Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Dropped a dime

A reader posted a comment on yesterday's post, inquiring about whether I had dropped a dime on a certain asphaltium potholius.

Dropped a dime. Let's see how many readers of the Director's Desk can explain the origin of that phrase.

18 comments:

ARRRRG!!!! said...

Pirates don't drop a dime. We drop doubloons.

Anonymous said...

I SMELL A RAT.

LoupGarou said...

I believe that phrase comes from the time when pay phones existed and only cost a dime to use. Meaning you were calling someone to give information or snitch on someone.

Anonymous said...

Make the call, from when a dime would buy you a pay phone call.

Anonymous said...

Drop a dime = make a phone call. Usually to "rat someone out"

Anonymous said...

Comes from using a pay phone to call in a crime. Back in the day it cost a dime. When I started we always carried a dime so we could call the police station if we needed when we walked our beat. Did not have hand held radios back then.

Car 54

Anonymous said...

Called it in? (Trish)

Vintage1947 said...

"Drop a dime." Insert a ten cent coin into a pay telephone. Particularly for the purpose of offering information to the police.

Steve said...

Believe it or not, at one time in the past, there were telephones in public places where anyone could make a phone call simply by inserting coins for the privelege. The first I can remember required a dime for a local call, but they may have been less expensive at some point prior to that. When you put the coin in the slot, you could hear it drop, and each coin made a different tone so the operator at the switchboard on the other end of the wire (yes, they had wires and real people had to make the connection to complete your call) knew that you had inserted the correct amount of money. Since calling the police (or in this case public works) was a local call, the phrase "dropped a dime" came from making a call to report something (tell on someone, or snitch).

Anonymous said...

I am guessing called on the payphone to the city public works department.

Tom Casady said...

Here is the place where one would drop a dime.

Anonymous said...

All the cool kids use "Dime someone out," without even realizing the origin of the phrase.

Anonymous said...

I often use that city website to report potholes, etc. That's a great service and I notice that the city is pretty prompt in attending to the problem. Thank you.

Steve said...

I haven't used the app, but I have used the online feature to "drop a dime" on potholes, illegally parked cars, viscious dogs, etc. It works better than a phone call ever did before, and is much simpler.

Anonymous said...

Chief,
I bought an interesting gadget to diagnose an AC problem in my apartment last year. Harbor Freight sells a couple different models of infrared thermometers. Here is a link to one of them http://www.harborfreight.com/non-contact-laser-thermometer-96451.html
I bought a cheaper one that worked great for less than$25 but I lent it to a friend and I haven't seen either of them since. I would think it would be a great tool for locating grow houses and Meth labs, especially in this weather. If a citizen "dropped a dime" on a suspicious hot house could that be used as "probable cause" for further investigation?

Gun Nut

Steve said...

Gun Nut:

If someone called, it might work. I believe I read somewhere that the courts ruled against simply using infrared cameras (on helicopters for example) to look for grow operations was a violation of the reasonable search and seizure rules (even drug sniffing dogs detecting odors from the street). Personally, I don't have a problem with either. If you're doing something illegal, you should be caught. If you can't hide it well enough to avoid detection without an actual entry by police, that's your problem.

Tom Casady said...

Gun Nut,

That's a pretty complex legal question, but in a nutshell: the Fourth Amendment is a limit on searches by the government, not your neighbor or your Mom. If you conduct a "search" with your thermometer, and provide information to the police,It is probably fair game for us to use that information, even if we could not have done so on our own. on the other hand if we ask you to do it, you would be acting as our agent, and it would be no different than if we had done it ourselves. Your question has a few other nuances, though: is pointing a laser thermometer at a house a search? Is such a device an accurate indicator of interior temperature? If so, does a warm interior constitue evidence of illegal activity? Lots of issues here....

Anonymous said...

My dad, the late Paul Wm. Jacobson, always carried dimes in his pocket of his uniform when he was a beat cop (and likely beyond). I think this was a requirement of the officers' inspection, before their shift began. He taught me to always carry change for the phone, in case of an emergency. Alot of what he learned in the service of the city of Lincoln was passed on at home, for which I am grateful. Thank you to all who serve and have served in this noble capacity.