Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Simple Public Telephone


Today, I was in a predicament.  I was behind on my phone payment, and I had been planning to phone in my payment but had errands to run, including taking my dog for a free bath at River Oaks Animal Hospital in Sweetwater.  When all of a sudden in the middle of Wekiva, my phone refused to work.  Fortunately, I had spoken to several of my friends first but then, zap! No more connections.  What to do? What to do?

Of course, I needed to find a public phone, what is the use of a smart phone with no connection.  Dumb phone.

So began the search.  I started logically at a gas station.  There are always phones at a gas station. So I stopped at the corner of Wekiva Springs Road and Welch. No phone.  Surely there would be a phone at Wekiva Riverwalk.  So down the road I went.  I drove slowly into the Plaza, passing Garibaldi's, then Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and no phone.  Passed PETCO, no phone.  Ross, no phone, UA Theaters no phone. Ice cream shop, no phone, no phone, no phone.

Okay, let me try another gas station. So down the road I went on 436 and reached Thompson Road, my old familiar road home to Deer Lake.  There I stopped at a 7 Eleven.  I didn't see a phone and so I got in line to pay for nothing but to ask a question.  Patience, Elba, patience.  And so I started a conversation with a gentleman, who happened to be African American, and he and I laughed at my predicament which did in fact help a lot.  When I finally reached the gal at the cashier she told me there was in fact a pay phone, right outside, next to the dumpsters.  The dumpsters, I thought, "Oh no, that must stink out there, and it must be dark and dangerous, as I pictured the menacing dumpsters in dark alleys.  She must have read my mind, because she immediately told me I could use her phone.  Her phone was an old fashioned land line.  Wow, a land line.  I hadn't used one of those outside of school for years.  It seemed I was travelling back in time.  How remote.  How spoiled I am.

Anyway, I used her phone, made my call, and instantly got my phone service back, but I was still curious about the public phone, so I scouted for it.  It was not in a secluded place but a few feet from the building and yes there was a dumpster nearby, but it didn't stink and neither was it dark, though it was shaded by a robust live oak.  I took a picture because it was a thing of beauty and usefulness, especially when you can't afford a cell phone and you need to call home or be rescued.  I wanted to know where it was. I hope it will still be there and working the next time I need it.

I will bring more change though because the last time I used a pay phone was at the airport years ago when the signal was horrible inside the building.  Then it only cost twenty five cents, and later it increased to 35 cents, but now it is 50 cents!  A dollar will buy you a 5 minute call to Mexico.

Well, though I used another phone, it was comforting to know that the phone was there, and frankly I hope there will be public phones in strategic places for years to come.  Life isn't perfect and it is good to have something to fall back on, don't you think?
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