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Posts tagged ‘AT&T’

Can You Spare a Dime?

April 21, 2016

Susan Marg

We all pay for our phones. And, boy, do we pay. But in the not so distant past, there was a special type of phone called a pay phone. These phones were coin-operated: you put your dime or quarter or dimes and quarters in the appropriate slot, and dialed. A telephone card or a credit or debit card worked, too.

Photo by: Mark Mathosian

Photo by: Mark Mathosian

These phones were everywhere – airports, train stations, and bus stops. On street corners they were housed in phone booths, making them the perfect place for Clark Kent to change into Superman.

Well, their time has passed. Yes, they’re still around, but their number is not even close to their peak when there were over two million in service as recently as the turn of the century, that’s this century, sixteen years ago. Today, the number is just a quarter of a million.

An article in the San Diego Union Tribune this past Sunday brought on this nostalgia. When I was at AT&T, a colleague of mine was responsible for creating awareness of pay phones, and I think of her often. Billboards in airports across the country announced their availability. AT&T got out of the business in 2009, canceling their pay phone contracts and disconnecting service.

Thank goodness for cell phones, no matter how much they cost.

© 2016 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved

Say “Bye-Bye”

April 24, 2015

Susan Marg

Stock image: Depositphotos

Stock image: Depositphotos

I worked for AT&T for almost fifteen years. When it was the telephone company. When it was called Ma Bell. Before there were cell phones and other mobile devices, smart or not, and everyone had a land line.

And that’s why A.A. Gill’s commentary in the April issue of Vanity Fair titled “Good-Bye to ‘Hello’” was like someone dumping a bucket of ice water on me. I didn’t need the wake up call, although I still subscribe to magazines and check out books from the library. As Gill observes in his article, “We are coming to the end of the age of the telephone call and that may be a good or a bad thing, but it is a thing.”

I remember the age of the telephone call very well. I remember my grandmother being concerned about the cost of a long distance call. I remember my mother chatting on the phone while she did the family’s ironing. I remember my father working the phones at his place of business. I remember calling my folks weekly to check in when I was in college and for years afterwards.

Now, it’s all about texts and tweets. But even words are being replaced. Who needs them, if you can cut and paste emoticons and emoji? And, they’re so cute. And international, too.

There’s a saying that when you let go, something better will come along. You might even learn about it in a phone call, if you still have one. Me? I’m not hanging up. Not yet, anyway.

© 2015 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved