The internet is fond of telling me that I, born in 1980, am part of a micro-generation known variously as Generation Catalano (for the dreamy Jordan Catalano of “My So-Called Life”), the Oregon Trail Generation (for the ubiquitous video game of the early 1990s), and Xennials (a portmanteau of “Gen X” and “millennials”). In fact, given that this micro-generation spans 1977 to 1983, I am actually right smack dab in the middle of it.
What this means is that I remember life before cell phones and Google … but not very well. When I try to tell my 81-year-old father that I don’t have checks because I pay all of my bills online, he looks at me like I am both insane and irresponsible. When I try to tell my 12-year-old daughter about beepers and always carrying a quarter for a pay phone, she looks at me with a mixture of pity and disdain.
But I’m not sorry about any of it. Come the zombie apocalypse, I will be able to use a rotary phone – and in the meantime, I know how to design a Snapchat filter.
Last weekend, however, I was about ready to renounce technology and join the Amish for some peaceful candlelight and friendship bread.
It all started back in April when Ruby’s ancient iPhone4 finally gave up the ghost. Not wanting to shell out cash for a new iPhone for a pre-teen, I ordered a used iPhone 6 from Amazon. And it was great! I just took it to the Sprint store for a new SIM card, and we were in business.
So when my iPhone started acting glitchy over the summer, I figured, “Why sign a new contract? I’ll just buy another used iPhone online.”
The first one had battery issues, so I returned it. The second one didn’t work at all, so I returned that one, too. Third time’s the charm, I figured, and ordered yet another one. And indeed, it worked fine for about two months.
Sometime in September, however, it started dying abruptly any time it was off the charger, but I kept putting off going to the Apple store because I really hate the mall.
Finally, last weekend, I had had enough and I bit the bullet and just went there.
You know how sometimes procrastinate on something and then when you finally do it, you wonder what took you so long because it was actually really easy? This is not that kind of story.
Let me be clear: Nothing that happened from this point on was anyone’s fault. No one did anything wrong, there was no malice or incompetence, and everyone was kind and tried hard to fix it. But by the end of it, I had cried twice, drunk a bourbon, and been to the Apple store three times in six hours. And in the end, nothing even got fixed.
At the store, I asked for a battery replacement and was told – lucky me – they would just give me another used phone for the price of a battery. Hooray!
But because the phone I’d brought in was a Verizon phone running on Sprint, they had to give me a Verizon phone. When I got home and tried to log in to my “cloud,” I was suddenly in a crazy-making loop where they couldn’t verify my identity to set up my phone without texting me – on my phone – which I was trying to set up.
This is when I cried for the first time.
I headed back to the Apple store, where they called Sprint, were unsuccessful, and then sent me to the Verizon store.
The Verizon store told me I would have to go home and call the (800) number because they couldn’t help me in their storefront.
The (800) number representative took down the code for my phone and told me it would never work on Sprint and there was nothing she could do.
I think this is the point at which I both cried and drank.
Then I went back to the Apple store with my husband (he is way more assertive than I am) – and after a wait and several explanations to several well-meaning Apple geniuses … I got my original phone back, with the battery issue unresolved.
For now, I am just keeping it on the charger at all times, but this is clearly not a long-term solution.
I almost wish I had a quarter in my pocket for a pay phone – and a beeper clipped to my belt.
Things definitely weren’t perfect back then, but I’ll be damned if it wasn’t simpler.