Just the price of the gas in this picture should give you a hint as to how long ago it was taken. Ah, the good old days.
My personal experiences with payphones over the years tend toward the middle-of-the-night, damn-I'm-in-a-fix variety. You know the kind I mean, right? Your car broke down and you've just hiked along the shoulder of some lonely two-lane highway, in the dark. You find a roadhouse with a payphone in the back, through the smoke and past the pooltables.
So you cradle the receiver and fish in your pockets for enough change for what's going to be a long-distance call from the middle of nowhere, and when you finally manage to get through, you stick your finger in your free ear to block the loud music from the crummy local band, and shout your location to whoever was unfortunate enough to pick up, on the other end of the line--never mind that you can only make out about every third word they try to reply.
Then, if you've still got a couple of bucks in your pocket, you go order a draft beer and settle in to wait for your friend, roommate, sister--or whoever you called--to come and retrieve your sorry ass.
That can't possibly just be me. That's happened to all of you, too, right? Before we all carried cellphones, I mean?
Much has been made of the vanishing payphone, in this brave day of blackberries, cells, and wifi hot spots. The disappearance of coin-operated telephones creates problems for people in remote areas, since guaranteed cell service still isn't a Constitutionally protected right.
Here's an article that points out some of the issues with losing these free-standing, well-lit oases of communication with the rest of the world.
From The New York Times in October 2005:
The pay phone in the dirt parking lot of the Acworth General Store here is not terribly impressive, its base coated in grime and a plastic-covered phone book hanging limply from its metal frame.I don't really need payphones, anymore. I just sort of miss them, you know? For all that my friends make fun of my propensity to fondle my cell phone--which lets me check my email, download music, text and send pictures, and even take snapshots or short digital video clips--there was more than once I was awfully happy to see even a beat-up payphone with the yellow-pages long since gone missing. But to residents of this village of 150 people in southwestern New Hampshire, it is a phone worth fighting for. The town gets no cellphone reception, and there is no other pay phone for miles. The police and volunteer fire departments even have to use the phone sometimes when their radios do not work.
Even now, especially on the road, driving long distances, I find myself noticing and remembering where I last saw a phone. You know, just in case.
Not to mention that poor Supes is going to have to figure out yet another whole new system for those quick costume changes.