Monday, July 06, 2015

1508 The BYO Phonebooth

You remember phone booths, right?  Of course you do. You’d slide in, close the door, sit down, put coins in the telephone and make your call.

This organ of commerce began to whither a long time ago. First it was replaced by those doorless, little things that look like waist-high  bus shelters and are guardians against both privacy and noise. And now, with cellphones, even these half baked organs are all but vestigial.

So here’s the bright-idea-of-the-month:  restore phone booths, only leave the phones out.

You bring your own.  A dime for three minutes of privacy and relative quiet… or just a private space to sit down.  Six minutes for 20 cents.  Or a bulk use nine minutes for a quarter.

Americans are no strangers to “bring your own.” Potluck suppers, wine or liquor to restaurants without liquor sales licenses and so on.

We pump our own gas, wash our own cars.  Some of us dust other people’s furniture when they’re not looking.  We self medicate.  We self sacrifice. We self indulge.  

So bringing one’s own cellphone to a phone booth is no big stretch.  Plus we know in advance that the phone we’re carrying works. (Don’t use the pay booth if you’re not getting at least two bars of signal.  Three is better.  No one gets four anymore, not even when you’re standing under a cell tower.)

You rent an apartment. You may rent a car.  Or a parking space. Or a summer bungalow. Or a dorm room. So why not a phone booth.

This never will be the big money business that telephone booths with telephones were.  But the maintenance costs will be lower. And they’re less likely to be broken into, especially if you are allowed to use a credit or debit card… maybe even a metro card.

Coins would be best, though.  They don’t need an internet connection of (perish forbid!) a phone line to register and verify your card number.)
Plus these days there’s nothing interesting on street corners but coffee and pretzel wagons.  So once again, you will be able to ask a stranger “hey, buddy, can you spare a dime for a phone call?”

If he says yes, hit him up for a buck so you’ll have a cup of coffee when you make your call.


--In a commercial for “Inventhelp,” George Foreman tells his friends who ask about their new ideas where to get help.  Nice pitch from a lovable guy.  But is George likely the first person you’d ask when you invented something?

--The only thing Foreman invented was himself.  Once a brutally mean and angry pugilist, George has become a living symbol of good low fat living and that dodo invention company.  Just don’t look at his waistline.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2015

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