Thursday, September 22, 2016

The mysterious green box: where the cool kids hang out

They sit on nearly every street in America. You've probably asked your mom at some point what they're for. They're ugly and boring, yet shrouded in mystique.

Okay, okay, this box is brown. But you still know what I'm talking about, right?

These things were the focal point of a lot of my childhood games. The one at our house was at the edge of our property, so it was "safe" when we played any variation of tag, the boundary line when we needed one, even a base if we played baseball in the front yard. (Siblings/parents, this actually happened, right? I'm not just making this up?)

The Payson park had a huge one, and whenever we went there with my cousins the giant green box had a myriad of roles: a prison for (a) a bad guy who was trying to get out, or (b) a good guy we were trying to rescue; a cage for a big, bad monster that had been trying to get out for 100 years; a bomb that would explode if you touched it; a fortress (especially useful when water guns and snowballs were included in our game); or a transformer-in-disguise that was only pretending to be a box to lure us in.

None of us really knew what the thing was for, which might be why we were so drawn to it.

Kids congregating around boring objects—that, I get. Kids can make a game out of anything.

But as I've gone on my evening walks, I've noticed that these green boxes are hang-out magnets for adults, too. I've started avoiding one area of sidewalk because someone is always smoking by the box. Even worse is the one right next to my parking space, which I'm starting to fear is becoming the hot spot of my apartment complex. Half the time when I'm leaving or going, there are teenagers leaning against it trying to look cool, a couple coupling, or a lone person on their phone. Every time I see somebody by the box, I feel like I did in high school when my locker was by the good drinking fountain with the really cold water, which meant I could never get to it because there were always 20 football players blocking it.

The only difference now is that I don't care if I break up the party—I pay 15 bucks for that spot every month, dang it!—so every other day I'm parking a few feet away from strangers who are engaged in various forms of socialization, and trust me, there's no non-awkward way to interrupt them. (The socially gifted might have a shot, but as a territorial introvert I just want people to get off my lawn.)

Maybe it's because the boxes make convenient seats if you want to sit down (I'm still hesitant to do that, since you never know when one could be a bomb). Maybe there really are aliens hiding inside, using their mind powers to draw people into their trap.

Whatever the reason, I hope this trend stops before it gets out of hand. At the very least, the cooling weather will push people back to their couches inside, right?

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