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(NPR)   An ode to the unsung hero of Hurricane Sandy, the lowly pay telephone   (npr.org) divider line 90
    More: PSA, pay-phones  
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5889 clicks; posted to Main » on 01 Nov 2012 at 11:50 PM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-11-02 01:09:06 AM  
When we had the ice storm in Western Kentucky a few winters ago, AT & T's towers did not have battery backup and none of us had service for the first three days. It was damned near impossible to drive anywhere the first couple of days because of all the trees and ice so I was stuck at the house - it was very strange having to listen to the radio to get information and not having any other communication. I had my boyfriend go check on my mother in his truck (I knew my sister had came up the day before the storm hit and had her set up with a generator and ventless propane heaters - thanks Jim Cantore for coming to town and alerting me that this really was serious). I finally got sketchy service Friday morning and was able to check in with everyone.

I don't even know where there is a payphone anywhere near me - I have not seen one in forever...
 
2012-11-02 01:10:59 AM  

jaylectricity: Oh sure, you can get to a pay phone, but how are you supposed to look through your phone's contacts to get the number you need if the battery is dead?


Jesus Christ, thanks for depressing me. I can only remember my childhood phone number (which no longer works), my office number, my boss's number, and my ex-husband's.

I can't imagine any of these would be helpful in an emergency.
 
2012-11-02 01:18:41 AM  
I replaced more pay phones than I can count with computers. Usually MPC 4x4 series computers, but all kinds of stuff. Nobody used pay phones in SoCal at Hotels by then.
 
2012-11-02 01:18:56 AM  
I like payphones. They help identify the Big/Lots type of streetwalker vs the pricey Walmart type of streetwalker. If I see a woman using one, then I know I can get a quick handie for 10 bucks.
 
2012-11-02 01:21:27 AM  
I...I thought they were extinct.
 
FNG [TotalFark]
2012-11-02 01:36:12 AM  
I can't remember the last time I've even seen a pay phone.
 
2012-11-02 01:37:17 AM  

Lando Lincoln: People need to get with the times and invest in some survival gear.

[coolpile.com image 675x675]


This reminds me of a news segment I heard on NPR yesterday. A guy who works in a parking garage was using the cars parked there to charge people's phones for a profit. The reporter asked if the company knew what he was doing? "Nope." He replied.

Work for a cell phone company. Got more calls from the area hit by the hurricane for data upgrades than voice.
 
2012-11-02 01:59:33 AM  

crazytrain: 1) They built their city below sea level, f**** them (New Orleans)

2) They built trailers in a tornado zone, f**** them (Midwest)

New York / New Jersey can f**** right off - the money leeching scumbags - not a dime.


A few assholes said things I don't like, so I don't think we should help 12 million Americans. Or more.

You're a farking retard.
 
2012-11-02 02:05:49 AM  

crazytrain: BronyMedic: crazytrain: 1) They built their city below sea level, f**** them (New Orleans)

2) They built trailers in a tornado zone, f**** them (Midwest)

New York / New Jersey can f**** right off - the money leeching scumbags - not a dime.

Ah, I see we're going with the "fark you, I got mine" approach to things, along with a healthy dose of "It'll never happen to me", then?

No, just the smug f**** you of northern dumbasses to crises around the country - preaching on the idiocy of others and how our tax dollars must not reward such idiocy. Idiocy such as building near the ocean, etc.

`


And again, do you think those people represent the entirety of the states affected?

What the fark is your problem?
 
2012-11-02 02:07:02 AM  
Some basic disaster preparedness shiat you might not know until you have to live through it:

- Get a burner phone on a carrier different than your own.
- Facing a power outage? Jam-pack your freezer with anything liquid that will freeze, preferably bottled water.
- Small, battery-powered fans are your dear, dear friend when the A/C is out.
- If you have a UPS, and are facing a power outage, pull it from the chain early. A fully-charged UPS will recharge a smartphone 10-15 times.
- Keep many extra gas cans. After a disaster, gas is scarce, but empty cans are even harder to find. Sucks to only have one 5-gallon can to run your generator that runs 6 hours when you have to stand in line for four hours.
- Get to know your neighbors long before the shiat hits the fan.
- Buy some work gloves
- At a minimum, you should have two gallons of water per person stored in your home. More is always better.
 
2012-11-02 02:26:16 AM  
Ah, that rarest of treasures, the dope-dealer's dream...the pay phone that can take incoming calls!
 
2012-11-02 02:26:45 AM  

vicejay: Some basic disaster preparedness shiat you might not know until you have to live through it:

- Get a burner phone on a carrier different than your own.
- Facing a power outage? Jam-pack your freezer with anything liquid that will freeze, preferably bottled water.
- Small, battery-powered fans are your dear, dear friend when the A/C is out.
- If you have a UPS, and are facing a power outage, pull it from the chain early. A fully-charged UPS will recharge a smartphone 10-15 times.
- Keep many extra gas cans. After a disaster, gas is scarce, but empty cans are even harder to find. Sucks to only have one 5-gallon can to run your generator that runs 6 hours when you have to stand in line for four hours.
- Get to know your neighbors long before the shiat hits the fan.
- Buy some work gloves
- At a minimum, you should have two gallons of water per person stored in your home. More is always better.


Excellent advice. Also remember that your water heater has 50-75 gallons of potable water, and a drain spigot at the bottom.
 
2012-11-02 02:27:58 AM  

vicejay: Some basic disaster preparedness shiat you might not know until you have to live through it:

- Get a burner phone on a carrier different than your own.
- Facing a power outage? Jam-pack your freezer with anything liquid that will freeze, preferably bottled water.
- Small, battery-powered fans are your dear, dear friend when the A/C is out.
- If you have a UPS, and are facing a power outage, pull it from the chain early. A fully-charged UPS will recharge a smartphone 10-15 times.
- Keep many extra gas cans. After a disaster, gas is scarce, but empty cans are even harder to find. Sucks to only have one 5-gallon can to run your generator that runs 6 hours when you have to stand in line for four hours.
- Get to know your neighbors long before the shiat hits the fan.
- Buy some work gloves
- At a minimum, you should have two gallons of water per person stored in your home. More is always better.


civilians are cute
 
2012-11-02 02:32:12 AM  

Znuh: Call me weird but I miss the gravity of using dedicated equipment. Sitting in a phonebooth or using a public phone had a kind of gravity; the tech essentially silently said 'You're going to make a call. Serious business.' Combined with having to remember the number, the heft of the phone and the singular purpose, (no texting, videos or other crap), it forced you to think before opening your mouth.

Even when getting calls from girlfriends, etc., you were limited by the length of the cord - desperately trying to get the handset cable from the kitchen to extend just enough so you were out of earshot of siblings. Or staring at the phone in hopes they'd call.

It's gotten so easy today and seemingly effortless that communication isn't valued as much, IMHO.


A booth is still nice if you find one(some restaurant I was in a few years back had one), you get a little sound insulation. I don't know how many times my stepson has called while walking down the street and I can't hear a farking thing because of the traffic. I couldn't imagine it in a concrete canyon like New York.
 
2012-11-02 02:50:47 AM  
 
2012-11-02 03:26:38 AM  

markie_farkie: jaylectricity: Oh sure, you can get to a pay phone, but how are you supposed to look through your phone's contacts to get the number you need if the battery is dead?

I've memorized about a couple dozen important numbers, just for emergency purposes.

Why I memorized a taxidermist's, and an asian midget tranny hookers's number is another story.


Like you said, for emergencies.
 
2012-11-02 03:26:47 AM  
My boss has a land line (think its hard wired but its a kitchen wall phone) and has been letting the neighbors use it when their cell phones died. The differance between having to knock on someones door in your sweats or get dressed go down 5 flights of stairs and stand in line if you have quarters is huge.

The Phone company in NYC still has their own power even in the dead zone. It takes like 10 days to run out of juice to not have a land line work.
 
2012-11-02 03:27:29 AM  

Lando Lincoln: People need to get with the times and invest in some survival gear.


I know what im getting people for christmas thanks
 
2012-11-02 03:49:43 AM  
I still have my AT&T calling card number memorized.
My Nokia will last a week before needing to be recharged.
And what's wrong with using a wired home phone?
 
2012-11-02 03:57:14 AM  
members.shaw.ca

Amateurs
 
2012-11-02 04:24:30 AM  
I haven't seen a pay phone outside of an airport in 5 years... Even in Manhattan. Last time I used a payphone was London, 8 years ago (a real booth!), and even then getting a cheap prepaid cell phone was a better option.
 
2012-11-02 04:26:57 AM  

illannoyin: [members.shaw.ca image 250x450]

Amateurs


CQ CQ CQ...
 
2012-11-02 04:38:40 AM  

Indypendy: 100 Watt Walrus: crazytrain: thornhill: I was down in the Chelsea, the West Village and NYU today, and I was shocked that there was zero cell service. I would have thought that for the sake of public safety they would have setup emergency cell towers.

Yes, and for the sake of public safety, they probably thought they should restore a) water, b) power, and c) sewer first.

AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint should restore water, power and sewer service?

You don't actually believe those companies give two shats about their customers do you?

They'll fix the existing towers...eventually, and in the interim they will still be charging their regular rates, while supplying no service.


Not sure how this isn't obvious, but my point was the "they" to which crazytrain refers when saying "they probably thought they should restore a) water, b) power, and c) sewer first" are NOT the same people or organizations responsible for cell phone service, so to imply that those services should take priority over cell phone service is comparing apples and oranges.

Whether or not cell phone companies care about their customers doesn't enter into it - cell phone service is their responsibility, whereas water, power, and sewers are not.
 
2012-11-02 04:39:01 AM  

TheSwizz: The poll on the article asked when the last time you used a pay phone was. I'm 28 years old and I don't think I've ever used a payphone.


I've used a pay phone or two, but that was nearly 20 years ago, and I don't think I've ever put money in one - I was just using the pay phone as a way to use a calling card.

I do keep a land line, and at least two of the phones in my house are corded (one near my bed). I've needed to use the corded phone a couple times, both during "heavy" snowstorms. Mind you, this is the Seattle area, so "heavy" means two to three inches - we don't have much in the way of snowplows and suchlike, and virtually no one (including myself) has any idea how to drive in snow, put on tire chains, etc., so when snow hits, the whole area basically shuts down for a day or three. Usually we keep power, but sometimes not.
 
2012-11-02 05:20:33 AM  

jaylectricity: markie_farkie: I've memorized about a couple dozen important numbers, just for emergency purposes.

When I first got a cell phone I refused to rely on the phone book. I'd type everybody's numbers in.

I finally got over it, but I still remember the numbers of those people that still have the same number since then.


Kinda this. I got one friend's number memorized, as he's had his cell # since long before I broke down and got one, and my mom's since it's some 2 digits different than my own. I figure that's good enough to get out any messages I want.
 
2012-11-02 05:24:55 AM  

Lillith: The Phone company in NYC still has their own power even in the dead zone. It takes like 10 days to run out of juice to not have a land line work.


Indeed. Phone companies have Big Chunky Batteries and some similarly huge generators to keep everything nice and working.

I seem to recall reading about some telephone exchanges (not sure where, though) that haven't had any downtime in ~80 years because the battery banks keep them running through outages and the individual batteries can be swapped out as needed.

Say what you will about landline phones, but they know how to build them to work reliably.
 
2012-11-02 05:39:33 AM  
Well, unless you were born in the late 90's it's likely you'll know payphones exist and have used them before. The problem is they're almost extinct as they're not worth having a bunch around requiring maint. And in places that still use poles for phone lines you're playing the same kind of roulette with having your power go off as having a dead payphone.

You can still use old-fashioned phones that are powered through the telephone jack as well. I got one that I pop out sometimes when my power goes off for lengthy periods. It's enough to say that cell phones have taking over in a big way but it still pays to have backup options around. Of course if you're one of the types that doesn't have a landline anymore.........
 
2012-11-02 06:15:40 AM  
and the operator says
forty cents more
for the the next
three minutes...
 
2012-11-02 06:30:04 AM  
FWIW, I work for one of those major telcoms (probably the one you think cares the least), and we've been tasked to shipping and tracking generators to the North East since before the storm hit, first to the area in general, then to NYC in particular. Believe me, we want to get the cell towers back up and running just as much as you do (the sooner the better, I need some sleep!)
 
2012-11-02 06:34:42 AM  

Yoyo: And what's wrong with using a wired home phone?


Nothing at all, if you have one. A lot of people don't nowadays, including myself, My prepaid costs me less than the cheapest basic landline plan that Centurylink (formerly Qwest) offers. Even when we had a landline I rarely talked on it for more than an hour per month. I just don't like talking on the phone.
 
2012-11-02 08:16:56 AM  

crazytrain: thornhill: I was down in the Chelsea, the West Village and NYU today, and I was shocked that there was zero cell service. I would have thought that for the sake of public safety they would have setup emergency cell towers.

Yes, and for the sake of public safety, they probably thought they should restore a) water, b) power, and c) sewer first.


The "cannot chew gum and walk at the same time" school of thought.

ConEd is restoring the power, they have nothing to do with cell service.

Water and sewer are working, except in high rise buildings, which need power for that service.

Further, public safety has been a major priority in the affected areas. There's basically a cop on every corner and police cars making regular patrols to make sure looting isn't happening. If someone needs a cop though, there's no way to call 911 without a landline -- you'd have to go out on the street.
 
2012-11-02 09:16:23 AM  

Lillith: My boss has a land line (think its hard wired but its a kitchen wall phone) and has been letting the neighbors use it when their cell phones died. The differance between having to knock on someones door in your sweats or get dressed go down 5 flights of stairs and stand in line if you have quarters is huge.

The Phone company in NYC still has their own power even in the dead zone. It takes like 10 days to run out of juice to not have a land line work.


Tree falls will knock out phone lines, though. Ironically, in situations where only high-wind is the concern (thus power outages are line-based), cell networks are probably more robust. It's when you have distribution flooding and long-duration primary power loss that physical phone lines do better.
 
2012-11-02 09:24:45 AM  
I keep a landline for backup, and have a wired phone connected.

Back in '89, the phones did not go out in San Francisco when everything else did.
 
2012-11-02 09:27:38 AM  

BronyMedic: crazytrain: 1) They built their city below sea level, f**** them (New Orleans)

2) They built trailers in a tornado zone, f**** them (Midwest)

New York / New Jersey can f**** right off - the money leeching scumbags - not a dime.

Ah, I see we're going with the "fark you, I got mine" approach to things, along with a healthy dose of "It'll never happen to me", then?



THIS is a better example of the "fark you, I got mine" approach:

Non-union utility crews turned away from NJ

money leeching scumbags, indeed
 
2012-11-02 10:09:55 AM  
Payphones, I remember them well. Will you accept a collect call from "Dad, come and get us!"?
 
2012-11-02 10:19:49 AM  

tuna fingers: I like payphones. They help identify the Big/Lots type of streetwalker vs the pricey Walmart type of streetwalker. If I see a woman using one, then I know I can get a quick handie for 10 bucks.


"Handy" is the German word for cell phone.

/The more you know...
 
2012-11-02 12:13:54 PM  
a landline phone jack does have a small amount of electricity fed to it. You can find the instructions online on how to pull the wires apart and hook up a small radio or even (slowly) charge/power a cell phone. Since I live in a hurricane zone, i printed them out during the "off season" and put them in my emergency supply stash just in case. I have never had hack my phone jack for power, and I hope I never have to.
 
2012-11-02 12:29:52 PM  

Roy_G_Biv: THIS is a better example of the "fark you, I got mine" approach:

Non-union utility crews turned away from NJ

money leeching scumbags, indeed



Except that it isn't true. It figures the Derpers would come out of the woodwork.

Link
Another link
 
2012-11-02 12:38:45 PM  

FizixJunkee: They're lucky they found working phones. All the ones in our area have disappeared. Two years ago there were two payphones at the Post Office up the block, but no longer. There used to be several on campus (e.g., near the library), but they're gone now, too.

I can't recall a single working payphone within a 5 mile radius of our apartment.



Yup - here in the SW Chicago suburbs, pay phones are basically extinct. I still see lots of pedestals (some even with signs), but the phones are gone. Even the train stations don't have them anymore. When I was growing up, there were actual phone booths in town, and until 1975 they were the three-slot rotary-dial variety. Local calls could be dialed with five digits, and we wore onions on our belts.

The old phones were set up for "post-pay" operation - you dialed your call, and when the called party answered, you'd hear a louder dial tone until you deposited the dime, hopefully in time before the other end hung up.
 
2012-11-02 02:40:45 PM  

Fubegra: Roy_G_Biv: THIS is a better example of the "fark you, I got mine" approach:

Non-union utility crews turned away from NJ

money leeching scumbags, indeed


Except that it isn't true. It figures the Derpers would come out of the woodwork.

Link
Another link


Hmm, and if one goes to the first link, there is a link to another story:

Decatur Utilities verifies claims workers were asked to affiliate with union before aiding storm victims  

And as it says in the original story, this wouldn't be the first time.
 
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