Monday, May 21, 2012

Catch Me If You Can; one woman's feeble attempt to keep up with technology. Part I

I remember being on a commercial shoot in the very late eighties. I don’t remember the product, but the era it was set in was also the late eighties--the late 1880’s. We were deep in the country, haystacks abound, dirt roads and weathered clapboard barns as far as the eye could see.  The rural area was so frozen in time, you fully expected little Laura Ingalls to race across a meadow and tumble down the nearest hill in a desperate attempt to beat the ringing of the school bell.
  • ·         glorious spring day, CHECK,
  • ·         authentic locale, CHECK,
  • ·         child actors who actually remember their lines, CHECK
  • ·         A director who actually likes child actors, CHECK

So serene was the setting that by hour two the New York city tension that, like a badge of honor most of the crew had etched into their very DNA, melted away leaving in its place serene “Andy Griffin whistling and happily fishing with Opie”  expressions.

Desperately needing to make a call, I decided to forgo lunch and jumped into my car to find the nearest phone.  A half hour into the one hour break I still hadn’t found a town, much less a phonebooth.  The “I could definitely live in the country, feed the chickens and darn my farmer husband’s socks” euphoria I felt  a mere thirty minutes before had morphed into a crazed “If I pass one more dairy cow slowly chewing its cud, I am going to gouge out my left eyeball with a rusty scissor” sort of feeling.

Without touching the brakes, I spun the wheel around, leaving an angry cloud of dust in my wake and headed back to set. The cast and crew, still naively sporting their country-bumpkin, shit-eating grins, were already back at work.  I grabbed a donut from craft services and caught up with one of the actresses I  befriended earlier in the day.  I launched into a tirade about my failed phone booth seeking mission. 

“That’s why I got myself a car phone last month.” 

At that moment she was a Goddess.  I asked her if I could borrow her phone.  She shook her head no.  I was a annoyed and quite frankly hurt.  Four hours ago we had forged a friendship that I was absolutely convinced would last the test of time.

“I only use it for emergencies, it’s way too expensive.”

I was relieved. It wasn’t that she didn’t value what we had together, everyone knew money problems trumped newly blossoming friendships any day of the week.

“Well this IS an emergency; I have to call JD’s agent to check in." I played on every actor's worst fear-- missing an audition for your NEXT acting job, because you're stuck working and  incommunicado on your CURRENT  acting job!

“ I'll gladly reimburse you.” I was already dialing the number in my head.

She agreed and the first chance we got, she walked me to her car and told me to get in. I opened the passenger side door and there it was; THE HOLY GRAIL OF TECHNOLOGY in all its clumsy glory. My trembling hand respectfully lifted it out of its leather-mounted holster and dialed the number. Within seconds I was chatting away.  Ten minutes later, still flushed from the heady experience, I emerged triumphant.

“Thanks so much.  I REALLY appreciate it. How much do I owe you?”

She thought for a second and replied “Probably about eighteen dollars.”

I was understandably shocked, but as promised, I forked over the dough. I also knew at that moment, the world as I knew it, would never be the same.  I HAD to get me one of them babies as soon as we returned to civilization

And so begins the saga. . .

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Alison is the award-winning author of The Lily Lockwood Series: The Seeds of a Daisy and soon to be published The Silver Cord.

The Seeds of a Daisy is available paperback and digital download: Amazon, and iTunes


  1. I believe this object you have pictured here is referred to today as "the brick". Once the brick became the razor, we began to see pubic phones go the way of the floppy disk. Notice the pay phone sites off the Long Island parkways have turned to grassy knolls? So answer me this, if you had to use a pay phone now, would you run to CVS for a bottle of sanitizer first? ;-)

    1. OMG, Blue Sky I used to use the payphones in NYC 15 times a day. The thought of doing that now--I'm gagging.

  2. Brilliant……what will we see 20 yrs from now? So much tech….so little time!! Surprisingly, in Disney World of all places, you can still find a few pay phones!!! Interesting!!! Looking forward to part 2 :-)

    1. Georgie I remember the first time I went to Disneyland, they had a World of The Future exhibit with phones that you can actually SEE the person you were talking to. We thought NO WAY would that EVER happen. One word SKYPE. xoxox

  3. I remember my mom had one of those monstrosities. I don't know if it actually worked or just came with the used mercedes she'd bought. I think the latter.

    Did your friendship with the actress last the test of time?

  4. Hollye they were huge, but so very Jetson-esque! Actually even though I was being facetious in the blog, we did become great friends. JD and my ex both worked with her on different TV shows and she became a wonderful addition to our family.

  5. I have a similar story, but it was in the wilds of New York, looking for a booth that worked, to call Eden's agent because she paged me (same agent as JD's, I think). Eden was in the building auditioning for something or other. All broken. Finally late picking her up, I made an illegal left turn because I could NOT have her standing on the street alone. I knew it was illegal, but I didn't see the cop. So now I was late AND broke. I got a "portable" phone the next day. Remember pagers? "Our" agent once said she'd like to be buried with it so we could still page her once in a while. Hugs, Lenore

  6. Hi L When we all started getting pagers,I believe we were already in LA. But I remember going from phone booth to phone booth searching for one that worked. Now when I walk the streets of the city, I never see ANYONE using them. Hope all is well,I'll be emailing you today xoxo