My Phone Was Stolen And All I Got Was This Lousy Story Idea

Someone stole my phone and it’s been a pretty big pain in the ass. Yes, I realize it’s partly my fault but I’m happy that no one has pointed that out while they’ve gone out of their way to help me rectify the situation.

Some background (mostly covered in detail on Facebook): The family and I went out to dinner, I put my phone down on the table and then over the course of the meal covered it with menus and plates and any number of things. When we left, I left without the phone. Twenty minutes later when I went back it was gone. Everyone at the restaurant said that maybe it fell behind the booth or ended up somewhere else, but we all knew the truth. Someone had stolen it and it was almost certainly someone who worked at the restaurant. This was almost certainly confirmed ten minutes later when I went home, powered up the Find My iPhone app, and saw someone turn on the phone at an apartment complex a mile from the restaurant popular with most of the servers and bussers who work there. I called the manager back with this info and he almost immediately narrowed the suspects down to two guys and said he’d see what he could do.

So, the next day I woke up creeped out, mad, and weirdly vulnerable. That phone had pictures of my kids on it. Even though it was locked down and eventually wiped, it felt like a violation of my privacy and personal space. Worse, I had paid for the privilege of being violated and our tip had likely been shared with this guy. If he was the busser, he had to clean up the kids menus and crawl over the high chair to get where I had left the phone.

Needless to say, for most of the day I wanted to chase the asshole down with a tire iron and beat him to death. But cooler heads prevailed and I just bitched and moaned all day and stewed in my own hatred. Also, I now had to pay upwards of $300 to get a new phone and spend hours of my life resetting and changing all of my passwords (two-factor authentication is awesome in theory, but a massive headache when trying to change a bunch of passwords at once).

Once the phone tracker popped up at an apartment complex in West Bloomfield, about 20 miles away, I knew the phone was lost and wrote it off and remotely wiped it. I was crushed for a while after that, but ultimately that was what I needed to move forward and make the best of the situation. The next day I went to the Westland police station and filed a police report (more on that in a minute) then went and talked with the managers at the restaurant. Again, they were so helpful and accommodating and helped me fill out an insurance claim through their company and sent me away with a stack of gift cards and their endless apologies. I bought a new phone (an iPhone 5s which I was happy about because I always regretted upgrading to the large 6), loaded all my music and apps, took a picture of the kids, updated Twitter and Facebook, and got on with my life. I’m fine now and a big reason for that was the very informative and inspiring visit to the police station.

While I stood outside of a bulletproof cubicle telling my story to a bored looking officer with cargo pants and a polo shirt with an iron-on badge instead of a real badge, there was a crowd of about six people talking with an older guy in a leather jacket who was passing around a few of those metal box clipboards. He had an old phone clipped to his belt and slicked back hair and sensible walking sneakers. I told my story to the officer and he called the manager at the restaurant and I couldn’t help but look at his note pad when he wrote down the two suspects names. I noted them so I could look them up on Facebook later (no luck though, one had a locked account and the other didn’t have an account). He typed their names into the computer and both came back with pretty long contact histories with the police and the most likely suspect even had a current warrant outstanding.

Midway through our conversation two women came out from the back of the cubicle into the lobby and talked with the other folks in the lobby who were waiting for them. The guy in the leather jacket, who I now knew was a bail bondsman, gave the girls the clipboards to hold up with their booking information on it and took their photos with his phone. I tried hard to eavesdrop on their conversations and picked up some choice dialogue bits.

Driving back home after that, everything that had happened clicked into place for the book I’ve been working on but was stuck with. I had a cool opening but no way to link it to the later scenes that were needed to set the main story in motion. Hopefully you’ll get to read this book in a few years and see how I made that happen. I still wonder what happened to my phone and part of me is still tempted to go to the restaurant today when the two guys were scheduled to work again and see what they looked like or if they would recognize me or if they would even show up. But in the grand scheme of things I got off lucky and I need to move on. Physically at least. Mentally I’ll still be obsessing over it for a while trying to wring every last bit of narrative potential from it.

UPDATE (1/25/16): I got my phone back.