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death of the payphone

When was the last time you used a payphone?

Think about it.

Probably not in a really, really long time.

Before there were cell phones the only way to call someone when not in your house (or someone else's house) was to use a payphone. And you probably haven't noticed, but Big Telecom has been pulling payphones out in droves. Year after year, more payphones vanish.

The only place where you're guaranteed to find payphones now are at interstate rest areas. The place where you're semi-guaranteed to find them are at gas stations. But as far as finding the good ol' freestanding street corner payphone, that's very unlikely. If you have one near where you live, snap a photo of it because it will probably be removed in the next 5 years or less.

I got inspired to write this after reading this post about the days when BBSers made text lists of all payphones in their local calling area.

I'm not saying "save the payphone!" Not at all. In fact I never liked them, but they were a distinct part of the American landscape that's all but gone.

Speaking from an Americana point of view, it's sad to see them go. I remember not-so-long ago the all-familiar iconic white-on-blue phone symbol could be seen pretty much anywhere, but not anymore.

Speaking from the motorist's point of view (and admitted GPS freak,) it would be unwise for Big Telecom to remove all payphones. It's my belief that yes, a minimal amount of them should stick around if not for anything more than to assist stranded motorists - even if they cost more than they bring in.

Yeah I think they should stick around. There should always been a way for someone to use telecommunications without subscribing to anything where one can just walk up, flip in a coin into a payphone and call someone.

If we ever get to the point where it's "subscribe or you can't call", that would directly go against the reason we have telecommunications in the first place. I do understand Big Telecom is a business, but one can only hope they understand it's the humans that make their livelihood. Shut out the humans and they shoot themselves in the foot, figuratively speaking.


Oh, one final semi-related note: Blue USPS mailboxes are also well on their way to becoming extinct. WHY DO THEY KEEP HIDING THESE THINGS seemingly on purpose?

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