Not-So-Beautiful World

No PhoneThere's something sad and forlorn when you see the empty shell of a former payphone. Especially when it's right across the street from the University of Central Florida.

Payphones are the victim of the pervasive spread of cellular phones throughout our society. So pervasive, that according to one story written last June the number of payphones has shrunk to just 500,000 in the entire US, down from some 2 million in 2000, and 2.6 million in 1998.

During the last 15 years payphones have retreated to transportation hubs such as airports and bus stations.

The greatest victim of this shrinkage? The homeless and the poor. In spite of the low cost of phones and the pay-as-you-go plans for many of them, it's far still cheaper to drop quarters into payphones when you need to make a call, rather than buy a phone card for as little as $10. Sometimes you need to spend that $10 on something more important, like food.


On the way to pick up lunch I came across an empty beer bottle lying in the leaves behind the World of Beer. Can't say how long it's lain here or even if it came from WoB. But the fact it's in back, along with a lot of other trash that includes Styrofoam cups two days after the super bowl, well, the circumstantial evidence is pretty strong.

Killing TimeI wound up at the Pei Wei to pick up a hot lunch, something I do once/week for the variety. I'd taken the E-P2 with the 45mm along in case I saw something I wanted to practice photographing.

While I was waiting for my takeout, I sat next to another customer waiting for his takeout. He sat at one end of a bench and I the other. He didn't notice me or much else, as he was immersed in whatever was happening on his smartphone.

I fired of four exposures while balancing the camera on its side, down on my right leg. He never looked up once.

That's the problem with smartphone use these days. Smartphones are addictive, compelling many of us to turn them on and interact with them just about everywhere we are. We no longer practice talking to strangers anymore. Instead we pull ourselves into the world our smartphones provide, mentally and emotionally insulated from the rest of the world. It's safer that way I guess.

Just Holding Up the Sign

And it wasn't just at the Pei Wei. Later in the day I came across this college student holding this sign up. He wasn't waiving it, he was just a human sign holder. He was passing the time with his smartphone. Even though he had his earbuds in he still seemed to have enough presence of mind to pay attention to the world around him. At this point in time where he had turned his head he'd heard me fire the E-P2 previous to this shot. I never realized the E-P2 was that loud, but then, I wasn't trying to be particularly sneaky either.

Driving Home

I added to my carbon footprint with one more commute home. On the way home I grabbed this exposure with the 40-150mm R on the E-P2, so that I could capture the bumper-to-bumper traffic on I-4 headed east through Orlando to 436 and points beyond, such as Deltona. My side of I-4 is relatively clear.

And of course, the "Rethink Your Light Beer" billboard. All those extra fattening calories, all that excessive alcohol. Empty bottles, empty calories, empty culture, empty lives.


Olympus E-P2, M.Zuiko 45mm and 40-150mm R. Post processed in Lightroom 4 Beta.


  1. Wow. Good one, Bill. And I love the photos; thanks for sharing them together with your thoughts.


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