Something my brother-in-law will never let me live down is that I had never heard the song “Payphone” until someone literally played it for me last year. (Never mind that he had never heard of Joan Baez…) I still don’t know any of the words except the chorus, but that popped into my head yesterday, as:

My cell phone took a dive and a smack onto the tile floor of the Denver airport. That was that. R.I.P.
My plan for the day was to take a plane to Phoenix and then a Greyhound (my first Greyhound, woo) to Tucson, where Patrick is working for the week. After the tragic death of my phone, we communicated via email and free wifi. But alas, there was a fatal flaw in this solution: Free wifi is always crap.

My plane got me to Phoenix, a wonderful TSA girl and a shuttle got me to the Greyhound station, and the Greyhound got me to Tucson. I used the station’s free wifi to email Patrick several times to tell him to pick me up there after work… But time ticked by (or at least, I assumed– something I noticed sans phone is that there are no wall clocks anymore) and I realized that none of the emails were sending. I glanced around. Through the window I could see a gas station, and being incredibly thirsty (and maybe a little unsettled by the number of men with neck tattoos waiting for the next bus) I decided to head there in search of a drink, and, you guessed it, a pay phone.

Guys, pay phones are not a thing anymore. (AND I doubt they were a thing even in 2012 when “Payphone” came out, just saying.) Both the airport and the Greyhound station had one, but it wasn’t a coin one, but one which you could use for free in the same area code or else you needed one of those long-distance minutes cards. So long story short, I asked the gas station girls if they had a phone I could use. “We don’t have public phones, but….” One girl disappeared into the break room, returning with a cordless landline. “You can just use it.”

Thank God I actually remembered Patrick’s cell number, and that thing where you have to dial “1” before the area code. So I called him, he picked me up, all was well. I told him about the Greyhound:
Me: “It was totally fine. The window had face marks, but otherwise it was clean.”
Patrick: “Hey, you basically lived the ‘Desert Bus’ game!”
Me: “And I won!!”

Honestly I did enjoy the peaceful two or so hours I spent on the bus, reading a book and watching the desert. Plus it’s always fun hanging out in different cities with Patrick. And, as I always tell myself, every experience is “grist” for a writer, and sometimes a lesson for life. Like how I learned that I should have a watch and an atlas, in preparation for the inevitable next time I break my phone….

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