Many years ago, too many to mention (okay, 1992), I used to teach basic electronics to Electrical Technical sailors in the Royal Australian Navy. It was one of the first real paid jobs I had after university that provided me with a steady income, a clean white uniform with nice gold buttons and bed and board (“cabin”) in the Wardroom (“Officers Mess”).
One day during a class, I had to step out and go and pick up some paperwork from my office. I told the sailors to continue with their work quietly while I stepped out of the room. Prior to this a couple of them were whispering to each other about an upcoming concert of a well known American singer who was in Melbourne at the time. They were trying to figure out a way to organise an evening’s leave from the Navy base and make a dash into town to see him in concert. Now this concert was also the talk in the Wardroom too. Many of my colleagues were excited about the concert happening but tickets were scarce to come by.
So needless to say I was curious to find out if the sailors were any more successful in getting tickets than my colleagues but I didn’t let on that I was interested.
When I returned to the classroom some minutes later, everyone was laughing loudly and looking over to one sailor who was talking into his mobile phone.
I told them to quiet down and get back to their seats. The sailor on the phone looked up at me. He gestured for me to be quiet and pointed to the phone. He was obviously talking to someone on the line.
I was not impressed and gave him the wrap up signal to get back to work.
“Hang on Ma’am,” he said. “I’m on the phone to Ticketek. We’re getting concert tickets. Do you want some?”
My mind went blank. He had success! He got through to the ticket office!
“Two, three…more? he asked. “Don’t worry you can pay me later,” he added.
I nodded. “Okay, yes two. Buy me two”. I rubbed my hands in glee.
There was some snickering in the background and someone jeered, “ooh, who are you taking, anyone we know?” I gave him a dirty look.
I stood there momentarily while he chatted to the person on the phone and it took a split second to realise that what he was holding was….not…. a…phone… at… all.
It was my flip top scientific calculator!
He had taken my calculator from my desk and pretended it was a mobile phone. I snapped the calculator out of his hand and shook my fist at him in frustration. Raucous laughter rang through the room as everyone had a good laugh at my expense.
Why did I remember and write this story?
Well it’s because I need a new phone and every time I buy a new phone I recall this story with some amusement.
I have an iPhone 4 and it served me well for many years. I’m not one to keep buying and upgrading technology every year and despite the frustration with synchronising via iTunes, the phone has served me well. It has travelled with me everywhere, to the US, Canada, UK, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and Hawaii. It has been dropped, stepped on and thrown across the room. It has been dressed in pink, red and then, black leather, it has been covered in dirt, cake batter and rain – and yet, it still works. I have lost count the many times it has made me find my way when I was lost; chirped at inappropriate times in the theatre and frozen on me. It has been there to photograph the good times, it has been there to get me out of trouble and it has helped me to start conversations with strangers.
…and yes, even used to buy tickets to many concerts.
(The only fault I’ve ever had with it all these years was not being able to hear audio unless it was through the headphone attachment and even then, thanks to YouTube, I took a dry toothbrush to it and scrubbed the dirt and dust out of every nook and cranny and it was as good as gold again).
So after all that, when looking back with the experience of the Apple phone, I decided to do it all over again. After weeks of deliberation, I have decided to buy an iPhone 6.
Parting with my dear iPhone 4 will be such sweet sorrow…