The finer points of a smartphone

My parents were probably the only people in the greater Pittsburgh metropolitan statistical area (is that a thing? I’ve decided it’s a thing) to still have flip phones, other than the Long Suffering Husband and Official Loveable Newsroom Curmudgeon Dave.

So I was surprised when my mother informed me my father had purchased a new smart phone. Actually, I was horrified.

“He went and bought new technology without me or someone under 40?” I asked her. “What was he thinking?”

“I don’t know,” she said. “But he’s ready to throw it at a wall.”

“That probably wouldn’t be a good idea,” I said. “What did he buy it for?”

“The battery in his old phone died,” she said. “He should have just bought a new battery. He can’t answer the phone.”

“He can’t answer the phone?” I asked. “How did they let him leave the store without knowing how to answer the phone?”

“I don’t know.” She shook her head, mystified. “He says it can be used …” – she lowered her voice to a whisper – ” … for the Internet.”

“You’d need a wireless router,” I told her. “And, you know, the ability to unlock the phone. You know who we need to put on this, stat? The Sassy Saint. She’ll take care of it.”

“Oh, good,” she said. “Because he bought me one, too, and now I’ve lost all my numbers.”

Sassy fixed Grandmama’s phone and tried to teach her how to enter her own contacts, but around the third step, Grandmama’s eyes glazed over and she mentally checked out.

Then, it was on to saving Grampy Grumpy’s day. (Not, however, before the Little Professor taunted him for being unable to work a phone – from a safe distance.)

“OK, Grampy, I’m going to call your phone,” Sassy said, whipping out her own smart phone and dialing.

Grampy’s started vibrating. He stared at it as if it held the secret of life.

“Grampy, you didn’t answer. Here, I’ll call again.”

This time, when the phone rang, she snagged it.

“Look, you tap and slide,” she said. (I really hope you’re reading that in an obnoxiously know-it-all “swish-and-flick” Hermione Granger voice.)

She handed it back to him and called again. Grampy Grumpy jabbed the phone with his forefinger.

“No, no,” she said. “Tap and slide!”

“I am tap and sliding!” he snarled, while furiously tapping the screen so hard it was a wonder it didn’t break. The way he was glaring at it, it should have broken.

“No, Dad, look.” I grabbed the phone and demonstrated. “Tap and slide – you’re tapping, not sliding.”

Sassy called him a fourth time, and – to everyone’s relief – he answered the phone.

“OK, Grampy, now I’m going to show you how to enter your contacts,” Sassy chirped.

Grampy almost facepalmed his phone into his face.

“You know,” I said, “this would make a good column.”

“You’re an (redacted),” Grampy said.

(Wallace-Minger, The Weirton Daily Times community editor, is a Weirton resident and can be contacted at