Elena Tyrrell is the postmistress of Canyon, California. After AT&T removed the town’s pay phone, she organized an effort to buy a new one for her town, according to NPR.
NPR: “It seems the pay phone wasn’t paying its way. However, the community’s post mistress fought the good fight and we hear that once again there is a pay phone in Canyon.
NPR: “So why is it important for Canyon, California have a pay phone?”
Tyrell: “Well, we’re in a deep canyon where cellphones don’t work most of the time. And, actually, to have a pay phone is good for all kinds of safety reasons. Fires. Accidents. Or just giving directions.
NPR: “Well, I imagine nestled where you are, people could get lost pretty easily?”
Tyrell: “Yeah, they do.”
NPR: “Well you’re the postmistress, you know your way around… is that how you ended up leading the fight to get the pay phone back?”
Tyrell: “Yeah, because I was here one day and one of my customers came in and said “Elena, someone is… AT&T is out there with a screwdriver… they’re taking out the phone… and I was like, “What!?” And I came out there and asked the guy and he said it wasn’t making enough money and that they needed to have it removed.
Anyway they gave us a 3 month stay where I tried calling all the different agencies including the local police department and the neighboring city, the sheriff’s department, the fire department, because it’s a safety issue out here and they all responded to AT&T saying “Yes, we are agreeing with Elena that we need this phone here.”
And they said, “Sorry. We don’t make accommodations for things like that. We’re just taking it out. They gave us the option of either not having one or buying our own. So we’re now in the pay phone business.”
Pay phones are disappearing everywhere. Another interviewee says that California set up a program to install “public use” pay phones, but spent all the money investigating the problem. By the time Canyon (the first community to actually need a phone) applied, they had no way to pay them.