24. SMS

160 characters.  

Despite being a bit of a geek, I’ve never been a huge fan of the SMS technology.  It’s probably for that reason that I’m also not a fan of Twitter as a form of conversational communication.  160 characters for a SMS just isn’t enough to convey all the nuances of communication; at least, not without resorting to horrendous abbreviations such as “2U” and the like.

I suppose I look at the SMS as a modern equivalent of a telegram.  Very short, to the point, just enough information to convey a few simple facts.  For the rest, well, wait for a letter.

Some of my friends live by SMS.  The same is true for Nook.  Don’t expect an email or phone call from these people, send them a text if you ever want to hear from them.

An SMS message is invasive.  It is nearly always instantaneous, frequently causes beeps from phones (much to the chagrin of those nearby), and the interface for most phones make it impossible to completely ignore.

For these and other reasons, Nook and I rarely communicate via SMS.  As a fallback for times when email can’t be accessed, or as a very quick update on something with a sense of urgency, but that’s it.

I promised to keep Nook informed over the status of my trip back to the city I live in, and she requested that I send her a text as I progressed.  A fair use for the technology.

The first leg of my trip took me from the city nearest Nook to a large hub airport for the airline I was travelling with.  As soon as I arrived, Nook and I had the following SMS exchange.



Because I was still on the plane, and this particular hub airport has horrible 3G coverage, email was not an option.  Plus, there was a significant delay in the SMS messages.  I suspect this had to do with the fact that since my phone was registered in another country, for the provider to be able to intercept and log all SMS messages (as required by law), my messages had a very long way to go in order to get to and from Nook.


You can see the words as clearly as I can.  I told Nook I was safe and sound, and she responds “Crazy” and that she had made her decision.

This was less than a day after she last saw me, and only a few hours after we last talked via email.  She had given no indication of being in a decision making process during our email exchange a few hours previous, so this revelation came as quite a surprise.

I was desperate to know what that decision may be - my mind was racing.  Had she waited until I was thousands of miles away to break the bad news to me?  When I was finally out of her city, and potentially out of her life?

Again, the curse of the delayed SMS messages made the next few moments unbearable.


As I responded to the statement of “Crazy...” above, her “I’ve made my decision” arrived.  The iPhone did the right thing with respect to timestamps and ordered messages correctly - it couldn’t compensate for whatever lameness the phone companies were inserting into this process.

My response to her Decision SMS was “Oh my.”

Put yourself in my shoes for a moment.  Think about all you’ve just read about on this site.  Keep in mind that we’re holding back a phenomenal amount of detail...the thousands of emails between us, and hours and hours of phone calls had created a very strong connection between the two of us.

Then remember that we just spent several of the best days of our lives together.

But...that Complication.  The reality of the situation.

I was standing in the plane now.  Eager to get off and to a place I could communicate with Nook...

As I read those words, that her decision was made - with me so far away, without her eyes staring into mine, without being able to hear her speak, hold her hand, to truly feel whatever she was about to convey...I can barely begin to describe the trepidation, the anticipation.  It was akin to being on a giant roller coaster and seeing the coaster approach the highest peak, and just...about...to....crest...

Would the safety bar hold?  Would the train stay on the tracks?  Would I survive?

160 characters.  Not enough to convey all this, not enough...