In the 1970s, “What’s your sign?” was deemed the “now” way to break the ice. It was understood that, depending on the answer to that question, the relationship would succeed or flounder.

I suggest that the question for now is “What’s Your Technology?”

As an old fogiette, I grew up with a telephone firmly connected to the wall. I have tried to stay current through phones that could be installed without the assistance of the telephone man (it was never a woman), to portable phones, to cell phones as big as a purse, to cell phones that fit in pockets and do everything but the laundry. (Next year!)

My repertoire of phone usage has developed past just phone calling to using it as a camera (sometimes with amazingly good results) and an alarm clock.

I also have 5 e-mail accounts: the junk one I give out to “anybody and anything”, the one for work,  my good one for family and real good friends, one for library work, and 1 on my iPad. I’m also  on Twitter and Facebook mostly as a way to cull information or inform (posting library events) or to lurk.

As plugged in as I am, I’ve noticed that not everyone has the same philosophy about communication as I do.

We originally got cell phones because most of our calls were long distance after we moved to central Ohio. I worked in a suburb of Dayton, Husband worked in Springfield, Son was in school in rural Champaign County and family was back in Toledo or Columbus or Raleigh. Getting the cells cut our phone bills in half (our calls, too since reception was best on the front porch).

Later we bundled TV, internet and phone so even the landline (40 years ago, I think the opposite would have been a marine line) allows “free” calls throughout the U.S.

The first I became aware of the difference in technological thinking was on a trip to New York City when one of my cousins who had planned to spend time with me was unable to because of a shoulder injury. Instead she called my cell phone. Constantly. She didn’t find out until later that every time she called me on my cell during that trip I was thinking, “Ka-ching! Ka-ching! Ka-ching!”

She was calling me during prime daytime hours, did not have the same provider that I do, and I was roaming. (In case you are an old fogey or fogiette too, each of those adds costs).

Fifteen years ago, when we first got the internet at home, my sister thought it was strange that people who lived in our town would send e-mail rather than call. Now it’s so common place, I don’t hear from many people. I only see from them when they send e-mails.

This morning, turning off the cell-alarm,  I noticed I had a text message. I’m not a texter – it, too costs extra. I wondered how old the text was since I hadn’t had the phone on for most of Monday. (Hey! I’m home. Call me there.)

Since I couldn’t focus yet on the screen display, I went about my upon-awakening-routine of bathroom visit, teeth brushing, dressing, pill taking, hair combing, shoe tying and glasses wearing before I knew who the message was from.

The message was from someone I had e-mailed yesterday. “Strange, why didn’t he e-mail back if that was what it was about?”

I opened his message and found “…what have I done wrong? Thnx for your time.”

Oh, Geez! What was that about? It sounded dire.

Texting isn’t easy for me. I use a flip phone with incredibly stiff keys. My arthritic thumbs work against me too.

I managed a reply after several attempts, “I don’t understand what u r talking about.” The use of texting spelling is not my norm, but that sentence took a lot of effort. As I started to flip the phone closed, I noticed another text message.

As it turned out, his message to me was too long and he had sent it in two parts. The first part included the key, “Hi Linda! Sorry to disturb u but I’m having trouble getting the minutes to your email.” He included what he thought was my email address.

He was off by an added letter.

I commiserated with another friend over breakfast and soon we were educating each other.

She agreed with me that texting on our flip phones was not efficient.

She knew about using the 1 key for punctuation and she knew what I had done to get part of my reply in all caps (I wasn’t really yelling at you, Jim.)

She didn’t know that I had called her yesterday morning and asked if I had called home or her cell. I already technology question asked and answered, so I knew to always call her cell. I then showed her how to tell that I had really called her yesterday morning.

A few hours later another friend called my cell after not getting me at home. I was driving and prefer not to drive and talk on the cell. Yes, I’ve done it, but don’t like doing it – especially in the city. (I think it’s remarkable that many of us want immediate gratification and aren’t content with leaving a message if another call may get an answer.)

Finally, within a block of home, I passed Husband in his vehicle. Soon after I settled into my recliner, the house phone rang. I was pretty sure it was Husband. Before I could tell for sure that it was, I had to find the phone.

I was right, it was Husband. I thought it strange that he called the house from his cell since normally he’d use the same-provider minutes to call my cell. We conducted our conversation, I put the phone in its cradle and returned to the recliner.

A few minutes later, the house phone rang. Again! I’ll bet…

Sure ‘nuf.

From now on, why don’t we exchange business cards that denote our communication preferences.

Linda home phone, e-mail, non-texting Johnson