NEW YORK CITY — The silver lining of canceled events due to COVID-19 may be the increased demand for video-teleconferencing, but one sector of telecommunications is being left behind. Officials from Western Electric, the foremost purveyor of coin-operated, public telephonic devices, believe that the high-sanitary responses to the worldwide virus will do irreparable harm to payphone suppliers.
“Everyone is too afraid to go outside in dense urban areas, handle filthy coins, and then press their face against a dirty headset,” lamented Gary Clymer, Director of Sales, Manufacturing, and Strange Beeps at Western Electric, speaking remotely from a payphone on 49th and 8th. “We may have to face to fact that our once-shining industry may never fully recover.” Clymer said atmosphere throughout his organization is “no longer as rosy as it was pre-virus” when consumers had fewer qualms about pushing their mouths against dried spittle in a phone booth primarily used as a urinal.
Mr. Clymer continued to expound on the conveniences of pay phones compared to “heavy bricks you have to carry around and charge yourself,” but the interview stopped short when he ran out of nickels.