Sunday 23 September 2012

Why I'm not the first person in Singapore to get the iPhone 5

There’s been a lot of talk recently about what we should talk about in the Singapore Conversation.

Cost of living? Foreigners? Education? Clearing your tray at the hawker centre? Alex Au? Xiaxue’s pregnancy?

Of course, you and I know what Singaporeans really want to talk about.

The greatest product the world has ever known was launched on Friday to long queues around the globe including Singapore – and I’m not talking about chendol ice cream mooncake.

It’s the iPhone 5!

Even I, who have yet to succumb to the temptation of buying a mooncake no matter how many crazy flavours there are, wasn’t safe from the hype.

I received the SMS at 8.42pm on Wednesday.

For once, it wasn’t from a mysterious number informing me of the newest freehold development just minutes away from an MRT station. Call now for VVIP preview! UN to unsub.

Instead, it was from the “SingTel iPhone Team”.

The message: “The Appointment Booking Site will open tonight, 19 Sept from 10pm. Visit to make your appointment to purchase the iPhone 5 at the launch event. Appointment slots are limited.”

Suddenly, my life changed. Suddenly, my pointless pathetic existence on this planet had meaning. Suddenly, I had a purpose.

I decided I would be the first person in Singapore to get the iPhone 5.

I would be famous.

My picture would be on the front page of The Straits Times. (And not just in a little blurb buried somewhere in the corner on an inside page.)

Singapore Grand Prix? What Singapore Grand Prix?

Katy Perry would be dedicating Firework to me tonight at the Padang stage. I love you too, Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson, and I won’t be the one that got away.

Men would want to be me. Women would want to sleep with me. And so would muscular men in V-neck T-shirts carrying large handbags.

My quest for epicness would begin at 10pm on Wednesday – one hour and 18 minutes after I got the SMS. It would be the longest one hour and 18 minutes of my life.

I received the SMS because two days earlier, I had “registered my interest” for the iPhone 5 at the SingTel website. I later learnt I was among a record 68,000 people to have done so.

When I registered, I wasn’t planning on getting the new phone so soon because I mistakenly thought I wasn’t eligible to recontract until the end of the year. But after registering, I checked and discovered I had been eligible since July!

And so the seed of my “first person in Singapore to get the iPhone 5” ambition was sown.

I set the alarm on my museum-ready iPhone 4 for 10pm.

No, to play it safe, I changed it to 9.59pm.

What the heck, let’s make it 9.55.

Before 9.55pm, I was already at my desktop computer watching the clock. I prematurely went to the SingTel iPhone 5 page and all I got was a message to check the “bulletin board” for updates.

(Not the first time I’ve been premature if you know what I mean.)

Then at 9.57pm, my stomach felt strange. Alamak. What did I eat?

I really needed to go to the toilet. Why now at this critical moment? Should I stay or should I go? This indecision was bugging me.

I thought of Katy Perry and forced myself to hold it for a few more minutes.

The pain …the pain …and I didn’t even eat any chendol ice cream mooncake.

At 10pm (finally!), I went to the SingTel iPhone 5 page – but still got the “bulletin board” message.

The same thing happened at 10.01pm. And 10.02pm. And 10.03pm. Ahhhhhh!

I rushed to the toilet with my iPhone 4. The Wi-Fi in the toilet sucked, but at least I could get a connection.

After some pain-relieving diarrhoea, I managed to tap my way to the SingTel iPhone 5 page on my phone a few times and eventually got a new message: The appointment booking site was open, but due to overwhelming response, blah blah blah, try again.

And so I tried again and again and again, left the toilet, returned to the computer and tried again and again and again …until 11.35pm.

That was when I got another message: “Thank you for your overwhelming support for the iPhone 5 with SingTel. All appointment slots for the launch event are now fully booked. Stay tuned to SingTel iPhone 5 bulletin board for updates!”

And just like that, my dream was over.

I didn’t get any of the 10,000 appointment slots.

No more first person in Singapore to get the iPhone 5. No more Straits Times front page. No more Katy Perry. No more muscular men in V-neck T-shirts.

My life has no meaning again.

It’s enough to drive a guy to chendol ice cream mooncake.

- Published in The New Paper, 23 September 2012