Where have all the payphones gone?

Kids do say the darndest things — often declarations or questions that inspire everything from barely-contained-giggles when what they say is just not right, to full out belted laughter.

And then sometimes they say things that just plain make you feel, well…old.

On just a casual outing a few weekends agao, Royce passed what we, apparently old people, knoroycephonew of as a phone booth and pointed, while asking: “Hey Dad, have you EVER used one of these things???”

The question prompted me to put down my iPhone and chuckle. And then sigh.

Yes, Royce, that’s a pay phone. Imagine a time when these phone booths were all over the place — just like coffee huts and tanning salons are all over the Pacific Northwest. And all people needed to do was put a quarter in that slot there and make a phone call. (Well, depending on how old you are, maybe it was 20 cents. Or even a dime.)

Her question really prompted an introspection on my part of just how seemingly quickly technology has changed everything from how we do business to how we used to ask for rides home from school, the movies, or a day out with friends.

So with that technology literally at my fingertips, I took to the Internet to seek out some sort of validation for this kind of wistfulness that had come over me.

And I stumbled onto the Payphone Project. If you read the site’s FAQ, it appears as if the project’s mission has evolved over the years. It seems now more of an homage to those rare booths that remain standing, but I got such a kick out of the images of remaining phone booths that people send in from all over the world. Don’t get me wrong — I love all the new technology that has evolved since the days Clark Kent sought these pods out to turn into Superman.

Amazingly, if we look at how fast the world has moved over the past decade it’s a bit of a Moore’s law relative to communications and the speed and connectivity by which we’re aligned. To point, Facebook users, if it were an actual country, would be the FIFTH largest country in the entire world.

But for just a short while, I indulged my sense of nostalgia. Have a quick look for yourselves.


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3 Replies to “Where have all the payphones gone?”

  1. At least Royce found a pay phone! Just the other day, I was scheduled to rendezvous with someone but could not for the life of me find their office (despite having directions). Anyway, I had left the house in a hurry that morning and forgot to grab my cell phone off the charger. So…here I am, driving around in an unfamiliar industrial park where every office looks the same, trying to find my destination. After 10 minutes of this absurdity, I figured I would find a payphone and just call my friend. Ha! No such luck. Despite a Costco, a McDonalds, a Starbucks, etc. across the street, not one place had a payphone! The nice manager at McDonalds let me use their landline, and I was able to connect with my friend. But wow…it made me stop and think about how much things have changed in a short period of time. Used to be you could find a payphone on every corner. Are we really that old??? πŸ™‚

  2. Take it from me, I don’t have a cell phone! The new pay phone is to walk up to a teenager and offer them a buck for a quick call. since they’re all on plans, mostly paid for by their parents, ha, ha! this gives them a quick buck and ends the hunt for the virtually non-existent phone booths! Maybe phone booths only now exist in the virtual world, given it’s virtually impossible to find one!

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