When I was growing up, there were pay phones everywhere. Actually, they were still a pretty common sight just a few years back. The airport lobby had a large bank of these phones, as did most hotel lobbies. There were always phone booths on the corners in the downtown area. Just a few years back, I had an AT&T calling card for calling ‘Long distance.’ That was actually a rather important phrase and expedited one’s call when it was said, “Long distance calling.”
I recall getting a call from AT&T one afternoon asking what was up with my calling card, and informing me that several hundred dollars of use was being charged to my account. I told the guy that I certainly had not been using it at such volume. He then asked me if I had been in any airports on the East Coast in the past 90 days. I said that I had been in several: JFK, Baltimore, and Newark, N. J. He said that a ‘spotter’ had obviously observed me entering my number into a phone and sold it on the black market. I explained how quickly I entered my number and he chuckled and told me those guys watched thru binoculars and were very good at stealing numbers. He was nice, and told me that the charges would be removed and the matter assigned to the fraud unit.
Today everyone has a cell phone . . . even the yard man! I recently read an assessment of this generation as being one in which “food stamp recipients check the balances on their $800 smart phones.” Back when everyone was accustomed to using pay phones, who would have ever believed that a day would come when most everyone would carry a personal mobile device everywhere? Who would have believed all that such device could actually do? Certainly not me . . .
When I was about 15, there was a pretty little gal who had a pretty serious crush on me. She was a nice, sweet girl and I appreciated the attention, but she just didn’t do it for me and I wasn’t interested in ‘going steady’ with her. One afternoon she came out to the football field and called me to the side-line. She told me again of her affection . . . informed me that she was moving on with her life . . . and handed me a quarter and said, “Call me when you grow up!” I said that it only cost a dime to use the phone . . . she suggested that it would perhaps cost a quarter by the time I finally grew up! I was startled that it might one day actually cost a quarter. Boy was I short-sighted!