In bright pillar-box red, covered all around with little glass panes, I am the very epitome of British twentieth century telecommunications devices: a public telephone box.
After I was built I was transported to the street corner of a medium sized provincial town, just off the main high street, opposite a branch of the National Westminster Bank. There I have stood for many decades, through wind and rain, snow and sunshine, territorial dogs and worse-for-wear drunks. Sturdy and solid, I provide sound-proof privacy and a shelter from the elements. I do my duty, fulfilling my created role of dispensing carefully timed access to the rest of the world in exchange for the right coins.
I have seen some sights, and have heard some tales. If I were to tell all, well, ... lets just say, it would plumb the range of human experiences. Like all technologies, of course, I am neither good nor bad. I have been pressed into service in both causes. Some have shockingly misused the gift of communication-at-a-distance which I have bestowed, while others have used it wisely.
I have reflected long and hard on what I have witnessed, and I have learnt much about the species that made me.
First, there is great diversity. Some are tall, others so short they have had to stand on tip-toe to slip in the coins. Some are polite, while others use language which would make me blush if I wasn't already as red as I could be.
Some, alas, even I could tell, were being duplicitous.
`Sorry, darling. My meeting went on too long, and then the last train was cancelled. I'll be stuck in London for another night.'
Many were terse and business like.
`Okay. Yes. Good. The 14th. 10:30? Okay. Fine. Yes, see you then.'
Others were almost unbearably sweet.
`Goodnight love. .... I'll still stay, to have thee still forget, forgetting any other home but this ... No you say goodnight first. .... I love you too ... Good night, sweet Juliet ... Good night again. ... Good night.'
Just a few I could tell, used me to say something important.
`Hello. Mrs Marshall, how are you today? ... Oh, I'm sorry to hear it. Well, I'm just calling to say, I'm up by the Supermarket, and I was wondering if there was anything I could pop in and get you? ... Sure, no problem. How many eggs? ... And is that white or brown bread? ... Okay. No, don't be silly. It's no problem at all.'
`Hi, darling. I just called to say ``sorry''. I should never have just stormed off to work with that argument still hanging in the air. I ... no ... it was at least as much my fault. ... Yes, I'm sorry too. ... I love you. See you tonight. Have a good day. God bless.'
My stories amount to an illustration that my creators do indeed bear the image of their Creator. Yet that image is marred in each one: corrupted in a myriad of ways, effectively denying the purpose for which they were made -- to glorify their Maker. My stories, showing that even so, the image is not totally effaced in any, speaks much for the gracious patience of their Creator, who with all wisdom bears, sustains and restrains them as he sees fit. Some, amazingly, even appear to be in the process of being remade in their Creator's image. I, as a public telephone, can't even imagine the kind of back-story that would make such a thing possible.
Enough about my makers: my near future is uncertain. Who needs a public telephone when most carry little 'phones of their own? But, more importantly, what does my ultimate future hold? Will there be a place for telecommunication devices in the New Heaven and the New Earth? I hope so. I am resigned, however, to the fact that I won't be allowed to charge any more and collect those nice shiny coins.
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