Friday, December 01, 2006

At peace with our screwed-up surroundings:

I think most of us enjoy unchanging, familiar places in our daily lives. We enjoy what stays the same, we enjoy the subtle variety that accompanies that stable framework. But we can get too used to things...

I often walk through a quiet parking lot at the local university. There was an emergency phone there, enabling anyone in trouble to quickly call for help. But then the phone was out of order, its callbox tied with yellow "caution" tape. I expected the phone to be fixed soon, but weeks passed; months passed; I (and everyone else who used this lot) just started to think of that out-of-order phone as "natural." Fifteen months (FIFTEEN MONTHS!!!) later it occurred to me that this phone and its yellow tape was not a proper part of my peaceful surroundings; it was weird. I called the university security office; they had no record of this phone needing repair. But they got right on the case! A few weeks later the callbox disappeared entirely, and a replacement phone was installed one year (ONE YEAR!) later.

That new phone is a nice, stable part of my familiar surroundings.
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