Rite of Passage: Phone savvy
For years, I had refused to buy an iPhone. But this past Saturday, in a moment of weakness, I succumbed. When you travel with teenagers who boast the latest technology, you’ll find yourself intimidated if you don’t have it, too.
Not long ago, I was driving down the road with a group of student missionaries when I mentioned that I wished we were close to a CiCi’s Pizza (the cheapest place to feed a group of hungry teenagers). One of them whipped out his iPhone, clicked on the “Fast Food” icon and in seconds told me, “There’s one on the left in 3.7 miles.”
Within minutes, I was pulling off the exit ramp so I could fill up the hungry students. As I turned into the parking lot, I told them I needed to get gas while they ate. Another student clicked on an app called “Gas Buddy” and told us the cheapest local price was at a nearby Quick Trip. He then announced the cost per gallon and store location.
Late last summer, we were picking up our students at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport. Meeting passengers there isn’t easy. You must have the correct airline, gate and terminal. Often, flights are delayed and rerouted, so we end up scrambling to find our students and their luggage.
One flight changed, and I told the students we had to go to another terminal, but I didn’t know which one. Again, a student pulled out her phone and announced the carousel where the students’ luggage would arrive. As she turned her phone around, I could see the display of the airport monitor.
Few things disappoint me more than followers who can locate information faster than their leader. So on Saturday, I decided to end that problem by purchasing iPhones for my wife and me.
We went to the Apple Store at our local mall because we knew the employees would help us set up our new toys. It didn’t take long to realize it’s easier to learn to fly an F-14. You have to sign up, register and input what seems like fourteen zillion lines of information.
When a problem came up, the clerk who was helping us said, “When you signed up, you put a retrieval question in the system–one for which only you know the answer. Yours was ‘Who was your childhood hero?’”
“Roy Rogers,” I replied.
Puzzled, our young helper asked, “Who’s Roy Rogers?”
I couldn’t believe it. I had just found the only American who doesn’t know who Roy Rogers is!
My wife, who can read my body language better than anyone else, spoke up before I exploded. “He’s a cowboy.”
I felt like grabbing my phone and Googling “Roy Rogers” to show this young man a true American icon. Besides, saying Roy Rogers was a cowboy is like saying the Mona Lisa is a painting. But I held my tongue because I knew I was at his mercy, and I wanted our phones properly set up.
Finally, the deed was done, and we entered the phase of learning to use these phones that are smarter than we are. The clerk wanted to show me how to use the little typewriter-looking-thing. Of course, I didn’t dare say “typewriter” out loud. If he didn’t recognize Roy Rogers, I was sure he had never heard of a typewriter, either. He entered more and more information, his thumbs going 90 miles an hour. They reminded me of my grandmother’s chickens pecking at feed, their heads bobbing up and down like sewing machine needles.
The young man’s thumbs pecked away at the tiny little letters. After an hour and a half, my wife and I finally left the store with our new phones.
I have only lived in the 21st Century for two days and people are already giving me iPhone tips. I can download a translator, type in any English word and get a translation in 27 different languages. I can download the Bible. I can play games I don’t understand.
But I’ll get even with these students yet. When we leave for the mission field, they have to leave their cell phones behind. Five weeks without direct access to the Internet. Five weeks of not being able to access instant information. Five weeks with an old-fashioned Bible with pages and an old-fashioned ink pen to write down what God is teaching them through His Word each day. Five weeks of listening to someone teach the Word every day.
In the end, they’ll teach me how to use my new phone. I’ll teach them how to live, love and become true followers of Jesus. And maybe along the way I’ll throw in a lesson on “The Life and Times of Roy Rogers.”
Walker Moore is president of AweStar Ministries in Tulsa, P.O. Box 470265, Tulsa 74147, e-mail [email protected], phone 800/AWESTAR (293-7827)