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Toots, tweets and ring tones

Toots, tweets and ring tones

Posted: Thursday, July 5, 2012 8:00 pm
By: By Lisa Smartt

I’m getting old. If you don’t understand the title of this column, you’re getting old too. Feel free to come sit on my porch and we’ll talk about the old days. I like computers and telephones. They can be helpful in maintaining communication with friends and the outside world. But sometimes … sometimes even the most helpful technology can get downright out of hand, if we don’t keep watch on it.
Philip and I were on a date one Friday night. We found ourselves in a lovely little Italian restaurant and everything was going along quite well. The hostess seated a young couple in the booth nearby. Another booth was home to four older ladies. As a newspaper columnist, I’m keenly observant of my surroundings. That’s a nice way of saying I’m nosy.
At first, the young couple seemed very enamored with each other. They couldn’t have been more than 18 years old and I remember thinking, “Where’d this kid get the money to bring his gal to such a high-priced dinner?” I decided he had helped his Uncle George haul hay all summer and this was some “end of summer” celebratory ritual. I chose to be happy for them both.
The four older ladies had clearly planned this event for a while. I concocted the believable story that they had all gone to high school together. They had gathered at this quaint Italian restaurant to recount the bygone days of their youth and to thank God for the gift of friendship …  which sometimes extends well past 50 years.
OK. That’s the scene along with a few of my own made-up details thrown in. In my estimation, everyone was happy. The older ladies were having a reunion. The younger couple was nurturing a summer romance. Philip and I were nurturing a middle-age romance. And all this relational nurturing was taking place in the presence of pasta Alfredo. Obviously, all was right with the world. Enter technology, stage left.
Before the bread had even arrived, the teenage girl had her head buried in her phone screen. She chuckled aloud as she read the text and then with fingers faster than greased lightning, she typed a response, barely even looking up. The young boy was shuffling his feet under the table nervously. At one point, she did glance up in order to request butter … but then, her head was back in its tilt position as she read another series of text messages and sought to compile another series of responses. At one point, he just placed his head in his hands and pretended to look at the menu. Was this the thanks he got for working in the hay all summer? I felt sorry for him. Give this guy some extra bread sticks.
The table of older women had just gotten in the groove of their conversation when one of their cell phones rang loudly. “Hello. Yes, well, I can’t hear you very well!!! I’m in a restaurant!! What’d ya say? OK. Just call me back when you get a better connection.” 45 seconds passed. “Hello! Yes, I was wondering how much you’d charge to re-do my bathroom! You can come by on Tuesday. What? Yeah, Tuesday! Well, right now, it has this horrid wall paper and I need all new fixtures. …”
Looking back, I wish I had spoken to both parties. I wish I had kindly said to the young girl, “I don’t know the whereabouts of the people texting you. But THIS guy … he’s right HERE. Right now. Stop being somewhere ELSE and choose to be HERE.” I would have told the older woman, “When I’m on a romantic date with my husband and we’re both eating pasta Alfredo, I don’t like to hear people yelling about having their toilet replaced. Maybe it’s just me. Do us all a favor. Turn your phone off.”
I know. We live in a “connected” world. Just be cautious. Don’t let your “connections” keep you from connecting.
For more information about Lisa Smartt, visit her website, lisasmartt.com.

Published in The Messenger 7.5.12

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