I snapped this picture quickly because I don’t know the last time I’ve seen this.
He tried his quarter again and again. It never took, fell through and popped out with a hollow tink. But he was relentless, stood for a good five minutes, dialing a number that had been written, in pen, on the palm of his hand.
The last time I kept a number written on my flesh was probably about the same time I last used a pay phone. In high school, notes and numbers were scribbled quickly after class or next to a metal locker. And I used the pay phone in the lobby to call my mother to pick me up after recitals, tennis practice, or a late track meet.
I felt sad that this stranger couldn’t get through. Because phone numbers on the hand always mean something special, written in the heat of a moment, no paper or napkin or digital keypad to memorize the connection for you. “Call me,” it says. “Don’t forget.”
When was the last time you used a pay phone? Wrote a number on your hand?