“I didn’t see your text,” my wife Carol tells me. This is hours after I’ve messaged her to ask what she’d like for dinner; what time she thinks she’ll be home from work; where is the cable remote, or what is our son’s Social Security Number because I’m trying to hack into his online account to see what he’s done with the check we gave him for his birthday.
People don’t make phone calls anymore, right? I see folks texting back and forth for minutes, even hours, over plans for the evening, or to give turn-by-turn directions, or just to review “how was your day?” There should be a text-to-phone-call calculator, like the one for Fahrenheit-to-Celsius, to show that 30 minutes of steady texting converts to 2 minutes of actual conversation. We’ll be sitting on the couch, watching an old episode of “ER” (“ER” has taken over the slot in Carol’s re-run viewing habits formerly filled by “Ghost Whisperer.” In a related development, “ER” has taken over the slot in my list of most annoying re-runs formerly filled by “Ghost Whisperer.”) and during the show, Carol’s phone makes some tinkly noise at erratic intervals while she goes back and forth with somebody about something. It’s like Carol is chatting with an astronaut on Mars, and it takes 13 minutes and 44 seconds for their signals to reach each other.
There are apps that convert voice to text: you speak into the phone, it converts your words into text and messages them to the recipient. Then, when the recipient chooses to review the message, he or she (or they; this process is gender-neutral) can have the text read aloud in the voice of the built-in assistant on their phone. Wouldn’t it be more efficient to just, y’know — MAKE A PHONE CALL?? But I am informed that no one under the age of 40 leaves voicemails anymore, and no one under the age of 25 uses their phones to make actual calls: it’s chat-only. My son doesn’t even call the local Indian restaurant to place a take-out order; he uses an app to select from the menu and concurrently arrange for delivery, even adding a tip for the driver so there’s no need for any conversation or interaction. I suppose it’s just a matter of time before he’ll get his chicken tikka masala via 3D printer or replicator.
(I also just figured out where all the money we gave him is going.)
Carol is a medical professional, with a demanding schedule and extensive documentation requirements, so I hate to interrupt her day with a phone call. On those occasions when I do, she’s less likely to answer with, “Hi, honey!” and (understandably) more likely to answer with “What??” Rather than distract her with the implied urgency of a call (even if I risk ruining a meal because I can’t remember the difference between mostaccioli and penne rigate), I’ll text her — figuring she can respond to the text at her convenience. But sometimes it’s not convenient for her to respond for hours — if at all — before coming home. She’ll walk in the door and ask, “What’s for dinner?” It pains me to reply, “Nothing, since you didn’t get back to me about what kind of pasta you prefer underneath the ragù.” You snooze, you lose / Don’t text, you’re vexed.
I may have discovered a way to make sure she sees my messages, and it’s an old-school solution: I’ve started placing a note in with her lunch. Ah… I see it’s working; just got a text from her: “forgot 2 take lunch u made”… Well then, screw it — I’m just going to serve Hamburger Helper tonight.
No doubt my husband would commiserate with you regarding texts interrupting our television viewing. I’ve converted to a no phone call lifestyle and don’t leave messages. Not sure if this is an improvement over the old days of phone calls. But the idea of a replicator! Now that would be progress!
Actually, replicators have been in existence for years — they’re called “leftovers.”