It was pretty much a typical spring morning for the Executive Director at the Sorrento Centre. I was at my desk in Spes Bona, dealing with emails and reviewing our draft annual financial statements, talking with various staff, looking over our plans for the spring and summer.
Then, everything changed with a text message from our reception: "The telephone representative is here." I didn't have any appointments scheduled, but it is always good to meet with our friends, neighbours and business partners. So, I walked downstairs and said a cheery hello. Our friendly rep looked me square in the eye and informed me that he was here to disconnect our pay phones.
For decades, those three phones (in Richardson, Caritas and the Lower Wash House) did loyal service, dutifully collecting nickels, dimes and quarters and connecting our campus in the beautiful Shuswap with the entire world. Literally. One of the most devoted users of our pay phones is Nicholas, our international associate who has visited us every fall for a couple of decades (except, of course, during the recent pandemic). Loaded up with change, Nicholas would connect with friends, family and colleagues in Switzerland, other parts of Europe, across Canada and the United States, and even to New Zealand and Australia.
Over the last decade, Nicholas increasingly became the exception to the rule that no one uses pay phones any more. And so, we had to sadly say goodbye to our pay phones.
At a staff meeting one day after the pay phones were removed, I offered a bit of a tribute to the loyal and hardworking devices. One of our under-30 staff members asked: "how do you use pay phones?" Which prompted a lively conversation about push button pay phones, rotary dial pay phones and even trunk line phones.
The Sorrento Centre still has our land-line phones so that you can reach our office. And all of our staff, of course, carry mobile phones.
So long to our pay phones! Thanks for the service!!