Payphone–the Song and the Questions

This evening on the way home, this song came on the radio.  My little guy can read the title and artist of songs from way back where he sits in the vehicle.  When he saw this one, the conversation that ensued–well, I suppose I should have been prepared for it to come up eventually, but I was not.


Nevertheless, it made me laugh.

Cooter (as soon as the name came on the screen): What’s a payphone?

Huh.  Now why didn’t I see that one coming?  So obvious, right?

Me:  Well, what do you think it sounds like it is?

Cooter: A phone.  You have to pay to use.

Me:  Yes.  Exactly.

Cooter:  How long could you talk when you paid?

Me (using words I haven’t used in a long time): Well, it depends if you were calling long-distance or not.

Cooter:  What’s long distance?

Ha.  Yep.  Here we go. He can be a question machine sometimes.  

Me: It’s when you call someone outside your calling area.

Cooter: So how long could you talk when you called long distance?

Me:  You know, I’m not really sure.  Not for very long anyway.  And you had to stand in one place when you were talking on a payphone.  There was no walking around.  No going wherever you wanted while you were talking.

And that’s when it hit me.  How far we have come.  How very, very far. My children have no idea what it’s like to have to plan a call around when you had time to sit in one place.  They live in a world of smart and smarter phones and devices and asking for wifi passwords, for goodness’ sake.

I remember calling my folks from a payphone at the movie theater to ask if we could see a second movie before coming home.  I remember calling from one to let them know we had arrived safely at our destination.  I remember scrounging for quarters to make a call, and then hearing the dreaded voice telling me how much time I had left in the conversation. No such thing as unlimited minutes back then.

Tonight I’m thankful for a world where communication is so much easier.  And yet it frightens me as well.  With great privilege comes great responsibility.  With all this communicating at my children’s fingertips, there’s also great potential for miscommunication.  I hope they strive to rise above that, and that they use all this potential for interaction for the good.  Of their relationships, community, and our world.

Interesting that a trip down Memory Lane can come simply from the chance playing of a song on the radio.

Love to all.

“Pay phone”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pay_phone.jpg#/media/File:Pay_phone.jpg

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