Different Donderdag


I know before I moved that I always found the little differences between countries to be kind of interesting. I do mean little, too, down to the wall sockets. I’m starting to take all these things for granted now, as they’ve become a part of my daily life. Perhaps by the time I finally take my first trip back to the US, the little things there will start to seem different. Still, with this in mind, I thought I’d start trying to do a weekly piece looking at some of the things here that are just that slightly different from what I knew in the US, even if it’s something small like wall sockets.

I’ll save the wall sockets for a donderdag (Thursday) when I’m a bit more desperate for something to write about. Instead, today, I’m focusing on public telephones. In preparing for my parents’ upcoming visit, I had to get a mobile phone for them to use here. (Thanks to M&R for letting us use one of their old ones.) I should point out that they’re more commonly called mobile phones (mobiele telefoon) here, rather than cell phones, which is the more common term in the US, I think. See? Small differences. Anyway, as my parents and I were discussing phones, we were joking about the fact that public pay-phones seem to have all but disappeared. They’re certainly not as prevalent as they used to be.

As we were talking about them, I commented on the fact that there was one very near our house, not that I’d ever used it. Then, last week, as I was out running errands, I realized that the phone booth that used to stand on that corner was no longer there! I have no idea how long it’s been gone. Looking through some of my photos, I realize that it disappeared sometime between July and October of last year. Public phone booths are becoming an endangered species! Soon they’ll all be gone and we won’t even realize!

I wanted to get a photo of one of the few remaining phone booths and knew from a recent trip to the post office that there were still some there in Neude. When I went to get this photo yesterday, I decided to take a side trip to see if there were any in other locations that I just hadn’t noticed. I checked Janskerkhof, where the Saturday flower market is held, but no, not a pay phone in sight. Neude remains the only place I can think of nearby that has pay phones. I assume there are some over at the Central Station, but these days I wouldn’t be too sure!

So yes, there are phone booths here (three at Neude), but they’re still a bit different from the ones I remember in America. Certainly more spacious! I’m sure Clark Kent/Superman would much prefer the Dutch phone booth for making those quick changes!

All of the phone booths I’ve seen here have been the KPN green. KPN (Koninklijke PTT Nederland) is the Royal Dutch Telecom company, by the way. If you find yourself in a Dutch phone booth wanting to make a call, you’d better have a phone card. I don’t think any of them take coins anymore.