Friday, May 8, 2009

The Phone Man

This is dated. It was in the days before everyone had a cell phone. This was a time when there was a pay phone on every corner.

Mike was a fat white dough boy. He wore thick glasses and looked like a nerd. He wasn't. Mike ran 30 phones in the Wall Street area. He was King of the Phones. Worthy of great respect. He was well known and very well connected in jail. "Here's how it works." He explained to me on one long, boring afternoon. "I run dental floss down into the pay phone and stuff it. Then, after someone puts in the money and the call doesn't go through, the money backs up and I can collect it. It's got to be unwaxed dental floss and a spearmint doesn't work. It does no good to have just a couple of phones. At takes least fifteen phones to make it worthwhile. I've got thirty phones and I make a very good living. Of course once in awhile I get caught but every business has its overhead. I've got an employee collecting for me while I'm in here. The cops never find out where all my phones are. They may pick up one or two but I've got lots more. Part of the fun is designing a pattern of the operation. It has got be convenient. I'm not going all over the city to milk my machines. It has be a pattern I can remember so that I know where I set them. I place a grid over the section of the city and I make my design. I'm pretty artistic and so I design some really great ones. Some of my designs are classics. Some are birds, on owl for the wise, a hawk for the brave, and an ostrich for those who have their head in the sand. Some are flowers, a daisy not to forget, a rose for mothers, a lilac if the neighborhood smells bad. I have designed cars from outer space, cars of the future, antique cars. Sometimes I think that I really enjoy the designs better that the money I get from the phones No, that isn't true. It is the money that makes it all worthwhile. I've been doing it for twenty years, I guess. Even the cops respect me for being the best. Everyone has to take pride in his work." I wonder what he is doing now. Maybe he retired or maybe he has a better scheme.