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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Huh? (01/21/10)

TITLE: Communication Gap (i)
By Marlene Bonney


The small present stared gaily up at me, nestled in the confines of my expansive lap. It was my birthday and I had saved this one for last. It had arrived in today’s mail and was from my oldest daughter. I picked it up, noting that it was light enough to be--jewelry? I savored the moment, opening the present slowly. After all, a person could turn sixty only once!

Not jewelry. Instead of earrings or a bracelet, a tightly boxed new cell phone revealed itself, accompanied by a note:

“Mom. Noticed how battered your old cell phone was at my last visit. This also covers a year of free text messaging. Enjoy! Looking forward to hearing from you with your first texting experience! Love, Tiffany.”

The tiny compact unit fit in the palm of my hand. I wondered if I would be able to push the tiny key buttons just one at a time, and the instruction manual print was so small, I had to use a magnifying glass.

“It’s sweet she and her sister want to include me in their daily communications, but I still prefer to just e-mail them.”

Having learned how to manage a computer, I imagined I could meet this challenge, as well; but, I wasn’t particularly interested in doing so. Suddenly, the phone vibrated and rang an unfamiliar jazzy tone simultaneously. I apprehensively pushed the flashing mailbox icon and across the screen came two sentences of text:

“j/w hw u lk yr nu celfne. Cnt w8 2 heA ffrm u, Luv, Tif.”

“What is the world? It’s from Tiffany, I guess, but the message must have been scrambled or something,” looking at the instruction manual for guidance, “guess I’ll have to call her from the wall phone later.”

I smiled, remembering how the kids reacted the time I was mastering my first cell phone telling them, “‘thank-you-very-much’; I’d rather use the landmine phone,” the term I was sure I heard on television advertisements. To this day, they pretend to check behind the phone for hidden bombs when they visit.

“Modern technology,” I mused.

I dashed off a thank-you email to Tiffany a few minutes later, putting aside the new cell phone for later perusal.

Later, I was abruptly awakened from a snooze by a loud rendition of the Rocky movie soundtrack belting out of the new phone. Bolder this time, I very deliberately opened up the new message from the mailbox icon:

“ey mom, jst gunA d grocery stoR. Cn I pik` NEfin 4 u? Sarah.”

“What?! Those girls must be playing a trick on me,” as I quickly typed up an email to this, my youngest daughter, explaining my inability to decipher her message.

Next day, Tiffany and Sarah came over to gang up on me for not using the texting option on the gifted cell phone.

“Mom, just look at it this way: you type in the way things sound, not the way they’re spelled.”

“Huh? I don’t get it.”

“It saves time, see? It’s sort of like abbreviating,” this from Sarah.

“But, you’re talking about a blink of time to push in ‘l-o-v-e’ instead of ‘l-u-v’—it’s just one letter, for goodness sakes! Plus, communicating like this, you’ll forget how to spell things correctly.”

“That’s not the point, Mom. Think of it as sort of a game. You can have your messages translated into regular spelling online if you get stuck; but, once you get the hang of it, you can guess pretty accurately by just sounding out the numbers and letters.”

I felt the generation gap widening between us like a cracking fault line as this ridiculous conversation continued.

“I thought the issue was to have an instant conversation and to save time by using it instead of e-mailing,” my voice rising like an erupting volcano, “this would accomplish the opposite!”

The girls exchanged “the look”—you know, the one kids give each other that expresses sympathy for a parent who just doesn’t “get it.”

Nettled, I added,

“And while we’re on the subject, what is it with young people today that makes them rudely ignore the one sitting next to them while texting someone else on their cell phones?”

“Huh?” they simultaneously exclaimed, “it’s called multi-tasking, Mom. You should try it sometime.”

This, to a mother who, with phone receiver planted on her left shoulder while diapering a baby had fixed dinner at the same time—all of which, were not a game.

DEFFO nt a gme!

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This article has been read 479 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Robyn Burke01/28/10
LOL. ths was Gr8!
Linda Payne01/29/10
I'm with you on this one! It takes me forever to text so I "usu dnt" do it. Great offering, kept me laughing.
Patricia Herchenroether01/30/10
Love it! Sounds like my "Gram" lady, and...quite a bit like me. A great example of techno-phobia. :) Patty
Folakemi Emem-Akpan02/01/10
Well, I am not yet thirty so I'm considered young ehn? I however have no idea about texting the way my friends do. Anytime i need to text someone, I write my words in full. Thankfully, my husband does the same and he's the one person I comunicate most with via text.
Thanks for this humorous story. Will keep me chuckling throughout the week.
Love, Folakemi
Lollie Hofer02/01/10
So you were the fly on my wall the last cell phone my daughter got for me? Entertaining story and lots of fun to read...mainly because I AM the main character in this story and could certainly relate to it from beginning to end. Well-written, great dialogue too.
Noel Mitaxa 02/01/10
I loved this, especially the "landmine phone!" Will texting take over from crafted syntax? It's hRd to 4tell!
Jackie Wilson02/03/10
Loved your story. Very funny and timely!
Scarlett Farr02/03/10
Amen on the texting phonics. I don't get it. Great story!