The Post You've Been Waiting For....To Get To A Point

Last week, that thing happened where you read someone else's experience from the past and it triggers a memory of something you had filed away under "Useless." Only now, now enough time has passed that you have perspective. Now you realize it's time to write about it, and the happening blossoms from a bud of memory into a full flower of a story with a lesson and everything. You know you must write about it and it's going to be funny, and maybe a little sad but the protagonist is triumphant in the end so like all good stories it was worth the ride. 

And then you don't write it down and you forget. 
Because: MOM NUTS.

Then you become a little obsessed, trying to remember everything you've read and blogs you've visited and can't really think about anything else but alas, it's gone. Just like Nemo in the boat off to Sydney, and there are so many other things that need immediate attention and you have to just not care, because there's no Dory that 'saw a boat' and now you can't afford to care anymore and you have to just keep swimming.

Don't you hate when that happens?

Maybe it only happens to me. I also lost not only debit card, but a coat. A whole coat. How does one lose a whole COAT in January in Chicago? It's been -30 degrees Farenheit with the wind chill, so clearly I didn't wear it somewhere and come home without a coat, so where is it? I looked in EVERY room and every closet of this house and it doesn't appear to be here. I texted everyone I visit and called the grocery and Target where I usually shop, no coats. They even asked me, "You think you LEFT YOUR COAT here?" I know, it was a long shot. At this point, I'm just really curious. WHERE IS IT?

But, the show must go on as they say. You pay good money for entertainment here, and that's what you're going to get. And also wild lying. Last week I wrote about the 90's, well a tiny portion of random things I remembered about the 90's. 
from www.cooperscorner.info

Thank you to the great people who brought up things I can't believe I forgot, like the earliest giant cell phones that weighed as much as baby. In fact the first phone I had was an extra one my BIL at the time had through his work. It was $11 a month and was for 'emergencies only.' I had no desire to use often, if you spoke on it for more than 2 minutes, not only was your arm tired, it literally got warm, and then HOT. That was pretty creepy. My friend Amy called it "The Baby" and told me she almost threw her back out when she used it. These cell phones weren't a 90's thing, they were available in the 80's, but I didn't have a cell phone until the late 90's. The smaller ones aren't nearly as funny. 

Thank you to Clark for reminding me of the slow porn of the 90's and the noises a modem used to make. 

Seriously, if you've never heard the modem noise you really need to take 25 seconds and listen to the beginning of this. Let it play as you try to read the rest of this. And good luck with that, the noise is about a biscuit above eagle talons on a chalkboard. Yet somehow we were supposed to be doing work with this noise happening all around us, while waiting the world's longest 5 minutes to connect to the internet. 
Right?! Could you work with that happening all day? Also trying to mentally block out a cruel co-worker playing music like "Zombie" by the Cranberries, over and over and over, which became a popular version of torture when I was an office manager. You couldn't complain about it either, because the answer to that was Rick Astley. And that is the song and the CD that would not die

I'm not kidding. Three young men, two middle-aged men and I really tried to destroy this disc, but nothing we did kept it from playing. We threw it, we stepped on it, we tried so many different things to destroy it and scratch it and it just continued to Rick Roll us. That disc really took a lickin and just kept on ticking. It's the perfect metaphor for the Rick Rolling trick that will never die. After you hear that song a certain number of times, you get this PPSTD. Post-Pop-Song-Traumatic-Disorder. I'd rather hear the modem noise. Hands down every time.

*I know one person who may read this and not know what "Rick Roll" is, so I'll 'splain. Because if you watch it happen, when it's not happening to you, it's really quite funny. It's a bait and switch video situation, where you think you're going to see and hear one thing (say the trailer for Star Wars Episode VII) and then some mean bastard suddenly plays this Rick Astley song and video from the 80's. 

Rick Astley, bee-the-dubs, is a lovely ginger-haired gentleman who wrote a catchy pop song in 1987 called "Never Gonna Give You Up." If you listened to any pop music radio station, you heard this song at least 10 times a day. This became one of those earworms that bordered on psychological torture. 

Years later, I worked with some sadistic rich people who developed a callous to happiness from having too much money, so the only way they could be happy is by torturing other people. Mostly they were subtle, let's just focus on the small things. 

It's okay, I grew up with brothers as I've written about before, so not only did their constant pranks not bother me, I countered them. They did win in the end though. They eventually broke my spirit, once by getting me to volunteer an entire Saturday painting as a "relationship building" exercise.....but wait there's more.....we won a contest at the event that resulted in us winning a luxury box at a hockey game, and then they convinced us that this luxury box we won at our 'team building' event, would go to better use on clients. This meant we couldn't go to the game, but the partners could go of course, because they needed to be there to personally ingratiate the clients. 

Nevermind that they could have purchased a luxury box anytime, without even having to cash in any stocks, bonds, or selling a week at any of their summer homes, and this would have been the only time ever the lowly office staff would ever be in such a box, but hey, thanks for being great team players. We'll buy you lunch from the deli instead. Now where's that report I made you stay until 7pm proof-reading, even though you make jackspit and you're a new mother with a baby at home? See, pranks are fun!

Okay, that tangent really got away from me. What was I talking about? Oh yeah, 90's things I forgot about. Like pay phones. I don't know when they disappeared, but humans being the way we are, we took this glorious little weather-controlled booth and filled them with ads, graffiti and urine. 

If you were born after 1995, you may never have seen an actual phone booth, and have to GTS (google that sh*t) unless you're a Superman fan. 

See kids, the world used to have to communicate by landline. If you were driving around, you had to get OUT of your car to find a telephone. I know, it was crazy. People died from having a cold, BUT we could sometimes find other people to pump our gas for us. Everyone had jobs and you could get to the airport 20 minutes before your flight.

Anyway, pay phones. Some were wall-mounted, often located in the lobby area of grocery stores, libraries, bars, brothels, etc., anywhere you would wait for a taxi or a ride to pick you up. Even more interesting to me? Were the free standing booths.
from jumpingpolarbear.wordpress.com

Fascinating, isn't it? It may be a nostalgia hallucination, or I'm officially crossing over into pre-elderly but this is a beautiful sight to behold for an old lady.

Like a single-stall bus stop. Think of as a Tardis, without the time travel.

These used to be for more than just urinating in. You could make calls, for a quarter in my day, but in our shows and movies calls were only a dime, and sometimes you would hear people say things like "..go ahead, it's your dime." That's where that came from.

Not only could you make calls, call a LIVING operator for free, but as Angel pointed out, on some phones you could even get a CALL BACK. This I did not know. This is her comment, I'm copying and pasting it here because I found it quite fascinating:
"...you would have to find a payphone that would allow a call back (you could do this by inserting your money and dialing the number of the phone you were at. If you got a busy signal, the phone could get call backs. If you got a recording, it COULDN'T get callbacks, AND you lost your money!) Then you'd have to page the person and wait around for them to call you there. But sometimes, instead, they would page YOU back from a payphone somewhere else! And sometimes we would give eachother a code... like if you see a phone number, followed by the number 77, it is me!" 

Right?! Who knew? Did you know that was a thing? If I did, I completely forgot. I don't think I ever had any idea, even working for PageNet, THEE pager people. Fail. 

It's way too late for us in Chicagoland, where we haven't seen phone booths for quite some time. Even when you would hear talk about one it would be inoperable, just a prop inside a restaurant or dive bar. Universities were rumored to have old wooden ones, with outdated phone books, in less-traveled hallways harder to find than Hogwarts' Room of Requirement. Mayhaps you could only find them if you really, truly needed them. 

The word on the street (web) is there are still some here and there, and apparently Manhattan has FOUR, but that article was from a couple of years ago and was about some tracking devices put into the phone booth wall. It could track where people were going by their mobile devices. I can't pretend I'm not intrigued. 

In looking for pictures of that, I stumbled onto this picture which shut everything down. I don't remember 99% of dreams and I'm glad because research has shown that listening to someone else's dream is statistically the most boring thing you can hear. HOWEVER I have had I believe 3 nightmares in my life, and one of them took place at the top of a staircase that looked EXACTLY like this:
In my dream I was stabbed through the cheek at the top of this staircase, that's probably all you want to know about that.
Okay, this has taken a weird turn even for me, and I'm about out of time. I think I just need to call it. 

Time of Death: Monday.

Mayhaps when I have these brain fog days I just shouldn't post. 

One last tangent for the road: 

This is the world's most famous phone booth, according to one blog post I just read looking for a picture. The Mojave phone booth. Looks familiar from TV, doesn't it? People actually visited it, and protested when they had to take this down. They had to take this down from the noise and litter caused by people VISITING THIS PHONE BOOTH.

The concept was interesting enough to make this a good read. Click here if you're also curious how a phone booth becomes famous: https://jumpingpolarbear.wordpress.com/2012/07/30/the-legendary-mojave-phone-booth/



  1. I remember calling collect from the pay phone in the mall and instead of saying my name I'd say "Mom, pick me up at the Blue entrance." And then she wouldn't accept the charges but she'd know where to get me. We were sneaky.

    1. YES Kate! We did the same thing, and then when they caught on, the pre-recorded message would just ask for your NAME, so you only had about FIVE SECONDS to speak. When that happened, my parents just knew whenever I called it was time to pick me up, usually from the library, and they would not accept the call. That's probably why you can't even call anyone collect anymore unless it's pre-charged, they don't give you the option anymore!

  2. Brilliant post, Joy!

    I am 58 years old with two young kids (7 & 12) I was telling them the other day about some of the stuff about my childhood in the 60s - the cost of gas, cars, going to the movies, etc. They were blown away!

    I just might have to do a post similar to this one some day. Thanks for the idea! :D

    Nice job!

    1. Thank you! I love hearing about stuff like this! I have TONS of things, but they were all kind of random so I went by decade. I did an 80's post that was mostly about cable TV and MTV, last week was a 90's post and this was kind of a continuance of that. Next I want to do a 00's post, and a 70's post. I LOVE LOVE LOVE looking at stuff like this. Even BEFORE I got old! Those wind-up phones in movies, and the older cameras where the guy had to put a blanket over himself to take a picture? Fascinating to me!

  3. Ooh, I'm gonna second Kate. I always did collect calls, and then said as fast as I could "mompickmeupatschoolloveyoubye" or wherever I was. Because hey, that was one whole quarter I could have used toward the arcade, another dead 90s thing that really doesn't exist anymore. Maybe that's why pay phones failed? Too many people figured out this trick and they lost money?

    1. At least you threw in "love you" at the end. That's all a parent can ask for.

  4. Thank you for 'splaining the Rick Roll. Never heard of that and I am older than you. But I do remember that song playing over and over and over and over......

    1. Yes, so does EVERYONE and that's why it's the perfect(ly evil) joke to play on someone! I fell for it just a few weeks ago, thinking I was going to see the trailer for the new Star Wars movie. But NOPE, Rick Rolled! hahaha in my defense, it had been years since I even thought about that. So, they got me!

  5. When I was an undergrad at the University of Manitoba in the late 1970s, one of the colleges had a row of 4-5 sit down telephone booths with wooden bivalve doors -- very classy! I assume they're long gone now. Or perhaps in a museum somewhere.

    Your comment about urinating in phone booths brought back another Winnipeg memory for me -- people urinating in the heated bus shacks during winter -- DELIBERATELY peeing on the floor-level heaters so the whole place would reek for days. When I moved to Edmonton, I was so impressed that their heaters in bus shacks were on the ceiling. Why didn't Winnipeg Transit have such geniuses working for it?

    1. They sound lovely. The first thing, not the urine-scented heaters. Terrible design! Just goes to show that even designers in Canada are so polite, they can't even imagine these kinds of scenarios! I come from a big family, have 3 kids and watch extra kids, so if it involves disgusting bodily fluids? I don't have to imagine it, I've SEEN it. And probably worn it.....

  6. I got my first real full-time post-college teaching job via pay phone. I was on vacation, and it was the only way to communicate by voice. I have no memory how I passed the number on to my future employers, but I remembering negotiating a salary in the middle of a sweltering central TX parking lot as my cousin walked by teasing me.

    1. That is hilarious! I have had to call in sick for work from a pay phone, but never negotiate a salary. That is IMPRESSIVE!

  7. I love this post. Rick Roll rules! I remember big-as-an-ass cell phones. I couldn't afford one. I remember phone booths, too. Another little ditty to go along with '...go ahead, it's your dime' is to 'drop a dime on someone' or 'dime someone out' where you make a call (that cost a dime!! duh) to rat someone out. Trivia for the win.

    Did you ever find your coat??

    1. I couldn't afford them either until the very late 90's. And still, not a lot of disposable income. Nice trivial!
      NO, I have not found my coat and thank you for asking. It's kind of driving me crazy, Pattie. WHERE IS THAT THING?? It didn't walk away by itself, so did someone else take it by mistake? It's a longish gray coat that fits ME, so it's not small by any means. I looked all over this house, my car, my garage, I called every place I think I've been. What gives??? I literally am just really curious at this point. Besides the fact that it was a new coat. I only wore it 3 times I think. I HATE being me sometimes.

  8. Why did you get stabbed in the cheek? In England it's the OLD telephone boxes which are famous. There aren't so many left now. Your bosses were assholes but I think it's part of the job. I had a pencil-case which LOOKED like one of those big ol phones, when I was little. It slid open and I thought it was THE BOMB!

    1. Lizzi, I wish I knew. I was pretty young when I had all 3 of those nightmares. That's the only time I ever had bad dreams, or maybe just the only time I remembered them. But I remember all three VERY vividly. I should tell you so you can turn them into thrilling best-selling novels!
      Those red phone booths? ARE the bomb! I saw that in some places they are being used as small public libraries. Very cool! And a pencil holder like that would totes by the bomb!

  9. OMG, I do that ALL the time! You've got to get yourself some post-its. I have at least one stack of post-its with me wherever I go, and there are several surrounding me at my desk as we speak. That way you can always jot down a few words about an idea that you get and then get back to it later when you have more time. I have a little spot in my phone where I can dictate "notes," too, but I'm old-school, man. I love my post-its. :)

    1. I do have them, tons! But I have to hang em high so the 3 yr old doesn't rip them. Then I can't see them bc I'm vertically challenged.

  10. Thanks for the laughs, Joy. :) the picutre reminds me of a photo I took of my daughter inside one. It was 1993. I think we still have the odd one around. Rick Roll? Hahaaaaa! Love it. You know those rich people sound a little like my family.

    1. Whenever we see an old movie or TV show, we try to guess WHEN it was made by the phones and clocks. Usually if they show any cars it's really obvious, but it's also fun to watch other little things and how they change.

  11. The town I'm in actually still has a working pay phone at the gas station. They definitely are a rarity these days. To think, there's now a whole generation who will never understand the country song line "here's a quarter, call someone who cares." lol

  12. I miss phone booths! And in response to your comment on the 90's stuff post... I used to do that collect calling trick too! A similar but unrelated trick... if you want to send a letter to someone who lives a few towns away, you write THEIR address in the return address, YOUR address in the regular address space, and don't put a stamp. The post office will "return to sender," but instead it goes to the person you wrote the letter too! Such scam artists we all were, at that tender young age!