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Rita Howell’s Column

Texting replaces talk, gets job done

We got our first text-message Christmas card on Tuesday. It was from Morgan, who runs the press at The Panolian. It came on Rupert’s cellphone, a simple message, sincere and to the point, conveying to us that he’d enjoyed working with us for another year, and wishing us a happy holiday.

Too bad I didn’t know enough to respond with a message to him and Lindsay.

The twenty-first century has left me behind.

When others in this office are punching in Dictionary.com to look up words, I’m reaching for the red-bound Webster’s on my desk. My co-workers rely on the online phone directory. I’m still flipping through the phone book. Wikipedia? It’s handy, but I’d rather have the World Book from the shelf in our living room.

As you may have read in this column space last Friday, we’ve had a population explosion here at The Panolian. And we have kept up with the blessed events via text-messages. More accurately, those who know how to send and receive text messages have kept up and passed along information to me verbally.

When Shannon, wife of staff writer Billy, went into the hospital, her cellphone went, too. She and staff writer Emily, also expecting a baby, conducted extensive text conversations during the stages of labor that ultimately led to Jackson Davis’ arrival on October 16.

Prior to Emily’s date with the doc on December 18, arrangements had been made for her to stay in touch with the rest of the gang, with plans to hand the cellphone over to her husband Jeremy when she was too busy to do the texting herself.

On into the night the messages came to Shannon and to sports editor Myra, who used an old-fashioned land line to report to me at 10 p.m. that Bailey had arrived.

Such technology has some of us spoiled, and the others of us bewildered.

My niece spent Christmas afternoon with her cellphone in hand and her thumb working overtime. I think she and her college roommate were exchanging updates about their Christmas loot, sort of like the crawler at the bottom of the T.V. screen during ballgames, giving up-to-the-minute scores.

“Got a blu sweatr.”

“Sweet.”

“Bro got an ipod.”

“Will he let u borrow it?”

What an amazing time to live. We’re instantly connected by computer or cellphone to anyone on the planet who has a similar device.

A few days before Christmas I was in a department store in DeSoto County and needed desperately to confirm with my dad his intentions to purchase a red raincoat for my mother. He didn’t know he needed to buy her a red raincoat. But I knew he did. My cell calls to him wouldn’t go through, so to get his okay, I had to go through my sister who lives in Greenwood. Inexplicably, my calls went through to her. The sales clerk waited patiently while my sister called my dad as my cellphone beeped its message that my battery was low. Just before the phone died, my sister called.

“Get the coat.”

Yes, technology is amazing. If you remember to recharge your batteries.