Saturday, I volunteered at our local Humane Society’s annual walkathon in an area park. Lots of dogs, great and small, showed up for the fundraiser, plus a rat, two cats, and a rabbit. The rat won First Prize for smallest registrant. One of the cats won the Best Costume prize. She came dressed as Laura Ingalls Wilder, wearing a light blue cotton dress and a little pink sunbonnet. (It seems that the turtle who attended last year was offended at not having been awarded a special ribbon for “slowest walker”—he didn’t come back this year.)
After the event ended, participants had gone home, and we had counted the money and cleaned up the work area, I decided to take a little walk myself. I’m very familiar with this park’s trails, because when I first moved here ten years ago, I lived just a block away from the park in a dingy, damp, overall cruddy basement apartment. I took a lot of walks in this local park, and even learned to rollerblade there, because it was sort of a bummer to spend time in that basement.
So anyway, on Saturday, I took my first walk there in 6 or 7 years. It had snowed the night before, so things looked funny. White here and there, and soggy everywhere. The walk was uneventful, except for what happened next:
I was walking back to the parking area, and I heard a shrill noise up ahead of me. It seemed to be something ringing. Was it an alarm of some sort? Someone’s cell phone?
Nope, it was a real phone ringing in a little blue phone booth. The phone booth was sitting along the edge of the walking path, right by the parking lot. It looked a lot like this one:
I was startled and excited because I’d sort of forgotten that phone booths ever existed. I’m sure I haven’t used one for at least 10 years. The last time I can specifically remember using one is 1989, when my college boyfriend broke up with me—that’s right, as I stood in a phone booth 100 miles away from him. Huh. I hadn’t thought of that in a long time.
Anyway, this phone two days ago in 2009 kept ringing and ringing. So I eagerly strode up to the phone booth and answered it.
The voice on the other end sounded muffled and stressed, speaking from a room filled with other people on other phones in the background. A telemarketer, I knew immediately, who said:
“Can I speak to the person in charge of travel for the household?”
Since I am on the Do Not Call list, I don’t get calls like this anymore. But I had answered somebody else’s phone. It served me right.
I responded stupidly, “Uh, this is a phone booth.”
To which the telemarketer responded, sarcastically, “Oh yeah, right.”
To which I happily responded, “Goodbye.”
Then I hung up.
I found a slight irony in the fact that the person on the other end of the phone clearly thought I was lying, while I was just trying to help her out. I suppose telemarketers hear excuses all the time.
(Then they should stop trying to call us!)
PS – There are only 4 remaining phone booths in Manhattan.
PPS – To get your number added to the federal Do Not Call list, go to https://www.donotcall.gov/.