This is my neighbor, Karen. She lives on 14th Street, I’m not sure where, but we see each other now and then and say hello.
She has MS–has known since she was twelve. “Before that, my mother would just give me aspirin for the longest time, she didn’t know what was wrong with me.” Karen lost the ability to walk when she was 20 and had her first child.
Today she was at the new Free Wi-Fi station on 8th @ 14th with her friend, Benedict, who’s homeless. The Wi-Fi station replaced a phone booth on this spot. Karen was charging her phone and at the same time listening to her music on Spotify or something.
Benedict was charging his phone but he wasn’t sure how he felt about this. “It’s kind of like when they took the horses off the road. No more telephone booths. They’re gone.”
“That’s right,” said Karen. She thought for a moment. “But, they’d just turned into places where people did crack and pissed. Sometimes I’d see someone go in to use a pay phone, and I’d say, ‘Honey, don’t pick up that phone–do you know what’s gone on there?”
Karen laughed hard, thinking about this. So did Benedict and I.
I looked over at him. “And yet? Here you are charging your phone–that’s kind of cool, right?”
“Yeah, man.” He told me you can even watch porn on the small screen on the kiosk.
“You serious?” I said. “Well…That’s an upside.”
Benedict shrugged his shoulders. “You gotta just go with it, man,” he smiled.