Pay Phones!

A few years ago, my parents brought my grandfather a cell phone. “Just in case of emergencies,” they said.

“That’s what pay phones are for!” he stubbornly insisted. But how often do people still use pay phones?

Cell phones have made pay phones obsolete, especially for college students. Why should students spend precious laundry quarters on a timed phone call?

Then again, how often are on-campus pay phones used? A recent CNN iReport Weekend Assignment challenged people to investigate the pay phones in their area.

Challenge accepted, CNN.

First pay phone stop: the flagpoles. “This phone is tapped” read a label on the phone receiver, notifying me of the government’s rights according to the 2001 Patriot Act.

“50 cents for 10 minutes” the phone instructions read. I fished out a quarter, but then realized that the coin slot was jammed with a quarter already. First attempt: failed.

Next nearest pay phone: Langson Library. Unfortunately, the coin slot was jammed as well. Second attempt: failed.

One more try, I decided. I found the next nearest pay phone behind Social Science Hall and inserted a quarter into the coin slot.

Nothing happened. Did this obsolete machine just eat my quarter? I angrily hit the coin return lever multiple times and received $1.10.

At least I got something in return.