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Friday, September 7, 2007

Returning Phone Books to Dex

posted by on September 7 at 16:06 PM

As Dan, Christopher and dozens of Slog readers have noted, phone books have become obsolete to the average computer owner and are a huge waste of paper. Last week, Slog readers encouraged me to round up as many phone books as I could, pile them into my car, and drop them off at Qwest Dex regional headquarters in Bellevue.

At first, I invited Slog readers to drop their phone books off at a central location so that I could deliver them to Dex. I constructed a massive cardboard box and left it next to the Stranger offices in a nook where homeless people often sleep. Within a day, someone ripped of the “Stranger” banner and threw it the box. The box also accumulated four Pepsi cans, a sock, two t-shirts and three trash bags from Top Food and Drugs. Only two people dropped off their phonebooks.

Dan ordered me to go door-to-door to collect unwanted phone books. I put on a nice shirt and drove to Ravenna.

The first house I visited (on 19th) had a large “God Bless America” sign leaning on the living room window, and a pro-life sticker taped above the doorbell. I swallowed, rang the doorbell, and nervously tapped my foot on the welcome mat. Nobody answered, thank God.

The next house had a large dog, so I skipped it.

After the third house, I started to get terribly bored. I rang the doorbell on another “America” house and ran away. I skipped houses. I tied my shoe slowly. I purchased some gum. After a while, I had no idea where I was. Then, I realized I had to pee. People looked up from their gardening and glared at me. I wanted to yell, “I’m not a solicitor! I’m the Public Intern! I’m here to help!”

I called Christopher Frizelle—he had written about the a large stack of phone books in the basement of his apartment, and I asked if I could come over and get them. He told me “yes” and I drove to his apartment off Broadway. Together, we piled over sixty phone books into the backseat and trunk of my Camry.


I drove to Dex headquarters (a nondescript building facing the freeway near Factoria) began unloading the phonebooks.


It was 5:30 PM, so employees were leaving the building as I dumped phone books next to the entrance. A man asked me what I was doing there and I told him, “just delivering phonebooks.” He chuckled and walked to his Lexus. Another man stood in the lobby on his cell phone, presumably calling security. I continued to add to the pile of phone books.


Books began to fall from the top of the mound, which made the pile even uglier. I waited for someone to come out and confront me, so I could tell them why I was there and what I was doing. No one came outside. The Dex people pretended the mound didn’t exist.

Steven Blum
Public Intern

RSS icon Comments


my the intern has proven to be quite photogenic...

Posted by steve | September 7, 2007 4:11 PM

Something tells me this is not the first time this experience has landed in front of Dex's door.

Posted by Mr. Poe | September 7, 2007 4:11 PM

Cool! this is pretty close to home for me so I can drop books off there whenever I get them. Thanks Steven Blum, Public Intern.

Posted by DJSauvage | September 7, 2007 4:11 PM

Is the intern on J-Date? If he likes women I'd like to take him out for a delicious dinner! He's hot!

Posted by Aliyah | September 7, 2007 4:14 PM

doesn't seem like a big enough message to the people at dex... i think we should try again!

Posted by teddy b | September 7, 2007 4:16 PM

This is hilarious.

The guys who wrote it and a parody of Skymall (the airplane catalogue) are performing at Sketch Fest this weekend.

Posted by left coast | September 7, 2007 4:25 PM

Should've come and got mine. There's a pile of about 70 books (I underestimated earlier, guessing 30-40) inside the back door of my apt building, with a big "LAST CHANCE" sign hanging over them. The pile didn't diminish in the slightest since I first saw it in the lobby.

Posted by Rose Red | September 7, 2007 4:25 PM

So you drove all around the region to save us from the environmental scourge of phone books?

Posted by tiptoe tommy | September 7, 2007 4:38 PM

Very dramatic pose in the second to last shot. ;)

Though, I am left wondering... who is it taking pictures of you performing your internly duties? Is there a Mr./Ms. "I'm dating the Public Itern, and I knew him before it too"? Or do you rope a friend into traveling with you to document your trials?

Posted by Phelix | September 7, 2007 4:42 PM

We really need to do this right after the next batch of phone books get delivered. It should be printed in The Stranger, a blurb on the cover.

It should be a big deal, like when The Portland Mercury went after those people who taped up reserved spots for the Rose Festival Parade.

Posted by JC | September 7, 2007 4:45 PM

:o I'm proud to say that two of my phonebooks were included in the pile delivered by Steven to Qwest. I'm so proud of my babies.

And next time let's have multiple drop off sites so that the Fremonters, etc can join in.

Posted by Katelyn | September 7, 2007 4:53 PM

"The Dex people pretended the mound didnít exist."
- Public Intern.

Not surprising. This is their entire business model. Crank out as many phone books as they can print to justify their expense to advertisers, dump them on people's doorsteps, and pretend they no longer exist. They cover their eyes and ears... lalalalala... and pretend that their service is a colossal waste, and environmentally inexcusable.

Posted by SDA in SEA | September 7, 2007 5:01 PM

It was Labor Day Weekend... I was at Bumbershoot. No time to drop them off. :/

Posted by Sorry | September 7, 2007 5:31 PM

I like the part where you said that Dan "ordered" you to go and collect books! Is he really a task master??? hehe. As always, great job Steven. Too bad the drop off area didn't work out.

Posted by Kristin Bell | September 7, 2007 5:55 PM

You tried to hurt me but I am stronger than that

Why is it that I was always the one to be searching?
Like a limp-dicked dalmation
Fire dog! But I donít need the fire of misunderstanding to burn
Me like a cigarette (420)
Why do you have to be so into smoking pot vs.
Hanging out with me?

Posted by Feelie D | September 7, 2007 6:03 PM

why didn't you use public transportation? can't believe you wasted all that gas...

Posted by cliff rancho | September 7, 2007 6:07 PM

@14, Dan also banned microwave popcorn in the Stranger office. That is one bossy queen.

Posted by rb | September 7, 2007 8:33 PM

Phone books aren't so bad - they just should dole them out every few years, and one to every 10 people or so. Online phone books are not complete and updated often, and make it hard to distinguish people with the same name, plus despite what you think, lots of people don't have computers or dsl.

Posted by Sall | September 7, 2007 9:14 PM

Damn interns and their sense of humor!

Posted by OR Matt | September 7, 2007 9:17 PM

Excellent Intern, Excellent!

Posted by JessB | September 7, 2007 9:52 PM

Key word here - to all the lazy fucks who harbor stacks of these, RECYCLE. Yes you, lazy fuck, rise from the Dell and carry a few phnone books to the recycle dumpster,

NOW --- lazy dog fuckers ---

There, don't it feel better

Posted by Angel | September 7, 2007 11:54 PM

God, that's so funny! Apart from the environmental concerns, these phone books are a form of harassment, because they wake you up when the drones infiltrate your building at dawn's crack and drop them in front of every door. It's also harassment when phone book sales fucks try to persuade you to advertise and use these "resources," and also sell your information to all and sundry. (I know they are responsible because Qwest misspelled my first name.) (Dex... Qwest... )

Posted by Amelia | September 8, 2007 12:34 AM

Here's an idea: ask people to leave phone books on or near Stranger distro boxes. Public Intern gets a list of them, and goes around to pick them all up. Any charitable-feeling distro folks could stick them in their vans and bring them back if they feel like it too.

Posted by Noink | September 8, 2007 12:59 PM

@17: haha. that is so funny! why would he ban microwave popcorn? the buttery movie theater smell? I never knew he was a bossy queen. I love learning new stuff about him! next on the slog: inside dan's brain: what makes him tick! hehe it would be great if they had a factoid section: little known secrets about dan savage! :)

Posted by Kristin Bell | September 9, 2007 8:13 AM

Yes -- Steven Blum -- you have arrived!!! Thanks, to your Roosevelt experience -- Ms. Remme, counseling office

Posted by Laura Remme | September 11, 2007 11:45 AM

This is way too funny. To think that the intern did not do his research and did go into the non-discript Dex Regional Headquaters to see that Dex is only one of the many tenents in the building. Ha ha. What a waste! Grow up... 60-90 phone books out of a million is not much of a statement. It looks like more people use the paper pages than the on-line pages.

Posted by Cookieworm | September 14, 2007 9:40 AM

If no one used phone books anymore then why are people spending millions/year to advertise there. Why are there 10's of millions of yearly references then?? These people that advertise in the phone book have the capability to track how it's working. They wouldn't spend all this money if no one was using it. Your not using the book has no relevancy on what others are doing.

Posted by Lee | September 14, 2007 9:43 AM

So you guys hate print advertising? hmmm. What do you think pays for the Stranger and makes it free for the public?

Posted by Brian | September 17, 2007 8:14 AM

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