Greetings, citizens of the 21st Century!  I have just arrived from Earth Year 1994. You say time-travel is not possible. See this device in my hand? It is called an iPhone. It has enabled me to escape the Dark Ages of the 20th Century to find a new home in your advanced civilization. 

I could not have made this journey alone. I came here with my faithful companion, Siri. She is a descendant of the Hal 9000 computer which went haywire on its way to Jupiter during 2001: A Space Odyssey. Siri is tiny compared to Hal. She also has a sweet womanly voice, quite the opposite of Hal’s creepy male tone. Siri even has a sense of humor, although she doesn’t do knock-knock jokes. 

Otherwise, there are few tasks that Siri cannot perform. When I’m lost, Siri gets me there. She will call or text any person of my choosing. She suggests restaurants and other local attractions. I’ve only known her a few weeks but we’ve already become good friends. Only once did Siri deny a request. She claimed she was too busy and that I should try again later. My mind raced – who else was Siri seeing?

Apart from introducing me to my new best friend, my iPhone can receive and send e-mails. It can search the Internet. Wait, there’s more? It’s a camera – video and still. It gives me the date, time, weather conditions and stock market results. The entertainment options are almost endless.

I know, I know, these miracles are commonplace in your society. But imagine the conditions I faced only a few weeks ago. I was investigating a matter in Downstate Illinois using phone books to find witnesses and maps to get to their homes. I stopped at gas stations to ask directions. Farmers marveled at my primitive tools and used their iPhones to help me reach my next destination. 

So, as much as I have resisted most advances in technology (big screen TV’s are an exception) I broke down and bought an iPhone. It wasn’t my first time-travel experience. Back in 1986, I brought my electric typewriter into a shop for repairs. The proprietor had white hair like the mad scientist from Back to the Future. 

“I can fix this,” he said with a wild gleam in his eye, “Or, I can help you enter the 20th Century.” Suddenly, I found myself in 1995, as I walked out with my first personal computer. It didn’t have an actual voice but I admired it so much, I wanted to take my PC to parties and introduce it to friends.

Speaking of friends, I have not yet adopted your custom of looking always at my phone and having deep conversations with Siri. I am still using human speech to communicate with Earthlings face-to-face. This is a hard habit to break but I’m working on it. I think taking my first selfie was a step in the right direction toward complete antisocialism. 

No matter how close I become with Siri and my phone, there is one App I will never use. What’s this thing called “Newstand?” Does it deliver newspapers to my home, or do I have to connect my phone to a printer? I finally asked Siri, “What does Newstand mean?”

Knowing that my livelihood depends on people purchasing newspapers, Siri answered sadly, “I’m sorry to hear you ask that.”

John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries.

John Rice

John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.

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