Red Alert!

When I was much younger someone in my family got me a Star Trek Command Communications Console. Here’s a picture of one:


(click for larger)

So there were four buttons and a knob. The buttons were: Transmit, Code Key, Red Alert Stand By Alert. The knob was for power and volume. This thing was basically supposed to be a toy you got along with Star Trek communicators and would act as a base station. Except I’m pretty sure I never had the communicators.

So I would turn it on, and not hear anything and hit the “code button” that made beeping (the orange sticker had a Morse Code key, and watch the screen (it would kinda flash lights badly and slowly) and sometimes hit the alert buttons for various whooping and woooing noises.

But that was it. I mean maybe I’m wrong and there was a communicator or two but they were never used or lost or something, because I have no memory of them. So that was it, it was a blue plastic thing that made some noise.

Until one day.

One day I was wandering around with it, hoping for something to happen – when something totally happened. You see this base station was decent at receiving other radio signals and some bit of CB stuff. You couldn’t dial it or fine tune it, but you could – once in a blue moon – get a guy on a CB radio.

And then be a dick and hit the Red Alert and he’d curse and then you had no friends once more with your blue plastic box that made static and sadness.

I’m just saying that for a kid whose friends weren’t allowed to come over often (their family was odd and so was mine, hooray!) and who was often lost and bored inside his head this may not have been the best toy.

But those random flashes of another human reaching out from the void to say things full of static that weren’t meant for me and made no sense – well that was kinda cool.

Until I inevitably hit the Red Alert button. I really did just refuse to learn that lesson. And there are nights, still, I think I should get a real CB radio. I’ve thought that about once every three years ever since. And then I could dial in to folk and talk to them. But I’d need one with a Red Alert button for when they bored me, I guess.

Really I am why we can’t have nice things.

By Adam P. Knave

Adam P. Knave wrote this, but you knew that, since this is his site. That's kinda how it works.

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