Frazier takes the reader back in time when pay phones formed anintegral part of people’s lives. Before people acquired mobilephones, they relied on the public booths for calling other partiesthrough an operator. The people using mobile phones were more thanthe available booths. Therefore, at times, people would queue waitingto make calls. When he moved to Montana, Frazier did not have anyfriends, and he relied on the pay phone to call his fiancée who wasliving in Florida (Frazier 60). The ability of Frazier to call hisfiancée from Montana using the pay phone, and consequently marryingher, may be the reason he has an attachment with them.
Frazier also observers that the current generation will notappreciate the presence of payphones and the role they played inpeople`s lives. For example, when he visited the same booth fromwhich his wife had answered the call, his children do not findanything amusing about it. Frazier states, “It didn`t impress themmuch. It`s just a nondescript Bell Atlantic pay phone on the cementwall of a building, by the vestibule” (Frazier 62). However, toFrazier, it remains one of the incomparable landmarks.
Frazier also feels uncomfortable when the young generation makescalls without minding those around them. They can talk in buses andpublic places, and those who are close can overhear theirconversations. Also, after making a call using a cell phone, theusers sleek them back to their pockets (Frazier 63). The cell phonesare clean, sleek and expensive. Their condition sharply contrastswith the booths in the streets that are full of graffiti, empty beercans, and cigarette butts. Furthermore, they have to withstand rain.
The status of the payphones may describe the conditions endured bythe callers occasionally. According to Frazier, it was common to hearpeople yelling after their calls timed out. Frazier asserts that,“Pay phones were always getting smashed up, the receivers shatteredto bits against the booth the coin slots jammed with chewing gum,the cords yanked out and unraveled to the floor” (Frazier 63).
Just as Frazier was accustomed to the pay phone, I cannot forget theendless trips to and from school inside the old Chevrolet buses thatwere famous for their consistent air and noise pollution (Sharfsteinand Philips). It was in these buses where I could catch up withfriends from the upper grades and share hearty banters all the wayhome. We always made fun of the diesel smoke that infiltrated throughthe perforations on the floor as the bus labored its way up a hill.As if that was not enough, we would shut the windows and the smokeoblivious of the danger it posed to our health. I recall vividly theway we would bet who could withstand the smoke for the longest timewithout coughing.
However, new vehicles that are fast and eco-friendly have replacedthe old Chevrolet buses. Also, the schools have acquired smallerbuses, and I cannot fail to notice how children calmly occupy theseats with belts fastened around across their waists. In our times,we often hopped from one chair to the other, as there were noseatbelts to confine us.
Nowadays, as I am walking home or strolling on the streets, Irarely see convivial visages behind the windows in the buses. Were itnot for the unique yellow color of the school buses, one may easilymistake the buses for the regular public means. The usual clamor thatwe made on the bus is no longer there. Although I consider itinvulnerable for students to remain unruffled in the bus, I believethe fun that we associated it with is no longer present.
Frazier, Ian."Dearly Disconnected." Mother Jones 25.1 (2000):60-63. Print.
Sharfstein,Joshua and Philips, Frances. “Dirty School Buses, Sick Kids.” TheNew York Times, 8 Jan. 2016 Web. 24 May 2016.