Making the Call: Yes, a Few Payphones Persist in South Jersey
Here's something you probably haven't thought about in a really long time: payphones.
Back before cell phones were attached to everyone's hip, we depended on payphones to call people. Payphones were everywhere -- there were always a bunch in front of every Wawa, at every gas station, at service plaza along highways, inside restaurants and diners. Now, not so much.
I was driving to work the other day and I just happened to look over and I saw a blue and white pay phone sign in front of a building and that got me to thinking about payphones.
Ask yourself this: if you forgot your cell phone and absolutely had to call someone right away, could you find a payphone? And if you did, what would you do when you found one? Assuming you knew that person's phone number (as opposed to just tapping on their name on your cell phone), would you have change handy to make a call? I quickly realized that I didn't even know how much it would cost to make a call (fifty cents seems to be the going rate to at least get your conversation going).
So me thinking about payphones turned into a bit of an obsession. I spent the better part of three or four days trying to track down as many payphones that I could across Atlantic County.
Now, it is sorta-kinda easy to find one at places like an airport or maybe inside of a diner or perhaps at a hospital or a police station (I'm assuming), but my quest was focused on locating payphones that you could find should you be just driving around going about your everyday stuff.
After three or four days of crisscrossing the county, I struggled to find ten.
Some were in pretty good shape. Others clearly are showing the test of time. And, for the record, I didn't actually try any of them to see if they worked (all I could think about was Steve Martin's character in the movie "Planes Trains and Automobiles" when he's using a payphone and he's grasping it with two fingers holding it far away from his ear).
My travels took me to gas stations, bus stations, motels, and even a smoke shop in search of something that used to be so easy to find...