Phone Calls on the Edge

“Please insert twenty-five cents to complete your call.”
“Operator. How may I help you?”
Dial tones.
Silvery, square buttons with numbers that click smoothly when you press them.

Don’t dial wrong, or you can’t get your quarter back.

These are bits of nostalgia that we come across less and less now that pay phones are not so commonly in our paths.

Surprisingly, there are 100,000 pay phones currently in the U.S. with one fifth of them in New York alone. That’s down from 2 million about twenty years ago. Today, seeing an operational pay phone is becoming a unique experience. There are empty booths without a phone, phones inoperable, and sometimes an honest to goodness, functional phone. I recently saw a lone booth at a gas station only to find it removed just days later.

Kalaloch Washington Pay Phone Booths

These two pay phones stand on the edge of the continent looking out over the Pacific Ocean at Kalaloch Lodge in Washington where they also provide shelter from strong winds and rain. Perhaps their continued existence it is to accommodate for the limited cell service people may experience. For instance, Yosemite reports busy pay phones due to limited cell service. Hospitals have pay phones because the buildings make getting a cell signal difficult if not impossible. Jails have pay phones. Furthermore, while cell towers suffer damage in storms, pay phones are said to have withstood tornados, earthquakes, and hurricanes. They are handy when you are without a cell phone and have had car troubles or are in an emergency.

Let’s not forget that pay phones have also connected us to our heroes. Clark Kent transformed into Superman, Harry Potter accessed the Ministry of Magic, Doctor Who traveled through time and space, and Bill and Ted righted history. And, there’s nothing comparable to the world record of stuffing 25 people into one.

They must hold some nostalgia as I saw a similar pair for sale on eBay for $250.00. If you see one, you may want to step inside, pick up the receiver, and gaze through the hazy, rain sprinkled glass like some hopeless romantic in the movies…before they are all gone.

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