14 January 2020


Nearly three years ago, I bought my first brand new, not refurbished, iPhone, a 5SE. On Christmas Day 2019, it went black screen, joining a toddler terabyte external hard drive that went to that electronics graveyard in the sky on the very same day.

All I wanted for Christmas was the electronics to power up!

I'd backed up my iPhone in early December right after we returned from an impromptu funeral in California. I tried to back it up at the beginning of every month in 2019 because I'd previously lost photos on the older phone when it died. I hardly ever backed up the older phone because I didn't know it was necessary. I also didn't have much on it; it had virtually no storage space, so it wasn't a miniature treasure chest I carried around with me everywhere. The older phone's primary job was recording my bicycle rides via Cyclemeter. I lost all my stats when that phone died because I'd never logged into "my account" on Cyclemeter. (I didn't know I had an account until the phone died and I tried recovering my lost stats. Duh.) I also was not in the habit of keeping specific ride details online because I'm a privacy nut.

On the very bright side, I did not lose my cycling stats when my iPhone 5SE died! I'm still a privacy nut, and you won't find my log online, but my stats were backed up to my account. Cool!

Not so cool... The phone had about three weeks of photos, a tiny few of which I had not uploaded to anything, backed up to anywhere or emailed to anyone. In addition to trying to obtain a new phone, I spent the next three days trying (unsuccessfully) to rescue a handful of photos from the dead phone.

Lizard had undergone total knee replacement mid-December. I'd sent a photo of the incision from the 10-day checkup to his mom, and after the phone died, she sent that photo back to me. So I have that one. Thank you, Mom!

I did not send her photos of the bruises on his legs. I didn't send those to anyone. They are permanently etched in my memory, but it would have been nice to have actual photos one day when we can look back and make jokes about the surgery and recovery. Those stages haven't fermented into humor yet, but the best humor takes time.

We'll have to go off memory, mostly mine, when it comes time to prove we aren't exaggerating the range and distribution of greens and purples when it comes time to sip the fine wine of knee restoration. Nothing could be recovered from the dead phone, other than the magnificent Otter Box covering it. But who else in the world is using an iPhone 5 these days!?! I suspect I may have been one of the only ones.

The Apple Store told me my iPhone 5 was in the best shape they'd ever seen that old of a phone. The screen was absolutely flawless, they exclaimed. That, of course, was to soften the blow of, "But your motherboard is dead. We can't save anything from this phone. But you had everything backed up to The Cloud, right?"


No, I did not, and I've learned my lesson well, hope I live to tell the secret I have learned. 'Til then, it literally will burn inside of me.

Have I mentioned I'm a privacy nut???

Trying to get a new smartphone when your old smartphone doesn't work any more is almost worse than total knee replacement. Lizard probably would beg to differ, but right now, I'm not too fond of the process of getting a new smartphone because smartphones are how service providers verify identity!!!

For 12 days I felt as if I was a non-person because I didn't exist when I didn't have a working smartphone!!! How unfair is that?!?

I have complained about my internet endlessly. This Christmas not-so-miraculous debacle granted me the opportunity to change that. And get newer technology to boot. Can't beat that, right?

I think every provider in the country was running specials on Christmas Day. Except mine, of course. They really wanted to sell me the latest and greatest, which is going to be outdated in, what, two weeks? I would explain that I've been a customer for at least 25 years and that I deserve some kind of deal for loyalty, but I kept getting disconnected. I think they were in essence hanging up on me (disconnecting online chats) because they didn't want to price match the competition, which I had thoroughly investigated before trying to give them one more chance. About 16 times.

At one point, I had to ask myself: "Why are you trying to give them one more chance to be really lousy?" People in my neighborhood had discussed providers over many fire pits and backyard barbecues, and there was an actual consensus that another specific provider had better signal than any of the rest. That particular provider just happened to be running the best Christmas Day special. Switch and get free phones! Can't beat that, right?

So I switched. But it took 12 friggin' days!!!

And because it took 12 friggin' days, I lost the Christmas Day special. My new phones were not free. I did still get a great deal on one, but the second was full price. Owie!!! Did I mention that buying a new smartphone is almost as painful as knee surgery?

When it came right down to it, the nuts and bolts of the deal, the new provider wanted me to invest in the latest and greatest, too. "It's only $4 more per month per phone," they said. "See what a great deal that would be?"

The great deal is actually having signal in my home for the first time since we've lived there. I can walk around the house while I talk on the phone. The internet doesn't cut out every 45 seconds. There are still areas where my reception is not as great, but I do have better service, and for that, I am very grateful.

But why in the 21st century does it take 12 days to activate a new smartphone?!? Well, because you don't have a phone where the two-step authorization verification code may be sent, Dummy!

Okay, fine. We'll just change the trusted phone number to another phone that works. That just happens to be far away. And can't receive texts. And, oh, you have to wait 24 hours before the change may be finalized... because, you know, we can't verify it's you if you don't have a working phone. It's in a different zip code??? Well, we're going to have to fill out another form for that.

Don't even get me started on the unrecognizable external hard drive. I never wanted to trust any kind of memory storage that large because, by golly, that's a LOT of photos to lose if anything ever goes wrong. But when I filled up the previous (much smaller) hard drive, one terabyte was the smallest I could find. Oh, and by the way, my previous seven full (much smaller) hard drives all still work just fine. One of them is pushing 15 years of age! The only ones I've had trouble with are the terabiters. Oh, do they bite! But that's another rant for another day.

I have learned Cloud storage might not be such an invasive thing after all. I have learned (again) to back up photos and data that isn't going to be available anywhere else. I have learned backing things up in one place isn't enough. I have learned the iPhone 4 can outlast any of its progeny. I have learned to not take internet-only specials too seriously. I have learned I can survive 12 phoneless days. I have learned to never port another phone number. Just get a new number next time.

But, please, let there never be another next time!


  1. there is a saying, I'll paraphrase because I can't remember all of it, but it goes like this, the further ahead we go the farther behind me get. Electronics are like that. I have a a flip phone, I use it for emergencies. I have a camera I take pictures. I just bought a usb flash drive to back stuff up. I was born in the late 50's. All that glitters is not gold. But to each one let them decide. Hoping this situation rights itself for you, the Christmas tree is darling. PS I still have a land line.

    1. I’m in your age range, Faith! And I thought I was the last holdout on phones!!! I do agree not all that glitters is gold...

  2. Yeah, they'll try to upsell you every chance they get. But pffft to them. Great that you got a deal at least and now have better wifi service. I have TB hardrives, but I have 4 and back everything up a few times.

    1. I need to be like you, Pat, and back everything up more than once. Boohoo!!!


Dusty words lying under carpets,
seldom heard, well must you keep your secrets
locked inside, hidden deep from view?
You can talk to me... (Stevie Nicks)

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