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December 10, 2016
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At the end of the meal, my phone is gone. I look around the table. I pat my pockets. Check my bag. No way! I hadn’t even gotten up from dinner and someone had swiped my phone from right under my nose. Everyone in the restaurant is sympathetic. My friends help me make one final search around the table. No luck.

It had all started with a bit of iPhone 5 envy. Emily got one the day they came out a few weeks ago and it was light and fast, sharp and cool. Unfortunately, I am not due for an upgrade for six months so I wasn’t getting a new iPhone without paying some crazy exorbitant fee.

No big deal really, mine works totally fine, but I wanted to cheer myself up. I remembered seeing a very cool leather iPhone case when we were interviewing a high-profile defense attorney in Texas. I did some goggling, found a similar one and ordered it. It’d spiff my old iPhone 4 right up, I thought.

A week or so later, it arrived at the office. I opened it and slid it over my phone. I wondered about the functionality but was going to give it a try. It definitely looked sharp.

That night, I joined Emily and two friends at a restaurant for dinner. At a certain point I took my phone out of my bag and showed Emily the new case. She looked at it, wondered about the functionality, and gave it back to me. I put it down in front of me on the table. We went back to talking and laughing. I ordered another drink.

At the end of the meal, I looked down and the phone was gone.

This happens to me all the time, probably daily. Suddenly my phone is not where I thought it was. Usually I find it 30 seconds later in my jacket or back in my bag. This did not happen and after a few minutes of looking I started to have a sinking feeling that it had been stolen.

As soon as you think you’ve been wronged, your brain switches modes. Now, you look around the room trying to figure out if the perpetrator is still there. Now, any one of these people could have my phone in their pocket. I stare at the manager and then a guy sitting at the bar. They notice me and look back confused.

Emily has the idea to search “find my phone” and track my phone via GPS, from her phone. We all huddle around her and stare down at the screen. A blue dot pops up a few blocks away. We head into the night, rushing after that dot on the screen, rushing to find the person who stole my phone and that beautiful new case.

We catch up to the dot on St. Marks Place between Second and Third and we stop outside the building where we see it lingering. We are right next to a head shop and I am quickly convinced that the man behind the counter has my phone.

“Hey,” I say, somewhat aggressively, staring right at this guy.

“Hey,” he says reluctantly.

“Do you sell iPhones?” I ask.

“What? No,” he says as I realize I am acting crazy. I explain what’s going on and he laughs and promises that he hasn’t seen anyone come in recently and tells me he will keep an eye out for my phone.

Back on the street, Emily and the rest of the group are gone. I look up and down St. Marks and don’t see them. I wait a couple of minutes. Still, I don’t see them. Across the street is a pay phone; it’s been a long time since I’ve needed one and I am very happy see it. I go to the nearest bodega to get change.

“Not right now,” the guy says.

“Really?” I am holding out a dollar to him. “Come on, man, I need to use the phone.”

“Too busy,” he says.

I am irritated but look around for the cheapest thing they have. A blow-pop. I hold it up to the guy smiling.

“Twenty-five cents.”

I hand him the dollar. After the night I have had, the three quarters and irritated look from the cashier are nothing but sweet victory. I cross the street to the pay phone, put in a quarter and dial. It rings. Emily answers and they are just up the block. Success.

We chase the dot around the vicinity but never catch it. Eventually Emily’s phone dies and we all head home.

On the way home, I start to wonder if perhaps the phone is just in my bag. It is certainly possible; I convince myself that the tracker could have been just a little off and we were basically just chasing my bag.

The next morning I check and the tracker is in Queens, confirmation that the phone was stolen. It’s still shocking to me that they were able to take it with me sitting there. Very sly.

My insurance covered it and so a new iPhone 4 is on its way to me as we speak. It was still cheaper than getting an iPhone 5 without an upgrade. I think I’ll forget about a case for a little while. I bet that stupid thing is why they stole it in the first place.