By Jerry Zezima

Three days after receiving a patent for the telephone in 1876, Alexander Graham Bell placed a call to his assistant, Thomas Watson. Here is a transcript of the conversation.

Bell: “Watson, come here. I want you.”

Watson: “What?”

Bell: “Come here.”

Watson: “Who is this?”

Bell: “Bell.”

Watson: (Inaudible)

Bell (yelling): “Can you hear me now?”

Watson (just before hanging up): “Text me.”

Ever since that day, telephone technology has been going downhill.

Such was the case with my old iPhone, which I recently exchanged for a new one, although I am now convinced that the technology wasn’t as outdated as I am.

I knew something was amiss when all 361 contacts on my phone mysteriously disappeared. I hoped they were in the cloud, along with my head, but I couldn’t find them, even though I had the cloud type narrowed down to three: cumulus, nimbus and stratus. Which just goes to prove that two’s company but three’s a cloud.

So I went to the phone store with my wife, Sue, and was helped by a certified genius named Rich.

“What seems to be the problem?” he asked.

“My smartphone has a dumb owner,” I replied.

After I told him that my contacts had disappeared, Rich went into “settings” or “sittings” or maybe even “standings” and fixed the problem in approximately seven seconds.

“There,” he said. “You’re good to go.”

But I didn’t go because I needed an upgrade that would allow me to continue inflicting myself on the outside world, despite the lamentable fact that the vast majority of people with phones, not including scammers and telemarketers, don’t want to talk with me.

“Your phone is old,” stated Rich.

“So am I,” said I.

My iPhone 8 had outlived its usefulness (the same thing happened to me years ago), so Sue recommended that I get a phone like hers, which is a 12.

“You helped me when I got mine last year,” she told Rich. “Now you can help my husband.”

“Nobody can help me,” I said. “The doctors have given up hope. It’s too bad because I always liked her.”

“Who?” Rich asked.

“Hope,” I replied.

“Ignore the jokes,” Sue said to Rich, who shook his head and, faintly, smiled.

“I used to have a flip phone,” I said.

“They’re coming back,” Rich noted. “People are getting them more often.”

“They must be flipping over them,” I pointed out.

Rich sighed and suggested I get an iPhone 13.

“It has 256 megabytes,” he said.

“How many megabytes does my phone have?” I inquired.

“Sixty-four,” Rich replied. “The new phone is much better. And it has two dummy lines.”

“For people like me?” I asked.

Rich resisted the urge to respond affirmatively and said, “They bring the price down. There’s a family plan for a new account. It’s grandfathered in.”

“I’m a grandfather,” I said.

Sue looked at Rich and said, “He can’t help it.”

“If I get a 13, wouldn’t it be unlucky?” I asked Rich.

“Not at all,” he replied. “I was born on Friday the 13th. And it was Good Friday. April 13, 1990.”

“I’ll take it,” I said.

“The iPhone 13 has four times the memory of your old phone,” he informed me.

“I wish I did,” I said. “I can’t remember what I had for lunch.”

“He’s always out to lunch,” Sue said helpfully.

After I picked out a nifty blue case, Sue and I thanked Rich for his help and extreme patience and drove home, where I made my first call to her.

“Hello?” Sue said when she answered.

“Hi!” I said from another room.

“Are you calling me on your new phone?” she asked.

“Yes!” I said. “I love it!”

“That’s wonderful, dear,” Sue said. “Goodbye.”

Then she hung up. Alexander Graham Bell would have been impressed.

Copyright 2022 by Jerry Zezima

Originally Published on

Jerry Zezima Humorist, Author, Public Nuisance

I write a humor column for Tribune News Service, which distributes it to papers nationwide and abroad. If you have ever wondered why the newspaper industry is in trouble, it would be because of me.

As a chilling example of just how low journalistic standards have sunk, I have won many awards, including seven for humorous writing from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.

I have a strong social media presence, I have made many radio and television appearances, I have done several YouTube videos, I am a popular public speaker, and I am writing a sitcom. If you think TV is bad now, wait until my show gets on the air.

I live on Long Island, N.Y., with my wife, Sue. We have two daughters, five grandchildren and many creditors. I have no interesting hobbies.

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