Dial 808 for Hawaii
When you grow up without cable TV, you find odd and interesting ways to pass the time.
In 7th grade, my friends and I invented “the phone game”. The rules were simple. We’d find a payphone and take turns dialling collect to random numbers. The person who could get their call accepted, and talk for the longest would be proclaimed the winner. Tie breaker went to most remote, distant location.
(Having now paid phone bills myself, I honestly hope that no divorces or bankruptcies were caused by our actions. I also hope it wasn't illegal. If so, this is purely fiction. Chalk it up to childhood curiosity.)
Over time, we each developed our little books of strategies to make sure the calls connected.
Keep in mind, this was before any of us had internet access, so knowing distant area codes and valid number patterns for each were crucial. To this day, I can rhyme off digits that will connect most of the time for Honolulu.
Getting the other party to accept the charges was often more simple than you’d expect. I’d fudge the truth a little (a lot) and simply say it was the “office of the Prince of Canada” on the line to arrange details about an upcoming visit.
The tricky part (for some) was getting folks to stay on the line. I happened to be quite good at it - and missed several hockey games while stuck on a payphone in the lobby of the arena.
A call rarely lasted for a medium amount of time. It was either an immediate click or a conversation that could last upwards of an hour. Fascinating, really.
I’ve never taken a single marketing, advertising or sales class in my life - and yet I do each for a living now. I’ve read a few books, but they all feel mostly like applied common sense made complicated.
It’s not a stretch to say that everything I know about human psychology, I learned from talking into a payphone.
We’re all just normal people, many of us more lonely than we’d care to admit. We love a good story. We want to belong, yet somehow feel a little bit important than anyone else.
More than anything, we crave unordinary moments and we're willing to pay for them - even if its simply a phone call from a Prince that you never expected to receive.