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As We See It

A love note on the passing of another payphone

Big, dirty pay phone, we love you.
Photo: Ryan Olbrysh

Big, dirty pay phone, I love you. Your metal exterior is heroic. I check my lip gloss in your face. The slight concave feel of your metal buttons cupping my fingertips is a quiet comfort on nights gone horribly wrong, big-ass truck idling dementedly in the background. I don’t care if you are a beacon for drug lords across the street from the beloved Luv-It or anywhere else. We’ve all done things. It’s okay. You were there for me, somewhere in south Phoenix, when I wrecked the Buick. You were there for me, somewhere in Atlanta, when I couldn’t find my way. You were even there for me in Madrid, your weird, indestructible cord a conduit to home. Your blockhead design is reassuring. The slammed-down chips in your mouthpiece are endearing—the drama you’ve patched through! The substance-fueled anger you’ve borne! The lovin’ hook-ups you’ve facilitated. I love you, big dirty pay phone. I know we’re freaky about germs now, and the coin thing is a pain in the ass. And I know, the cell phone is ubiquitous. Great. Handy. Fits in your purse. Caters to unpoor people. And yes, it’s true, Las Vegas City Council, you probably will have fewer drug dealers across from Luv-It if you get rid of the pay phone. But all this talk of old-school character and authentic Downtown flavor? Whatever. Big, dirty pay phone, I heart you.

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Stacy J. Willis

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