Friday, January 7, 2011

Boarding School

A few days ago, just after arriving in France, I got a cell phone for the first time ever. Before this, I had rarely used a cell and never sent a text. Not even once. Someone had showed me the basic mechanics of it a few years ago. To get a, you press 2. To get b, you press 22. To get c, you press 222. And so on, with the other keys to get the other letters. Nothing to it.

So I thought.

I was heading out to the airport when I received a text. Just reading it took me about half an hour. Above the number keys, there is a little square button that lets you choose up, down, left and right, should the mood strike you. To either side of that is what looks like a single button. In fact each of these buttons is really two smaller buttons, hidden mischievously under a single button pad. It seemed like the phone had no way of actually opening a message - until I realized that I was pushing the wrong spot. Finally, problem solved. Back to doing 2, 22 and 222.

So I thought.

When I was finally starting to answer Fiona's message (asking me where I was), I was about to board the plane. Okay, I thought. I will just text her: boarding. To get the first letter, I pushed 22. After the first 2, I saw the screen flash an a. After 22, I had ca, except that the "c" had a little French cedille hanging off the bottom of it. Not knowing what was going on, I pushed 2 again, and ended up with bac staring back at me. I ignored it and tried to get the rest of my word typed out. So I pushed 66 in order to get the o I needed for boarding. Instead, I saw that my bac grow into bacon. Normally, I'm never upset to see bacon, but this wasn't the time or place for it.

Next I tried to do: b o a r d i n g. Same word, but one letter at a time, with spaces in between. I forget what that gave me but it had nothing to do with getting on a plane.

A couple of hours (and no successful messages) later, I was off the plane and trying again. Eventually, I realized that it was using a version predictive typing (that most of the world probably knows about, but not me) where you just hit the numbers that have the letters you need, and it will figure out what word in the dictionary you want. Except ... since I bought it in France ... it was doing it with a French dictionary.

Luckily, by now I had totally figured out the hidden buttons, and could navigate the menus. A few minutes later, I switched the language and was able to send the message: In London, having supper. It would have been better if my breakthrough was just a little later, as I was getting on my second flight. Then I could have used my original message: boarding.


  1. You do know that as soon as I started using your phone yesterday, I switched it to regular texting right?


  2. You two crack me up. This is going to be good, having both of you as contributors!

    I was very confused when I first started reading this post, assuming that it was Fiona writing it. What? She has a phone, and she certainly knows how to use it to text. Ah, wait a minute. It is Connell, no wonder!

    Thanks for making my morning. Keep it up! :)

    Miss you guys!