11.4.21

A Paean to Payphones (And Why I Feel Nostalgic for Old School Telecommunication)

When is the last time you used a working payphone? How sure are you that you can find one if your mobile phone goes dead? Do you have a quarter in your pocket?

Payphone in New York City Subway Station
Found a working payphone in the
Times Square / 42nd Street Station in New York City

Nostalgia is dangerous. Start feeling nostalgia, and suddenly, everything in the present is suspect. "Oh, I remember the days when you had to call someone on a landline."

But I like it when old-school technology still persists. I don't want to return to using payphones. They are clunky (and who has change, anyway?). And just when the conversation gets good, you have to add another quarter to continue the call.

You can find a working payphone in a few subway stations, strip malls, maybe a gas station in Duluth?

I used a payphone recently. I cannot remember why. It was when I was traveling. My phone was dead. I think it was in an Amtrak station (which I feel like is where I would find a working payphone).

Ironically, the school where I work has a payphone in the main hallway. But it does not work. It just hangs there on the wall. Hundreds of people walk by it. Heck. I didn't even notice it until like two years working at the school. I think it will become an art installation. Soon.

Fun fact: Payphones still exist. And one in five of them are in New York City! The Federal Communications Commission still regulates payphones. They still maintain a tip guide for using them and not get scammed when using a calling card. Remember those?

When was the last time you used a payphone?

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