Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Pair Them Up

Everyone needs someone to talk to
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An unfortunately common sight on big city streets in the U.S. is a homeless person talking to themselves. They often have no one else to talk to, after all. (Many also suffer from mental illnesses of some kind).

Meanwhile, as cell phones become ubiquitous and providers ever more competitive, discarded handsets are becoming an increasing environmental hazard. See link.

Take a few of the discarded handsets, and program them in pairs to speed dial each other. Hand them out free to pairs of homeless people, so these folks will have someone to talk to.

The cell phone companies could sponsor the program as a public service.

krelnik, Jan 19 2003

INFORM study on cell phone waste http://www.informinc.org/pr_wireless.php
"by 2005 about 130 million of these devices, weighing approximately 65,000 tons, will be retired annually in the US" [krelnik, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

[link]






       Do they really need to be functional? At least the talkers will look like they're talking to someone anyway if they have a cell phone. That might at least make passers-by a bit less uncomfortable. Anyone want a Nokia 5135 with a busted LCD?
half, Jan 19 2003
  

       wouldn't paper cups and a length of string be cheaper?
po, Jan 19 2003
  

       Homeless shelters are provided chargers and extra batteries, giving the folks an added incentive to pop in every so often. This gives them more visibility to the social workers who can help them out as needed.
krelnik, Jan 20 2003
  

       What happens when the homeless sell their phone so they can buy something they want? And why do you assume one homeless person wants to speak to another (over anyone else)?
Jinbish, Jan 20 2003
  

       Well, it was inspired by a standup bit by comedian Dana Gould, hence not truly intended to be practical. I guess I need to go read my own list again.
krelnik, Jan 20 2003
  

       (Yeah, I know its not too serious) - I was going to suggest giving the homeless person a phone with random local phone numers on it. They can then use cold calling as a new marketing technique for begging.
Jinbish, Jan 20 2003
  

       [half] you wrote up my idea a year before I discovered the halfbakery. About 10 years ago I would occaisionally encounter in a fast food restaurant a person who was always dicussing business-related topics with persons my co-workers and I couldn't see. If he had a cell phone with an ear bud, it would have taken me much longer to come to the conclusion that he wasn't mentally sound. Side note: one of my co-workers approached him and tried to introduce himself and join the conversation once, but was not welcomed. Apparently he liked his present company just fine.
RooneDitoff, Mar 30 2004
  
      
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