1 Business Proposal: Quiet Spaces to Make Private Phone Calls | The Billfold

Business Proposal: Quiet Spaces to Make Private Phone Calls

I need to bow out of work for 30 minutes so I can call a recruiter. My dilemma? Where do I make that phone call? My car used to be the go-to spot for personal phone calls, but living in New York City doesn’t afford me that luxury. So what’s a job-seeker to do?

I work in an extremely small office, where privacy doesn’t exist. I might be able to go to the basement, and cross my fingers that no one scampers down. Going outside is an option, but then I am left to deal with the elements—it’s cold, loud and I run the risk of being targeted by the homeless woman that spits on people. Do I go to the bank and hang out in the ATM vestibule? If I was a teller, I’d kick me out.

Do I buy a coffee at the shop next door and make the phone call there? I’m not a fan of making public phone calls. I usually find them annoying, distracting and no one needs to know my business—even if I am just talking about what I had for dinner last night. Clearly, I am going to have an issue talking about my strengths, weaknesses, goals, etc. in front of complete strangers.

So I had a thought. Someone should really come up with a business that provides a space to make phone calls. Much like phone banks in hotels. I would gladly pay five bucks to have five minutes of privacy. To me, being relaxed and focused would be worth it. Whether it’s talking to a prospective employer, doctor or mistress, I think there could really be a market for something like this. Bonus points for shop cats.

All that I ask is that I get a cut when the first store makes millions. In the meantime, I’ll be in the basement.


Maggie Hamilton lives in New York City and is an avid pie-baker, cat-stalker, and park-runner. Write her at maggie.hamilton.nyc@gmail.com or stalk her on her new blog: maggiejobsearches.tumblr.com


26 Comments / Post A Comment

eraserface (#1,628)

I always go into the stairwell of my office building. Never anyone there, boom privacy.

@eraserface Why would an office building invest in infrastructure that makes it easier for competitors to poach their workers?

@stuffisthings It doesn’t have to be just about having a phone call with a potential new employer.
What about calling your doctor? This was a constant complaint at my previous employer, which of course had an open plan office and no privacy. I remember running around trying to find a private area where I could talk to my doctor: I really didn’t want the rest of the office to know about Private Medical Issue. Or when my credit card number was compromised, I didn’t want everyone else to have to listen to me confirm or deny my recent spending: why, yes, that $50 charge at Sex Toys R Us was me.

ghechr (#596)

@stuffisthings The author is talking about a separate business of providing space, not that your own employer provides the space.

readyornot (#816)

My office building has several private phone rooms on the ground floor for exactly this purpose.

jfruh (#161)

If only there were a small, enclosed space, with a door on it, from which you could make phone calls. It’d have glass walls so you didn’t get claustrophopic. You could put them out on sidewalks across the city.

Jimmy Kibble (#1,603)

@jfruh this!

cryptolect (#1,135)

@jfruh And you could change in them!

@jfruh Like some kind of booth? It’d never work, I tell ya.

lizard (#2,615)

@jfruh homeless people would definitely monopolize them.

Maggie Ham (#2,571)

@jfruh Last time I saw anything that bared any resemblance to a phone booth, a homeless guy was using it to take a leak.

We have a couple of meeting rooms at work, which you are meant to book ahead but it doesn’t always work that way. You can step out into the carpark, which is usually quite, but not always.

I think co-working spaces should create mini rooms expressly for this purpose.

I’ve hidden in the supply closet before and just prayed no one need a pen for the twenty or so minutes

@Deb of last year@twitter Our supply room is also where the printers are, and is essentially one long, doorless hallway.

I use one of the (many) unused offices – because we have no managers in our location, but they won’t move us plebes into the offices, they’re all empty. The walls are thin, but it’s something.

TARDIStime (#1,633)

I’ve made calls from the bathroom after all the Ladies have gone home from work. I do not recommend this – your strengths and weaknesses echo.

selenana (#673)

Phone booth on your mobile, if there are still any left on your block. We still have a few of those right?

Megs (#644)

I’ve actually had good luck going to a nearby hotel and slipping into an unused ballroom or even a quiet lobby if they have one. You probably don’t need to do this, but I usually tell the conceirge that “I’m meeting someone down here in 15 minutes, but I have to do this phone call. Is there somewhere quiet around here where I won’t bother anyone?”

notpollyanna (#2,841)

Yes. Along these lines, I also need places to hang out in the winter when I am just waiting to go somewhere else. I leave work at 3:30pm and have dance class at 6:30pm and it isn’t worth it to go home. Sure I could go to a coffee shop, maybe a library. But what if I don’t want to spend money and I brought my dinner like I bring my lunch? The coffee shop and the library will frown on that. So I eat half my dinner early at work, half at the dance place right before class starts, and hang out in the library in between. Or try to find errands?

josefinastrummer (#1,850)

@notpollyanna Do you live in a city? You could go to a food court and eat your dinner there. I think the library is also a good option, before or after the food court.
How far do you live from home? Maybe it is worth it to go home and come back, if you end up freezing and/or spending money on food. You do have three hours. It’s not really society’s job to show you how to waste time for free.

sunflowernut (#1,638)

@notpollyanna All of the libraries I’ve ever belonged to had designated areas that you could eat at. You should see if yours does

Trilby (#191)

I don’t think renting out $5 booths for private phonecalls would be a profitable business because very few people share this writer’s sensativity about keeping private talk private. I’ve heard some really crazy-private half-conversations recently. People need to get a grip.

Maggie Ham (#2,571)

@Trilby It really is the worst, right? I don’t understand the things people talk about in public!

I really agree with his article on quitting private phone calls,Thanks for such a nice article.
Business Phones

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