At the newspaper where I work, there's a shiny blue cop light on the wall.
It's in an odd place, obviously an afterthought. It's in the main newsroom, up on the wall next to the clock. The cord runs down from it and disappears into a recently drilled hole near the bottom of the floor.
I hadn't noticed it until it was pointed out to me. It was put up in the big security scare after Sept. 11, 2001, when everyone was trying to think of ways to Be More Secure. (Hey, I went right along with it -- for a couple of weeks after the attacks, I was trying to decide whether it was a dumb idea or not to buy a gas mask, seeing as I worked in a fairly major metropolitan downtown area.)
But this blue light. Apparently if someone gets past the front desk -- and that would not be hard to do -- the secretary can press a panic button, and the light upstairs will flash. Or at least light up. Or something.
From where I sit, I can't see this light. I am in a separate area, down five steps and around the corner from the light. More than a dozen other people are in this part of the room as well. No one has told me what to do if the blue light should flash (or light up, or whatever). No one knows, when I ask them.
If the blue light were to do something, no one up here knows what it would mean. Someone coming up the stairs? Armed? More than one? Disgruntled reader? Drugs? Jack-booted thugs? What?
But goddamnit, we have a blue light. And I've been thinking a lot about it these past few days. It reminds me of the big new shiny blue lights Bush and his people put in place after Sept. 11, and how they just sat and watched the pretty show when those lights started flashing last week.