Smart Phones & Cross Words?
After reading another Hubber's fiction, I thought I’d give fiction a try. So what we have here is Pointless fiction or Meaningless fiction. Feel free to disparage, belittle or demean it to your heart’s content; believe me it won’t hurt - I had fun writing it.
SMART PHONE & CROSS WORDS
An old fool catches up with the trailing end of the future
The angry old man shuffled and pushed his way through the rabble that was Ottawa airport. He kept his carry-on baggage before him and didn’t shrink from using it as a battering ram.
He had been so looking forward to his Florida winter vacation; a break from the non-stop snow shovelling that was Canada. Normally he revelled in the breathtaking beauty of winter, but the season had been long and harsh, and wearing on his spirit.
A severe case of cabin fever, and a forecast of two more storms on the way, had forced him into becoming a Canadian snowbird.
The trouble was that he hadn’t left enough time for his escape, and the storm had hit just as he was pulling into the airport. His flight, along with 13 others, had been cancelled, and here he was, stuck with 13 other planeloads of would be vacationers. He’d considered driving back home and putting the loss of the flight fare down to his own stupidity, but one look at the whiteout had convinced him that it was safer where he was – more crowded, but safer.
“Hey, watch it you old fool.” The woman stumbled as she yelled at him. The old man snorted. It wasn’t as if it was his fault; she’d been engrossed in her cell phone. She should have been paying attention. The kids these days were all the same; all they seemed to do was stare at cell phones as they walked. They had little knowledge of the world around them. It was a wonder more of them weren’t run down or walked off cliff edges.
Only the previous day he’d seen 4 teenagers at the same table in the café. All four of them were texting on their cell phones. The eerie thing was they were texting each other. Soon Mother Nature would phase voice-boxes out of humanity’s blueprint, as being unnecessary.
Waterfalls & Washrooms
The old man was seething not just at the cancelled flight, and his own vacillations, but at the designers of the airport. He needed a pee, but there wasn’t much chance of being able to get anywhere near a pissoir in this throng. It wasn’t the washroom facilities he was angry about, it was the waterfall. The Macdonald/Cartier International Airport’s signature waterfall, comprising a wall of flowing, rippling, tinkling water, was obviously not designed by a senior.
It was doubtful if anybody over the age of 50, knowing the lack of bladder control that seniors had, would even consider the idea – especially after being cooped up in a plane for 4 or 6 hours. It was this lack of bladder control that was forcing the old man to find a seat, any seat, anywhere, immediately. Sitting was safer than standing or walking. He spotted a space on a bench that might hold half a person, and made a peeline towards it.
Presumably, the people on either side of the space had left it there out of society’s craving for privacy. It was the same need that made people leave a seat between them and anybody else in waiting rooms and movie theatres, only this time there wasn’t enough room for a seat - but there soon would be, the old man thought as he turned to sit down in the space. The two cell phone texting people on either side shimmied out of his was as he plonked down, and dragged his carryon luggage behind his legs.
Once he’d wiggled the space big enough for him, ignoring the grunts of disapproval from his neighbours, he took out the magazine he’d just snapped up – the last one on the rack, and examined the front cover. Damn it! It was Woman’s magazine. He took a deep breath; taking the rest of the day into context, it made sense. He shook his head and opened the magazine.
Ten minutes later he was feeling guilty and red in the face. Where had he been all his life? How could he have reached his age without knowing these personal things about women? He was trying to work out how to ditch the magazine without being spotted when he came across the crossword puzzle on the second last page. With relief, he folded the mag so that the title was no longer visible, took out his pen, and crossed his legs. There was still a whiteout in the world outside, but the puzzle would help to pass some of the time, and now that he was seated, his bladder problems could wait.
It wasn’t a difficult crossword; he rattled through it until he came to the clue ‘throw water on’. If he was at home he could have looked up his Chambers, or his synonym finder, but there was nothing he could do here in this melee. It could be dowse, but then again it could be quench. Apart from which, he was fed up with the puzzle.The day was getting worse.
If it was possible, he was getting more irritated. He looked at the two men beside him. They were both still texting, oblivious to the world. The young guy on his left looked like a Bieber fan. The brim of his cap was above his left ear and the crotch of his pants was down at his knees. Was the cap brim supposed to be shielding his ear lobe? No wonder they all walked in strange fashion; it was so their pants didn’t slide down any further. At least, with his pants that low down, he wouldn’t need to unzip to have a pee – quickly he changed the direction of his thoughts. He was just about to criticise the young guy’s taste, when he remembered his own teenage years, with pants so tight, that he talked in a squeaky voice.
He turned and looked at the man on his left. He appeared to be in his forties, and was dressed appropriately; in fact he seemed normal.
“What do they get to text about all the time?” The old man thought, then gasped as he realised he’d said it aloud. “I’m sorry about that, forget I said it.”
The young man straightened slightly, looked at the old man and then over at his magazine. “I take it you’re stuck?” he queried.
“Yeah!” he snorted. “What are you doing? Are you twittering or whatever it’s called.”
“It’s called ‘tweeting’, and no, I’m not. Don’t you have a cell phone?”
“Of course I do,” the old man snapped. He fished in his jacket pocket and brought out his cell phone. “It’s handy for emergencies. I needed it last week; the truck cut out on me. I think it was water in the gas. I phoned for help with this,” he brandished his phone, “and I was out in an hour.”
Mr Normal and Bieber fan gasped in unison and exchanged awed looks. Mr Normal spoke first, in a kind of breathy voice. “Do you mind if I have a look at your phone?”
Old man handed it over and watched, perplexed as Mr. Normal stroked the phone and Bieber fan leaned across so that he could caress it.
The old guy sat back, “What’s with you two? Do you have a cell phone fetish? Hand it back.”
Mr Normal held it out of reach. “This isn’t just a cell phone; it’s the latest cellphone. There are people who would kill for this. You have the key to all the knowledge in the world in this magnificent instrument, and you’re using it for emergencies? That’s an insult.” He held the smart phone up in front of the old guy’s face. “This is a computer, a camera, a phone. It works with voice or keypad. You might as well be using it as a paperweight.” Bieber fan nodded violently.
“Whatever, can it find the answer to the clue?” Mr. Normal checked the clue that the senior was looking for, and then, to the old guy’s amazement, he asked the cellphone to find it. He then handed the phone back to its owner.
O.M. was amazed, “You talked to it? Actually spoke to it, the phone, not a person on the other end.” He checked the screen and was even more amazed when he found out the phone was logged on to the internet. “You’re on ‘unlimited’, Bieber fan said. “You don’t have any roaming charges.”
All of that was Greek to the aged one. He checked the phone. “Wait a minute. Look at this, it isn’t just telling me the possibilities, its telling me that they are the answers to crossword clues. It’s even telling me what magazine or newspaper the puzzle was in. Here’s the one I’m doing. This is unbelievable.”
The old man forgot all about his impending internal tsunami and his cancelled flights as he entered the clues onto the net via the cellphone, and it gave him the answers. It was too easy. When he finished the crossword, it was with regret. “Thank you for that, guys. I just wish I had another magazine,” he thanked his neighbours. “Now I really must go to the washroom.” He rose gingerly and sighted on the washroom sign.
“You don’t need to have a printed crossword puzzle,” Mr Normal said. “Remember when you asked me if I was ‘twittering?’ I was actually doing an online crossword puzzle.”
OM sat down slowly. “You can do crosswords on the phone?”
Bieber fan butted in, “Yeah, that’s what I’m doing as well. We don’t tweet all the time. You need to take lessons on how to use your smart-phone. What you’re doing with it is just a waste of technology.”
“Show me.” OM said.
Bieber fan took the Old Man's cellphone and began the instructions.
OM was fascinated. Soon he was playing crosswords online. Not only that; he noticed when he entered the wrong letter it was red, and when he entered the correct letter it was black. It didn’t take him long to understand that all he had to do was start at the beginning of the alphabet, and enter ‘A’. If it was wrong it showed red, so he simply deleted it and entered ‘B’. All he had to do was go through the alphabet and he was bound to find the right letter.
He was a certainty to finish every crossword correctly. It was more mind-numbing than spider solitaire, and just as addictive. He forgot about the snowstorm, and sink-hole ridden Florida. He didn’t notice Mr Normal and Bieber fan standing up and giving each other high fives.
“Another convert, Dad,” Bieber fan smiled at Mr. Normal. Mr Normal laughed, “A bit late in his case, Gary” he nodded down towards OM, “but I suppose he is catching up with the tail end of the future. Let’s go, now that it’s stopped snowing, we can go and see what the progress is on the runway clearing.”
The old man noticed nothing – nothing that is until his seat became damp.
© Copyright J. MacNab 2013 All rights reserved.