Friday, January 22, 2010

loaner phone

I have a work cell phone, which I am allowed to use for personal call and texting so long as I pay my employer back for my share of the monthly bill. It works out well, as I carry just one phone. I also get a new phone every couple of years.

My current phone is less than a year old, but it stopped working last week. I took it into the retail outlet that provides service. The man there checked it, and took it for repairs. While my phone is in the shop, I have a loaner phone. Before I left, I asked to have my contacts transferred into the loaner. This helps with easy phoning and with caller ID.

A couple of days into using the new phone, I noticed some unfamiliar contacts on the list. On a hunch I began checking what was in the phone and found contact numbers, photos and sent and received text messages that rare not my own. It appears that somebody else's data is still in this phone, along with my own. I think the man at the phone shop neglected to wipe out the previous borrower's information before putting mine into this phone.

So in among my 200+ contacts I have someone else's mother and grandmother, but also most of the characters in the Harry Potter series (must be code names for friends). There's also a cryptic but enticing listing, "pot." I couldn't bring myself to read anything but the message subject titles, which are pretty banal "r u coming?" and "yep." The photos are nothing personal, containing no images of people. Hmmm, a landscape telephone photographer who loves his/her elders, hangs out with kids from Hogwarts and has either a dial-a-dope connection or phones kitchen utensils.

I deleted the pot contact (not like I'm going to call it or anything) and the text messages in and out. I have left the remaining contacts but will delete them before I return the phone. I'll leave mine in for now in case I get a new phone or my contacts are wiped from my repaired phone. I'll need mine from the loaner to restore the contacts when I get my own phone back. But after that I will delete them all from the loaner, along with any other traces of me. I don't want the next person reading my banal texts ("CU at the Skytrain," "Where are my sewing scissors?") speculating about my life or calling my dealer - oh, yeah, I forgot, I don't have a dealer.

In the meantime, there are two numbers in the phone called "voicemail." One is my own number. The other is (I think) the cell phone number of the person who used this phone before me. Maybe I'll call him/her and suggest next time to erase the evidence before handing in the loaner. Cell phones are handy little gadgets, but they pack a powerful key into a person's personal life, and should be handled with care.

question: what's in your phone?

mompoet - this cell phone will self-destruct in 30, 29, 28...

ps some people's taste in ringtones is inexplicable!

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