Returning Phone Books to Dex
posted by September 7 at 16:06 PMon
As Dan, Christopher and dozens of Slog readers have noted, phone books have become obsolete to the average computer owner and are a huge waste of paper. Last week, Slog readers encouraged me to round up as many phone books as I could, pile them into my car, and drop them off at Qwest Dex regional headquarters in Bellevue.
At first, I invited Slog readers to drop their phone books off at a central location so that I could deliver them to Dex. I constructed a massive cardboard box and left it next to the Stranger offices in a nook where homeless people often sleep. Within a day, someone ripped of the “Stranger” banner and threw it the box. The box also accumulated four Pepsi cans, a sock, two t-shirts and three trash bags from Top Food and Drugs. Only two people dropped off their phonebooks.
Dan ordered me to go door-to-door to collect unwanted phone books. I put on a nice shirt and drove to Ravenna.
The first house I visited (on 19th) had a large “God Bless America” sign leaning on the living room window, and a pro-life sticker taped above the doorbell. I swallowed, rang the doorbell, and nervously tapped my foot on the welcome mat. Nobody answered, thank God.
The next house had a large dog, so I skipped it.
After the third house, I started to get terribly bored. I rang the doorbell on another “America” house and ran away. I skipped houses. I tied my shoe slowly. I purchased some gum. After a while, I had no idea where I was. Then, I realized I had to pee. People looked up from their gardening and glared at me. I wanted to yell, “I’m not a solicitor! I’m the Public Intern! I’m here to help!”
I called Christopher Frizelle—he had written about the a large stack of phone books in the basement of his apartment, and I asked if I could come over and get them. He told me “yes” and I drove to his apartment off Broadway. Together, we piled over sixty phone books into the backseat and trunk of my Camry.
I drove to Dex headquarters (a nondescript building facing the freeway near Factoria) began unloading the phonebooks.
It was 5:30 PM, so employees were leaving the building as I dumped phone books next to the entrance. A man asked me what I was doing there and I told him, “just delivering phonebooks.” He chuckled and walked to his Lexus. Another man stood in the lobby on his cell phone, presumably calling security. I continued to add to the pile of phone books.
Books began to fall from the top of the mound, which made the pile even uglier. I waited for someone to come out and confront me, so I could tell them why I was there and what I was doing. No one came outside. The Dex people pretended the mound didn’t exist.