” Apps” A Mort Laitner Short Story



By Mort Laitner

My Smartphone arrived. I walked into my office, looked down upon my desk and resting in the middle of my calendar was a off-white Verizon wireless Blackberry Curve cardboard box.

My wireless mobile device had found a new home. My crackberry caused my pupils to dilate, my heart rate to skip a beat and my muscles to twitch and tremor. The chemicals in my brain jumped into over-drive. In my hands was Research In Motion’s monumental contribution that made the world a better place, while causing more marital disputes than alcoholism and drug abuse put together.

Adorning the cover of the box was a glossy photo of a handsome young man with his shirt tail out and elbows resting on his balcony’s handrail. He held his Blackberry against his face as if it kissed his lips and ear. He scanned the horizon knowing that his internal compass pointed in the direction of life-is-good. He was technologically savvy and owned the toy to prove it.

I flipped the box over to see a Blackberry image with its QWERTY keyboard and displaying five applications: the mailbox, the calendar, applications logo, the setup wizard and the call log. I wondered what other apps were inserted into my electronic rectangle.

A red, white and blue sticker appeared on the lower corner of the box. Two bold black capital letters shot out at me “PH”. I thought, “What do the letters stand for?”

I carefully opened the box. I called IT and they walked me through activation. I pressed on the scroll ball, and then pressed it again to unlock my treasure. I typed in my newly created password and saw the words, “please wait” appear on the screen. The apps appeared. To my surprise there were applications I had never seen before: a BT, ENV, EPI, and EXP. They looked like my Pandora app just letters no symbols.

I opened BT and guessed it stood for bioterrorism. I was correct. It contained methods for identification of bio agents, modes of transmission, period of communicability, incubation periods, susceptibility, methods of control, and measures in case of deliberate use of biological agents. I felt I was holding Dr. Heymann’s “Control of Communicable Diseases Manual” in my hand.

I clicked on the ENV icon and saw titles like liquid waste, solid waste, rodents and insects, air, food, and drinking water. My research was not only in motion; it was in my hands and before my wide-opened eyes. I watched a video of water contaminated with legionella streaming out of a shower head and creating a death mist.

In EPI, I found sections on every communicable disease known to mankind and the who, what, when, where and how of disease prevention. I observed photographs of the condition of the body plagued with disease. There were links to scholarly public health journals. A link directed me to world-wide public health conferences.

The EXP icon opened the door to world wide experts in the field of public health with their names, email and snail mail addresses, and phone and fax numbers.

I sat next to my desk in a state of wonderment. My lips and ear touched my Blackberry as I called a colleague. I wanted to thank him for the gift of apps. He had allowed my finger tips to gain access and control of the world of public health for which I am eternally grateful.


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