Today I went to get a new iPhone. The battery on the old one was running down at Usain Bolt-like speed, and clearly, it was time.
When I got to the Verizon store, the pleasant young guy who took care of me looked at my phone, chuckled softly, and noted that the phone was more than five years old. That’s like taking world history back to the Pharaonic period — when cell phone data storage was miniscule, cell phone cameras were crappy, cell phone batteries were tiny . . . and, not incidentally, cell phones were a lot cheaper than they are now.
So, I had to decide how much I wanted to spend for my new phone. It didn’t take me long to decide that I didn’t need to spend $1500 (which, amazingly to me, is what the Verizon store employee who is probably making not much over minimum wage confessed he had spent on his phone) and would be perfectly happy with the cheapest iPhone 10 they had — which was still incredibly expensive. Then I had to pick a color (red), and a phone case (a clear Pelican) and then it was iPhone set-up time. And that’s where the process ran off the rails.
“What’s your Apple password?” he asked pleasantly — and I felt cold, icy fingers of fear clutching my heart. And then he asked for my iTunes password, and then for my gmail password, and the depths of angst and despair burrowed ever deeper into my soul. “I’m not sure,” I said uncertainly. “Well, what do you think it might be?” he asked, slightly baffled and no doubt wondering how could anyone who uses a modern phone wouldn’t have all of their passwords memorized and ready to use at any moment. So I gave a few half-hearted attempts, using passwords that I know that I’ve used for something or another over the years — but there was no conviction in my efforts. Sure enough, none of the passwords worked, and I got the accusatory buzzings and beepings that inevitably accompany password failure. So the pleasant kid had to reset my passwords — passwords that will now promptly be forgotten, and vanish on the wings of the wind down the password memory hole. It made the new phone process even longer and even more embarrassing.
As I left the store I realized that there is a reason I get a new phone only every five years.