There was a booth at the end of the subway station, standing between the staircases, the large window in its door covered by a curtain.
I vaguely knew what it was and that I didn’t have the time to get involved, and yet when I saw someone in a mask look out from behind the curtain, I knocked on the wooden door. I wanted to be involved.
The person opened the door, told me a bit about this Awesome Foundation project, and then left me, gratefully and hurriedly, to take over for him. I debated whether or not to just walk away – I was on my way to work and had a lot to do – everyone knew it would happen sooner or later, someone would pick up the line and meet with silence, that’s inevitable, given who people are, but I didn’t want to be that person, didn’t want to be responsible for that expected disappointment, and so I went inside.
Inside the House of 1001 Ruined Identities, there were masks along the shelf above my head, and the bench below was covered in papers. When I picked up the dangling phone, a woman’s voice at the other end of the line told me that she was participating from another booth in New Zealand. She asked if I’d seen the article about maintenance from the Times yet, and so I started looking at the newspaper clippings and sheets of printer paper, filled with arrangements of numbers whose meanings I expected to understand as time went on.
It was the second Times article that I found, something about migration and border patrols and yet also about us in these booths. She said that was it. Before I started to read it I remarked with with curiosity and a slight alarm that I was going to get hungry and that I ought to do something about that. I knew that was a futile attempt to be excused, but I had to try (and I was hungry). I didn’t expect anyone to relieve me anytime soon, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to smooth this over at work – not that I wasn’t terribly worried. I work at a startup, after all.
* fin *