Did you know that some states now have “text stops” where you can pull off the highway and legally send out a text message? Because of the mayhem created on our highways by texting, it has become necessary to create these designated spots where young people can find release from their uncontrollable urge to text.

“Text Stop” signs are now welcomed with the same amount of cheerful anticipation as were “Men’s Room” or “Moody’s Diner” signs in an earlier age.

This is understandable in a culture where children emerge from the cradle with a plastic communication device strapped to their side. Children without these expensive toys are culturally deprived social pariahs. A grandchild recently amazed me with her square, flat telephone. It had a television screen on one side and she could actually see her little friend with whom she was chatting.

Some of us remember when only Dick Tracy had a cellphone. And because in 1946 nobody would know what it was, whenever Tracy talked into the thing, there was a little arrow pointing at Tracy’s wrist that said, “Two-way wrist radio.”

True, in 1929 Lee Morse sang, “No more singing in the bathtub, with those television phones,” but that was science fiction and back then probably even Marconi didn’t believe such a thing could be possible.

Today I might be the only person you know who does not have a cellphone. There are two reasons for this. One: I’m not in the socioeconomic class of people who can afford one. Two: Unless I’m pinned beneath a tree I’ve just chopped down in the forest, do I really need to call anyone?

A few years ago my wife, Marsha, The Almost Perfect Woman, got a TracFone in case she broke down in the Bog north of Rockland. She has to pay $20 to have it re-activated every three months, which is expensive for a phone that one uses only in case of emergency.

We were very excited when it rang one day while we were driving. It was the first time either one of us had received a telephone call while riding in an automobile. We will never know who called because we had not bothered to find out how to answer the thing. Like most of the electronic gizmos that are sold in America today, it is unnecessarily complicated.

Because Marsha and I don’t travel in the fast lane, you can understand why she got very excited the first time she saw a highway sign that said, “Text Stop.” I didn’t see it because I was watching the car ahead, which might make you wonder if those texting would look up long enough to see the car ahead or a sign.

One wag, who agrees that texters aren’t watching the road, posted online what you might call a shaggy dog haiku:

“Ha, I’m driving now!

/ at least I think so

// the car’s still moving

/// I can tell cause I hear it”

Is it because of this texting craze that some of our young, or even gifted middle-aged friends, now even speak and write in a shortcut language? There isn’t a day that some garble of word abbreviations and acronyms isn’t posted on my Facebook page. And those of us who first saw light in a home without a telephone, an icebox or a flush toilet are expected to read it.

This new chopped language might remind you of the way Maine humorist Tim Sample used to do microphone sound checks an hour before his show. Tim would pretend that there was a loose wire in the system so his “mike check, check, check, mike” would come through the speakers as, “… ke … eck … ch … ike,” causing the soundman to nervously fumble with all his buttons.

And fumble with my keyboard buttons is what I do every day as I type into Google: “NSA, (or something else) define.” Admit that you have never heard of the NSA and your friends smirk and ask if you’ve been living under a rock. Everyone is expected to understand acronyms and texting shortcuts. “LOL” puzzled me for a long time because in Dutch, which I read every day, it means “favor.”

So I go out of my way to write “Portland Press Herald” because there might be disadvantaged backwaters in Maine where “PPH” might be construed to mean “primary postpartum hemorrhage.” I write “Common Ground Fair” instead of “CGF” because every day, folks move here from faraway states to get away from killer bees, fire ants and governors unconcerned with the health care of children.

Remember that scene in the movie “Airplane” where the stewardess is unable to understand the passenger’s request for dinner?

Someone seated nearby said, “I speak jive” and translated.

I plan to write a TV skit on “Yes, I speak acronym.”

Two people seated on a plane will discuss the SOBs with MBAs who communicate with text talk and its handmaiden, that acronym BS. If you’d like to be in the show, please RSVP ASAP.

Happy NY.


The humble Farmer can be seen on Community Television in and near Portland and visited at his website:


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