I’ve mentioned before that I used to live in a really cheap apartment building. Still, though I mentioned this before, there are other aspects of this apartment that I have not yet discussed. For example, the way that the security doors were handled caused me to con the phone company. I will explain.
You see, my building had security doors. This was a good thing, considering some of the people who wandered through the neighborhood. Regardless, these security doors were shitty security doors. Really, it was just a door that locked automatically when it shut. There was no secure aspect to it beyond needing a key. In fact, the door had a big pane of glass. Real secure.
Further, the door had no keypad. It also had no call box or intercom system. That meant that if you had a guest, there was no provided way for you to buzz them in or for them to let you know that they were there so you could let them in. Mind you, this was before cell phones became quite as ubiquitous.
As such, I needed to develop a strategy for finding out when my guests had arrived. Some people just propped the door open, negating the security aspect of the door, but this could not be relied upon. Frequently, the next person through would close it. The door was often propped open, but if I expected it to be then it wouldn’t and my guest wouldn’t get in.
Of course, there was a pay phone across the street. A guest could simply pay and call me. However, none of my guests wanted to do that. Most didn’t even carry change. Thus, what we did was develop a protocol where they called collect. Mind you, I didn’t want to pay for a collect call, but they didn’t expect that I would. They expected that I would refuse the call and then go and let them in. The call was just a notification.
We must have used that system hundreds of times. We probably used that pay phone more often than anyone else, and we never paid a dime. Since the apartment was too cheap to have a normal intercom system, we made the phone company do the work for free. I’m really surprised they never figured out a way to put a stop to that. Maybe that’s one reason why there are so few pay phones anymore.