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Breaking Even: A Non-Poker Story

Here's a quick little story that happened this morning. It was an odd occurrence so I spew it out for you here:

When I exited the subway by my apartment on Friday, I searched my pocket for my cell phone. If it was still before 7pm, I'd have time to buy my week's worth of comics, but my cell phone was MIA. It took me a moment before I realized that I left it in the office attached to the charger.

Fast forward to Monday morning. I had a document that had to be served on a defendant ASAP, and when I read the address, I realized that it was less than 10 blocks from my apartment. Glad to have an excuse to go into the office a bit late, I took the papers home with me and planned to deliver them this morning.

When I arrived at the defendant's office no one was there. Service had to be made directly and personally, so using the mail slot wouldn't work. To be sure, I hunted down a pay phone and prepared to call my office for verification.

Pay phones aren't like they used to be. Back in the day (read: 1993), 25 cents was enough to call locally. Nowadays, with cell phones, I was fairly unsure of how much pay phones charged on average. In Penn Station in NYC, the pay phones have a special deal: 25 cents for 30 seconds. So, I assumed that I was spending 50 cents at least.

There were two phones side-by-side, but the homeless guy seemed to have dibs on the left one. I went to the one on the right. I picked up the phone and held it a half-inch from my ear. The phone had been burned, and seemed to have some other residue on it. But, there was a dial tone, so I dropped two quarters in the machine. One came through the return slot so I re-inserted it until it stayed.

After dialing, a pleasant female voice came on the line. "Please deposit 25 cents for the next four minutes." Okay, it must be 75 cents, or maybe I lost a quarter, but probably only one quarter. I dropped another quarter into the slot. "Please deposit 25 cents..." I hit the coin return bar, but nothing happened. I tried one more quarter. "Please deposit..." I slammed the phone down and literally hit, then shook, the piece of crap pay phone. By now, I was slightly irrate, mostly because I just wanted to make this call and get on with my day.

The homeless man must've finished calling his stock broker, so I moved onto the next phone. I was already down $1. I picked up the received and dialed again, this time waiting for that pretty voice before depositing my coins into the slot machine of communication. "Please deposit 25 cents for the next 4 minutes..." Wait one second, I thought. 25 cents for 4 minutes! Sweet! But that means that my $1 loss was on 4 spins, not just the 2 or less I had assumed. I reached into my pocket and found one solitary quarter. I popped it into the slot. "Please deposit 25 cents..." SONUVABITCH! I slammed the pay phone, still holding the received near (but not touching) my ear. I heard a clinking noise. My quarter came back to me. I popped it in once more, and this time it seemed to get stuck just inside the slot. One more stiff arm to the phone and I finally heard the vindication I sought: "Thank you."

After the uneventful call (during which I sweated finishing up in 4 minutes, lest I have to try again), I hung up. Clink! The noise sounded oddly like a coin fell into the coin return slot. I reached in, like many hobos before me, hoping to profit from the antiquated device. Sitting in there patiently was my quarter. I looked at the coin return bar and pushed it down. Clink! I couldn't believe my ears. I reached into the slot again, and there was another quarter. I closed the slot and reached for the bar. Clink clink! Again. Clink. Again. Silence. I reached into the slot and there was the rest of my bounty, two more quarters and a dime.

All in all, I got my phone call for free. The ten cents profit I consider payment for my oh so precious time. And that is why I'm quitting online poker, in favor of live payphone slots.

Until next time, make mine payphones!

posted by Jordan @ 5:54 PM,


At 8:08 PM, Blogger Iakaris aka I.A.K. said...


By which I mean, reading this I laughed out loud.

At 11:25 AM, Blogger TripJax said...

You have found your calling!

Pun intended.


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