While sitting in Starbucks with Miss 16 this morning, taking the regulation photograph of my coffee cup that all people with Instagram accounts are required to by law, it occurred to my young assistant that she too has an Instagram account, and taking a photo of the wonderfully swirly pattern made by the barista in her coffee might also be a very good idea – so she fished her phone from her pocket.
“Um. Dad. What’s wrong with my phone?”
I looked across at it. It appeared to be having some kind of internal dance party in it’s head – bouncing the unlock label up and down to an unpredictable rhythm, and typing random sequences of numbers into the “emergency dial” dialog at a fearsome speed. If I didn’t know better, I would have started wondering about the recent warnings given by Elon Musk about artificial intelligence. I told her to reboot it.
I grabbed the phone, and held the power button in for some time. Eventually it went dark, and began it’s reboot sequence – before repeating the discoteque antics, and adding random stripes of corrupted pixels up and down the screen. I pulled the battery, and tried again. Same results.
“I think it might be dead.”
The look of horror on her face was unforgettable. She is 16 years old – the phone is (in her own words) “her life”. I explained that all of her photos would have been migrated up to the cloud by Google, along with her contacts, conversations, and so on. She started to calm down a bit. I then picked up my own phone and called home.
“We’re going to need to go phone shopping. Do you have a problem with that?”
Miss 16 only heard my side of the conversation – when I finished she asked if Mum had gone mad or not. I shook my head, and asked if she had finished her coffee yet. She shook her hed.
Ten minutes later – after downing her coffee, we marched along the high street to the local mobile phone mecca – “Carphone Warehouse”. After perusing the latest, greatest handsets that didn’t cost very much, we asked about one that took our fancy – the newly released “Nokia 3”.
“Sorry – we don’t have any of those in stock. Nobody does.”
“What about the little Nokia – the new one that you have on display over there?” (the 3310)
“No – you can only order those from Nokia.”
“So why are you advertising them then?” (I was getting ever so slightly annoyed)
Stunning silence. The sales guy tried to look at his sales terminal inquisitively – no doubt waiting for the ground to open up under me. I get it – he only works there – he probably has to tell countless customers each day that they only stock two or three phones. Given the town we live in, most ten year olds probably have the iPhone 7.
We said our goodbyes, bought sushi to console ourselves, and made our way home. Half an hour later we were on the bus to the nearest town to continue our search. Five minutes walk from the bus station took us to the sister shop in the same chain we had just visited.
“Oh yes, we have the Nokia 3 in stock. Would you like black, or silver white?”
I almost burst out laughing. I half expected Miss 16 to come out with the Batman line from the LEGO movie – “I only work in black, and very dark shades of grey”. She didn’t.
Ten minutes later we left with a shiny new phone. Of course Miss 16 hadn’t thought to bring her SIM card with her, so it was a very dead shiny new phone – but it was a shiny new phone all the same.
An hour later we were home once again. The phone was still dead, because OF COURSE the SIM card was the wrong damn size. Most phone shops have the tools to modify SIM cards, and I knew the useless shop in town would have the very same tool, because they had done it for me in the past. We started walking for the second time into town.
“Hello – you might remember we were in earlier – we got a Nokia 3 from the store you checked the stock on earlier – they DID have them – but now we need to get the SIM card modified – it doesn’t fit in the phone.”
“Oh, we don’t do that here – the shop three doors along does”
This is where I call bullshit. I’m guessing the shop along the road is run by friends of the staff in the chain store. It’s a small independent that flashes phones, and sells 1001 cases, chargers, and various other accessories. Of course they could modify the SIM, and charge us for the privilege – which we did, because we had very little choice, other than me taking a scalpel to the SIM card, and probably buggering it up spectacularly.
A minute later, Miss 16 had her phone back, and it came to life – filling itself instantly with text messages – erupting every few seconds with everything she had missed in the previous few hours.
It’s funny really, isn’t it – today was supposed to be a quiet day. A lazy day. I had planned on sitting in the coffee shop with our eldest for an hour, then perhaps walking through the park, and just spending time together. We DID spent time together – but we spent it on a wild goose chase, and a money spending spree that took up much of the day. At least I’ll be able to call on favours for the next few weeks though, right? Right ?