Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Interaction's Only a Phone Call Away

At night, there’s limited activity on the corner of Chicon and East 19th street. A few people pull into the gas station to fill their tanks, but interaction among them ceased to exist as if there was some code of silence that governed the area around the pumps. One lady was oddly staring at a man pacing back and forth in front of the pay phone. She must have felt uncomfortable because her face displayed a concerned expression.

The phone suddenly rings and the man nearly knocks over the booth as he snatches the phone off the hook. The woman still staring, notices a change in the man’s composure as he speaks on the phone. He no longer appears hostile and begins to blend in with the rest of the people in the parking lot. The woman got into her car and pulled off, but her car stops just as she reaches the light at the intersection. She slowly got out of her car and walked toward the pay phone. The man was still occupying the booth, so she stood back and waited.

The man was having the time of his life. He was stranded at the gas station with nothing to do. The phone had been ringing off the hook all night. Each time he picked it up, he talked to someone new. This time the person was a woman. Someone had called from the pay phone number and she wasn’t sure who, but she decided she’d return the call anyway. The woman was very lonely, so she was also excited when someone picked up the phone. The man at the booth fell in love with her voice. He wondered what she looked like and if he’d ever run into her on the streets.

The woman waiting behind him was getting a little impatient. She knew the man didn’t know who he was talking to and figured he was just playing around, so she tapped his shoulder and said, “Sir, I really need to use the phone. It’s an emergency.” The man sadly look at the telephone cord and then told his mystery woman that he had to go. He sat on the curve next to the booth while the woman called a tow truck. He got a little excited when he overheard the woman shout, “What! 50 bucks just to move a car out of the street!” The woman slammed the phone on the hook and walked away frustrated. The man was nervous about leaving the pay phone. His mystery woman could call back any second, but he decided to help the woman at the intersection anyway.

Together, they pushed the car into the parking lot. The woman then used the pay phone to call her brother. As she waited for her brother to arrive, she noticed a sad look on the man’s face. He was sitting on the curve with his elbows on his knees. The phone suddenly rang and the man jumped up to answer it. Unfortunately, it was a wrong number and the other person on the line did not want to talk. He sat on the curve again and looked up at the phone. The woman noticed his actions and made a conclusion about the man. She decided he was lonely and that the phone was his way of escaping his situation.

When her brother arrived she ran over to the man and thanked him. Then she reached into her pocket and gave him four quarters. The man slightly smiled. He appreciated the change, but he really didn’t know any numbers to call. As the woman and her brother drove away, the woman noticed that the man began to pace back and forth again.

An hour had passed and the man was still sitting by the booth. He was ready to call it a night, when the phone rang again. He frantically jumped up to answer as he thought, “Could this be my mystery woman.” It was not his mystery woman, but the man decided talk anyway. This time it was another woman. The man was delighted because he recognized the woman’s voice on the phone. It was the woman that needed help at the intersection.

The urban environment is filled with characters that come and go, but some never leave. Sometimes individuals find themselves stuck with no place to go, so they search for comfort in the objects around them. Its amazing how one device can perform such a service. The pay phone at the gas station brought characters from the outside world into the urban environment as it served as a source of entertainment for a lonely woman returning a phone call. It served as one man’s way of escaping his troubled situation, and it was another woman’s way of reaching help. This device had the power to change the situation of its environment, as it encouraged the interaction among the actors around


No comments: