June 25, 2010
Call me old fashioned but I can’t figure out the point of texting. Especially now that most people have phones that double as small computers so the only real difference between sending someone a text and sending someone an e-mail is that most people still tend to spell out words like "are" and "you" and "hate" in e-mails. And now that I think about it it occurs to me that there are situations where texting is better than talking. If you’re in a library, for instance, and you desperately need to find out some piece of information, such as where Abraham Lincoln gave his Gettysburg Address, you can text a friend and ask him to look it up for you without the librarians shushing you. Or if you’re in a hospital waiting room you can text someone what you’re getting without the entire room having to know that you’re finally getting that embarrassing Abraham Lincoln tattoo. Or if you’re in the middle of a movie theater you can send texts without disturbing other people who are there and who are, for some bizarre reason, watching the movie. Well, you won’t disturb them unless you hold up your phone so the tiny glowing screen distracts them. Why do people do that and, more importantly, why do they always have to sit directly in front of me? And would it kill them to take off their stovepipe hat? But that’s another story.
Because I’ve never seen the point of texting I’ve never sent a text message, until recently. I was sitting at my desk working away when suddenly I got that feeling of a wild animal crawling around in my pants, since my phone insists on vibrating when I get a text message. Some people have phones that make cool little "bloopity-bloop" noises or play Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony when they get a text message, and I’m sure that if I cared enough and got enough text messages I could figure out how to change the settings on mine, but for now it’s just on vibrate. So I flipped open my phone and saw the message, "Are you going to Joey’s tonight?" I was knocked out by the surprisingly accurate grammar, punctuation, and capitalization in the message. Honestly, most text messages would embarrass e.e. cummings.
Anyway, while I’m sure going to Joey’s would have been fun, I had no clue who Joey was or where he lived. Wrong number, as usual, so I did what any considerate, thoughtful person would do and ignored it. I get wrong numbers, and texts sent to my number by mistake, all the time and it seems like after one try the sender realizes what they did and dials the wrong number. But half an hour later I had a wild animal in my pants again, this time on the bus, and I had another text message: "Girl you better answer me." Now I’ve been mistaken for a girl several times, but I suspected this time it wasn’t really addressed to me. So I tried calling the sender. I thought it’d be easier to speak to her and set her straight. Except I got her voice mail, and I did what any thoughtful, considerate person would do and did not leave a message. A minute later I got another text: "Why are you calling me? I’m driving." I was very impressed that this young woman was taking the trouble to send such grammatically correct texts while driving. I wondered if the other drivers around her were just as impressed or if they were too busy trying to stay out of her way as she wove in and out of the wrong lane and kept her left turn signal on for three miles. But I thought I’d better put an end to it so I tried calling again, and again got voice mail. And got another text message: "Quit calling! I said I’m driving and can’t talk on the phone!" I was glad this young woman was so considerate that she wouldn’t talk on the phone while driving but would instead send text messages, which are apparently less distracting. Since I was getting nowhere I sent my first ever text message: "WRONG NUMBER". I felt bad about the capitalization and lack of punctuation, but my stop was coming up and I wanted to get this over with. Shortly before I got home I got the last text message: "It couldn’t be a wrong number unless Denise gave her phone to somebody else." I’ve been mistaken for a lot of people but this was the first time I was ever mistaken for anyone named Denise. I told my wife about all this and showed her the text messages. My wife not only took my phone but took the initiative and called this young woman and left her a message explaining that she had the wrong number, that this wasn’t Denise’s phone, and that texting while driving was not only illegal in a lot of places but pretty boneheaded as well. There are a lot of things I love about my wife, not the least of which is her directness and willingness to speak up. It’s probably why nobody in a stovepipe hat ever sits in front of her in a movie theater.