Did you know that New York City still has over 10,000 working pay phones? For the most part, no one really uses them. There was something about that that really struck me and I was curious if I could get random New Yorkers to use just one of them. I was even willing to pay for their call but I wanted to do it in a way where I wasn't actually handing them the money. Watch the video first to see how it went and then read the write-up for some additional photos from the day.
Using stencils and spray paint, my friend Katie Sokoler and I made a sign that would hopefully encourage people passing by to pick up the phone to call someone they love.
We got all our loose change together and covered a random pay phone in quarters.
We placed a hidden microphone above the receiver and had hidden cameras surrounding the park.
Within a few minutes, people were picking up the phone, calling their loved ones.
This little girl had never used a pay phone before and was pretty excited about the whole experience.
This guy could not stop smiling. He called his girlfriend to let her know that he was going to call her later.
Some people even brought their animals along for the ride.
This girl called her boyfriend and let him know that pay phones now cost a dollar and that "this phone call is probably the most costly phone call he's ever going to get."
This group of people got their friend's voicemail and instead of just hanging up, everyone in the group took a turn to tell her that they loved her.
By the the end of the day, all the quarters were gone. It was inspiring to see that New Yorkers aren't as jaded as you may think. Sure, we may have a tough exterior but it was cool to see that something as simple as a phone call could still make someone's day.