New Payphone Confuses The Kids, for a Surprising Reason

The first time I felt old was probably three decades ago. My friend's young niece picked up an old fashioned rotary phone and was totally perplexed: "How does it work?"

She was stumped by the dial pad, and for those too young too remember, it works by putting your finger in the appropriated numbered hole and turning to to right until you can't turn anymore. It was slow going; and because the number '0' took the longest time to dial, area codes in the biggest cities tended not to have them.**

It's been a long time since rotary phones were a thing, so you'd think everyone understands basically dialing technique now. Except you'd think wrong.

In Lawrence, Kansas, a pay phone was installed and a local TV station asked kids to try it out. It was a very confusing experience for them, for a reason that I'd never have thought of. The kids didn't realize they needed to take the phone off the hook before dialing. Wait a minute, what?

But it makes sense if you think about it. If someone has been raised with cell phones, and only cell phones, why would it occur to that person to take the phone from its cradle before dialing? Maybe the pay phone should come with instructions.



** New York City's main area code was '212,' a quick dial on rotary phones. Meanwhile, Alaska was given '907,' which takes much longer to dial on a rotary phone. But presumably, a lot fewer people were calling Alaska.

Photo Credit: DhscommtechatEnglish Wikipedia


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