the last pay phone.
all across downtown, all day and night, i saw people waiting around in line to use the pay phones on various street corners. i think somehow i’d trained my mind to ignore them, because before yesterday, i wouldn’t have been able to tell you where the last pay phone i saw was, let alone whether one worked. i seem to remember always keeping around a quarter in a bag or a jacket somewhere in case of an emergency where i found myself stranded and i had to call home. (it still takes 25¢ to make a call, right?*)
standing there on the corner last night, looking at this girl on the phone, blinded by the high beams of the truck behind us, i couldn’t help but smile. here are two technologies supposedly on their way out (landlines and fossil fuel), but when all the “new” stuff can’t support us, we’re back to square one. what will happen in a future where both are truly extinct, instead of just endangered?
* and, omg, remember the pay phones in ‘the matrix’?!
As someone who used a pay phone many times over the past few days (its $2.00/minute for calls outside of NYC, by the way), I can relate, and felt the same sense of strangeness. When the lady at the Bowery Hotel kindly told me to shove off and find a pay phone, I stared back with a blank look of confusion. Now, I can actually SEE the booths as I walk through the streets, but as quickly as I became aware of their existence, now that my iPhone has batteries and service again they’ll blend back into the landscape of New York, useful no more. Strange how that works.