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Yesteryear’s Memories: Text from Who?






I guess it was inevitable. At first, text messages seemed like just the thing to send your friend a quick message that you’d be late, or to ask your spouse to bring home some eggs. It was a short, quick and quiet way to contact someone if they were at work and unable to talk. I was dragged kicking and screaming into the world of cellphones and instant communication, but slowly I had accepted the convenience of the things. Somehow, though, something has snuck up on us like a creepy neighbor. Text messages have turned into commercials.

One day I saw a billboard for a new restaurant. It sounded good — they had steak and seafood and also quick lunch specials. Just my kind of place, I thought. It was a bit fancy with nice landscaping and a small fountain out front. When I walked into the restaurant for lunch I anticipated a pleasant meal — never suspecting that I was about to be sold out. Converted into a prospect for buying things I don’t want and certainly don’t need. The host asked my name and told me there would be a ten minute wait, and he could text me when a table was ready. Since it was a nice day, I gave him my number so I could wait outside. As a rule, I don’t give my name in such situations so I told him my name was Fred Smith. I didn’t know what I had walked into. I got the text and went in. The food was great and the waitress was pleasant and attentive. Right after the meal, I got a text saying, “Thanks for your visit.” Hmmm. Nice touch, but I had an uneasy feeling in my stomach. Mom always told me to trust my gut. She was right.

A couple days later, I got a text message saying, “Hey Fred — we miss you — come back for a free dessert with any meal.”

Ugh. I answered with the word “STOP.”

A couple days later, I got a text telling Fred Smith that there was a great movie opening tonight and tickets were available by clicking “yes.” I didn’t. I just texted “STOP” again. Later that day Fred was offered a test drive on a new electric car. The next day, Fred Smith got opportunities to join a motivational speech, a time share in Dubai, a camping convention in Phoenix and 50% off of car insurance. Stop stop stop. I deleted the messages, blocked the numbers, and five days later still had not received any weird texts for Fred. I thought I was out of the woods.

It was several weeks later, and I wanted to go back to that restaurant. As I said, the food was great. This time, though, I was going to be smart. If the host wanted my number, I’d just keep my phone in my pocket and say that I left it at home. I went in, satisfied that I’d be safe. The host greeted me at the front and said, “Well hi, Fred. We can seat you now. Follow me!”

I was flabbergasted that the guy had remembered my “name.” I told him he must have a great memory since I had only been there one time weeks before. He laughed and admitted that he didn’t.

“We have a new system — as soon as you walked in your name popped up. Our system scans every customer’s phone when you show up. And by the way, you can get discounts and free offers from our affiliate businesses!” As if that was a good thing.

I ate my lunch, knowing that I had escaped nothing. I walked out of the restaurant waiting for a text to Fred saying thanks for visiting and offering a free dessert again. I was wrong.

All I got was a message saying, “Hey Fred – annoyed by spam text messages? We can stop them for only $9.95 per month. Just click YES. We already have your credit card and banking information!”

I threw my phone in the fountain.

The Shoppers Weekly

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