A man was squatting in front of the phone rummaging through a small bag.
I wondered what was he doing to the phone.
He stood up and hang the handset back to its proper place.
Then he removed a small little metal box from the bottom left corner of the phone and put it into his bag. He then took out another box and slotted it into the same location and secured it with a key.
That's when I realized what he was doing.
He's actually staff of the telecom company in charge of collecting the coins from the public phones and also doing some maintenance.
He ran a piece of cloth through the top part of the phone to give it a wipe, twice before he took his bag and went off.
It's a rare sight indeed.
In fact, this is the first time I've actually seen a staff going round collecting the takings from a public phone.
I wondered how many public phones he has to go round collecting in a day and how much are the takings. Will it be 50 cents or $10 per public phone?
Developing an app to notify the staff when a particular public phone is filled with coins will be more efficient as he or she only needs to go and service those that notifications are received. But it does not make sense to improve on something that's becoming obsolete.
You hardly see anyone using a public phone nowadays. The chances that people run out of battery on their mobile phone and needs to use a public phone is also highly unlikely with the advent of powerbank. In case the powerbank runs of out power, one can finds free charging powerpoint at train stations or cafes like Starbucks as long as you have a charger with you. In the worst case scenario, you can borrow someone's mobile phone to make an urgent call if you need. This is definitely faster and better than searching for a public phone, which can be difficult.
In the past, public phones are everywhere. You see them in the parks, at neighborhood provision shops, in shopping malls, theaters, hotels, at void decks of flats - anywhere where there are people.
Public phones are so rare now. At one time, the telecom company was even removing them. The public phone booth stations in shopping malls are now empty or replaced with a machine.
The same goes for home phone line. Do you think there are fewer people subscribing to home phone line nowadays? Especially when everyone in the family owns a mobile phone and it's definitely easier to reach them on their mobile phone than calling home.
While low in usage, public phone is still useful for those elderly who do not carry a mobile phone. But the difficulty of finding one means they probably don't even bother to call unless it's absolutely necessary.
How long will it takes for the public phone coin box to be full?