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Steve Eaton: Random Idaho person is disturbed by a foot from Utah

Published: Friday, July 11 2014 4:14 p.m. MDT

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I don’t understand texting. Email is better. You do email on a computer. When you sit in front of a computer, you don’t walk out into traffic while communicating with someone.

Maybe it just bothers me that those who text seem to do it so fast and effortlessly. I feel like I have gorilla fingers and I’m trying to poke away at a dollhouse phone when I text. For every correct letter I type, I type two incorrect letters.

And yet, I am texting more and more these days because many of my friends in business and real life prefer it. In some cases, it is the only way to effectively communicate with someone who is not standing in front of you.

On the Fourth of July, while I was waiting for the fireworks to begin, I did something strange and unusual. I voluntarily sent a short text to my brother. I wasn’t even sure he’d know how to find a text on his phone.

I would like to share the texting exchange I had that night without changing a thing except the victim’s name. Before I do that, it’s important to note two things, one that I knew and one important thing I did not know:

1. I knew my brother is a Stanford-educated attorney who is now serving as a mission president for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

2. I did not know I was actually texting a random person in Idaho. It turns out the phone remembered the last time I texted my brother and it was years ago when he had a different phone number and lived in Idaho. My phone sent my text to an innocent bystander.

Me: “Happy Fourth!”

Brother: “Cool not for me I have a fractured foot and torn ligaments in my ankle and in my foot as we’ll but happy fourth.” (I could tell my brother was really hurting.)

Me: “Oh no! You and Barb have something in common. I am going to try to attach a picture of her foot taken today. How did you do that? She thinks her injury is a bad sprain.”

(Then I included a picture of my wife’s black and blue foot. This would be a disturbing thing to do no matter who I was texting but it got the attention of my new Idaho friend who was obviously expecting sympathy, not a picture of a distressed foot.)

Brother: “Who is this

“Looks like it”

(I’m guessing he was about to offer a diagnosis when he shook that idea out of his head and returned to his original question about who was texting him. He was so confused he stopped texting midsentence.)

Me: (I’m thinking my brother, despite all his education, has no idea who is texting him because he doesn’t know how to text. I’m seeing an old man with a grouchy and confused look on his face, with his pants hitched up over his navel, glaring at his phone like it is an invasive alien disease. So, I respond in a mock text tone, which I know he would understand, writing slowly and deliberately as if I were talking to a simple child who was 86 years old.)

“Hi, I’m Steve, your brother. And Barb is my wife. That is a picture of Barb’s foot. Do you remember us?”

No response

Me: “I am your favorite brother.”

Brother: “No ur not my brother”

(Suddenly I’m feeling like he is quoting from a childhood book my mother used to read to us, “Are You My Mother?” In the book a small bird tires to find its mother and ends up saying something like, “No, you are not my mother” over and over. I’m wondering if he’s on some sort of severe pain medication that makes him delusional but still capable of texting.)

Me: “We shared a room growing up.”

Brother: “Liar

“I have no bro name steve

“No I don’t remember you because I don’t know you

“What’s ur last name”

(OK, now I was really puzzled. When we were younger sometimes my brother didn’t want anyone to know I was his brother but he’s gotten over that. Is he offended that I would send him a black and blue foot on a national holiday? Nothing made sense until I figured out how to look up the phone number I was texting and finally realized I was probably not texting my brother. I sent a message explaining what I thought happened and told the texting victim I hoped his foot got better.)

Random person with an Idaho number: “K nice talkin to ya have good nights rest yo and hope ur wife gets better tell her Ralphie says – Good Luck

“It hurts”

The upside of this exchange was that I realized if this is what comes out when kids text, then it’s no wonder they can do it so fast. It also gives me some insight into a possible texting strategy when it comes to unpleasant things like damaged feet. If someone insists on texting you with something you don’t want to deal with, just write them and say:

“Liar No ur not my brother”

Apparently, people in the text world will understand and I’m not pulling ur foot.

Steve Eaton lives and works in Logan. He can be reached at Eatonnews@gmail.com

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