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28

Saving Money & Saving Families

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Chick-Fil-A & Cell Phones

Bill wants to get his wife, Sharon, something nice for their first wedding anniversary and so he decides to buy her a cell phone.  Sharon is excited about  receiving such a present and Bill shows her how to use it.  The next day, Sharon goes shopping at Walmart and her phone rings.  It’s Bill.  “Hi ya, honey,” he says, “how do you like your new phone?” Sharon replies, “I just love it and your voice is clear as a bell.  But there’s one feature that I don’t understand.”  “What’s that, Sharon?” asks Bill.  “How did you know I was at Walmart?”

Ours is a day when it seems just about everyone has a cell phone, and those who do, know how to use them (which is understandable when you consider the hours people spend on their device and the innumerable times they check for any messages).  We saw this firsthand with our grandchildren over spring break.

Now Dr. Sherry Turkle, Professor of Communications at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) has written the new book, Reclaiming Conversation, emphasizing the importance of the uniquely human gift of face-to-face communication, which is being lost in our texting age.  And in one chapter she centers in on the old-fashioned family meal, writing that research shows table conversation does more to boost the vocabulary of children even than reading aloud to them.

Also, the good professor states that regular family meals have been shown to  lower the risk of teenage smoking, binge drinking, marijuana use, eating disorders, and sexual activity, as well as increasing self-esteem and academic grades.

Chick-Fil-A, the large fast-food chicken restaurant chain (2,000 locations), has taken up the cause with a family challenge.  Here’s how it works.  When dad, mom, and the kids order their meal, they also receive an empty box called the Cell Phone Coop, on which are printed the following instructions:
#1 Turn all family cell phones to silent and place in this cell phone coop …

#2 Enjoy your Chick-Fil-A meal and each other, distraction free …

#3 After the meal, let us know that you have successfully completed the challenge and each of you will receive a free ice cream cone.

Chick-Fil-A issued the following statement, “There is something almost sacred about the breaking of bread, squabbling among siblings, and the sharing of a meal.  Families serve as the bedrock institution of societies.  When families falter, societies suffer; but when families prosper, communities flourish.  And the launching pad for this prosperity starts at the kitchen table.  We recognize this and hope you will to.”  So far, according to them, the cell phone coop success rate is over 90%.

The bottom line?  According to studies, the average person checks their phone 150 times a day for messages -  maybe you even checked yours while reading this!  So maybe it’s time to add a cell-phone lock box to the table setting of plate, cup, knife, fork, spoon, and napkin.