The Booth. Located deep in the heart of the Mojave Desert, 75 miles
southwest of Vegas, 15 miles from the nearest highway, stuck out in
the middle of nowhere like an afterthought’s afterthought. What was
it doing here? More importantly, what were we doing here?
were here to fix it. We’d just gotten up early on a Sunday, left our
wives and daughters behind to fend for themselves, and spent five hours
driving 240 miles to see this phone booth just because it had been busy
when we’d called it. We’d come to hang it up so we could go back home
and call it and hear it ring.
damned thing wasn’t off the hook after all. It was out of order. Damn.
What do you do when you’ve come all this way, spent all this time, gone
to so much trouble to hang up a phone that’s out of order? You make
like a lineman and try to fix it.
the hook a couple times. No go. We yanked on the cord a couple times,
checking it for loose connections. Tight. We walked around the booth
a few times, looking it over and making manly, problem-solving noises.
I ripped open the junction box and poked around in there a bit, looking
for loose connections. Nothing. We spied what might have been a loose
wire way up on the telephone pole and tried to devise a way to climb
up and fix it. No go: no ladder; no climbing spikes; white guys, so
no vertical leap. We were good and stumped.
you do when you’re stumped in the middle of the desert? Take a leak.
That’s one of the pleasures of being men. No matter how bad a situation
is, no matter how miserably you’ve failed, no matter how powerless you
feel, you can always whip it out and pee standing up. If you’ve got
enough saved up you can even write your name. So we wrote our names
in the desert and took some solace in that.
of it was pretty anticlimactic, I’ll admit. We took some pictures, started
a sign-in sheet for fellow Booth supplicants on the back cover of the
phone book, signed the booth itself and wrote down our URLs, graffito’d
and compared logos (Steve’s is really cool), re-installed the sign Godfrey
put up which had since blown down, called in a repair to PacBell via
cellphone, and walked around a bit to soak up the flavor of the desert.
But it was really all just busywork; we were just doing to be doing
something. We’d had our hearts set on taking calls and it was a bitter
pill that we couldn’t.
up and left before too long. The silence was mocking us, making us out
to be fools for driving all that way for nothing. Deep down we knew
it had been a noble mission, but right then, at that moment of exquisite
failure, the silence was deafening and ego-deflating. It got to us;
we did feel a little foolish. We had to leave before we started to believe
it; we had to put miles between us and it to remember that we’d just
done a far, far better thing than we had ever done before.
to drive away, then circled back around for one final pass by The Booth.
It wasn’t right to just drive away. We were sorely disappointed, but
we had to pay our respects anyway.
old friend. We’ll see that you’re fixed and then we’ll be back. We won’t
forget you. Goodbye.
The Booth behind us and headed off into the desert. We didn’t look back.
We didn’t have to: we’ll see it again.