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Washington Voices

Just don’t text me late for dinner

Thu., July 8, 2010

Oscar Wilde said that discontent is the first step in the progress of a man or nation. However, for me, discontent often leads to a prolonged battle with technology. If whimpering like a baby is progress, well then I’m evolving at a rapid rate.

Recently, when the numbers on my cell phone keypad grew so worn I could no longer read them, I reluctantly decided to get a new phone. The world of cell phone technology has changed since my last purchase. My once cutting-edge, sleek flip-phone is now considered a quaint antique.

The fast-talking lady at the phone kiosk showed me an array of phones that apparently can do everything from defrost chicken to launch an air assault over Cuba. She showed me a phone with a cute little slide out keyboard. “You don’t even need your computer to get and send e-mail!” she enthused.

“But I can’t type on one of those,” I said. “There’s not enough room for my fingers.”

This gave her pause. She took a deep breath and said slowly, “You just use your thumbs – you know, like when you text.”

“I don’t text,” I replied.

We looked at each other, suddenly encased in a cocoon of silence. She cleared her throat, slid the phone back into the cabinet and pulled out another. “Perhaps, you’d be interested in one of these touch screen phones.”

She launched into another spiel. I heard “rebate” and “free Internet for a month” and that was about all. Then leaning across the counter, she asked, “Do you have teenagers?”

When I admitted to having a couple of those at home, she said, “This phone comes with an unlimited texting package. You will thank me for this.”

So, after signing more forms than it took to buy our house, I walked out with a shiny blue touch screen phone. And an epic battle with progress began.

Back at my desk I placed my first call. “Is Mary available?” I asked, when a gentleman answered. “Well, she would be if you dialed the right number, but you didn’t,” he replied.

I quickly discovered the screen on my phone was slippery, making it difficult for my long fingernails to hit the right number. I tried again, this time using my fingertips instead of my nails.

“Is Mary there?”

The sound of static crackled across the line. “No,” a voice replied.

I repeated the number I’d dialed, and asked, “Am I at least calling Spokane Valley?”

“No, this is Bozeman, Montana.” I apologized and hung up. So much for smart phones – mine can’t even tell the difference between Montana and Washington.

Things got more interesting when I donned my latest accessory. Washington’s new cell phone law has forced me to embrace Bluetooth technology. Now, I’ve become one of those disturbing ear bud wearing people who walk around grocery stores tapping their ears and saying, “Hello, hello?”

Do you know you have to charge Bluetooth devices? I didn’t know this, but I found out when midway through a phone interview my wireless device quietly quit on me. Not only that, but apparently, Bluetooth gets upset if you leave your phone in your office and take a walk down the street to put money in a parking meter.

I discovered this when I returned to my desk and dialed a friend. “Hello?” I said. But I heard no reply, even though my phone said I was connected. So, I tried again. Six times – same friend. I finally took off the ear piece and picked up the phone. It’s a good thing I have patient friends.

It’s a good thing my husband has patient friends, too. One evening, as we sat down to dinner, our 18-year-old son, Alex, was tardy. Feeling irritated because I’d told him exactly what time to be home, I decided to text him.

Borrowing my husband’s nearby phone, I typed, “Seriously? Get your butt home NOW!” Only instead of sending the message to Alex, I accidently hit All.

When I saw “message sent to” and series of names flash across the screen, I knew I’d goofed. I frantically hit the cancel button. Too late.

Actually, I’m sure a lot of women were happy with how quickly their husbands arrived home that evening.

The cell phone sales lady was right, I am thankful for that unlimited texting package. My husband’s friends may not be as grateful, but progress always comes at a price.

Contact Cindy Hval at dchval@juno.com. Her previous columns are available online at spokesman.com/ columnists.

 

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