The Phone Booth

I think they leave them up for the tourists to take selfies. It’s not like anyone uses them to make a phone call. These days everyone has a mobile phone. I didn’t even look to see how much a call costs.IMG_9506

The red phone booths are prominent in downtown London. They are an iconic image of Britain’s past, rendered obsolete by changing technology. The red is such a vibrant colour; you can see it from blocks away.

We don’t usually stop to think about it, but there has been a tectonic shift in the way we communicate, all pretty much within the past 25 years. A quarter century ago only a few people had mobile phones, which were bulky and only good for one thing – making phone calls.IMG_9507

It’s 2017 and I am writing this post on a phone that rarely gets used for calls. These days, people tend more to text. I can post this to the internet using the phone, which I can also use to listen to music, shop, do banking, watch television or read a library book.

My phone is a couple of years old now, no longer top of the line, but still has enough computing power to put a man on the moon (NASA’s computers used for the Apollo mission were extremely primitive by today’s standards).

I know in Ottawa finding a pay phone can be a challenge. Every so often the phone company applies to the regulator to remove another batch of phones from public places. They keep usage statistics, and if a phone is only used once or twice a year you can be pretty sure it won’t be around much longer. I don’t remember when I last used a pay phone. More than 15 years ago I guess – I’ve had a cell phone about that long.IMG_9508

The rare times I go to a shopping mall I note the proliferation of mobile phone stores, both companies selling service and those selling the physical devices and accessories. It has become a huge industry – though I don’t know how anyone makes a profit, given the number of competing stores. Mind you, the prices are pretty high. And I guess it is like anything else – the mall has lots of shoe stores and clothing stores, and they must make a profit also. Pretty sad that there is only one bookstore. To me that indicates misplaced priorities for our society.

My mind goes in strange directions sometimes. We have moved from phone booths to shopping habits to the undeniable fact that people aren’t reading enough. Yes, I know it isn’t really an undeniable fact, I just said that for effect. You’ve read this far, so you aren’t afraid of the printed word.

I know people though who never read books or lengthy articles. Their mantra is TLDR, too long, didn’t read. They won’t know I wrote about them today because they didn’t read this far.

The next time I am in London, I am sure the phone booths will still be there. In the downtown anyway. Once you leave the tourist areas though, I suspect the chances of finding a pay phone are slim to none, so don’t forget to keep your cell phone charged.

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2 comments

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  2. You will also see them if you visit Malta. The British governed the Maltese islands until the late 60’s, though they became independent, they are still proud of their history. Many red phone boxes remain there. They aren’t really used as phones now but have become wifi hotspots!

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