Call a Phone Booth
Anyone, who has ever passed a ringing phone booth and felt the impulse to answer, has a lot to get from an Internet site that is completely dedicated to that phenomenon.
It is the American Mark Thomas who has created a detailed web site (www.sorabji.com/livewire/payphones) with phone numbers to public telephones around the world. The site has pictures of many of the phones, as well as stories about the public phones.
He admits that he was inspired by the American TV comedian Dave Letterman, who often calls people at random, sometimes at pay phones. Thomas looks at his "Payphone Project" as a way to create random contact between people, and as an alomost superrealistic art experiment.
In the USA most payphones have a phone number printed on the front, which makes it easy and cheap (as opposed to Sweden) to call them. It doesn't cost more than a normal phone call.
But also other countries have payphones that can easily be called. Feel like calling the top of the Eiffel Tower? Or to a payphone at the Heathrow Airport in London? Or the train station in Melbourne, Australia? Mark Thomas' site has the numbers.
The site give thousands of numbers to payphones around the USA, among them those at Times Square in New York City, one outside the White house in Washington, one in the classic bar at the Dakota Inn in Detroit, one outside a grocery store on Hawaii, one in a bowling alley in Alaska and one at a gas station in Alabama.
In some cases it gives instructions to who normally answers: often security guards stationed closed to the exits of offical buildings and commercial facilities. Another big site with numbers to payphones is Pay Phone Directory (http://payphone.ossuary.ml.org).
But the most classic payphone-site belongs to Deuce of Clubs
(www.deuceofclubs.com/g/moj/mojave.htm). Complete with pictures and maps, he tells the fascinating story about a payphone at a desolate place in the middle of the vast Mojave desert in Nevada, which someone told him about. The payphone, with the number 760-733-9969, was installed after WW II to be used by workers at a nearby mine. But the mine is closed today, and very few people pass the phone booth.
"I started to call the number every day. I was prepared to call for years before someone would answer," Daniel tells on his site. "But on June 20th, less than a month after I started to call, about 10 in the morning, I got a busy tone. I pressed the recall button and after three minutes the phone started to ring. The I heard a real, human voice."
Mr. Daniels,, who recorded the conversation on tape, replays, on his site, the whole conversation with a lady living alone in the desert. She tells that she has to travel 8 miles [or is it 130?] just to pick up her mail and that the payphone is her only way to communicate with the world. Later
he made a pilgrimage to the desolate telephone, a trip he of course tells about in detail on his site.