Dépaysement: Drop a dime

Dépaysement translates roughly as “change of scenery.”  It translates even more roughly as “The feeling that comes from not being in one’s own country.”

I am an American in Canada.  It takes some getting used to.

Dimes

Dimes

I was telling a story to a friend, and said, “Someone dropped a dime so the auditors came out and wanted to see the books.”  My friend looked at me blankly and told me she had no idea what “drop a dime” meant.

For the record, “drop a dime” is slang for anonymously tipping off the authorities to illegal activity.  Pay telephones were the medium of choice.  Local calls cost ten cents, and could only be traced to the pay phone; there was no way from that to know exactly who placed the call.

Now I wonder if this slang was too American or if my friend is just young enough not to know about pay phones and dimes and snitching.

Where do you live?  Where did you grow up?  Roughly how old are you?  Have you ever heard this expression?  Have you ever used this expression?  Have you ever used a pay phone? Please comment below.

Thanks to The Huffington Post (believe it or not) for this.

Permanent link to this article: http://cateeales.com/2014/06/29/depaysement-drop-a-dime-2/

1 comment

    • Debbie Thune on June 29, 2014 at 6:16 PM
    • Reply

    I am 58 years old – I have heard the expression but I don’t really think I knew exactly what it meant until you wrote this blog… I know what a pay phone is, I live (and mostly grew up) in Central Washington State, I remember when they were 10c and then when they were a quarter. When my best friend moved to Tenino from Wenatchee, I used to call her on the pay phone at the market 4 blocks from my house. As I recall, I got 3 minutes for 55 cents for that long distance call. And I have used pay phones on many other occasions, but now they are almost extinct around here.

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