Phone Booths and
by Jerry Guarino
Times change and we change
with them. Television, movies, clothing, food;
you could probably name your own list. Technology
has probably been the most significant catalyst
of change. Think about the cell phone, digital
camera and the Internet. Joey was one of those
people who resisted change, someone still looking
for phone booths and mailboxes in 2013.
Id like a roll of stamps please,
Sorry, we dont sell stamps anymore
replied the pretty teenager.
But its Sunday. The post office is
You can always email, said the
grocery store clerk.
I dont have a computer, said
Joey. The girl just shrugged a little, not
knowing what to say.
Guess Ill just go to the library.
Tony figured he could get a book to spend time
with. As he drove into the library parking lot,
he noticed designated spaces for fuel-efficient
vehicles, school vans and compact cars along
the front entrance. His 1978 Cadillac didnt
fit any of these categories, so he parked in the
back and walked up.
When he arrived, he saw the modern, grey Formica
desks in neat rows, at least 50 of them, with
black computer keyboards and monitors. No
computer boxes, just thin coated wires running
into the floor. He looked for the library card
catalog, but he didnt see it, not even a
Dewey Decimal system sign to direct him to the
non-fiction history titles he liked to read. Hmm.
How about that?
He walked up to the checkout counter, but no one
was there. What kind of library is this?
He saw people checking out their books by
scanning their cell phone over the bar code. Joey
didnt have a cell phone; in fact he still
had a rotary dial phone at home. Guess Im
just a dinosaur. The woman walked up to the
May I help you?
Yes, Im looking for books on The
Civil War. I didnt see the card catalog.
No, sorry. We replaced those years ago. You
can use the terminals over there.
I dont know how. Can you just point
me to the right aisle please?
Cmon. Ill walk you over to it.
We dont have many people looking for
American history anymore. Its good to know
someone does. The Asian beauty didnt
look like any librarian he remembered. Here
we are. Civil War books are on this shelf here.
Thank you and he watched her walk
away. The books were older, some with broken
spines and several with dust on them. Oh, lets
see. The Red Badge of Courage by
Stephen Crane. Ive read that. Maybe
something about Lincoln. Whats this one?
Abraham Lincoln and Civil War America.
Joey took the book out, hoping the librarian was
back at the check out counter.
She was. Hey, you found one. Yes, this is a
very good book. Give me your library card.
Joey handed her the card and the librarian
quickly scanned the book. Here you go. Its
due in three weeks.
Thank you again, said Joey. He walked
out of the library, admiring his new
Turning the corner, he heard a loud honk. He
looked up just as a motorcycle hit him. Joey fell
hard and hit his head. The next sound he heard
was an ambulance siren.
Just lie still sir; dont try to get
up, said an EMT. He scanned Joeys
head with some space age gadget. Joey heard beeps
and other sounds. Youre going to be
fine sir. But were going to take you to the
hospital to make sure.
Joey went in and out of consciousness during the
ride in the ambulance. Meanwhile the EMT
monitored his blood pressure and breathing. He
slipped away again as they rolled him into the
A nurse attached an IV bag of fluids to his arm
and an oxygen clip to his index finger. The
doctor examined his eyes, pulse rate and other
vital signs. Do a CBC and keep salts and
fluids in him. His breathing is fine, but let him
rest. Call me when you get the blood count.
The nurse stayed with Joey as he slept,
monitoring the heart rate and oxygen levels.
Another nurse returned with the doctor as he
scanned the blood count numbers. He walked over
to Joey, just as he was waking up.
Mr. Wilson, Im doctor Rivera. You
were lucky it was a motorcycle. Otherwise you
might be looking at broken bones or worse. It
looks like you just have a concussion, and were
going to keep you here overnight for observation.
If everything is OK in the morning, well
release you and you can rest at home.
Joey looked up, trying to focus his eyes on the
doctor, still hazy from the bump on his head. His
speech was soft but understandable.
Do you sell stamps?