City 24/7

This is a making-lemonade-out-of-lemons story, so prepare yourself to be inspired by this magical tale of innovation. No one ever uses pay phones anymore — well, no one other than drug dealers in movies about the ’90s. But they are still sitting around, taking up space, just begging to be useful in perhaps some other way. And it seems this call has been answered, via a company called City 24/7, which will be transforming 250 of Manhattan’s phone booths into touch-screen information kiosks.

These kiosks will tell you about restaurants and bars. They will let you communicate in a disaster and tell you evacuation routes. They will fold your laundry for you and tell your stepmother she needs to get a therapist who doesn’t wear sandals and socks. No. They won’t do those last ones. But they do a lot. (You can get a taste here.) And they have touch screens. And Americans love touch screens almost as much as they don’t give a shit about pay phones.

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A short pilot program has shown that New Yorkers seem keen on a) using these kiosks and b) not defacing them or otherwise smashing them to bits, so they will now be installed, several a day, all over the city. Great. I’m trying one as soon as I can, and if they get one on my block, I’m calling up AT&T to cancel my iPhone. These things are cheaper, cooler, and just more modern.

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