Considering the last time anyone used a pay phone was probably Colin Farrell circa 2002–and that was only for the purposes of being in a movie called Phone Booth--it’s a bit of a time warp when one sees one of these devices on the sidewalk actually in functioning condition–at least outside of Bushwick.
Within the confines of the neighborhood, however, pay phones remain in top shape due to the increasingly semi-ironic use of them. In addition to paying out the ass for their iPhone bills, Bushwickians are also happy to pony up two dollars worth in quarters to call their parents and ask for money in order to achieve a “vintage feel.” Some pay phones are so well-maintained that they even have intact phone books (though many of the pages have been ripped out or graffitied with your standard “For a good time, call…” lines.
The Burning Bush spoke to one avid pay phone user, Westin Antiquate, a 26-year-old who only recently started navigating the many “call stations” in Bushwick. “It’s not even that I find it easier to use for my drug deals (now that Family Dollar fucked me over), it’s that I enjoy the process of dialing someone’s number by looking it up in my contacts. There’s something about the ritual that makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something.”
Others prefer to use it when they feel there’s just no privacy elsewhere. Gretchen Covert, a 24-year-old receptionist at Self Salon, stated, “I’m never able to hear anyone as clearly as I am on a pay phone. Plus, when you can find an actual booth, the privacy is unprecedented. And it just makes me feel closer to Banksy.” Whether or not Bushwickians are half-joking or half-baked with regard to pay phone use is somewhat arbitrary.
Written by Genna Rivieccio