Monday, November 28, 2011

Text Messages and Emails

I text with sentences made of words that can be found in the dictionary. I email with paragraphs. I like the written word; the old fashioned way of writing. I like it better than the new, abbreviated language that uses idk instead of I don’t know, and k instead of okay or ok.

However, I’m open to it – this new written language. In the scheme of things, it’s hardly on my list of worries. I’ve even succumbed to dropping a word or two; like when I say, Glad you’re fine, instead of, I’m glad you’re fine. Also, LOL (laugh out loud) and :) (a smile) have become staples in my correspondence. Hmmm…

What I do mind, though, is the possible lack of clarity and emotion in a text message or email. Misunderstandings, mix-ups, and mouth-dropping reactions due to those few words transmitted from one techy device to another, have happened to me, and probably to you, too. Sometimes the true meaning and intent is not conveyed and that’s a problem.

Once, my husband and I missed an opportunity to have dinner with another couple because I didn’t check my email a lot during that particular day, and I didn’t get the invitation. In the past, I’d told my new friend that emailing was the best way to reach me and she took it literally. She probably thought I didn’t like being burdened with answering my phone, so she didn’t call. Oops.

Another time, I cancelled an appointment because I assumed my husband was too busy to go. He’d emailed earlier saying he had meetings all day. His second email, a half hour later, said he was available for the appointment. Too late. Oops.

A texting faux pas happened when I missed seeing an old friend while visiting the city she lives in. I hadn’t seen her in eighteen years. We did exchange phone calls, but because of the long distance from our hotel to her home, my family’s touring plans, and her schedule – the meeting did not happen. Sooo… she sent me a text that lasted three or four screens, basically telling me how selfish I am; at least that’s the way I took it. Because it was a text, I don’t know if her tone was supposed to be sad or mad or something else. It felt a little biting to me and as a result of that text - I’m done with her. Big oops – hers… or maybe not an oops. Maybe that was her message to tell me that she was done with me.

...which reminds me: opening a text or an email can be risky. You think you're getting a pleasant or informative note, only to read something that can ruin your day.

I’ve noticed that people use texting and emailing as a way to avoid direct confrontation. They don’t want to see each other or to hear each other’s voices. They use short, abrupt messages to correspond. Is this taking the easy way out? What are the consequences?

We’ve come a long way from the one black phone in the house and the 5 cent stamp we used to mail our five page letter. Computers, cell phones, and social media allow quick access to anyone in the world. Are our brains wired to keep up with it all? Have our social skills suffered as a result?

What are your feelings about emailing, texting, and other social media?

PS. I'm not giving up texting or emailing. :)

Image from Microsoft Word clipart.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


To give, or not to give: that is the question.

Okay… So I’ve borrowed some Shakespeare and changed a couple words.

What do you think when you see someone begging? Do your thoughts vary based on their physical appearance (clothing, race, gender, grooming, age, etc.), their location, and/or their method of begging?


Vacationing in Atlanta, my husband and I decide to ride the MARTA from our airport hotel to downtown. I want another “vacation experience;” to see what Atlanta’s public transportation is like while getting a look at other parts of the city.

Also, I think it’ll be good for our kids. Seeing life outside of the suburbs is always an opportunity to add another page to their sheltered little lives. They’ve been to a few other large cities and found each to be different. Now we’re going to take on Atlanta. After all, they may go to college in a large city or live in one as adults.

So what should happen while riding the train…

A young man appears from somewhere, walking the isles asking for money. I watch the face of a seasoned rider to see how she will handle him. She never looks up; and not in a nervous way, but with body language that says, “Just keep on walking.”

I say to myself, “If he comes over to me, that’s what I’ll do.”

Five seconds later, he is standing over me as I sit dressed in my tourist outfit, laced with a camera bag over my shoulder.

“Got any change?” he asks in a voice that is mild, yet frightening.

I want to ignore him, but can’t manage the attitude of the seasoned woman rider. Sooo… I look up into his eyes, quickly, and shake my head softly from side to side without saying a word. He moves on.

Fortunately, he does not approach my children who are sitting in another seat. I don’t know what my fifteen year old, “I love my cushy life,” daughter would have done. She probably would have broken out in tears and called for her mommy and daddy… or fainted.

There were lots of jokes about this experience later in the day.


For at least six months, a woman has been sitting at the entrance of a shopping center near my home; the strip mall type. Her chair looks like a turned over bucket, and there appears to be a purse or backpack alongside it. Her hair is pulled back. Her attire is sweat pants and a tee shirt. Her complexion is normal and she looks well fed. If I saw her in Walmart, she’d fit right in. I’d never know that she begs on the street.

The first time I see her, my mind tells me she’s a mother; maybe even a wife with an unemployed husband – though I really have no idea. As I pull up to the intersection, the traffic light is red. I give her a few dollars. I say, “God bless you.” She responds with a smile and a sincere (or well performed), “Thank you, God bless you.”

The next time I see her, the light is green. “Good,” I think. I don’t have to make eye contact or purposely avoid her.

I travel this road often and see her a lot. I’m beginning to harden, and I don’t know why; not feeling as sympathetic. I don’t want to ride past her. When I have to be in the shopping center, I remedy the situation by leaving at another exit.

A friend and I briefly discussed this woman. We call her the Barnes and Noble Lady because the well-known book store is at the shopping center near her post. My friend’s husband thinks she should only give food to panhandlers; not money. B&N Lady has this covered though, because she leaves her food bag in a visible spot, as if to say, “I don’t need any more fast food.”

My husband, on the other hand, has a giving nature, and will hand over the occasional $5 bill. I’m more of a one or two bucks person.

I’ve heard so many opinions on this subject over the years; some strongly against giving. After reading a book in 2010, a true story titled, Same Kind of Different as Me (thank you Simone), I was fascinated to learn a few tricks of panhandlers to get people to give them money. The homeless man in the book, Denver, was a heavy drinker and used some of his money to buy alcohol. Reading his life story, though, it is no surprise that his journey was one struggle after another.

There are always going to be poor people; and just as there are among rich people, many will be addicts. Whether an addict or not, panhandling appears to be a hard and humiliating job. I don’t know if it’s right or wrong to hand over a dollar or not? Does it matter?

What do you think?

The sightings of the woman panhandler took place during the summer. I have not seen her since.
Thank you T. K.
image found here