My wife has a smartphone with more computing and communications power than NASA had on all the manned moon-shots combined. It can instruct you how to get to your destination in cities the phone has never before visited, recognize which song is playing even if it had never previously heard the song and it can carry on conversations in English that are more proper and satisfying than talks I have had with some of the neighborhood adolescents.

The phone, however, triggers constant complaining about not understanding one feature or another and all the while there are questions about procedures: how do you save this or delete that; what do you press to forward a photo to an e-mail address that was received as a slide show in a text message; why isn’t there an app to mediate between the Palestinians and the Israelis?

At regular intervals my wife decides to cull unnecessary apps from her phone. You can tell this is happening when she sits angrily punching at the screen periodically shouting “deleted!” She has discovered that many applications cannot be deleted, causing her great distress. It was during one of these purge sessions that the trouble began.

In a way that I do not understand, my wife managed to delete something with “Google Play” in the name from her phone, an app that she maintains should be called something different if it indeed performs an important role. Many Android phones come with Google Play that cannot be deleted as it provides services basic to the phone’s operation.

As the deletion became more problematic, she gave me the phone to make good again. Even though I am computer savvy, I draw the line at battling with smartphones. I shrugged my shoulders and offered her my flip phone to call a help line.

“Fine,” she said. “I will just take the phone to ‘my man’ at Horizon.” (I am using a fake name here for a major service provider so that no one can accuse me of promoting or defaming the company.) Feigning interest in fixing the phone, I agreed to go with her but I really wanted to find out who “my man” was. As it turns out, “my man” is anyone at Horizon who will help her. Since her “regular man” wasn’t there she glommed onto the “closest man” when she walked in the door. His name was Cody.



Cody, a handsome dude half our age, minus five years, was only too glad to help. When he heard we had a phone in trouble it was almost as if he saw a beautiful young girl fall into a river. He would be the one to save her because, naturally, that is what he does. He excels at heroic deeds as he is surely an expert swimmer, a trained life saver and not averse to risk.

I pointed out that Cody may not even work for Horizon as he lacked a name tag and did not dress like other employees. He may just hang out there because fixing smartphones is his life — but that did not matter. My wife told him that she believes the Google Play app was deleted. Cody’s eyes widened. If true, this would prove especially challenging. This is the application you need to download other apps. Theoretically you need to download Google Play if it is missing, but if it is missing then you can’t download anything, including Google Play. Or something like that.

Cody went to work, his fingers gliding over the touch screen as if he grew up using this technology. He fell silent as he attacked the problem, only mumbling occasionally about its improbability. I took the occasion to pilfer anything that wasn’t tied down in the showroom in order to recoup years of late fees I had paid the company. After a full three minutes, Cody naturally emerged victorious and announced that Google Play had only been disabled and then hidden in some dark corner of the phone’s memory.

My wife was so happy that she declared Cody her “new man” and made me return everything I had appropriated so that she could come back in the future without suspicion.

All is well for now and I have been assured that my wife won’t dump her “old man” just because I won’t fix her smartphone. It’s good to know that I may still have some residual value. After all, I will always be there to offer her my flip phone.