My First Smart Phone Lesson

My First –and Last– Smartphone Lesson, by Kate Peters


I’m sixty-eight. I recently plunged, feet first into the 21st century, by purchasing a smartphone. I should have plunged in head first, because now I’m lost in a jungle of ethernet, cyberspace, clouds, and unending and totally intangible options.

In November, my husband and I entered a store, trepidatious but buoyed by many unchallenged claims that my life would be hugely improved if I owned one of these super-mini-computers. Two and a half hours later, we left the service provider outlet with my $700 new B.F.F., and three new user id’s, email addresses and passwords.

Being basically a right-brained animal, I am confused by decisions, mathematical algorithms, and more than three steps in a recipe, but thankfully, they offered classes for free, on the fifteenth of every month, one hour before store opening. We signed up.


Our first class was two days later. We both went, but it was to be my instrument. I had two questions:

  1. How do I make the keyboard keys larger?
  2. How do I get my photos off this phone, and onto, or into my computer?
  3. And by the way, am I uploading or downloading, when I do this?

The answers came randomly, interspersed with the needs of others, as this was no tutoring session. We were two, among many confused and grasping silver-haired seniors who had ventured into an alien world.

“Any Questions?”

I raised my hand. “Can you enlarge the keys on my keyboard, please?”

He worked with my phone for five seconds. “No, I can’t. …Next question?”


For the next four weeks, the only app. I could use was the one where you speak to a little microphone icon and the phone answers your question, as neatly as if there was a miniature woman sitting right there inside the thing. I still didn’t know how to answer a call, though. Something about dragging your finger with just the correct pressure, in just the right direction… Callers probably thought I was being snobby.


A month later, we huddled with a handful of other hopefuls, outside the storefront in a predawn chill. After a while, we were huddling even more closely, as no service provider had arrived to unlock the doors or provide us with service.

I, being a natural ice-breaker in any group, discovered that one woman had driven all the way in from Florissant, while another was deeply concerned about arsenic in old dental fillings. I said I was having trouble downloading (or uploading?) my images of our autumn drive to Deckers.

Not a natural conversationalist, my husband waited in the warm car.

When a young woman in pre-ripped and stoneground jeans came to unlock the door an hour and a quarter later, I helped her to understand that we were all waiting for our free smartphone lesson. She nodded, went inside the store, and locked us outside. Then, she whipped her own phone out of her back pocket, and made a call. Five minutes later, she delivered the bad news:

“Class is canceled, due to a family emergency. We’ll call each of you, when we’ve scheduled a makeup class.”

“Well, since we’ve been waiting here for over an hour, could we just ask someone our questions?”

“Okay. Come in, I guess.”

“Can you show me how to transfer my pictures off this smartphone and onto (into?) my computer?”

She glanced at my device. “Uhh.”

A young male clerk arrived. We could both see his breath in the air as he passed through the waiting zone and entered the store. “Here comes Carl. He can help you.” The lass looked relieved.

“Hi, Carl. Can you show me how to transfer my pictures off this smartphone and onto my computer?”

Carl took a look at my phone, and then at the twenty-pound laptop I’d been holding for the past hour. “You can’t transfer from this phone to a three-year-old computer. You’ll need to buy a new computer.”


We left. “Well, if I absolutely must update, I do NOT want to update from Windows 7, to Windows 8 or 10. I’ve heard horror stories about them.” I had drawn my line in the sand.


The store never called to reschedule the class, and when we called them (three different times) we were told three different dates. So, we skipped December, and waited for January.


On the appointed mid-winter morning, we showed up at, but no one else did. A note on the store door read, ‘Smartphone classes are no longer being offered.’

I guess there’s a lesson in there, somewhere, but I haven’t been able to #hashtag the correct ‘app,’ to decipher it yet.


Post Script:


I recently bought a new computer. It came with Windows 10, which is significantly different from Windows 7. Now, I need some lessons…




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