My Phone Became Buddhist without Telling Me

Tech toys are without a doubt the cruelest joke ever played on old people. Some of us just ignore them, thinking we’ll die before we figure out how to use them. Others try to learn to use them, master one or two functions, then say, “good enough.” I used to want to really dig into them and learn many of their tricks, but I’m beginning to back off to the “good enough” attitude. 

On occasion, though, even the tricks I’ve “mastered” throw me for a loop. A couple of years ago, I decided to tackle ApplePay, not because I needed it, but it just looked like fun to point my phone at the place I’d normally insert my credit card, and Ping!, I’d paid for something. Then in late November, ApplePay quit working. I fiddled with it a bit, then just quit trying to use it. Then I had another problem: I couldn’t use either of my credit cards to purchase things online. I had to quit buying things online. 

Finally, I took some time to look at the error messages I’d been getting. I’d been told that I could not use a credit card that had an expiration date earlier than today’s date. I’d recently received updated cards, so that made no sense. But then I looked at my calendar. 2019 had morphed into 2562. I fiddled around trying to reset the calendar without having to reset my entire phone. No luck on that. 

Eventually, I looked at the calendar on my iPad and laptop. They were with me in 2019. My iPhone was a relatively “new” replacement for a phone that went belly up last summer. It was a likely a refurbished phone because Apple exchanged it for a like model that was three years old without blinking. Perhaps, I thought, this phone is past its pull date as well. 

Finally, I called Apple tech support. (I love Apple tech support; they’ve solved so many irritations for me over the years and saved me the expense of replacing items that still had life in them.) My tech person had suspicions about what the problem might be, but still went down a few blind alleys trying to get to the place where we could fix it. 

At last, she directed me to some calendar settings, and there it was: my phone was operating on a Buddhist calendar. Just in case you need them, iPhones come equipped with Buddhist and Japanese calendars should the default Gregorian not work for you. In a different place, you can opt for Chinese, Hebrew, and Islamic settings. Who knew? 

Why would I even have looked for these settings? Doesn’t the whole world operate on the Gregorian calendar? I know that some religions have their own calendars, but what has that to do with business? I married into a family that celebrates Christmas on a Julian calendar, but they don’t expect their credit cards to operate that way. 

So, yeah, tech toys are just not fair to old people. Maybe Apple needs a “senior” setting on its phones to simply these things for us. Consider it an accessibility feature. Get on it, Tim. 

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