At the subway today, I was rushing to catch a train when I spotted a lone pay phone on the platform.
It’s been ages since I’ve left surprise quarters in the coin-return slot so, for old times’ sake, I opened my purse and searched for two 25-cent pieces.
Trouble is, I heard the roar of the train in the distance and all I could find were nickels and pennies.
What started out as a happy-go-lucky good deed suddenly became a race against the clock. Did I crack under pressure, you’re wondering?
Surprisingly (to me anyway), no. I zeroed in on the quarters in the nick of time.
Then, in one fluid motion — picture a ballerina in snow boots — I slipped them into the phone’s coin return then bounded from the platform into the subway car just as the doors slid closed.
I think I pulled a muscle but, hey, no one said this was going to be easy….
You may have noticed that I think phone booths are sort of cool. Especially now that, thanks to the proliferation of cell phones, you can never find one.
Here’s how they got started, way back when:
- 1889: The first coin-operated telephone, patented by Hartford, Conn., inventor William Gray, was installed in the Hartford Bank. When using the first “pay telephone,” a caller did not deposit coins in the machine, however. He or she gave them to an attendant who stood next to the telephone. [Official winner of the “Most Boring Job Ever” Award.]
- 1891: Mr. Gray formed the Gray Telephone Pay Station to rent out coin-operated telephones to store owners. [One smart dude, that Mr. Gray.]
- 1899: Self-serve coin-operated pay phones arrive on the scene. [And Superman finally gets a change room!]
- 1951: Local pay phone calls using a coin-operated phone in the U.S. cost only 5 cents everywhere until 1951. [Sing along with me, “Those were the days my friend….”]
P.S. Here’s a song my husband likes (um, me too). I’d like to dedicate it to Luc, get well soon!