Letter: Try to find pay phone

Tim Atwood writes about the adventure he embarked upon after losing his cellphone.

Dear Editor,

While performing my usual arriving home ritual: placing packages on table, coat, and keys on hooks, I realized my cellphone was no longer on my hip.

I became consumed with terror, as I raced out the door to begin retracing my route, but found nothing.

My next thought was I have to report it lost and suspend my service.

I was close to the Langley Library, so I went to the desk, explained my problem, and asked to use the phone, which was met with a no.

I explained it wasn’t a social call, I only needed to report a lost phone and suspend service.

Still no.

Walking out, it seemed odd during the planning and recent transformation of the building, no thought was given to an emergency only phone.

My next stop was in the Coast Hotel, at the Casino.

I waited patiently while the man at the desk finished his call, explained my situation, and asked to use the house phone.

He said they didn’t have a house phone. Our eyes glanced down in unison to the phone he’d just been using. Then back at each other. Then with the pacing of someone who may or may not be having a stroke, he stammered on, “ oh… that phone… no… no… you can’t use that phone… that phone doesn’t work like that…”

“You can’t just dial 9 or something and give me an outside line?” I asked.

“No… this phone doesn’t do that,” he countered.

I turned and walked away mumbling an expletive which may or may not included directions to where he could put his phone.

I stopped a casino podium, explained my situation, and asked to use the courtesy phone, only to be told they don’t have one.

“We used to have one,”he said, “but we had to take it away because people were using it for ‘other things’. There’s a pay phone at the Greyhound station, you can use that one.”

“Thanks,” I said.

Despair washed over me, as I stared through the locked door into the inky blackness, to the bus depot.

With all hope of finding my phone fading, along with daylight, I decided to check behind the building, where I stumbled on a nest of ‘Deploreables’.

I studied their habits for several minutes, before approaching what I assumed the dominate male, since the stickers on his skateboard were all still intact.

(At 56, I have no need for the things they sell, and in most cases don’t even understand the lingo).

He handled the pay phone with skills of a journeyman, stopping just long enough between calls to fish a series of phone numbers written on tiny scraps of paper from various pockets.

The whole time leaving the receiver dangling by the cord.

“Are you done?” I asked.

“Oh do you want to use the phone? Go ahead,” and he stepped aside.

It only took a couple minutes to suspend service. I hung up and said “thanks, man.”

“No problem,” he replied.

I walked into the night wondering how odd it was the most courteous person I met all day was a drug dealer behind a bus station.

Tim Attwood, Langley City

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