He's high tech; she's not. How do they communicate?
The bedroom is dark except for a tiny night light near the door. I slip out of bed slowly, bringing my feet softly to the floor so I won't wake my husband, Hank. I stop. What's that? A little blue light flashes over by Hank's dresser. What is it?Skip to next paragraph
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It looks like some sort of motion detector. My eyes adjust to the darkness. Nope, it's just Hank's Bluetooth wireless headset.
In the morning, Hank suits up for a long day of travel – pressed cotton shirt, casual dress pants, comfortable shoes.
After tucking in his shirt, he reaches for his leather belt, which is complete with carrying case for the Treo (a hand-held wireless organizing tool that Hank's lost without). The carrying case is empty. The Treo – along with the iPod and extra cellphone – is on the kitchen counter "juicing up" its battery at the "power station."
Utility belt in place, Hank gathers everything off the power station, and we head for the car. He's off to New York on a business trip this morning. I'm going along.
I slide onto the seat of the SUV next to my husband, clutching my Filofax. It holds all the information I need – on real paper. I know it's low tech compared to the high-tech equipment my husband depends on, but I think it gets the job done just fine.
A mile from home, a musical tune comes from Hank's belt. Pulling out the Treo from the case on his waist, he quickly checks the little screen. "Flight status," he explains. "We're at Gate 77. Flight's on time."
"We can get that on the departure screen at the airport," I reply.
Then I suddenly remember that I forgot to call our oldest son, Allan, to remind him about dinner next Sunday.
"I have to call Allan. Where's your cellphone?" I ask.
Hank reaches for the Bluetooth device that he has placed "just so" in the drink holder and pushes the button on the headset.
"Allan!" he barks into the thing. No response. "Allan!" He repeats. Nothing.
"Hank, just dial him," I say, searching for the three-year-old cellphone buried at the bottom of my purse.
"The Bluetooth works on voice command," he says without taking his eyes off the road.
Hank raises his voice and tries again. "Allan!"
Flipping open my cell, I push "2" and wait for a couple of seconds.
"Hi, Allan!" I say. "We just wanted to remind you about Sunday."
Hank makes a face at me. "Funny. Funny," he mouths.
At the airport, we gather our carry-ons after checking in and head for the long line at the securitycheckpoint. "TSA has a registered traveler pilot program," Hank says, beaming as he rolls his neatly packed computer bag – his so-called "tools of the trade."
"What's that?" I ask, gripping my handbag, laptop, novel, and trusty Filofax.
"It's a thumb scan, or, sometimes, it's a retina scan," he says, lining up at a little kiosk outside the security office. "It's an experimental thing for frequent fliers to get through security faster."
Hank confidently places his thumb on the scan while I wait. It beeps. He smiles. He's free to proceed, and we breeze through the short line designated for business-class ticket holders.
As soon as we're on board, Hank is in his element. "This plane," he says, pointing to the little holes next to our seat, "has power for the laptop."
Pulling out a black pouch the size of a legal envelope, Hank unzips it to reveal a plethora of iPod accessories, including an extra set of earphones.
Placing the pouch in the seat pocket in front of him, he attaches the long white cord that spills out of the pouch onto a wire connected to "special" earphones he uses on airplanes to block out noise.
"All set," Hank says. "I'm listening to a book on my iPod."
"You look ridiculous," I say, laughing. "It's like your umbilical cord."
"You should try it," he suggests. "It's much easier than balancing everything on your lap."
"Sure," I say, opening my book. "I'll keep that in mind."
When I want to talk to my husband during the flight, he has to adjust the iPod's volume control. After a few attempts, I give up.
But getting up from my seat becomes an acrobatic feat. Climbing over the dangling wire to reach the aisle, I silently mouth, "Next time, you're on the window."
Later, when we reach our hotel room, I check the size of the bathroom and closet. My husband, though, goes straight to the desk. Checking a thick black cable coming out of the wall, he approves. "Good, high-speed Internet."
Dinner is with Hank's boss and the boss's wife. The boss is armed with his BlackBerry. Hank has his Treo. Both try to look inconspicuous as they glance down every so often, but the light from the tiny PDA screens bounces off their faces.
The wife and I have a wonderful conversation by ourselves.
Back in the room, Hank checks his laptop. He has a message from his boss, who has sent an e-mail from two floors above.
I flip on the TV while Hank taps furiously on his keyboard. Giving up on TV, I reach for my own laptop and adjust the wireless network card – a "must have" from my husband.
I type, "G-o-o-d n-i-g-h-t, s-w-e-e-t- h-e-a-r-t." Then I press "send."
It takes a minute.
Hank turns around and looks at me with those big brown eyes I fell in love with 29 years ago.
"You got me," he says with a grin, closing his laptop.