I donít recall when I first noticed


I honestly cannot recall the first time I noticed that pay telephones were missing in such great numbers.

I know thatís not a weird statement. Many people have tried to share observations about things from days gone by that would look completely out of place today. Pay phones tend to be at the top of every list. So, on the surfaceÖ missing phone boothsÖ ha ha. No kidding.

But the weird part for me is that I have a couple of offbeat ideas floating around in my head about phones.

First up, I can still recall the calling card numbers I used decades ago to contact family.

Kids today likely wonít understand outrageous long distance call charges or the possible need to call your parents from pay phone. They donít have the firsthand experience with something like coming home from school, being locked out of the house, and just sitting around and waiting because there was no way to contact the person you were looking to reach.

And, I can recall driving around a bit on a weekend to find a pay phone so I could talk to my parents about some extra time out since the movie ran long and the group wanted to grab something to eat.

Second, even with offering up a couple of examples already, I donít ever remember being tied to phones or needing them that often.

Sure, I do have memories about making and receiving calls that involved accepting the charges. And I always had a bit of change in my pocket so I could make local calls easily when the needs came around. But I wasnít using pay phones every day, nor was there a dependence on them for random communication.

The way the disappearance registered with me was a bit strange. I used to regularly find myself in places, including where I worked, that had sets of payphones. Not just one. And not one over here and another over there. I mean banks of five or so payphones lined up and ready to go. One day, it just struck me that they had been removed. And, for about a week after that, I noticed that they had been removed from a lot of places.

Pay phones werenít just diminishing in numbers, they were no longer a reliable option for use.

Time for a bit of a twist though. Because a pay phone is not the only reason I started this journey.

Iíve been wondering about the changing landscape of our communities a lately. Does anyone else remember that if you pulled into the parking lot of a bank you were going to find a mailbox? I canít be the only one that remembers that. Banks and drug stores. Essentially, if you were out running errands, there were quite likely ways to cut down on the number of stops you needed to make.

A friend and I were joking around about this, and he tried to involve ATMs arriving in all sorts of places. I gave him a tentative agreement on it being similar, but I had an issue that neither of us could answer. When it comes to ATMs, I feel like many of the units that have been installed are less about convenience and more about collecting the fees that come with using them.

I donít have any change in my cars now. There was always a dollar or two in quarters and assorted coin. Not these days. Couldnít tell you the last time there was any change in my car.

The world keeps spinning. Some change is good, some convenient, and some about making money. I can make an international phone call for free while sitting on a bench in the park. Notice whatever changes you will.


If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at Bob@inmybackpack.com