a freshman those things never really made sense to me. It seems as though it would only POSSIBLY work if you were really close to one when it happened. I feel that yelling my be a better alternative.