She recommended that I buy something as a reminder of that day, so every time I saw it, I’d be reminded that I’m not a quitter any more.
That evening I bought a One Direction bracelet. I love it and I don’t care who knows. It goes with pretty much every piece of clothing I own and it is classier and more expensive-looking than any of my four wristwatches.
While I was in the shop I also bought an iPhone cover. As you might remember, the last cover I bought, although it was funky, made my phone talk to me while it was in my pocket, which was less than ideal in church- or library-based situations. My new phone cover was the most expensive phone cover I’ve ever bought. It was a Miss Piggy cover. As a child, I wanted to be Miss Piggy. (In fact, a little part of me kind of still wants to be Miss Piggy, but I’m not drunk enough for that conversation.)
As soon as I got onto the street, I put the new cover on my phone. It was great. I went onto twitter on my phone and started writing a tweet about my new phone cover. I was mid-tweet when someone snatched the phone out of my hand.
I’m an optimist. My first thought was that it was a friend, who’d seen me writing on my phone and wanted to give me a fright. Then I saw that it was a young fella in a hoodie and a baseball cap, and he was running. I yelled “Fucker!” at the top of my lungs (I’m quite proud of that. I didn’t know I was man enough to roar curse words in the middle of Grafton Street. I am. But only when provoked.) I ran after him. My jeans started falling down. He was gone. Another teenage boy came up to me and asked me what had happened. He started running after the thief. He went the wrong way.
Two mothers with their respective children came up to me to commiserate. One of them chose this as an opportunity to warn her daughter of the dangers of wandering off alone. I stood there, fuming, trying to be an exemplary victim.
I made my way to college. On the way I met one of the other PhD students. I told him what had happened. He sympathised. Then he said, “I don’t usually touch people”, and extended his arm. It didn’t quite reach me. He didn’t come closer. He bent forward at the waist and extended his arm as far as it would go. He gave my shoulder one soft pat and drew his arm back quickly, as if burnt. Looking back on it, I’m fairly happy. My phone might be gone, but at least I’m able to hug people.
I went online. “Find my iPhone” wasn’t working, because the thief had turned my phone off.
What could I do? I didn’t cry. I did stir up a bit of drama on Facebook, because that’s just how I roll. Then I decided to do something I did have control over. I signed up for a 10K at the end of July. I’m fierce. Come and get me! I had been flip-flopping all day about what kind of goals I’d set myself after the 8K, but after having my phone snatched, I found myself endowed with clarity and new ambitions. And new fierceness. RARRR! (That’s me, making a tiger noise.)
I went home to bed, filled with purpose.
I did find myself somewhat decapitated by the absence of my iPhone. I’ve had an iPhone since February 2009, and I love it. When I’m at a bus stop, I play with my phone. When I’m stopped at a red light while driving, when I’m going upstairs or downstairs, when I’m waiting for my computer to turn on, or to shut down, when I feel like a cigarette, when I’m trying to avoid someone’s eyes, when I’m bored, I play with my iPhone. When I have good news, I share it through my iPhone. When I want to meet men, I do it with my iPhone. When I can’t think what to say, I take out my iPhone. When I’m lost, I get directions on my iPhone. When I want to know what time the next bus is, I check my iPhone. When I go for a run, I use my iPhone to measure the time and distance, and it’s the main way I listen to music or the radio. I don’t see the point of Twitter, except when it’s on an iPhone. I use my iPhone so much that I’ve had to charge it four times in one day. My friends have forbidden me from taking it out in pubs. Two different friends have confiscated it from me for using it too much. Over 90% of the posts on this blog were written on my iPhone and there are still half-written posts and ideas for future posts on it.
I woke up to an email (and I had to turn on my computer to check my email. What is this – 2007?) from “Find my iPhone”. My phone had been turned on at 3:41 a.m. I had an address: 49, XXXXXX Road, Ballyfermot. Wow! What would I do?
At 10:00, there was another email. It had been switched on again and was still at the same address. At 11:30, it was still there. Oh. My. God. Maybe all hope was not lost.
I went to the Pearse Street Garda (police) Station. I reported the robbery and told the Garda about the address where the phone was. He was a lovely freckled, baldy young man. He sounded like he was from Tipperary or Limerick. He leaned over the desk and told me there was nothing they could do. This was new technology, and it wouldn’t be enough for a warrant. He rang Ballyfermot Garda Station and had a chat with them. They agreed that there was nothing they could do so long as it was at a residential address.
What he told me to do was to keep an eye on the “Find my iPhone” website and wait till the phone moved. As soon as it moved out of the house, I was to ring Ballyfermot Garda Station and they would send a squad car straight away. Ooh! This sounded exciting. I had pictures of myself on a walkie-talkie to the Gardaí, shouting at them to “Turn left! Over the bridge! Now! Now! Now!”
In the meantime, I got a new phone. It’s the cheapest “smart” phone on the market, and it ain’t smart. It’s as efficient a communications device as a carrier-sheep would be. I hate it.
My iPhone stayed at the same address until nearly 3:00. Then the phone was switched off again.
What could I do? That night, I drove out to Ballyfermot to look at the house. Because, since I’ve run 8K, I’m an all-round iron man. As I said, come and get me.
After, predictably enough, getting lost for 45 minutes, I found the house. It was on a normal-looking street, not that different from the street I grew up on. Number 49 didn’t look particularly evil (not that I know what I was looking for), but it had been recently painted. “Paint bought with the profits of crime?” I asked myself.
I went home, not getting quite as lost on the way back.
I got up this morning. No more emails. The phone had been switched off since before 3:00 the previous afternoon. Grrr! Time was running out.
I considered, on the counsel of a friend, ringing Joe Duffy on the Liveline, like many Irish people do in a crisis.
But first, I would visit the Ballyfermot Gardaí. I barely got lost at all driving to Ballyfermot this time.
The Garda here was a huge teddy-bear-like man with a West of Ireland accent. When I told him what had happened, he took my number and said he’d get a squad car on it.
I drove back to XXXXXX Street, watching Number 49, wondering what would happen. I got a call on my rubbish mobile from another Garda. This one was in a squad car. He was hilarious. He told me he could get a warrant, but it would mean standing around in court all day, but if all I wanted was my phone back, he’d call to the door and persuade the baddy to give it back. Yay! I went for Option B.
I had four conversations with this Garda on the phone. Never once did he get the name of the “Find my iPhone” app right. He called it the “Find my App” or the “App my Phone”. He was lovely. He also told me that XXXXXX Street was fairly notorious, and that there was a known thief associated with Number 49.
I nearly pissed myself with the excitement of it all.
I waited on XXXXX Street until I saw the squad car pull up, then I drove around the corner and parked there, in waiting.
It took almost an hour for the Garda to call me.
There were three people living in the house. Apparently, they were lovely. They had invited them in, given them tea, allowed them to look wherever they wanted. There was an old couple and their 20-year-old granddaughter. Neither of the grandparents had mobiles and the granddaughter had a HTC phone, which she showed the Gardaí. He had absolutely no suspicions about them. They did have a son who had been in trouble with the Gardaí (the known thief he’d mentioned before) but they hadn’t seen him in three years and he was no longer welcome in their house.
The Garda thinks the GPS on “App my Phone” isn’t all that accurate. I didn’t think I could ask them to check the houses on either side too. He was embarrassed enough as it is.
My iPhone, which I (in a moment of madness) had called Percival, is dead. I just have to accept it.
Gosh darn it all! I can’t wait until I have €500 to spare, so I can get a new one.