I guess it all started when I bought the world’s worst iPhone. Well maybe not the worst, although it’d have a strong claim to the title if it wished. What I didn’t realise at the time was just how little memory it had. Phone memory not being something I’d really considered before. I use my phone in much the same way that everyone else does, as a pocket computer, to listen to music and podcasts, take the odd photo here and there and text the few friends that I have to ask them if they’re running late. What I don’t do, and never have done, is take any notice of what makes it tick.
I wasn’t feeling flush when my old phone gave up the ghost so I just went with the cheapest iPhone on offer, which turned out to be the iPhone 5c. That’s the iPhone 5c that only has 8GB of memory. Which as I’d find out soon enough isn’t much memory at all.
I first discovered my boo-boo when I trundled off into town to buy a phone case. I couldn’t find one to fit my phone and in the end had to ask the kid behind the counter just what it was I was doing wrong.
“Ah, you’ve got an iPhone 5c, these cases are all for iPhone 5’s,” he informed me.
“And the difference is?” I asked, feeling ashamed, feeling all of a sudden as if a whole generation of people had sprung up without me noticing, as if I’d just come down from the mountains and was pointing at the sky in amazement at the silver birds and asking why all the womenfolk were showing so much ankle.
“Well,” he took a breath, “no one really buys the 5c, too little memory for most people.”
“Right, right,” I nodded as if I knew exactly what he was talking about, like I was proud of the so obviously rubbish phone that was about to become my constant companion. “Do you have any cases for it?”
“Not on display, we might have some out the back. Do you want me to check?”
“Yeah, if it’s no bother, yeah.”
So that’s how I found out that I’d done a stupid thing. How bad could it be though? I mean, really, how much memory do you need anyway?
The answer to that particular stupid question is lots, all the memory, ideally as much as you can get your greedy little hands on. For a start I couldn’t fit all my old apps on it. Not even half of them, and I’m not even an apps kinda guy. ‘Fuck it,’ I thought, ‘I’ll streamline, I’ll start over, I don’t need all this stuff in my life anyway.’
Then I realised that I could only really fit about five hours worth of music and a couple more of podcasts in the phone. ‘I’ll just change my music each day, it’s not a problem,’ I convinced myself. ‘It’s a good thing, it’ll do me good, stop me hoarding,’ I thought. Despite knowing that life was about to get more complex than I wanted it to be.
As for photos, well after you’ve taken ten or so it’s important to dump them into your hard drive and delete them from the phone, otherwise there’s no space for those all important new photos. Not the perfect scenario.
Anyway about six months ago it was time to upgrade my phone’s operating system. I tried downloading and installing it, but didn’t have enough space. By now I was well used to this sort of malarky having had my phone for what felt like decades by then. So I just did what I always did in those situations and freed up some space by removing the music. When that wasn’t enough I removed the podcasts and then when even that wasn’t enough I started removing apps, starting out with the ones that didn’t require me to log back in, the trauma of having to remember passwords being something I dread having to go through. Spending thirty minutes having to update passwords not being the ideal end to the day for me.
Eventually it got to the point where I had to go the whole hog and remove every single app in my phone. That did the trick, operating system all updated, now I just needed to add back the nine or so apps that my puny phone could manage. Everything was fine for a while until I went to use the app that I use in conjunction with my bank app, my on-line I.D. that’s when things started to go pear shaped.
What I know now, but didn’t then, was that whatever happens you must never ever, not under any circumstances remove your I.D. app from your phone, since once you do you have to go through a whole song and dance to get it up and running again. And not just any old song and dance, but a really tough one that’ll leave you with a sore throat and broken knees. Without it I couldn’t log into my bank, which of course meant I couldn’t pay my bills or my mortgage. Worse than that though I couldn’t buy records.
‘This means I’m going to have to actually phone my bank,’ I thought. There’s a reason why I love on-line banking and that reason is that I don’t have to have any contact with my bank. Which for me is heaven. Rather than phone my bank though, I did what anyone else would do and spent a few hours trying all sorts of different things to get it to work. Lots of frantic Googling, reading through various scenarios that were similar if not entirely the same as mine. ‘Have you tried…’ etcetera.
I have a short fuse, no doubt the initial under-my-breath grumbles became more and more vocal until I was forced to explain to Pernilla (my wife), just what I’d done.
“Phone the bank,” she demanded.
So I did. It’ll take fifteen minutes of sitting in a queue with a voice telling me that I’m sitting in a queue, then a couple of minutes talking to someone at the other end to get it all fixed I thought. Turns out I was wrong. Very wrong. They couldn’t do anything over the phone apparently, I’d need to go into the bank.
So the next day I toddled off to the bank. It was hot, I was sweating, their air conditioning had broken, there weren’t enough seats, people weren’t happy. A real end-of-days type scenario. I took my queue number, found a pillar to lean against and checked the board, which laughingly informed me that there were thirty-odd people in front of me. It was going to be a long afternoon.
After a while a bank employee sauntered up and asked me why I was there. “Perhaps I can help and save you having to queue up,” he promised. So I went through the whole story, from start to finish, skipping the bit about buying the worst phone in the world. When I’d finished he informed me that I needed to talk to someone behind the counter. Great, cheers for that. Keep up the good work. I hate banks. I really do.
Thing is I think they feel the same way about me. When I eventually got to the front of the queue I told my by now well honed story. The lady opposite me listened intently and then told me that there wasn’t anything she could do since I didn’t have a Swedish identity card.
Okay so quick diversion while I explain this. In Sweden you receive a personnummer (personal identity number), which is a number that is exclusively yours and yours only. It consists of your birthdate with an additional four numbers at the end. You end up learning it off by heart as you have to use it to do almost everything. On top of that there’s an I.D. card, which I used to have, but didn’t bother renewing when it expired since I also have a British passport, which I used instead. Still with me? Cool.
See the thing is when the lady at the bank asked for my I.D. I handed over my passport. She handled it as if it was radioactive and then told me it wasn’t valid, that I needed a Swedish I.D. card. Luckily I had my old I.D. card on me, it had a photo of me, contained my Swedish personnummer and my signature. The only problem was that it was out of date. All the information was still there, but well, for whatever reason the bank lady wasn’t willing to accept that fact. I told her that I had banked there for over a decade, that I could prove my identity, that I had a wage slip with me, which along with my passport, old I.D. card and general knowledge of myself should be enough to prove to anyone that I was who I said I was.
But it wasn’t good enough. I asked to talk to her manager, who also deemed it too fishy to be able to help.
“So what do you suggest I do then?” I asked at the end of my tether.
“Come back when you’ve got a Swedish identity card.”
“But they take months to come through, what should I do until then?”
A corporate shrug of the shoulders later and I was out on the street again. I felt like I was caught up in a Kafka story. This can’t be happening can it? Pernilla phoned the bank this time, taking her time to tell the by now practically handed down through the generations story of how a silly man had removed his I.D. app from his phone and now couldn’t prove he was who he said he was. After a week or so of going back and forth, of asking people to act like humans, of pleading with them to try and forget the red tape she finally had a breakthrough. So after a bit of rule bending I was finally allowed to log into my bank and order a code which I could then use to get the app working.
A few months after that I received my new Swedish I.D. card through the post. I was who I said I was all along. But there were times when even I started to doubt it.