How I learned to Text

Posted on December 31, 2009

Soon as Richard and I pass through security at Manila airport I have to answer natures call. Some GI distress from India or my one night layover in Bangkok has followed me to the Philippines. So while I find the men's room, Richard searches for breakfast. Upon (finally) leaving the bathroom, I go in search of Richard. Not finding him in the restaurants, I head towards the gate. Reaching it the attendant urges me to get on the bus, that will carry me to the plane. "You're late," he says. Just a couple of others on the bus, so I leave and tell same attendant I need to find my friend. Not possible, we'll page him.

I pull out my phone, never mind the flight attendant has already said to switch off cell phones. Look at the keyboard, and think "I think I can do this" and am able to retrieve from my memory all the instructions from yesterday.

OK, well, let's see, the plane is leaving and I can't find Richard. I have my phone so I call him, and the connection is faulty, but he says, rather too casually for my liking he's having breakfast. "Richard, the plane is leaving, get your...." and the connection is lost. Several more tries, and one he answers, with the same casual answer he's eating breakfast. My thoughts, "What's more important, your stomach or missing our already paid for week at a beautiful beach resort, at a time of year when all the planes are full, so miss this flight and scrap it all? Get on the damned plane!" This is why some thoughts are best kept to oneself.

By this time I am already on the plane, and I get a text from Richard "I'm at Let's Chow restaurant." The text is both annoying and anxiety provoking. He's still eating, while the plane is about to fly?? Then it hits me, I can text him back. You see, I only yesterday sent my first text, after Richard coached me through it. You're probably thinking, "pathetic loser, doesn't know how to text, here it is the eve of 2010, how very 20th century." I have always resisted learning, thinking how necessary is the ability to text? My knowledge of esoteric stuff is pretty vast, for example I bet I speak more Dzongha (language of Bhutan) than all of you put together, but I'll grant you can make a good argument that this isn't even very helpful in Bhutan, where everyone speaks English.

Yesterday I sent my first 2 texts ever, (with step by step help from Richard) and after each Richard praised me as one would an infant taking his initial step or uttering a new word. Yes, I know, pathetic. Only his patience and lack of derision (at least vocal) are not pathetic, and very touching.

I pull out my phone, never mind the flight attendant has already said to switch off cell phones. Look at the keyboard, and think "I think I can do this" and am able to retrieve from my memory all the instructions from yesterday. And type "GET ON THE PLANE." Sure it takes me a full 90 seconds, and I hit the send button. It does not send. So I have to begin anew. This time I shave a full 10 seconds off the time it takes to tap out the same message. Hit the send button, and it sends. Moments later, Richard actually GETS ON THE PLANE, looking annoyed (turns out he was unable to finish his breakfast of congee and tokwa't baboy [deep fried tofu with pork]). Not many moment before the end of the first decade of the 21st century, I can text.