Wednesday, April 4, 2012

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Obsolete

I snapped this picture quickly because I don't know the last time I've seen this.

He tried his quarter again and again. It never took, fell through and popped out with a hollow tink.  But he was relentless, stood for a good five minutes, dialing a number that had been written, in pen, on the palm of his hand.

The last time I kept a number written on my flesh was probably about the same time I last used a pay phone.  In high school, notes and numbers were scribbled quickly after class or next to a metal locker. And I used the pay phone in the lobby to call my mother to pick me up after recitals, tennis practice, or a late track meet.

I felt sad that this stranger couldn't get through.  Because phone numbers on the hand always mean something special, written in the heat of a moment, no paper or napkin or digital keypad to memorize the connection for you.  "Call me," it says. "Don't forget."

When was the last time you used a pay phone?  Wrote a number on your hand?


  1. Do you know, I can't remember the last time that I used a pay phone. We rely so much on mobiles these days, that the idea of having to phone in one of those booths seems impossible!

    Your photo makes me wonder who the man was trying to contact....

  2. I wonder if he was doing a movie shoot. Were there any other cameras around??

    Lol. Srsly though, I had no idea pay phones were still in existence.

  3. That's crazy! I might have offered the guy my phone...maybe. I guess it depended on how desperate he seemed.

    I have no idea the last time I used a pay phone. No idea :)

  4. It's weird, but I actually do remember the last time I did. It was fall 2000 and I was at a Billy Bragg concert at Recher Theatre in Towson, MD. The line for the bathroom at the venue was unbelievable, so I said 'screw it' and walked down the street to Burger King to use that one. As I was leaving, I stopped at the payphone and used my phone card to call my boyfriend.

    ^And yet another example of how I can remember the details of something random, yet I have to think about things like my age and what I ate for dinner last night...

    Funny how the mind works :)

    Perhaps the guy in pic was calling 867-5309???

    Couldn't resist!

  5. I tried to find a payphone the other day when my cell was dead, and I couldn't find one anywhere. Except at the airport, but a call will cost you $40. You can buy a burner cell phone for that amount.

  6. Last time I used a pay phone: early 1980's.

  7. Wow, what a flash from the past! It's a real shame he couldn't make the call go through when he obviously needed it to. There's a story behind this ... or maybe I think that about everything.

    The last time I used a pay phone was in an airport in the early 1990's, trying to tell my parents about a flight change.

  8. I honestly can't remember the last time I used a pay phone, but I write stuff on my hands and arms all the time. I'm afraid I won't be able to find it in my phone, and my arm is handy and I usually always have a pen. I look like I'm 13. :)

  9. I used to use the pay phone to call my mom to pick me up from sports practiced, too! :) I was very sad when I went to visit the school a few years back and found out that they'd removed the payphone.

  10. When I go out somewhere with people, or if we KNOW we're going to meet at X place at Y time, I like to leave my phone behind (or at least in my car). I hate when people pull out phones mid-conversation so I try to distance myself from mine.

    That being said, I met a man at a bar in Florida and he wrote his number on my hand... I thought it was really sweet and really took me back, much like you mentioned in this post. Before that... I can't even remember. It's always "Let me put your number in my phone..." then they call you so you have theirs. Such a small detail but so vital to the feeling of these moments.

  11. Air port it the only place you see pay phones anymore. I haven't used one in YEARS. Poor guy. He probably didn't wash his hand for days.