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Getting the text message
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I don’t consider myself a Luddite — those folks who turn their noses up at newfangled gizmos and gadgets — even though it took me years to get a cell phone. That’s another story in itself. (Boss wanted to be able to get a hold of me whenever I went home to see the folks, and I wanted to be able to talk to him in case I thought of something during my days off).

I really don’t even have a VCR anymore — who does these days — unless you consider the pile of disassembled metal and circuits and wires in a heap alongside the wall. DVD player? That’s what the laptop is for. Hey, at least I have one of those, something to do work on while I’m on vacation. Nothing like driving 45 minutes to a cyber café from a rented house on the edge of the continent to send stories back between rounds of golf.

And yet, I’ve discovered the magic of text messaging on my well-worn cell phone. I even have Internet service on it. When you’re stuck in another long commissioners’ meeting, there’s nothing quite like making sure you ain’t missing the Braves score.

I don’t even so much as have voice mail set up on my cell phone. I looked at doing it once for about 15 seconds, got bored and said to heck with it. If that’s important, they’ll call back.

Now one of my buddies and I spend a lot of time texting each other. I really thought was something for the younger crowd — I still think stuff like myspace and facebook is, so I will not venture near those, even with friends who have such pages —but now I found it to be a convenient way to exchange thoughts, such as, “How bad is Georgia going to beat us this year?” and “Why did we sign Gailey to that huge contract extension?” to how to spice up Rotary meetings with tequila shots and Georgia-Florida updates during the Effingham County Fair pageant.

I’ve also discovered that the office can send me text messages, which is great, actually, since now I don’t have to deal with a phone call in the middle of a meeting.

My problem is since my buddy is a big-time lawyer, he’s got a fancy phone, the kind with the typewriter-like keypad, so he can whip right through a message while he’s taking a deposition or sitting in an airport somewhere. Even from Rodeo Drive when he had to go out to Beverly Hills for a case.

I’ve got this little phone that’s all beat up around the edges and to type something out on the tiny screen, I’ve got to hit the buttons the right number of times to get the right letter to pop up, like hitting 2 three times to get the letter c (look at your phone, and you’ll see what I’m talking about). Go too fast, and you’ve got to go through all the little symbols the 2 button is responsible for, too.

It takes him 10 seconds to knock out a reply. It takes me five minutes. I’ll send him something, and he will have replied before I close my phone.

But thanks to our terrific education and one of the sternest English teachers ever, Mary Ann Hinely, we do manage to communicate in correct spelling and grammar, or as close as we can make it. No abbreviations, no “R U” for “are you,” nothing like that. That was summarily drilled into our heads for several years.

One of my biggest problems is that sitting here at my desk, I get a weak signal. I get up and walk 30 feet to the front door of the office, and it’s fine. So when I do get calls on my cell when I’m at the office — like the ones I got during Game 4 of the World Series and the next day — it’s time to head to the great outdoors to talk.

Beats smoke signals and carrier pigeons, I guess. Bet they didn’t use voice mail then, either.