Today I took a walk to the Farmers Market at Third and Fairfax to buy dog food from Huntington Meats, when my iPhone was stolen. There are a lot of good reasons to shop at independently owned stores, but the fact that you can count on the nice guys who work there when you’re in a total panic over a small, stolen, six hundred dollar device, is one not to be overlooked. I’d left the butcher a few minutes before, phone in hand, and walked a few hundred steps to the nut store to buy some salty toasted mixed nuts since I am still not eating sugar, and when I noticed the nuts where in my hand and my iPhone wasn’t, I ran back to the butcher (had I left it there?), then back to the nut place (had she seen a phone?), and then back to the butcher—this time not to look for my phone, but just plain desperate for help. Jim the Butcher entrusted one of his younger employees (i.e. knows how to use an iPhone) to use his “find my iPhone” app to find my iPhone. The guy’s name was Charlie, and, to make a two hour story shorter than two hours, suffice to say that we walked around the grounds of the Farmers Market, following my iPhone, setting off the loud, alarm-like cry it makes for lost iPhones and refreshing its location constantly. At one point, back at the nut store where the phone seemed to linger, Charlie and I thought we even heard it. We asked the nut lady to turn off the the peanut-butter making machine (they make the best peanut butter) so we could hear better, and be sure it wasn’t the rotating belt making the noise. No. I was sure I heard it. But where? We circled the nut store. The noise seemed to be everywhere and nowhere at the same time. The lady still insisted she hadn’t seen the phone. We sat down and checked my purse for the 500th time. Maybe we were following me around? And when we came back to the nut store, we no longer heard the phone. Had it been our imaginations? Maybe not. Because the phone was now somewhere in the vicinity of a shuttered Johnny Rockets. After two hours of this bewildering sleuthing, we could see from Charlie’s phone that my phone was about to die. Once it did, I’d no longer to be able to track it. By this time, we’d followed my phone around from the nut store to the Coffee Bean to the bathroom to the bar to another bar… and now, we could see, it was in a car. Yes, we could see that my iPhone was in a car.
I was already a huge fan of Apple. What their devices do, well, I’d say it never ceases to amaze me, but I’m hardly even amazed anymore because I just expect the devices to do amazing things. Still, nothing could have prepared me for the fact that “find my iPhone” was at this very moment able to tell me that my phone was not just in a car in the parking lot at the Farmers Market at Third and Fairfax where it was last seen buying nuts two hours ago, but this thing could tell me that it was in a small black car, sandwiched by a couple of silver cars exactly five cars from the end of the second row. It even showed me a picture the parking lot in real time! By now, Jim the Butcher had joined the chase, mostly to comfort me because I was nearly hysterical both for the lost iPhone and the frustration, knowing it was so close and yet so impossible to find. Jim and Charlie and I stood there by the car that held my phone. But now my phone was really about to be dead. Five percent battery power is what Charlie’s phone said my phone had. All hope was lost. Except that all hope is only lost if all parties know that all hope is lost, and the one party who didn’t know this was the guy who had put my phone in his car.
Let’s take a moment to think about the last two hours from his point of view. He sees a phone. So close. So tempting. So shiny, and so… within reach. He grabs it. Finally, I have an iPhone! he thinks. He puts it in his pocket. Thirty seconds later, the rightful owner of the phone comes back for her phone. The woman behind the counter who sold this nut her nuts says, “I haven’t seen your phone.” And the lady walks away. The guy thinks, This is great. She’s gone! Now this really is MY phone! Until this phone in his pocket starts making a noise. He can’t turn it off—not the noise, not the phone. And now two people and a scruffy little dog are walking around, following him. Wherever he goes, there they are. They don’t know who he is, but he knows who they are, and this effing phone won’t stop making noise. But he’s a clever guy. He can’t get the phone off (an iPhone tagged as lost or stolen, which Charlie had done to mine, can’t be turned off—how amazing is that!?), but he figured out that if he put the case on backwards, the speaker emitting the noise would now be covered by plastic. The noise was muted. But still, Everywhere I go there’s these people and that dog. I’d suspected that whoever had my phone worked in the Farmers Market because anyone who had the chance to leave would have done so. Without that chance, what he’d done was throw the phone in his car. And now what he evidently saw was the three of us, me and Charlie and Jim, standing around his car, looking through the windows. The truth is, we were feeling pretty much hopeless because of the near-dead battery and all. But this guy didn’t know that. All he knew is that we had the ability to follow him around like a tracking device and cause something in his hand to make noises that he couldn’t stop. I’m going to guess he thought that the cops were on the way. In any case, he came running, wearing a baseball hat bearing the name of the nut store, and without any prompting, said to Charlie: “The phone in my car.” And then in Spanish that the guys didn’t understand. “I found it in a basurera.” Jim handed the guy ten dollars for my phone. He was rewarded for his lie. Someone asked if I was going to go to the nut store or to security to tell. I didn’t have the slightest inclination. I’d spent enough of my life on this phone. Instead, I walked back to the butcher and picked up the femur bones they were cutting into Rufus-friendly rings for me at the moment that I’d realized my phone was missing. As Rufus said, “All’s well that ends in marrow.”