Sometimes you are no one without your phone

We become more and more dependent on all sorts of technology and gadgets in our lives. Exactly for this reason, I try to minimize the amount of digital things I interact with daily.

All I have is my laptop and, of course, my smartphone. And it is my smartphone that made me recently feel completely helpless.

One day I decided to try a scooter sharing app.

I took a scooter and had a 10-5 min drive to a subway station, where I wanted to switch and go home. The ride was really great. But when I arrived I had to end my rent. Via the application.

For several minutes I was getting a Bluetooth connectivity error and could not stop the rent. And then my phone’s battery just died. One second I had ~20% of a battery, and another - the screen is black.

The scooter is still on me. It’s half past nine in the evening, and here in Berlin it means that almost everything is closed, and there is no place to charge a phone. And I also did not have a power bank.

I asked some guys to call the company’s hotline. They did, but the phone number on there site… did not work. Ha-ha. It turned out they had some problems with the line this day.

I was pressing all the buttons on the scooter in hope there was some hidden combination to manually stop the rent, when another guy approached me and asked if I had any problems.

It turned out that the guys was also a software engineer. Though, no surprise here: if you see a young guy with a backpack in Berlin, chances are really high he is a developer. Though, I guess not as high as in Bay Area, but we’re getting there. Especially in rent prices [1].

He also previously worked for the company which scooter I was using. Unfortunately, he did not know any special tricks, and we started to think logically together.

He suggested to install an app on his phone, so I could sign in and end the rent.

Very nice of him, but I did not know my password, because I am using 1Password [2].

He suggested to reset a password via e-mail.

Well, I know the password for my e-mail account, but I am using two factor authentication and get one-time passwords… from the app on my phone. I also did not have them printed out.

A bit later, he started to call his former colleagues in order find out what to do. While we were on the phone, the magic happened - the scooter flashed a few times with the light and turned itself off. Turns out if you do not touch the scooter for ~5 minutes, it automatically switches to a parking mode. I still had to write them an e-mail from home, that the scooter was on me, and blah-blah.

The company behaved well later: they charged me only the standard price and even gave me a free ride.

The result of the evening? Next day I bought a power bank and printed out my one-time passwords for e-mail account. I do not want to experience this helplessness anymore.

References