Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Public Telephone

Pay phones are even more public now than in the past. At least people were enclosed in a booth before, so we didn't have to hear everything they said. I'm not talking about cell phones--we certainly hear enough of people's lives when they're talking on those.

Today on the street I passed a public phone--just a phone in a little box on the street, no way to keep a conversation private.

Here's what I heard on the first pass:

"Did you file harassment charges against me? Did you? If you did I'll..." I didn't want to hear what he'd do so I hurried on.

On the way back up the street with my coffee, a man in his twenties was on the phone. Beside him was his girlfriend, who looked all of fourteen. I hope she was older than that, but she was very, very young. His conversation:

"Come on man, you gotta have it."

And the girl beside him, tugging at his arm, asking:

"Is he gonna bring it? Does he have it? Does he? When's he gonna bring it?"

I felt sad and somehow disillusioned. The day was warm for the time of year, and it felt like Spring outside. I had expected to enjoy my walk, but instead I felt like I'd been an acccomplice to possible crimes, that there were too many desperate people doing desperate things out there.

As I passed another corner, green bills slipped from one hand to another. Drug deal? I don't know. I don't think I want to know. I returned to work, wishing I'd never left the building.

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