Phone High Jinks

Someone mentioned the words “pay phone” the other day and it brought me right back to a night in Bruxelles Pub in Dublin many, many moons ago. At the time, Bruxelles was the in place for the Irish version of Hell’s Angels. (What would that sound like? Roight, I’m goin’ to bleedin’ burst yah, but I have to ring The Mammy first and let her know I’ll be late home for me dinner.) I needed to make a phone call and went to the pay phone. For younger readers, let me explain what this refers to. This was a time before mobile phones, and in Ireland there was a one-year waiting list to get a home phone or landline as they are now called. A pay phone was shiny and black, and had a receiver with a dial face that you hooked your index finger into and pulled around, like a clock face. A separate black box had a coin slot and an A and B buttons. You lifted the receiver, inserted coins into the slot, dialled the number, and when someone answered, and pressed the A button. If all went well, the money fell into the box and you got through and could talk to the person you had rung. If the number rang out, you pressed the B Button and your money was returned. Sometimes drunk people forgot to take their money back and you got lucky. Anyway, this particular night, I went to the pay phone and immediately encountered a problem. I am vertically challenged, and couldn’t reach the receiver (the bit you talked into.) I stood looking at the phone, trying to figure out a way around the problem, when a shadow fell across me. A very large hairy biker strode over and glared at me. I gulped, wondering if I had inadvertently breached an unknown code of ethics. He reached past me, and lifted the entire phone, which weighed about three stone, off the wall. It turned out it was attached to a piece of timber. He plonked it on the floor and went back to his pint. Not surprisingly, I kept the conversation short and gave him the thumbs up as I left. He growled and I sped out into the night, resolving that on my next visit, I would wear my three inch platform heels. Problem solved.

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