French Pay Telephones.

I have just read that France has mercifully gotten rid of the majority of their public pay phones. This might sound like a tragedy but it is as necessary as was the French Revolution. In fact, the telephones deserve to be guillotined as much as they did the corrupt nobles of the 1790’s.

Here is my experience from 20 years ago when the bulky French phones were as common as baguettes:

There is a diabolical weapon about, a creation directly out of a James Bond novel. It’s purpose is to extract money out of people while in the process also cruelly driving them mad. The thought held by the creator of this fiendish plan is to spread it amongst the French populace to make them as miserable as possible. It is working. They are already found throughout this entire European country. They are- FRENCH PUBLIC TELEPHONES!!!!!!

French public telephones, that is the telephones inside the country of France (let’s hope that none of them escape from there to other countries; that would be as bad as Mad Cow Disease running rampant again.) They are devices that look like normal pay phones, but in reality are converted Las Vegas slot machines. They are incredibly efficient at the mechanical process of taking your money, but also seem to be not so good at the actual telephoning part of the job.

It looks as though there is not only a gambling operation going on here, but like any good, crooked con scheme there is a card game going on as well. Most European countries have some coin operated telephone booths for those who do not have telephone cards, but in France the coin ones are hidden away in places that only a French Boy Scout with a compass could find. The telephone user, even if he wants to make only one call the entire time he is in France must buy a telephone card (Ah, the wonderfulness of having a monopoly!).

The cards are based on a credit system. The French and we unsuspecting tourists must buy so many telephone credits to use the machine. The credits are used up in the duration of each call. These credits kick off quicker than the Dow Jones average on Black Friday. This is how the French learned their famous habit of speaking fast- they have to to to out race the clicking phone digits.

It has been rumored that the notorious LePen himself was one of the designers of the telephone system for it is obviously designed to drive foreigners berserk and bring them to destitution. Information in English on answering machines is given not only in an indecipherable accent but in rapid fire English. (and they charge you also for these informational calls too, even when the answering machine takes 5 minutes to begin to function). It’s sad to see just how deeply Kafkaesque card shark-like habits have infiltrated into French institutions.

As a last token of pure meanness, the machines also, when not completing a call or when there is a busy signal, proceed to end the call while still charging you.) Numbers given on French phones are decipherable only to Berlitz French teachers. What makes it especially rough is that the numbers between 60 and 100 are stated in a worded format that would take the mental gymnastics of a Jean Paul Sartre to understand. To add even more confusion to the situation the phones flash signs up at you, sometimes in English, the best being “PATIENCE – RETURN RECEIVER”, which means you have to start the whole process of dialing over again.

Retaliatory aggression against snooty pay telephones has reached epidemic heights- so much so that they now have warning buzzers inside that connect to the local police stations who send out officers when someone begins banging violently on a machine. One can see which things in France have priority since the penalty for murdering a French telephone is higher than for murdering a French citizen.

Speaking of which, anyone wishing to contact me about what is written here can reach me care of :

Strasbourg Prison,
Cell 211,
Strasbourg, France

I would also appreciate greatly if readers could send me presents of cookies, soap, pictures of scantily clad women and any other contraband that can make it past the guards.

Thank you!

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