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Swarm 6: Ferry pier, Sausalito, California.

Sunday November 6th through Saturday November 13th.

Picture of payphone

This is a great location. People coming off the ferry are always going to be happy and carefree. It's a ferry. If you are someone who has had their eyeballs replaced with those of an eagle recently via a freakish and somewhat amoral surgical procedure, you can see from left to right, the payphone, the ferry, a little nub of Treasure Island, the Bay Bridge, a pirate ship, and San Francisco. The ferry schedule indicates that the ferry will be arriving at the Sausalito pier at the following times:

M-F: 8:10am, 10:45am, 12:05pm, 1:25pm, 3:05pm, 4:35pm, 6:00pm, 7:10pm, 8:20pm.
Sat-Sun: 11:10am, 12:30pm, 1:55pm, 3:20pm, 4:45pm, 6:05pm, 7:00pm.

Those would probably be good times to call. Another twist.

Saturday, November 5th, 2005.

I rang about 7 times and an awful high-pitched noise was presented in my ear. How distasteful.

The old phone was a fax number, so I changed it. The area code was off. It will be up next week with the correct area code.

3:32 Iowa time ... rang rang rang ... loud screachin painful sound ... disconnect ... not fun

The old phone was a fax number, so I changed it. The area code was off. It will be up next week with the correct area code.

I called today and asked for Dan Wildfongs ghost. I had to ask 4 times then told I was one crazy mother fucker and the guy hung up.

John Latham
Lake Charles, Louisiana

Called at 5:04 Eastern, let the phone ring, no answer.

Hi, my name is Trish. I just called the phone number at 7:55 EST. Carly answered the phone. Reported that it was becoming foggy..was quite chilly. She was on her way to a party with her friends. Thought it was hilarious that some lady from Kentucky was calling a pay phone at the ferry. She was laughing really hard because she thought I was her mom calling her back. I guess that she had just hung up the phone before I called.

a lift is like a ride. if someone gives you a lift, they are driving you somewhere. so he'd be waiting for his ride.

I called at 8:49 my time (EST) and got ahold of a nice man from New Zealand. He says the weather was pretty wet and they were waiting for a ride. Overall a nice call.

The weather in San Francisco was great today. It must be a very localized system.

i called the golden gate ferry on nov. 5 at 8:03pm from iowa. my name is donielle.

a quiet guy answered & i said, "hi. i was wondering what you like to do when you're bored." he interrupted me at the end of my sentence. i could only make out the last part "public phone." dang it! i wish i knew what he said! what a party pooper he was.

when i look back on my question, i wonder if he thought i was a perv? i meant it to be innocent. i'm bored & thought he might give a good answer. then i'd have something to do. ah well.

i called the golden gate ferry on nov. 5 at 8:08pm from iowa. this was second call since the first guy hung up on me. my name is donielle.

a very cheery & very friendly lady named maria answered. i asked if it was a public phone, so she would know that i knew she's a stranger. she said yes & i asked if she had a minute & told her to bear w/ me because i'm losing my voice. she told me she was about to get on the ferry & it's leaving in 5 minutes. i told her about the website & she actually talked to me for a minute or two. she thought the site sounded really neat. she told me her name & that she was from new york. she said she was w/ her friend john who is visiting from england. he was also apparently laughing at her for talking to me. i told her my name & that i was from iowa. i told her i'd never been to where she was & she hadn't been to iowa. we talk a bit more about the weather & such and then she really had to go. i told her my website. she said it was a cute name (turtlekisses.com). she told me her name again & said that it was really nice to meet me & she'd definitely check my site :)

Monday, November 7th, 2005.

Busy the first time I called at 5:20pm 11/7 so naturally I continued to call since surely there must be someone there. Two minutes later, it rang until it disconnected me, so whoever was on the phone must have fled right after their emergency phonecall.

Tuesday, November 8th, 2005.

busy the first time and no one picked up the second time

Wednesday, November 9th, 2005.

are we back to a fax machine?

I don't think so. My assumption here is that the number still works, it just audibly transfers out to a carrier/fax/whatever after n rings instead of transferring out to a message. As has been pointed out before, companies don't make any money on incoming calls, so their allegiance to this type of customer service continues to wane.

called wednesday 1:50 no answer

Tried calling 11/9/05 at 12:35 PST. No answer.. After a certain amount of rings.. maybe ten.. I get the fax machine. I called twice.

Busy on the first try... Busy on the second try... Busy on the third try... - I'm beginning to see a pattern here.

6:01pm EST, got fax tones!

6:03pm, tried again!....fax tones after 12 rings.

Man, I need to get a fax machine. I know this number worked, I talked to someone Friday. Puzzled.

Mark of Sorabji and the Payphone Project checks in concerning the "fax signal" heard after ten rings:

The fax signal is not necessarily an indication that the phone rejects incoming calls. That modem is a built-in mechanism to prevent people from letting it ring for hours, thereby ruining the equipment. Many phones go to the internal modem on the first ring, but if it goes to the modem on the 10th ring then it's possible that the phone rang for those initial rings ... it just depends on how the phone's programmed. I know that soon after I posted the numbers for the top of the Empire State Building those phones stopped taking incoming calls. So maybe the phone companies are wise to this sort of thing now.

This clears things up. I wonder if the modem will connect.

Called wednesday 3:55PM PST. Some dude answers "waasssuuuuuuppp!!!" I told him I had never heard anyone answer a phone in this way before, and that he must a very original comedic individual. He asked me if that was sarcastic and trailed off about something to a nearby friend. I replied with "YES, yes it was." He then replied with a 'retard' voice saying "OKAAY!" and proceeded to hang up. I'm pretty sure he was drunk. Wow, that was totally worth it. I'm calling again later. lol.

Well, that's better than a fax machine, maybe.

My wife is a physician. She was on call last night. Pager started getting calls after we went to bed. This is expected, but more annoying than usual given that the caller wasn't giving actual phone numbers and calling repeatedly. These calls were spaced apart just long enough to fall back to sleep.

While I think the payphone thing is amusing, if you or anyone submitting to this site ever pranks a doctor's pager, I hope that Karma will repay the prank with a terminal illness.

I guess you didn't get enough sleep to realize that your email is rather unwelcome, and the eye-for-a-sleepness-night thingie at the end just puts it over the top. You remind me of the cop that pulled me over after I entered a subdivision and said "if it had been raining, or there was a bicyclist, there might have been an accident." Specifically, the authoritative thing and the "let's assume the worst about you and yours" pulled-out-of-thin-air bullshit scenario. But "thanks" for your whatever-that-was.

16:14 - Just tried to call twice, from Los Angeles. Rang many times, went to high-pitched tone. Doesn't sound like a fax tone though. Just in case, I'm gonna try to send a fax, since I'm at work! :)

16.21 - Fax machine tried to handshake with the tone, but did not connect.

I called at 4:45 PCT and it rang several times, and then a loud beeeeeeeeeep!

I talked to Gene, a very friendly Sausalito native. He says the town is very nice, and he's not planning to take the ferry any time soon.

thats an annoying beep. not fax. must be the sound of the line terminating after so many rings..

just called and got a busy signal

6:59 Pacific - - - Called several times, fax machine noise, 3 times its been busy, no answer yet...

I just came across this site on Digg.com and I think it's so brilliant. I like talking to people you don't know and have had some really interesting conversations with people who have dialled the wrong number. Cool, might have to try a call myself. Seeya

Justin in Western Australia

Ahhh! The Phoneswarm Digg reference. Also a Phoneswarm Metafilter reference.

please please please consider the following..... Rss feeds for your site! think feed burner will work

And have two swarms a week, something international? most towns across the western world are usually twinned with another, maybe find a payphone there and "swarm it" Or just have a USA and a International Swarm every week! With skype catching on could be an idea!

Cheers nick

RSS: Someone has already created an RSS feed of just the number, which I will get to tomorrow most likely, but you're probably talking about the entire site. It's coming. Two swarms a week/international - thought about it, too much work right now. Perhaps when things are automated I'll re-consider it.

2221 :: Ring, ring ring, no answer

7:35pm 11/9/05 some guy answered after about 15 rings.. conversation went like this.

PP: Hello
me: Hello
PP: This is a payphone
me: i know this is a payphone are you waiting for a ferry?
PP: this is a payphone, try again(disconnected call)

That type of guy again? I'm going to call the collective him Mr. Archetype.

called at 8:35pm arizona time on nov 9 after posted on digg now the phone is BUSY ... lol

Hey an idea... Could you leave the phone numbers in the archives for the older payphones? When noone is answering at the main number it might be fun to call back some of the other places. You know, for those of us with nothing else to do! :-)


I'm actually specifically avoiding that, because I like the "get in/get out" modus operandi. It has a lot do with the Mojave Phone Booth and what happened when everyone piled onto one number. I should probably explain that in the FAQ. There are a bunch of links on the left of this page that have tons of payphones, just a crazy amount of payphones with numbers and photos and such.

Also, Mat from Spy Ware Kills was kind enough to put up a Phoneswarm gif, so I am returning the favor here.

11pm est. Busy busy busy

Tried calling 5 times all were busy

Called it and a guy answered. He said it had been ringing all day. He thought it was strange that people were calling a phone in the middle of nowhere. I explained the web sight to him and told him where I was calling from (KY). He was cool...

guy: hello
me: hey
guy: who you trying to reach
me: noone in particular
guy: you know this is a payphone in the middle of nowhere -- no one is here
me: you answered didn't you
guy: yes
me: what's up?
guy: nothing, why are you calling a payphone
me: i was told to
guy: by who?
me: some website said to call it
guy: a web site told you to call this number?
me: yep -
guy: cool
me: yep
guy: where you calling from?
me: TN
guy: wow
me: so are you by the ocean?
guy: yes
me: cool
guy: yea, this is weird
me: yea, well i better go so someone else can call
guy: ok
me: see ya
guy: bye


23:25 local time, called using Skype from Lima, Peru and got the (Busy #10486) message.

The plan was to play The Rocks and the Water by Mark Knopfler...

My girlfriend and I called the phone at about 8:23 PST, and a Norwegian named Annette answered the phone. She said she had just gotten off the ferry from San Francisco, and said we had just made her night. It boggled her mind that we said we were in Mississippi.

Brian and Emily
Oxford, MS

Excellent! Also glad to see that the ferry schedule theory is sticking. No more ferries today, though.

i'd be quite funny to do this with a sound board of like arnold or something

Phoneswarm is getting a fair number of conceptualists today.

just called about 5 times over 20 minutes. 5th times someone picked up. i said to the guy i can see you and apparently that bothered the person and they hung up. then i saw them run away. i wasn't lying i was 30 feet away. lol.

Well, I would have been creeped out by that as well.

this is RICH! I will be very happy to provide to you payphones here in the Houston/Galveston area. Well, Sh**, perhaps I will even try to get the numbers of some fo the payphones at the Johnson Space Center. Wouldn't that be great to phoneswarm NASA, and even perhaps get a real live astronaut on the line. maybe random cllers can ask them about that shuttle foam, or give their ideas on the next generation spacecraft. In spite of cell phones, there seem to be plenty of payphones around.

I assume you mean the current (Bay Area) number will be retired on Saturday, November TWELVE, as Sunday is the thirteenth. You may want to change that on your main page.

It reads "Saturday November 12th." That is also TWELVE. Twelve variants ... catch 'em!

1:43 am eastern and no answer. ::{ And here I was gonna answer the phone in japanese. maybe tomorrow.

11:58pm ... Wondered if anyone was hanging around the phone in the middle of the night... no answer... even if they were I hope I creeped them out! haha. From Utah.

Thursday, November TEN, 2005.

Hiya, I called at 08:30 GMT from England. After a while it was picked up and I heard fax-like tones.

I called around 1:30 AM PST. No one answered. I was planning on telling them to look for the red light for the next clue.

I called your number at 2:50am PST and got a fax tone.

I came here after reading about the page on digg. I called at 6:56 local time (an ungodly 4:56 PST). It rang for nearly one minute, and then I got the fax/modem signal. If anyone had answered, I was planning on asking if the clowns and the margarita machine had arrived yet.

I hate clowns.

I tried calling from Japan at about 5:30 AM Pacific time. Got the fax machine-esque noise. No one ought to be there that early anyway! :D

I tried calling the number today, but it was busy. - Jack

called this morning 715am MST from Idaho Falls guy answered i launched into story of website right away for a couple minutes i was rambling, guy was just quiet, after a pause he said 'so what do you want?' i said really i just wanted to participate, but if he could i'd appreciate it if he could visit my site IdahoFallz.com, he said 'you're a what?' i said it again and he told me to fo it was a public phone and hu. gotta try that again 8^)

I called on Nov 10 9:49 Eastern Standard Time. No one answered. Was cut off by funky tones. Then disconnected.

Called 7:39 PST, from Wilmington, Delaware. Busy signal. Called again, still busy. Damnit, get off the phone! :-) I'll try again later.

phoned reversed charges...damn! nobody these days wants to pay for a chat? wots the world comming to? aye? wot?

I called a bunch of times, sometimes getting the modem sound, sometimes just no answer, but finally got someone at 8:30 pst and I talked to a guy named mike. He was visiting from somewhere out of the country and was on his way back to his hotel. He was pretty surprised I was from Wisconsin, and very confused as to why I was calling a pay phone. I explained phoneswarm to him. I also linked phoneswarm on my blog.


11:16 PST - I called again and got another guy. I asked him if the ferry was there yet, and he said not yet. I said very urgently, "hold the ferry for me when it comes, I'm leaving right now!" He asked me where I was and which ferry I wanted (apparently there is more than one that docks there). I told him I didn't care which one, that I just wanted to ride the ferry because I'm in Wisconsin at the moment. He said he needed to make a call, and hung up.

I called at around 1:18 central time, and i talked to a musician named Peter, who plays guitar and stuff on the dock during the week, he was pretty amazed at the amount of people calling.

I called and got: go to cajiandpeter.com thank you

I called and got: (recorded msg) my goodness this phone this is so great the phone is ringing off the hook how are you doing uh i have a website you can see us down here at the fairy landing kgandpeter(dot)com cajiandpeter(dot)com i m the only performing artist with a guitar in this wholetown on your know for the cajiandpeter(dot)co9m thank you for calling (hung up)

Okay, someone's holding up a taped message to the receiver? I just called, no one answered. There is a cajiandpeter.com, there's nothing there, though. Wait ... here we go. Caji is the dog, Peter is the guy who's been answering the phone ... they're a duet. Looking at the photos, I actually saw the guy when I was getting the number. You can see the payphone in the background just right of the brim of his hat. Kind of a loud guy, in the way that street performers are, because they want to draw more people in.

Called at 3pm Eastern time. Busy the first two times, rang about 8 times and FINALLY (for me) a strange sounding young guy picked up and said "hello???" I said "hey...what's up" and he handed the phone off to what appeared to be his mother...she spoke in a British accent and said "hello?" and i said "hey who is this" and she began to yell at me "this is a PAY PHONE...it costs...it costs...to use this...so i think you have the wrong NUMBER!!" geez what the hell was that about... Naturally I called back a few times, but it was busy. Maybe that's why she was so mad...because she's been fielding calls all day instead of taking her ferry!

HAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Well, at least she's looking out for everyone. Remember that: it costs money to call a payphone. I get 500 free minutes a month, don't know what she's talking about. She is from another age. Go back to dinosaur land grandma.

I called and told some brit guy Im looking for someone name Mike Hunt ... and asked him to yell "Has anybody seen Mike Hunt", because hes probably around there somewhere! OMG, He fell for it ... I heard him yelling something about "Mike Hunt", then a girl laughing loudly and then he hung up. ROTFLMAOPIMP.

The British, they're not like you and me. Maybe the last two calls came in reverse order -- first the British guy gets his chain yanked, then mom gets all huffy on the phone. It makes more sense that way.

Called at 12:25pm today and talked to Peter the guitar player. Him and his dog hang there and he gave me his site that has a cam on the ferry dock but I misheard it from him. So if you get the correct site name please post it. Nice guy, real excited and stuff.

Cam? I am thinking that there is not a cam there. There's this, but that's down the road a little ways.

busy signal :(

I like the idea of phoneswarm. When I was a manager at Steak 'n' Shake, I knew the phone number of a payphone at Denny's next door. We would call the number all the time. My only wish or desire for the site is to find the archive phone numbers. It would be nice to call one of the older sites while the new one is busy.


Nope, no old phone numbers. Everything is transitory except matter itself and the undeniable appeal of Participaction.

12:48 I just talked to peter for about 15 minutes. He and his dog have a website at cajiandpeter.com, but it's currently down. He also told me to check out tvbn.com, which is some Christian thing. I've actually met this guy. He and his dog perform every day except Tuesday on the dock in Sausalito.

2:00 PST...Peter answered. He's got quite the personality. He sounded busy, so I only was able to chat with him for a couple minutes. He passed me off to Margie, who is also performing by the pier. She's really cool too and loved to hear that people were giving the "phone area" so much attention. She was amazed that there was a message board up talking all about their conversations. I tried the website that she gave me (different than Peter's sites), but it doesn't work, so I must've misheard her. If you read the board Margie, post your site.


i also got this peter guy same story. i hope he leaves soon hes not any fun to talk to at all. all he wants to do is give out his website

11/10/05 5:42pm EST Peter Romanowski answered. He says he is the most important man there.

That's impressive. At least he's modest.

damn, just tried it from Ukraine, but skype+modem+ukraine doesn't work too well. Will try again.

I called at 2:48 PST. I was holding office hours for the ASUC (I'm a Cal student)and yeah, I was bored. SO I decided to call. A man answered first, I think Peter, and he was surprised they finally got a girl caller. He passed the phone off to Margie. Her website is gothope.us and she's planning to put up pictures of Peter and his dog. So yeah, it was pretty cool talking to strangers.

Called three times, got the fax twice before ROGER answered with a gleeful tone. Sounded like a 12-year old 26-year old. Did my usual locale-describing info hunt. He said the area was rich with garbage facilities, like a super over-active anti-litter campaign, that, he had to admit, was working except for on cigarette butts. He also mentioned that it smelled of WOOD, and that lots of folks were walking just out of earshot of the phone, so a $35 payphone ringer-amplifier would probably bring in a lot of potential answerers.

- Rob

I called from Vermont at 7:10 PM Eastern time on Thursday the 10th. It rang about 6 or 7 times and then I was met with a very high-pitched tone, which continuted until I hung up. Do you happen to know what this means?



I'm not sure. Perhaps it signals the return of the hit TV series "Quark" starring Richard Benjamin as a futuristic garbageman.

tried calling around 4:30 for a good 5 mintues, just rang and rang and occasionally busy, ill try calling a lot more when my free long distance kicks in.

called at 9 eastern rang for about 10 or 15 rings then got a very high pitched tone.

Called four times around 10:10 PM EST, hoping to catch people getting off the 7:10 ferry arrival. Three times no answer, once busy.

-- Adam

It still works. This is good fun. Just make sure you call later in the day so the ferry staff don't pick it up - They are used to it ringing like crazy. The guy ran over to the phone, so it must ring pretty loudly! Called today (11th Nov) from Australia, it would be at about 10:15PM San Francisco time. It rang, someone ran over and answered. Sweet.

"Hey there, who is this?"
"This is David, where are you?"
"Ummm hang on..." (Kid gets dad)
"Hi, whereabouts are you?"
"We're at the pier."
"The pier? What pier, where?"
"The pier in San Francisco."
"So you're in the state of...?"
"... in America, right?"
"Yep. I think you've got the wrong number." (Laughing)
"I think I do too. I'm calling from Australia.... but you have a good evening mate."
"You too... uh... mate...?" (Laughing)

Good job phoneswarm, looking forward to your next phone.

I just found this site from cockeyed and I'm amazed, and an insomniac in New York so I thought I'd try and call (it's 3:00am here). No answer but I'd probably have better luck tomorrow, being Friday and all. Greatest idea ever. Really. And yeah, that guy with the wife as a doctor? Lamest.

Friday, November 11th, 2005.

phoned @ 1:30am Mountain time... obviously no answer.. and yeah crazy tone after 10 or so rings

btw, how often do the phone#s change?

Every week, theoretically.

This guy just said he was at the deparment of defense. He was trying to be creative, but that's all he said. Then he hung up.

5:49 PM CT Just kept ringing.

Friday, November 11th, 2005.

Yesterday, I wrote a short accordion song to greet whoever picked up with. I didn't really try it out then, but I did today. Here's the results in an IM conversation with someone else (I'm RVGLJJ).

[09:07:32] RVGLJJ: OMG
[09:07:51] TheArcticBanana: :O
[09:08:54] RVGLJJ: trying again
[09:10:19] TheArcticBanana: No answer.
[09:10:20] TheArcticBanana: :(
[09:10:32] RVGLJJ: Whoa
[09:10:35] RVGLJJ: I got the beep early this time
[09:10:37] RVGLJJ: 15 seconds into the call
[09:11:32] RVGLJJ: one last time
[09:12:01] RVGLJJ: And nothing

There you go. A full transcript of our attempts.

Called just after midnight. Connected and got the "buzz." It's my understanding that you are unable to call certain payphones, sometimes during certain hours. This was done to prevent/discourage drug dealing activity. The tone is not a fax, modem or data, it's an annoying deterrant to prevent you, the druggie, from calling the payphone again. I linked to your site via the graphic. Awesome site, awesome concept.


Hello Jeff, PhoneSwarm is great, awesome job! Anyway, I found this webcam on Earthcam.com, and it points to THREE payphones in Times Square. They seem to be in front of the TGIFridays. It would be great to get the numbers to one, or all three, of the payphones. I notice a lot of people like to lean on the payphones during all hours of the night. I don't live in NYC, else I'd get the numbers for you, but I'm sure there are other ways. Thank you for taking the time to read this!

Mark W.

Someone will grab those numbers. Who will grab them first? It can be a contest.

i call the number at 10:17 mountain time from montana and got nothing

Saturday, November 12th, 2005.

I completed a call to the Ferry place, a foreign-sounding man answered the phone and I asked him if he was a USC or Cal fan, and when he replied that he was a Cal fan I told him he was the man and USC does not deserve to be number 1 in the BCS. He laughed, I don't think he had a clue what I was talking about.