The Scarce Pay Phone


The time was 12:05pm. While I was trooping like a hungry soldier to the concourse in pursue of lunch, a bewildered man precipitously approached me. “Excuse me sir, do you know where the closest pay phone is?” he mumbled in discomfiture. “Pay phone” I replied in shock, thinking that maybe this guy is still wedged in the 90’s? Obviously, being acquainted with the building I guided the man to his destination as his face shimmered while thanking me endlessly. “Thank you sir”, he acknowledged where I quickly departed and continued my trek on muzzling my growling stomach.

After purchasing lunch, I sat down and commenced the annihilation of my meal but ultimately halted and queried myself, “Aren’t pay phones almost extinct”, as I shook my head in scepticism. Presently, those antediluvian phones are sequestered in malls, subway stations, popular city arteries, office buildings and other remote places. These booths still exist but their visibility has radically imperilled, equally has their utilization. Priced at 50 cents a call (in Toronto), whose going to use these monsters realizing that almost everyone has cut the cord and adapted the wireless life. It’s sensible to relinquish a minimal amount of pay phones to the public since they continue to fashion revenue for companies, besides not everyone can afford it, specifically with today’s data plans.

I reminice in my younger days, pay phones mushroomed everywhere; siting one at almost every second or third intersection was a norm in my city. The price for a call back then was 25 cents, boosting their usage enormously as I’d often witness a line while trolling through a strip mall enroute to home. My parents would certify that I had a few quarters in my pocket daily, never knowing when I needed to execute a critical call. Yet as time evolved, the mowing of pay phones eventually hit hard due to their lack of exploitation. Idling pay phones were wasting electricity, space and were eventually taken from outside the building to inside.

In the early 90’s the mobile industry elevated to unpredicted heights. Plans were cheap, phones were more affordable due to subsidies, cellulars were nothing but pure convenience and this trend still thrives. Although mobile phones were ginormous back then, people still purchased them, particularly my generation where it was nothing but a fashion statement. I still have my first ever Nokia 6110 which may be easily mistaken as a weapon tucked away in a box.

Have you or a friend ever required the services of a pay phone lately?



Filed under Humor, Personal, Technical

36 responses to “The Scarce Pay Phone

  1. No, can’t say I have. I don’t remember seeing one around anymore. They were a pain any way, I was always getting ripped off. 🙂

  2. I haven’t, but I always think it’s a good idea to keep some around for emergencies. There’s a few in our shopping strip and one on my street, but I remember a lot more of them being around earlier, like you said.
    My sister and I used to search the change shoots for coins people forgot, free money was the best part!

  3. My family visited me in Malaysia and their roaming numbers weren’t fully activated. They got rained down at a certain LRT station and they wanted me to fetch them but they couldn’t contact me since the payphone nearby was dead. @_@ I guess we still need them.

  4. artisticmilestone

    hahaha I was just thinking about this topic. well it’s about time someone writes about pay phones. I still see a few of them in the malls together with another booth where one can charge his/her mobile phones. It’s really interesting that some people still needs them, especially those who are not foreigners.

  5. Ah, pay phones…the mystical antiques amongst us, littering sparse street corners here and there, reminding us of a different era of coins and prepaid calling cards.

  6. free penny press

    Uncanny timing with this post.. i was actually out & about Sunday looking for a payhone to photograph.. In a 15 mile radius, I found None.. I miss the payphone.. sort of!!

  7. No but I still presume them in my mind. My sister and I were watching Pride and Prejudice about a year ago (Kiera Knightly version), and when Elizabeth runs into the nondescript curtained alcove to avoid Mr. Darcy, I turned to my sister and said, “What did she just run into there?” To which my sister responded without hesitation, “A phone booth.” Which was exactly what I had thought but wanted someone else to confirm my insanity.

    It seems I associate them with even more ancient history than they actually are.

  8. Oh geez…it’s been ages!!

    Remember making collect calls? Don’t miss those days AT ALL.

    Thanks for the follow, Salman. All the best…

  9. I honestly can’t remember when I last used a public phone. I’ve become so dependant on my cell phone 😳

  10. I just read your last 4 post, I will be reading more but I’m currently sitting in my car freezing hahaha! Your snooze made brought my attention to the loud chattering of my teeth.
    I really like how you write. I’m not offering this praise lightly. There is a great flow in your thoughts to written words. Although, your vocabulary is well established its like reading a chapter from a young adults book. Funny, informative, direct and enhanced by emotion, is how your post flow into my mind.
    Guess I’m saying, your a breath of fresh air and I am looking forward to devouring all that you have to offer, once I thaw out my fingers and toes. hehehe

  11. Thanks for the accolades! I really appreciate your kind words and opinions on my writing and am thrilled to offer you more, once I perceive another idea, lol! If you haven’t, then please read the blogpost entitled “My First Shovelling”. It’s the prequel to the “snoozing” one that you devoured. Thanks again for visiting and hope to see you soon!

  12. HI Alvi,
    They used to have them at the mall years ago but I think they’re gone now.
    I’m not even sure they have them here at rest areas on US highways anymore. With everyone having cell phones and all. I’ll have to look next time I’m on a road trip and get back to you.

  13. Payphones are a scary thing for this germaphobe. 😉 I recently saw one in a car rental place and simply laughed to myself. They are relics now.

  14. That first generation Nokia was like carrying a cordless house phone in your pocket! Everyone had the same phone, too. Maybe some were a little more “tricked out”.

    I remember the first time someone texted me on it. It was a very strange thing. I remember thinking to myself, “why not just call me?” It seemed kinda stupid, but look at where we are today. Look how much we’ve grown…

  15. Welcome! Thank you for subscribing to follow my blog. I hope you are encouraged, inspired and enjoy the photos I take of life’s events as seen through the lens of my camera.

  16. We used to need them in Europe, because our cell phones weren’t international, but now there is e-mail or Skype anywhere that has wifi. They are going the way of the dinosaur! Thanks for the follow, Salman. I look forward to following your blog as well.

  17. I had a similar Nokia and following your link and seeing the picture, I kind of miss it now! What would we do without them? I went to the supermarket in the night a few days ago and forgot to put my phone in my coat pocket. My family were annoyed as they couldn’t call me and direct me around the place ordering particular groceries!!
    Also, what would happen if my car broke down – now there are no longer any phoneboxes around!

  18. yummy writing–very descriptive without being dense. This brought to mind a time I forgot my cell–went to use a pay phone, and literally had trouble remembering how it worked! Fortunately it was in a dilapidated bank of such, and i asked the fella next to me for help. Gads. They are dinosaurs!!

  19. Thanks for following my blog. I came here and found your delightful writing. Just wanted to say though, that during the recent storm in NYC, folks were storming the pay phones. Days without electricity rendered those cell phones useless…

  20. New York City still has plenty of pay phones. But finding one that works — now that’s another story.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s